Sunday, January 20, 2013

Walking:The Miraculous Places You Can Go.

By Walt Whitman

Why! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach,
just in the edge of the
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love--or sleep in the bed at night with
any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds--or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down--or of stars shining so quiet
and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring;
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best--
mechanics, boatmen, farmers,
Or among the savans--or to the soiree--or to the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass;
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring--yet each distinct, and in its place.

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass--the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women,
and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.

To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim--the rocks--the motion of the waves--the ships,
with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

I may never walk through Narnia or Neverland but I can walk the same paths that inspired their authors. Walking in their footsteps brings to life the world around me. The landscapes that became the setting for their stories are all the more richer for me as I touch the walls, smell the grass and watch the waves roll onto beaches that are immortalized in books.

Whitman memorial. Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

This past summer I sojourned into Bon Echo Provincial Park where Walt Whitman spent time writing and members of the Group of Seven found inspiration. It is an easy jaunt to this spot where I can take in the same sky, water and rocks that spoke to Whitman, the Seven as well as numerous other artists. Looking out from atop a rocky outcrop my eyes spanned the vista of clear sparkling water and tree tops lush and green. The world seemed quiet from this vantage point and I could see how such a view would put to Whitman's mind that idea of miracles.
I once walked through Lowell Massachusetts. The small town was just as I imagined it might be like when I read from Jack Kerouac's The Town and the City. Walking past the schools and industry that shaped his mind I thought that maybe in that one experience I was looking through his eyes.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
Part of the fun of walking is knowing that your feet can take you where others have walked before. I might never really have the chance to walk through a Dr. Seuss book, but I have walked through Seussland at Universal Studios and it was a dream come true. All the colours of the whosists and whatsits came to life along with The Cat in the Hat who hugged me and my children with affection.

I have walked through Elmira, New York where Mark Twain spent time and I saw that piece of American culture that is apple pie and football. Great boulevards on which grand whitewashed wood planked houses stand with their picket fences calling to me to remember Tom Sawyer and his whitewashing adventure.

I am fortunate to live in an historic city where I can walk past the spot that Charles Dickens slept during a visit and past the houses where the first Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald penned his letters.
The corner of Clarence and King streets in Kingston, Canada where Dickens once walked.
Wander through ancient Greek or Roman ruins and you can almost hear the thoughts of great philosophers and lawmakers who set the precedence for our society today.
Step foot in Ann Frank's house in Amsterdam and soak in the sombre reality that a little girl truly did exist.
Meander through Greenwich Village in New York City and know that you are walking the same streets as Edna St. Vincent Millay, Dylan Thomas and a whole host of other writers and artists.

What paths have you wandered that have brought to life a book or a piece of art?

Last fall I wandered down Mulberry Street in New York City. It was another dream come true because of all the sights and sounds that to think...I saw there...with my very own eyes.

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