To wander

Grady was far ahead of me when I zoomed in for this shot. Atlanta, December 2016 ERROR! I did NOT take this photo-- I stole it off Megan's Facebook page, but it was an honest mix-up because I put it in the same computer folder. Same place, different day; this was made in January, 2017. SORRY!

Grady was far ahead of me when I zoomed in for this shot. Atlanta, December 2016 ERROR! I did NOT take this photo– I stole it off Megan’s Facebook page  — but it was an honest mix-up because I put it in the same computer folder. See below for some I did take that day.
Same place, different day; this one was made in January, 2017. SORRY!

“Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both ‘at one with’ and ‘separate from’ the outside world. These discoveries are as fundamental to the soul as ‘learning to survive’ is fundamental to the body…To wander is to be alive.”Roman Payne

One of the pastimes of childhood that too often vanishes into the busyness of adulthood is this practice of wandering. Kids are naturally good at it, although I think contemporary and quite valid concerns for safety have curtailed the scope and freedom we enjoyed when we were very young. But perhaps I’m only imagining that we had a wider world open to us, when in reality, it was almost as carefully circumscribed by watchful parents and caregivers as it is today, and I was simply unaware of it because of their ability to keep those limits hidden.

For Christmas, Drew and Megan requested a family membership to the wonderful Fernbank Museum of Natural History, and we spent an unseasonably sunny and warm Christmas Eve there. When we went outside to the WildWoods, Grady took off to explore well ahead of us, and there’s no doubt his imagination took him worlds away as he navigated the fascinating features of the outdoor trails. Of course, he never left our sight, but in his mind I’m sure he might as well have been alone– with the added benefit of a comforting certainty that we would be there if he needed us. Watching him from a distance was almost as good as being a child again myself, remembering the delight in discovering so many things for the very first time.

When was the last time you went wandering? I encourage you to find time for it. If the weather and your health will permit it, wander around outdoors, perhaps visiting a park or garden. But if you are unable to get outside anytime soon, you can let your mind wander by visiting any library, or browsing your own well-loved collection of favorite books. The passion of the genius, as Payne implies, really does start out as the activity of the child. And perhaps we all still have a bit of the child– and the genius– somewhere inside us.

Editorial correction: I was just going through my photos and realized that I mixed up two different days of photos taken of Grady at the WildWoods trail. The one above was actually taken by Megan on a subsequent trip in January, 2017. As the photos below from the December 2016 trip that I wrote about here show, Grady (in a different outfit but just as adventurous) DID stay ahead of us then, too, both inside and out.

Grady took off ahead of us in the museum, too, even before we were outdoors.

Grady took off ahead of us in the museum, too, even before we were outdoors.

Here's one I actually did take that Christmas Eve, 2016.

Here’s one I actually did take that Christmas Eve, 2016.



  1. Amy

    Prince William Forest Park is right in my back yard. It’s a great place to wander if you ever wanna come and wander with me. Sometimes I take Wrecker. He loves to wander.

    • Sounds wonderful. We might have to pack a picnic in case we get lost – W and I might starve without plenty of food at hand. I can bring a cooler bag with ice for him.

  2. Cherie

    Julia, you definitely brought back some good memories of my childhood wanderings. I grew up in a little spot on the Arkansas map filled with relatives and people close as relatives. Even as a 4 year old I was allowed to roam this little town and “visit”. I’m sure there were people who knew my wanderings and kept an eye out for me. I was a very independent little girl with 2 big brothers so I guess I was fearless! Those are memories I cling to today as I caregive for Ron. I pray you and all the family are well and know you are in my prayers. Love and Light! Cherie

    • Cherie, I had forgotten that you grew up in Arkansas. Weren’t we lucky to be able to roam our little worlds when we were kids? Yes, I think that having brothers gave women of our generation a sort of boldness that perhaps other girls didn’t have. Plus in my case, it gave me some interest in topics that, back in the 1960’s, were not considered “feminine” or appropriate for girls. Wow, it’s hard for today’s young girls even to imagine such constraints – in some ways things have really gotten better. Thanks so much for being with us here — I think of you often and pray for you and Ron. ❤

  3. Julia, after the day I had yesterday, this comes as a great encouragement to me today! Thank you for the reminder of how to just enjoy the simplicity of life and do it with the eyes of a child. I was thinking today of going to our Sundial Bridge near my daughter’s school while she is in class. It will be a short trip, but I need to take advantage of the sunshine today. I am thinking of you, today, and praying for you. 🙂

    • Patsy, I’m sorry you had “one of those days” but I’m so glad the comment was an encouragement. Sundial Bridge is such a lovely-sounding name. I have always loved bridges, even the small ones that cross tiny creeks and artificial waterways in parks and gardens. Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers. They really do make a difference for me.

  4. Reblogged this on Patsy's Creative Corner and commented:
    Here are some wonderful words of encouragement from my friend, Julia, who has just lost her husband and is under a tremendous amount of stress. But she is still here encouraging others which says a great deal about her character!

    Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for sharing this link, Patsy!

  5. The string bridge looks like fun or at least Grady makes it look like fun. 🙂 I went wandering today as a matter of fact. A friend and I tried a new trail and then had lunch after. It did get a bit crisp so we will finish the next time. I like that kind of gift. Something you can enjoy over and over with no dusting involved.:) Hugs.

    • Marlene, how perfect that this post reached you on a day when you had enjoyed just such a stroll yourself. Yes, those are definitely the best sort of gift!

  6. Harry Sims

    A child doesn’t know this, he simply does it.

    Oh to wander with a sense of wonder.

    Even for an octogenarian?


    • Harry, I would say “especially for an octogenarian!” Who could appreciate it more? If we are lucky, decades of life experience give us a true understanding of just how “wonder-filled” (to quote Marlene) this world can be.

  7. I used to wander excessive, when I first moved out here. Well, OK, I was actually lost. My seven minute drive home took over twenty, it was dark, I was tired and teary.
    But wandering in the light of day, charged phone with GSP in my pocket – that’s a different thing all together.
    Today I’m going to Salem to pick up new contract lenses (which are also bound to help in the “lost versus wandering” area). Perhaps I should “wander” back!

    • Susan, I like this idea of re-casting “lost” as “wandering” — sort of reminds me of making lemonade with the lemons. I’ll try to remember that next time I find myself taking unplanned detours! 😀

      • The contact lenses really do help!
        Now I can see all of my typos …. :-/

        • Since I’m myopic from way back, I can actually see close things (such as fonts or print) better WITHOUT the contacts, so I usually go without them. But if my expression from across the room seems unfocused, that’s not your imagination. 😀

  8. MaryAnn Clontz

    What a delight to see Grady “going for it”! Such a terrific grandma to walk the rope bridge with him & capture it in a photo! I, too, agree that wandering is so healthy, good for the soul. Edie Ann, Stephanie & John’s 3 kids were here for 4 days last week. We had a marvelous time of wandering at Baker Beach, San Francisco! The beach, the water, the rocks, the driftwood all grab ones attention to soak up the joy & splendor. The Golden Gate Bridge was magnificent in the background of our photos, sans fog (which is a wonder at this time of year). God blessed us with a joy-filled, lovely day, experiencing His Creation & being with family!
    Thanks for posting Grady & his discoveries! Love to all “my” Dentons!

    • Well, as my corrected blog post will show, the terrific grandma was not even there when that particular photo was taken! But I do remember the rope bridge, and I don’t think I walked it. Jeff gave me a camera with a 20x zoom which enables me to make some great close-up shots from far away. Just not this one!! Thanks for sharing your lovely beach day with us. That bridge makes such a magnificent backdrop, doesn’t it? Even in the fog, but especially without it. Love to you too!!

  9. I loved wandering as a child. We had freedoms within guidelines, i.e boundaries of where we could go. I loved taking my boys to the park or on hiking trails, because they could “roam” without fear of cars and within the boundaries of what felt comfortable. They both spent a lot of time outdoors, as did we as children. I miss the time to wander. Thanks for the reminder, Julia.

    • You’re welcome, Alys. It’s one of those things we have to make time for, especially as we get older. Being outdoors is good for us on so many levels.

      • Thanks for the link, Julia. It’s why a walk beats a treadmill and a garden is more fun than binge watching TV. I can’t wait to see you. Just a few more weeks.

        • So true! Neither a treadmill nor a television has any appeal at all to me, but walking and gardening are some of my happiest times. These weeks will pass quickly and we can hope for warmer weather by then. WOW, it seems a lifetime ago since you were here before, and yet, also it has flown by. Life is strange. It will be great for all of us to be together again. Just wish we could somehow get Pauline and Dani here…maybe we can have a mad Skype session from DC.

  10. Sheila

    Julia, it’s so much fun to enjoy things, such as this, through the eyes of a child. It even affords us the opportunity to do more than possible if we’re watching our grandchildren. How often have we said, “Oh, to have that energy!”? Grady certainly looks adventurous and confident as he is learning the ropes there! I’m glad to know how you spent the holiday. It’s a cold Saturday night in Garden City. I know a beautiful week awaits us. ❤️ Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, it was quite a lovely way to spend Christmas Eve, especially since it was such a loaded day for me all the way around. Far better to do something new that day. I have been watching this week’s weather forecasts obsessively, and between yesterday and today, the forecast went from “partly cloudy with a high of 58” to “cloudy with a high of 47” 😦 Dress warmly and keep praying for sunshine!

  11. dianne borowski

    There’s nothing better than giving a child wings and letting him/her fly. Of course, you’re
    watching but not hovering. Unfortunately, I was a hover mother and kept them too close.
    This is one of my biggest regrets . I didn’t let them fly.

    • Dianne, I hope you don’t feel too many regrets…many of us could say that we erred on the side of “too protective” and while that’s not ideal, there is no way of knowing what might have happened had we made the opposite error. Parenting is a hard, hard line to walk. Most everyone I know did the best they could at it, and as with so many other investments, outcome is never guaranteed. I don’t know whether you are part of my generation or younger, but I do think that those in my age group seemed to feel far more responsibility to create an ideal life for their children, than my parents’ generation did. As many of us learned, that can backfire in a way that feels especially cruel: to sacrifice for something that, it turns out, may not have been necessary or even advisable. But take heart! As the old quote says, “It is never too late to be who you might have been.” 🙂 Thanks for being here, and for sharing with us.

  12. Harry Sims

    Where are you Julie Boolie?

    • Well, as my friend Ashleigh Brilliant has said, “By the time you know where I am, I may very well be somewhere else.” 😀

  13. Ann

    This is a wonderful picture of Grady exhibiting the joy of safely wandering, regardless of who took the picture!

    • Thank you, Ann! You are so understanding. 🙂

  14. Megan

    Ha!! You could have fooled me! I seriously would have just assumed you took that! As you rightly guessed when I suggested a couple of places for a membership, Fernbank was definitely the right choice for Grady (and hopefully Owen too, before the year is over!). Grady LOVES going — the last time we went he begged to stay, which is unusual for him! I was quite a wanderer as a child…much to my parent’s chagrin…when I’d just keep seeing the next interesting thing in the distance and following it, not realizing I was leaving my family far behind! I guess I need to realize Grady has that in his blood — probably on both sides! (Drew seems to always walk with purpose, but I think you would self-describe as a wanderer!) ❤ ❤

    • Megan, yes, I definitely would. I go wandering in the most unlikely places. It used to drive Jeff crazy when he would stop at Walmart or Target to pick up one very specific item, and I would get distracted by “interesting” (to me) sights in all directions. My favorite place to wander is in the library, any library! So glad you are enjoying Fernbank. It will be really fun as spring warms things up.

  15. Mike

    Isn’t there a song from the 60’s?, ” Im a wanderer, yea a wanderer–dah de dah.”

    • I think I’ve heard that one, but the song I always think of is the old song “The Happy Wanderer.” I always thought it was a German Folk Song but according to Wikipedia, it’s an original composition. In any case, I really like it.

  16. Mike

    Is this one outside Atlanta? “About an hour an away,” as my son says about everything near Atlanta when I ask him where something is.

    • This one is at the Fernbank Nature Center (not to be confused with the related but different Fernbank Science Center). It’s much closer than an hour to where Drew and Megan live, but from my Mom’s place it might take an hour if there was traffic. So much depends on the traffic! When we were in Jamaica back in 1973 or 1974, we got a big kick out of how it seemed that everything was a “quarter mile.” We were walking most everywhere we went (aside from taking the local bus) and every time we would ask a local how far it was to wherever, the answer was “quarter mile”– after awhile we caught on that this was not a terribly exact answer. 🙂 Perhaps “about an hour” is the modern vehicular equivalent to “quarter mile.”

  17. Mike

    After tireless , assiduous, and indefatigable research I have located the song “I am a wanderer” by Dion. “I’m the kind of guy who never settles down, wherever pretty girls are I will be around. Cause I’m a wanderer.” 1964? On U tube. Unforgettable.
    Have you heard of restaurant “the Beautiful” inSo. Atlanta. Supposed to be good southern comfort food. I hate to say it but my favorite-southern cuisine is their mac-and cheese. Best ever. But I did also like the Brunswick stew which was a revelation. I have never liked Okra since first eating it in Africa- along with white rice. More like hominy. Did I mention we have a “Chick-fil-a” now in N. Seattle. Not as nice as the southern variety.
    I think Raynard is rubbing off on me.

    • Mike, you could do worse than channeling a bit of your inner Raynard (whom I think of as the James Joyce of the comments section). As with poetry, the stream of consciousness often gives us short cuts that elude conventional narrative. As to southern cuisine: Okra, Brunswick stew and hominy are all things I dislike and never eat. My own favorites are skillet cornbread (NOT the sweet “corn muffins” that are really closer to white-flour cupcakes) fresh out of the oven and served with garden-fresh tomatoes, butter beans and corn on the cob. AND, I agree, some really good mac and cheese!

  18. Mike

    Are butter beans like Limas?

    • Yes, only they’re brown. Although I have seen some limas called “butter beans” too. But the ones I am referring to start out speckled in all sorts of neat colors (beige, brown, purple speckles) and then turn uniformly light or dark brown when they are cooked. Very starchy and tasty.

  19. Mike

    72 degrees in NYC today. Heading to Central Park.

    • 72 degrees and Central Park…bliss! Hope it was as wonderful as it sounds.

  20. Very true….seeing the world in the eyes of a child is really full of wandering….

    • Yes, it’s one of the ways we can learn quite a lot from children, just by following them and watching. Thanks for your visit here!

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: