The other afternoon while speed typing at my keyboard, concentrating on a fast-approaching 5:00 p.m. deadline, I received a phone text from Betsy Flanigan, the president of artCentral’s Board of Directors. Betsy had agreed to proofread the information I was preparing for the grant application now up on my screen. For a third day documents I generated had been cyber-flying back and forth between us.
Betsy is a terrific proofreader—always catching my typos and redundancies, always kind in the way she draws attention to my faux pas and always quick on the turn around. We collaborate so well together, Betsy’s husband Bren calls us “work spouses”.
Attached was a link to a brief and lovely travel article written by Erika Owen, author of “The Art of Flâneuring”: https://www.afar.com/magazine/how-flaneuring-will-help-you-wander-with-intention.
Ms. Owen encourages us: “In moments like this, when we’re all looking inward to find peace during a global health pandemic, finding beauty and community from a safe social distance has never been more important. And you can still feed your need for experiencing the new from the comfort of your neighborhood…. You don’t have to give up your sense of adventure—you just have to be a little more observant.”
Referencing a French descriptor that came into vogue in 19th century Paris, Ms. Owen describes a “flâneur” as “someone [a man, ‘flâneuse’ is the feminine] who practices the art of wandering with intention”.
Ah, I am touched to be seen and appreciated by Betsy for something that comes naturally to me—my early morning walkabouts and ramblings.
Betsy, like many other friends, views my almost daily morning flâneuring photos that I post on my facebook page. They are my wee celebrations—my virtual journal entries I love to share. They tell of the wonders—the ordinary and the surprising discoveries—I encounter all around as I take our Aussie, Lasyrenn, from home through our hood to our ritual Central Park walkabout and back home again.
For each of Lasyrenn’s training walks, as I deliver all my requests in French, the language to which Lasyrenn best responds, over and over we practice Lasyrenn’s walking at heel on a loose lead. This is a hard lesson for a puppy who is by nature a leader and herder and free spirit. Squirrels seem to purposefully scamper across the sidewalks as naughty temptations to be chased and organized. Lasyrenn is getting better at pausing and just watching without tugging ahead. At street corners she sits to look both ways while waiting for my gesture to carry on.
Lasyrenn loves the stretches with high and low stone walls where she is allowed to jump up and down then perch to shake a paw and give a high five. She especially enjoys striding atop the wall around the park fountain and pool—making turn after turn right and left.
Season through season while we are walking and training and repeating lessons and adding to Lasyrenn’s skill set, I am taking in the sights and the sounds and the scents we are passing. From time to time we stop: I lift my cell phone and take a photo here and one there to document the morning's beauty and surprises that companion us.
I photograph and post pictures of our majestic Courthouse, the Park’s solitary martin house and the knot holes in towering trees; puddles after a rain that reflect wavy fence rows and second story windows; and the belfry of the Presbyterian church on one corner and Director Julie Yockey’s beloved Carthage Public Library on another.
I photograph communities of starlings lined up in neat rows like chorusing embellishments on the Fire Station’s tower; mosaics made by leaves on herring-boned brick sidewalks and blossoms in every season of their blooming; fragrant wisteria arching over a park entrance and an abandoned truck or car permanently parked in an alley on the way to an afterlife; and bicycles left out in a pile overnight and lop-eared bunnies supporting the benches in Alice’s library garden.
We live in a sweet and amazing hometown! We have so much to discover and see every day. All we have to do is step outside, go ramble-ing and observing then shelter back place again—our senses saturated with pleasure, our spirits soothed with flâneuring.
Please practice your own Art of Flâneuring. Adventure through a picture book or travel through uplifting online images or go out and start walking. Then return. Stay home! Stay safe! Save lives! And help flatten the curve!
Though our paths for today are strewn with uncertainties, may the footsteps of our hearts keep us moving forward and finding beauty everywhere along our ways until we once again find each other.