Non-peripatetics are mystified by the seeming futility of a daily walker's circuitous ramblings. "You don't go anywhere, it looks so boring, you always end right back where you started..." etc. That's how it may appear on the surface, from the outside. But they forget, we're all on a rocky carousel of a planet and always have been, going round and round. "Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving and revolving..."
When we do remember that, we marvel that vertigo isn't our constant condition. We have to stand and move, to stay upright and hold our momentum, to keep facing forward. The alternative, it seems, is to be permanently floored by the sheer centrifugal nature of our existence. How else can we hope to keep up.
Once more around the sun then, please, and another spin on the carousel each day, until the ride is over.
Thinking again about my Peripatetics Abroad course, delayed but not forgotten. A visit to Darwin's Down House and Sandwalk will be a highlight. How exactly did he convert those little walks, those modest revolutions around a country estate, into the biggest revolutionary idea of all time?
Emma had ivy planted, and bluebells, anemones, cowslips, and primroses. They made a path covered with sand from the woods. They called their path the Sandwalk, and it became Charles's walking and thinking path... Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith
The Sandwalk was Darwin's 'thinking path', a quarter-mile walk that formed the basis of his daily perambulations around the estate. He made regular circuits five times round it at noon, for example. His children skipped alongside from time to time, teasing their father by adding stones to the pile he would kick away to count each lap, but mostly Darwin walked alone, 'using a walking-stick heavily shod with iron which he struck loudly against the ground', as Darwin's son Francis recalled.Mostly he walked alone. That's always true, ultimately. But we know he was a close observer of canines. Surely they sometimes accompanied him? (There's a specific research topic for you, S.)