They’re all Americans. OK, that’s a start.
They all have great names. That’s also true.
They had inspirational lives? Also correct.
But what links this Depression-era photographer (Evans), former slave (Truth), and Southern writer (O’Connor) with people named Journey, Amble, or Voyage? Names like Strider, Skip, March, Hiker, Pacer, Saunter, Trek, Ramble, Lane, Pike, Track, Racer, Skipper, Dash, Lane, Streeter, Strada (Italian for ‘street’) also fit the bill.
Still stumped? Saunter, in French, is Flanerie. Mais oui, c’est vrai. (Translation: but yes, it’s true!)
And Saunter, we learn from Thoreau in his 1850s essay, Walking, has its etymological origins in the Middle Ages, “from idle people who roved about the country…and asked charity, under pretence of going à la Sainte Terre“—to the holy land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer”, a saunterer—a holy-lander….
Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere.” At home anywhere.
If I could choose a single identity for myself, it would be that. A saunterer, at home anywhere. And everywhere. In fact, that urge to walk the world and see it up close and from the ground is what got me started on My Big Walk, a year-long daily walking project that I’m chronicling on my new blog. A long-time reporter, novelist, and memoirist, I travelled to Italy twice in the last two years to research my current historical novel, The Miracles of Prato. After walking Florence and Prato it was really hard to climb back up to my office, turn on the computer, and crank things out alone. I love to write, but I kept feeling I’d rather be out under the sun and sky, meeting people and walking in the stream of life.
Essentially, I love to be sauntering about. I’ve always fantasized about walking for a month through France, Italy, England, or Ireland: pub crawl, vineyard tour, Renaissance seminar, Blarney Stone sojourn. But that that doesn’t fit into my present family lifestyle. On morning I realized I could take that wanderlust – the urge to walk, to see, to explore, to saunter, journey, sojourn, — and do it right here, from home. Voila…My Big Walk was born.
To mark my birthday, I’m walking one hour, every day, 365 days – from October 1, 2009 to October 1, 2010 — through sun, rain, fog, sleet, snow, hangovers, hangnails, sprained ankles, bad moods, hot flashes, cold spells. You name it, I’m walking through it. I’m meeting new friends, seeing new places, and I have plenty of time on my daily walks to plot out my novels and think long and hard about the names of my characters.
If you’re looking for a name that will tell the world that you — and your child — have a pilgrim soul, a wanderlust, and a yen for adventuring wherever your own two feet can take you, you imght also consider these other Names for Walkers, Runners, and Cyclists:
RESA (journey in Swedish)
VIOGGIO (voyage in Italian)
Laurie Lico Albanese has been published in almost every genre including fiction, poetry, journalism, creative nonfiction, and memoir. She is now the host of a new blog site, My Big Walk. Her books include BLUE SUBURBIA: Almost a Memoir, LYNELLE BY THE SEA, and THE MIRACLES OF PRATO, co-written with art historian Laura Morowitz. Her travel and general-interest pieces have appeared in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Mothering magazine, and many other periodicals.
A SPECIAL NAMEBERRY BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT
Many of us on nameberry were riveted and moved by the story of Dotsmom, who in the midst of preparing for the arrival of her twin daughters, who were to join big sister Dorothy aka Dottie, found herself becoming the new mom of little Henry, suddenly orphaned by a car accident. Dotsmom proudly announced the arrival of the newest additions to her family, twins Eloise Charlotte Lavender and Matilda Adelaide Rosemary, better known as Ellie and Mattie. That’s Ellie on top, Mattie on the bottom. All our congratulations and best wishes to the beautiful new family.