“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
—George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans, 1819-1880), age 22, letter to a friend
Yes, that is a delicious thought: to travel for an entire year, let’s say, remaining within autumn the entire time. An extension on the beloved north-to-south “leaf-peepers” autumn tour of the Eastern U.S. Is such an extended autumn road-trip possible for an entire year? Well for the entire three month season, at least. Road-bound bird, campervan bird. Not a snow-bird, but a leaf-bird.
My old friend Peace Pilgrim did her walking peace-talk pilgrimage tours throughout North America along lines related to pleasant walking weather. She would travel throughout the north when the weather was warm enough there to walk all day and sleep outside during the night, then head for the south as it started to get too cool in the north to walk and sleep outdoors. Avoiding the south when it was too hot and avoiding the north when it was too cold.
I’m not quite sure just how my old friend Nanao Sakaki plotted his numerous walking treks around the planet in terms of weather, but in any case he wasn’t committed to Peace’s original pilgrimage vows “to walk until offered shelter, to fast until offered food.”
Peace would sleep out of doors except when offered a space to sleep indoors, she never requested accommodation. And she would fast until offered food, she never requested food. But after her first several walks across the continent, she did begin to accept offers of lifts, rides, at times, rather than always traveling only on foot as she proceeded from one speaking engagement to another. Sometimes she spoke at so many multiple venues in a single week that she needed such offered assistance in being transported from one location to another in order to keep her timely engagements to spread her message of peace. Otherwise, she was always happy to walk, and she continued her practice of never asking for sleeping accommodation or for food. But she confined her pilgrimage travels within the US, Canada, and Mexico, though also later adding group pilgrimage tours she would guide to Hawai’i and Alaska.
Nanao adventured forth on treks circling the globe alone on foot, and rarely if ever seemed to lack for offers of places to stay. It was always a bit of a mystery to me, though, how he managed the money part of the cost of flying or sailing overseas in hops from one hemisphere to the other. He couldn’t have walked over an ice bridge across the Bering Strait like the first Asians to travel over to North America (and/or the first Native North Americans to walk over into Asia!), much as he would have wished to join them in their walk!
Also, Peace was a vegetarian — who subsisted on whatever veggie fare was available at truckstops and other such places where people offered to treat her to a meal (some family homes and nice restaurants, too, of course, but still…). Roadside eating, and most hearthside eating, anywhere in America in the 1950s when she began her pilgrimage wasn’t very vegetarian-friendly! Nor is it always all that much better today, of course, though mostly do-able. Whereas, Nanao was an infamous omnivore. Trekking the globe, even road-tripping across America, has that added consideration for dedicated vegetarians (not to speak of vegans, etc.) — how to find suitable food? Nanao relished eating some very “odd” things unique to local cultures and regions; Peace ate countless truckstop salads!
Anyway, it’s glorious October, harvest season, and there is such wonderful variety & abundance of good vegetarian food and drink here on Turtle Island, North America, available to those of us “pilgrims” who are able to choose a bit among the items we relish & consume in our concern to enjoy gustatory delights while also sustaining ourselves in a way that promotes our maximum bodily health and maximum higher mind functioning.
My fellow pilgrims, this morning I lift to you & your health & conscious evolution this steaming hot mug of organic mulled cider pressed from (fairly) local apples. May your roads be glorious with the wonders of beautiful autumn! May all critters live in natural freedom & happiness!