Whitefield Academy Blog

A month or two ago, Carol Nichols, our test coordinator, showed me a quote that so delighted me. The photo accompanying it looked like it might be a quote from George MacDonald, the writer who according to C.S. Lewis “baptized my imagination.” But it was not; rather it was a quote from John Muir, the noted naturalist.

I had just been thinking about Whitefield’s first Saturday Saunter and here is what I read:

“People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”

– John Muir, as quoted in Albert Palmer’s 1911 book The Mountain Trail and Its Message

There is some dispute about the word’s true etymology, but I really liked Muir’s take on it, especially since it captured some of what I had in mind for a Saturday Saunter with families from our school, whether out in nature or in the midst of the city.

This past Saturday was Whitefield’s first Saunter. From Union Station and the Model Trains Exhibit to riding the KC Streetcar down to City Market, and from feasting on New Orleans beignets to the Arabia Steamboat Museum, Whitefield families took a moment to walk through our beautiful city and enjoy some of its hidden gems. It was a nice saunter!

saturday saunters

saturday saunters

saturday saunters

saturday saunters


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