March 2017: Armchair Travel

Image of a page from Topographia Windhagiana
A page from Topographia Windhagiana.



“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”  --Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake


For those that love to travel, the pull to pack a bag and go at a moment’s notice is difficult to deny. However, prior commitments and responsibilities must often prevail. When that happens, it’s worth remembering that our minds may wander as far as they’d like through the pages of our books. With the selections in this month’s library profile, explore Thoreau’s New England or the topography of Austria through the eyes of a 17th century artist. 

At the Arboretum

You need travel no farther than the Arboretum to experience the effects of Shinrin-Yoku, the practice of bathing the senses in the forest atmosphere. Find information about the remaining March outings here and read about the session beginning in April here.



“And it is poetry when you sit on a ledge, silent, watching the shadows lengthen--lengthen, trying to catch the literally infinite gradations of the color, pulsing as it fades. Or when, stirring before dawn, you pause, frying pan in hand perhaps, to gaze, smitten with awe, at the miracle of the daily flooding of our planet with light. It is another kind of poetry when a rainy day, instead of being a all one delicious misty harmony of gray sky, dripping leaves, sparkling moss, the music of raindrops on the forest roof…”  Footpath in the Wilderness: The Long Trail in the Green Mountains of Vermont, pages 4-5

“Thoreau climbed mountains in the same fashion, drawing a bead on some distant point, then plunging into the fog with reckless confidence. Although not averse to trails and bridle paths, often he followed a stream bed up to a mountaintop. Splashing over slick, mossy rock was hazardous, but the route was direct and private. This method worked poorly on Katahdin, where he should have climbed along a rock slide, and in Tuckerman Ravine the stream cut beneath a melting snowfield. Thoreau fell on the snow and ripped his nails; later he sprained an ankle. The wonder is that he was not injured or lost more often.” Walking with Thoreau: A Literary Guide to the Mountains of New England, page 6

Library Resources

Topographia Windhagiana by Caspar Merian

Cover image of Topographia Windhagiana
The whimsical cover of Topographia Windhagiana.

Image from Topographia Windhagiana
Above and below: additional images of Topographia Windhagiana

Image of Topographia Windhagiana
This title is one of roughly 5,000 in the Sterling Morton Library’s rare book collection. To see this book and others in our collection, please schedule an appointment.

Footpath in the Wilderness: The Long Trail in the Green Mountains of Vermont edited by W. Storrs Lee
Abundant Beauty: The Adventurous Travels of Marianne North by Marianne North*
Walking with Thoreau: A Literary Guide to the Mountains of New England by William Howarth*

*Access the Library’s e-book collection by entering the number on the back of your Sterling Morton Library card.