Friday, February 6, 2009

The Art of Toodling

I received a fair number of comments (four) directly and by email about this post. "Love the post" they said. "But what is toodling?" I was surprised. I thought toodling was a common term. My parents accused me of it routinely. One of my officers in the Navy used to refer to killing time at sea as toodling. In all my travels I've heard endless numbers of people use the word in passing. So how is it that toodling is unknown in St. Louis?

I don't think for a minute that St. Louis was bypassed by the toodling world. I swear I have seen people here toodle. They may not have known they were toodling though; I never stopped them to ask if they're aware. Then again, midwestern culture is kind of conservative, so maybe we keep our toodling on the down-low. It may not be polite to mention toodling in mixed company either. I'll have to write to the newspaper to find out.

But what exactly is toodling? Well, there is no formal definition. Its more of a feeling; or rather, a state of being. In essence, to toodle is to meander or relax; to stroll or drift along without destination. It's a way of satisfying the soul by clearing the mind and ensnaring the senses. There are no rules.

For example, one may toodle aimlessly. Here is a couple who have toodled together since 1968, and they are so good at it, they can wrangle lunch from their friends. Here is another couple who toodle the trails of Seattle. And here is a fellow who calls himself Squishy and photographs his toodles.

One may toodle in the name of science.

Or in the name of the law.

Here is an example of toodle-spotting.

And here is some allegorical toodling (similarities in blog style notwithstanding). Google Image will supply you no end of other examples.

One may also toodle with purpose. For instance, my wife toodles in the garden. That doesn't make toodling an exclusively English passtime, but it does attest to the international recognition of the term (or our colonial past). Of course she has refined her garden toodles in the English way. No great horticultural feats are endeavored, but certain plantings are rearranged while others are ejected, and many a weed has met its demise.

I look forward to my toodles. Judging from the hits on Google, I suspect others do to. Living a modern, suburban life, toodle time is precious. Its something we teach our children and pass along from generation to generation. I think I toodle more like my father than my mother. My mother certainly toodles like her mother. My wife toodles in something of the way of her father and her mum. My kids being Ukrainian, I'm not sure whos toodle they emmulate. Early observations of my son point towards Ivan The Terrible. My daughter is very developmentally delayed, and I can't tell the toodling from her normal function - yet. As we grow the orphanage out of her, her style will blossom, and she may develop a uniquely eastern European toodle, or borrow from one of us. Only time will tell as we toodle along.

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