Listen to the First Three Episodes Now!

If you take the roads through the forest, your soul will slowly wither.

If you cut through the forest, the forest will cut you back.

But to wander is to move through the natural pathways of the forest, to travel through its veins and follow its breathing.


The Wanderer is a queer fairy-folk tale audio drama, about being separated from the people we love to keep them safe.

Coming soon from award winning audio fiction producers T.H. Ponders (Accession, Open World) and Jordan Stillman (The Ordinary Epic).

A proud member of the Fable and Folly Network.

What They're Saying About
The Wanderer!

"My god this is gorgeous. The performances and the writing just sparkles. Drinking my coffee and listening to this while the sun streams in my window is an ecstatic experience."

-Avery Trufelman


"From the fresh sounds of the forest to the energizing music, it's a joy to be immersed in such a beautiful aural landscape, complemented by its dreamlike writing and compelling voice work. A beautiful queer fairy tale I look forward to wandering into again and again."

-Eli Barraza, The Far Meridian


"At once relaxing and electric, The Wanderer is a salve for aching hearts and a much needed moment of meditation amidst the chaos of recent days. Poetic, bursting with compassion – this is a show that will quickly become precious to anyone who listens."

-Evan Gulock, Death by Dying


"After over a year of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Wanderer beautifully confronts themes of loneliness and isolation with a tender, heartfelt narrative that casts a fragile, hypnotic spell. Centered on a narrative drive for reconnection, this story will immediately resonate with anyone who has felt a little more alone this past year, and make you feel less alone in the process."

-Jeff Van Dreason, Greater Boston

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Support Ponders Productions on Patreon to help us pay our collaborators, explore new projects, and make a living telling hopeful stories.

Cast and Crew

T.H. Ponders

Creator, Writer, Producer, Voice of The Wanderer

T.H. Ponders (they/them) is the creator of the award-winning art history and museum experience podcast Accession and audio sci-fi restaurant comedy Mars' Best Brisket. They were a 2020 Sarah Award Winner for Excellence in Audio Fiction. They live in Boston, Massachusetts.

Website - Twitter - Instagram

Jordan Stillman

Producer

Jordan Stillman (she/her) is a Boston-based writer, editor, producer, and actor. She's a producer of The Ordinary Epic and The Wanderer, a co-organizer of PodTales and the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, and has lent her voice to the podcasts Take the Mass Pike and Act Natural. She enjoys hot cups of tea, cats, and singing loudly.

Website - Twitter - Instagram

Jeanette Berry

Voice of The Forest

Jeanette Berry (they/them) is a singer, songwriter, educator, composer, and content creator navigating the Music and Art world in NYC. Listen to their EP, Solivagant, on all streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube) and their website.

Website - Twitter - Instagram

Adam Qutaishat

Voice of Andrew

Adam Qutaishat (any pronouns) is a multiracial actor, director, designer, teacher, writer, composer, and advocate working throughout the Midwest. Theatre highlights include work with Next Act Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, Playwrights' Center, and Music Theatre of Madison. Adam also writes, produces, performs in, and directs radio plays podcasts including WAIP, The All-Arcadians, The All-ArcaD&Dians, SHH, Athlos, and Vigil. Adam serves as Associate Artistic Director for Music Theatre of Madison and as an Artistic Associate for All In Productions.

Website - Instagram

V Silverman

Artist

V (they/them) is a nonbinary graphic artist and podcast enthusiast hailing from NYC (at the moment.) In their spare time, V professionally plays Dungeons and Dragons, makes bite-sized digital art about gender, and prods Ponders into producing more podcasts. You can hire V to make art for you on their website, check out their now-defunct podcast Fuzzy Logic, buy their stickers on their Etsy Shop, or follow their visual exploration of gender on Instagram.

Website - Shop - Instagram - Twitter

Olivia Li

Artist

Olivia Li (she/her) is a cartoonist and multidisciplinary artist living in New York City. She draws a lot of magical queer stories, and her body of work focuses mostly on mental health, introspection, and coming-of-age. Her favorite hobby is saving pictures of other people’s cats to her phone.

Website - Shop - Instagram - Twitter

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There are two great ways to support The Wanderer.

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Land Acknowledgement

The Wanderer is written and produced on the stolen lands of the Massachusett people, and has been recorded on the stolen lands of the Massachusett and Catawaba people.

If you've enjoyed The Wanderer, we ask that you consider donating to one or all of the charities listen below that are working to ensure the rights, sovereignty, and dignity of Indigenous people all around the world.

  • Land is Life- An Indigenous led non-profit, working to support the rights, self determination, and participation in policy making of Indigenous people all around the world, through legislation and supporting grass roots activists.

  • Palestinian Children's Relief Fund- An organization who have been providing humanitarian and medical relief to the children of Gaza since 1993. Your donations are needed now for urgent medical relief.

Contact

If you have press inquiries or interview requests, you can reach us by filling out the form below, or by emailing contact@callofthewander.com.

You can also check out our Press Kit and Information Sheet.

Press Releases

Season One
-April 12, 2021- The Wanderer Launches May 3rd

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Trailers

Call of the Wander (Season 1, Trailer 1)

Transcript

The Wanderer: You start with your own breathing. Match the rhythm of the breeze that carves the canopy, the birds and bugs chirping in set intervals, feel the subtle pulse rising up from the ground beneath you. To wander is to dance with the forest; but the forest isn’t just the partner, it is the music, it is the style, it is the rhythm, it is the ancient steps and movements that have only been passed down from one dancer to another. She teaches you to dance the dance she invented, to the music she’s singing, in a tonal system she thought up one night as it pleased her. You breathe, and you listen, and you wait for your place, your first step, the call to...

The Forest: WANDER!

Ponders: The Wanderer premiers May 3rd, 2021. Listen to the show at callofthewander.com.

Credits

Written and performed by T.H. Ponders. The Voice of the Forest is Jeanette Berry. Produced by T.H. Ponders and Jordan Stillman.


The Wanderer (Season 1, Trailer 2)

Transcript

The Wanderer: I think you should know something before we continue. I am not the hero of this story. In fact this story doesn’t have a hero. I'm not going to save anyone here, least of all myself. But I’ve made a deal with the forest. I've agreed to wander; to wander as long as I can, to wander as long as the forest wishes. I don't completely understand what she wants with me, but I wander because it's the only way I have to keep the person I love most safe. I wander because it’s the only way I’ll get him back. It's the least I can do. It’s the only thing I can do.

Ponders: The Wanderer premiers May 3rd, 2021. Listen to the show at callofthewander.com.

Credits

Written and performed by T.H. Ponders. Produced by Jordan Stillman and T.H. Ponders.

Prelude- Three Paths

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Show Notes

While sitting around a fire, The Wanderer tells of the three ways of traversing the forest- taking the cuts, or the roads and paths, bushwacking, and the oldest way- Wandering.

Get the guitar chords and lyrics sheet for Call of the Wander.

Make a contribution to Land is Life today.

Support: Join our Patreon to get early access, bonus materials, and to hear your name before each episode.

Credits

Written and performed by T.H. Ponders.
Produced by T.H. Ponders and Jordan Stillman.
View the full credits for the show.

Transcript

Our transcript is available below, or in this Read Only Google Document, or through the Closed Captioning on the episodes YouTube Video.


PONDERS
This episode of The Wanderer was produced on the stolen lands of the Massachusett and Catawba peoples. If you enjoy today's episode, consider joining us in making a donation to Land is Life, an Indigenous led non-profit, working to support the rights, self determination, and participation in policy making of Indigenous people all around the world. You can make a donation today by visiting landislife.org/donate, or by clicking on the link in the show notes. Thank you.

The Wanderer is made possible by the generous support of all our incredible patrons. Recently I ran into fellow bard Charles Gustine, seeking out ancient churches and temples to study their icons, and the brave Sir Jeff of Dreason, in search of a seat at the court of the Great kingdom of Boston. Thank you to all these wonderful patrons, as well as Kristin Tallis, Morgan Ainsley, James Oliva and Hallie Casey. If you’d like to help support independent storytelling and hear your name before each episode, visit patreon.com/pondersproductions and join us today.

A fire crackling. Night birds chirping.

THE WANDERER
Those that travel through the forest know that there are three types of path you can follow. The first are the trails, the roads, the cuts that have scarred over, etched along the forest floor to make traversal easy. I’ve nothing against those who take the roads; if it’s getting where you’re going and not the going itself... so be it. At least they aren't the ones doing the cutting, don’t cause more damage in their going about.

Louder snap from the fire.

THE WANDERER
I could spend my time being upset at the initial cutters, but there's not much point. They’re long gone.

No, the distinction of the smallest sliver of my disquiet belongs to the group who takes the second path. The bushwhackers, or the “one man cutters,” as the old ones called them. Sometimes it's about getting to the end faster, other times it's about seeing more of the scenery, and still yet are those who think this way is braver, the more adventurous route. They think they’re so… special, forging their own path, pioneering, discovering the undiscovered. There’s nothing undiscovered out here. Maybe undiscovered by them, but the provision of having been perceived by a man means very little to the forest.

Owl hooting. Fire continues to crackle.

THE WANDERER
The old ones called it a one man cut because it’s just that. Sure they don't take down any trees or pack the dirt so tight the weeds can’t even grow. But they leave behind a trail of broken twigs and trampled fauna. And a cut is a cut is a cut. You’d think a beauty as big as the forest wouldn’t mind a little cut, and really she’s fine, but she can’t make a habit of letting cuts go unpunished, else there’d be no more forest. It's one thing to take the old scarred over roads, but cut the forest fresh and the forest will cut you back.

Snaps of the crackling fire.

THE WANDERER
So, how then is a man supposed to travel through the forest? I’ll tell you. The third path. The hardest to traverse, or so they say. How would they know? As best I can tell I’m the only one who does it any more. I’m probably the only one who's done it in hundreds of years. The problem with the roads and the bushwhacks is that they stem from the idea that traversal of the forest is a uniquely human endeavor. And that only man knows best how to get through the forest. As if there weren’t many creatures here before us, as if there weren’t other men here before us, as if the forest hadn't already provided the perfect paths. These paths are as old as the forest herself, and as new as the winds and rains that ever bend them. They are the arteries, the airways, the means by which the forest takes her deep, long breaths. Without these paths there would be no forest at all. And when you’re keen, when you learn to hear the forest breath, you can follow those paths. And moving along one… it’s like flying. Not a branch cracks, not a flower is trampled. Your feet barely touch the forest floor.

Owl hooting. Fire crackling.

THE WANDERER
To the townsfolk and travelers, they’re whispers and legends, stories told once long ago ‘round a crackling campfire, fairytales they heard as children that helped let them dream sweet and safe. But the old ones had a name for these paths: the wanders. Which makes me the last of the Wanderers. It’s not a name that I wear with any sort of distinction or honor. I take no pride in it. I mention it only so you understand why I go for very long stretches without ever seeing another soul.

Louder snap from the fire.

THE WANDERER
Of course, the wander isn’t easy. All things in the forest are balanced.

The slow beginning of quiet guitar, plucking out a sweet melody in the background.

THE WANDERER
Traveling the roads will wear a person down in a specific way. There's only so long you can move through a scar without having to pay by part of your soul, but you’ll get where you’re going with relative ease. The bushwhack is hard in the way that anyone who decides to follow their ego will eventually find themselves in a trap built of their own hubris. The Wander is easiest on the limbs, the most natural, but harder on the mind. You don’t really belong in the veins of a forest, and the forest knows it. Along the wander you’re tested, tested for what you are and tested for what you are not. They’re not easy tests either.

The guitar stops. Fire crackling. Crickets chirping. Owl hooting.

THE WANDERER
But… I think you should know something before we continue. I am not the hero of this story. In fact this story doesn’t have a hero. This story has a wanderer, a wanderer who will be tested, who will pass, who will fail, who will be left to wonder if they passed or failed or if they were ever really tested at all. I'm not going to save anyone here, least of all myself. But I’ve made a deal with the forest. I've agreed to wander: to wander as long as I can, as long as the forest wants. I don't completely understand what she wants with me, but I wander because it's the only way I have to keep the person I love most safe. I wander because it’s the only way I’m gonna get him back. It’s the least I can do. It’s the only thing I can do.

Fire crackling. A strum of the guitar, and the Wanderer begins to sing.

THE WANDERER (singing)

If I tried to go,
where the trees are cut low,
the path wouldn’t lead me to you.

If I tried to go,
cut a trail of my own,
the path wouldn’t lead me to you.

So I wander, I wander,
I wander my way to you.

So I wander, I wander,
I wander my way to you.

At the long road’s end,
there is just another bend,
the road never leads me to you.

What is cut you cannot mend,
when you meet the forest’s end,
the forest will just keep me from you.

So I wander, I wander,
I wander my way to you.

So I wander, I wander,
I wander my way to you.

When you choose the ease of road,
the toll is your soul,
and the toll will keep me from you.

When you cut, the greater toll,
the forest eats you whole,
and there will be no me to lead to you.

So I wander, I wander,
I wander my way to you.

So I wander, I wander,
I wander my way to you.

The music swells and continues on.

JORDAN
The Wanderer is written and sound designed by T.H. Ponders. Produced by Jordan Stillman. Show art and design is by V Silverman. Additional art by Olivia Li.

Transcripts and full credits for each episode are available at callofthewander.com.

Ad sales and marketing support by Fable and Folly. If you’re interested in advertising with us, please email contact@callofthewander.com.

Our special thanks goes out to Sean Howard, Russ More, Christina Orlando, Elka Carl, Jeff Van Dreason, and Chad Ellis.

If you’d like to help us make more episodes of The Wanderer, and support independent storytelling, head on over to patreon.com/pondersproductions today. You’ll get to hear each episode a week early, get bonus episodes and features, and, when we reach 50 patrons (which we’re really close to!) we’re going to create a Patron only Discord! You get all of that for as little as $1 a month—but trust us when we say that dollar isn’t little to us. With that dollar you’re telling us, and the world, that you love The Wanderer and you support independent storytelling! Again, head over to patreon.com/pondersproductions to make a donation today!

Don’t forget to follow The Wanderer on Twitter and Instagram @callofthewander. That’s where we post inspiring quotes, scenic vistas, and the latest goings on about the show, like Spotify playlists for each episode and behind the scenes photos! That’s @callofthewander on Instagram and Twitter! (Or check out the links in the show notes!)

Bob has been getting hope from their weekly Star Wars book group that’s brought him closer to friends, and twiglets are great to eat on Twitter is looking forward to seeing family she hasn’t seen in over a year.

We want to hear what’s giving you hope right now. Head over to Apple Podcasts or Podchaser, and leave a review! Tell us what gives you hope and we may just read it out on the show!

Please stay safe, and thank you for wandering with us.


Chapter 1- The Morning

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Show Notes

The Wanderer confronts his devil as he tries to get started in the morning. Sometimes it’s easy to catch the wander. Sometimes it's his greatest challenge.

Get the guitar chords and lyrics sheet for Morning Glory.

Make a contribution to Land is Life today.

Support: Join our Patreon to get early access, bonus materials, and to hear your name before each episode.

Credits

Written and performed by T.H. Ponders.
The Voice of the Forest is Jeanette Berry.
Produced by T.H. Ponders and Jordan Stillman.
View the full credits for the show.

Transcript

Our transcript is available below, or in this Read Only Google Document, or through the Closed Captioning on the episodes YouTube Video.


Ponders
This episode of The Wanderer was produced on the stolen lands of the Massachusett and Catawba peoples. If you enjoy today's episode, consider joining us in making a donation to Land is Life, an Indigenous led non-profit, working to support the rights, self determination, and participation in policy making of Indigenous people all around the world. You can make a donation today by visiting landislife.org/donate, or by clicking on the link in the show notes. Thank you.

The Wanderer is made possible by the generous support of all our incredible patrons. I heard a rumor that the brave knight Hallie Cassey found the sword in the lake that they needed to fulfil their destiny. And Friar James Oliva was out picking mushrooms for his frequent church potluck suppers—though I think he may have picked some psychedelics on accident... Thank you to all these wonderful patrons, as well as Charles Gustine, Jeff Van Dreason, Kristin Tallis, and Morgan Ainsley. If you’d like to help support independent storytelling and hear your name before each episode, visit patreon.com/pondersproductions and join us today.

A whistling gust of wind. A soft bird call. Faint fire crackling sounds.

THE WANDERER
There are few things more beautiful than the forest at the very moment when morning begins. Andrew is one of them. I’m pressed to think of any others.

After the darkness comes a short window of grey, the time when the faeries coat the leaves with their morning dew.

The perfect time to stretch.

Audibly stretches.

THE WANDERER
To wash the face.

Water pouring.

THE WANDERER
To warm up some water for the morning cup on the dwindling flames of last night's fire. You couldn’t speak above a hushed tone if you tried. And then… the magic.

Guitar plays gently.

THE WANDERER
The first beams of light trace over the edge of the horizon, just dipping the tip tops of every tree in an orange glow. Slowly the light drips down from the canopy to the floor below, blessing everything it touches with the promise of being. The air, having had a night to lie still, is crisp and fresh, like a glass of clean water for the lungs.

A gust of air.

THE WANDERER
And the forest takes in a deep breath, as if to say, “Let the Wander begin.”

Birds chirping.

THE WANDERER
But of course, that’s also the downside of the morning. Well… not a downside of the morning, as much as it is a downside of… me. Morning is always the first trial. When you wander, you move with the sun and the rhythm of the forest, none of which is under your control, or works with whatever schedule your mind has decided to keep. There's only a small window after the first moments of morning where the forest will let you in. Sometimes it’s a whole minute, other times it’s mere seconds—but if you miss it, you’ll spend the day right where the last Wander left you. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve spent more than one night in the exact same spot. Not because I’m not good at catching the Wander but…

Melancholy guitar plays.

It always starts the same way. You’ve been on a streak. Maybe you’ve wandered every day for a week. And then one morning you miss it. Not for any reason in particular. It’s not a matter of skill or timing or listening more carefully. You just miss it. And that’s that. It wasn't actually a failure, but now you have nothing but time—time and a mind that won't stop thinking about it as if it was a failure. So you spend the day tending to the fire and your doubts. But before you sleep you tell yourself it’ll be different in the morning. You’ll catch it this time.

But those grey moments before the sunrise turn against you. As the rest of the forest begins to stretch out your mind turns in on itself.

THE DEVIL
Alone. Alone. Alone. Alone. What if you just can’t catch the Wander here? What if you’re never able to catch the Wander again, and you’re stuck beneath this tree, alone, for the rest of your miserable life? Alone. Alone. Alone.

THE WANDERER
We’ll… get back to him. The point is the moment of doubt.

Hopeful guitar. A gust of wind. Forest sounds, chirping.

THE WANDERER
Not even morning's first light and its promise of being can clear it up. And you go to catch the Wander and… miss. Again.

Guitar fades away.

THE WANDERER
Day two under the same tree, with only a little of the wood you’ve collected on your last Wander to carry you through. And now you’re not sure how long you’ll be stuck here. So you don’t eat. You don’t drink. You can’t waste the resources the forest gives and you can’t take what the forest does not offer on the Wander. To do so is to cut, a fate worse than being stuck. And so you wait.

At night your mind turns and turns. Your stomach is hollow, the perfect echo chamber for your anxieties. Eventually you do fall asleep, but when the grey comes again in the morning…

THE DEVIL
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Is it even worth trying? Are you even worth it? What makes you think he wants you to find him? Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.

THE WANDERER
This goes on for a few days, sometimes a week, never in any sort of recognizable pattern, until one morning you wake up, and before you even realize what has happened, you’re in the Wander again.

Confident footsteps, moving swiftly. Birds chirping. A swell of music.

THE WANDERER
Moving through the forest like you’d never stopped. You have some really good days, where the wander carries you deep into the night, and you feel like you’ve made a lot of progress. But that's… that's when the Devil is at his strongest…

THE DEVIL
Sunrise. Sunset. Sunrise. Sunset. Sunrise. Sunset. How many more have you got left? What if tomorrow you lose the Wander? What if you’re not actually getting any closer? What if the forest never brings you to him? What if you’ve just been damned to do this forever? Sunrise. Sunset. Sunrise. Sunset. Sunrise. Sunset.

THE WANDERER
I’ve told you that the forest gives all who wander challenges to face. This… is not one of them. This is my own challenge. My own mind turned against itself. My doubt. I know that everyone has their own Devil, but there's something special about mine; not unique, but special. I did something, something I daren’t speak of. I made a mistake. And that voice bowed down to the pool that forms from the carcass of a mistake and drank. Drank until it was as powerful and as full as the rest of my mind. Drank until I couldn’t go a day without hearing it.

As best I can tell this isn’t the way a mind is supposed to work. He is a problem, an illness. But, alas, one my magic seems to be powerless to heal.

Discordant guitar strumming and humming.

THE WANDERER
When I need to stem a body’s bleeding, or set a bone, I pull out my guitar and blend my song with its vibrations into healing bands that bind and make whole. I’ve… I tried once. I had to make a song from scratch. I found it soothing. Like a cool, damp cloth on a burn. But no healing. Not yet.

I hope that maybe someday—when I’m done wandering, once I’ve found Andrew and we’ve gotten out of this forest—maybe that will be the thing that will finally drain his power. Or maybe I’ll need to go in search of someone who can teach me a new song. To be honest, I try not to think too hard about what that’s going to look like. He’s an illness, a problem. But a problem I can live with. I can get from day to day and… he only sometimes hinders my wandering.

So long as I live with that mistake, I live with my Devil. Always a reminder of what I’ve done and who I’ve lost. Sometimes I think even after I’m not living with that mistake, he’ll still be there. And so, most of my day is spent hoping he doesn’t come around, or at least, hoping I can fend him off when he does.

THE DEVIL
Fend. Fend. Fend. Fend. Fend. You think you can fend me off? I am always here, always by your side, ‘till the bitter end. Fend. Fend. Fend.

THE WANDERER
I try not to think on it too much. And… I try not to speak out loud to you. Would you please return to my mind?

THE DEVIL
Mind. Mind. Isn’t this all just in your mind? Isn’t the shadow just a series of shadows you perceive? Isn’t my voice just a thing you hear? Are you even here, or are you all just in your mind? Mind. Mind.

THE WANDERER
Ah, you’ve gone metaphysical. You haven’t actually got any grip on me. That’s always your last-ditch resort and the easiest to get by.

THE DEVIL
Last. Last. Last. Last. How long do you think this little streak of yours will last? It’s been a couple of good days now. Can’t you feel that pendulum on the edge of its swing, just about to break and send you sailing right back into my arms, like last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that…?

THE WANDERER
No. No, no, no. Not today. Not this morning. I slept well. I can feel the forest ready to take its first breath. I’ll catch it today and there is nothing you can say to hold me back.

A sharp bird chirping.

THE WANDERER
And sometimes that's it. Sometimes I stand my ground and he disappears, without a fight. I’ve gotten… better at dealing with the Devil in the morning. There are little things I can do, so long as it’s not one of those days where I just miss the Wander, that let me hold him back. I’m better off if I start my morning with a couple sips of cool water. I’m better off if I can eat a small nibble and stretch out my limbs. And most of all, I’m better off if I can see all of my goals ahead of me, if I can think about the process. Water, food, stretch, breathe, prepare, listen, catch the Wander, Wander, Wander, Wander, find the place where the Forest wants me to rest, eat the food the Forest has given to me, build a fire with the kindling I’ve collected, sing myself to sleep, wake up, repeat, water food stretch breathe, listen, Wander, rest, wake up, water food stretch breathe, Wander, rest, wake up, water food stretch breathe, Wander, rest, wake, Wander, wake, Wander, wake, Wander, and eventually, Andrew. Like a song all its own I see the path before me, and I see what lies at the end. If I can focus on that, if I can hold onto that, the Devil tends to be… manageable.

Of course, the forest doesn’t let you stick to such a song. It wants to throw in its own verse, and the Devil feeds off that in turn. But the morning isn’t The Forest’s challenge. It’s mine.

Birds chirping.

THE WANDERER
You start with your own breathing. Match the rhythm of the breeze that carves the canopy, the birds and bugs chirping in set intervals, feel the subtle pulse rising up from the ground beneath you. To wander is to dance with the Forest; but the Forest isn’t just the partner, she is the music, she is the style, she is the rhythm, she is the ancient steps and movements that have only been passed down from one dancer to another. She teaches you to dance the dance she invented, to the music she’s singing, in a tonal system she thought up one night as it pleased her. You breathe, and you listen, and you wait for your place, your first step, the call to…

FOREST
WANDER!

Guitar and melody pick up and swell.

THE WANDERER (singing)

Morning Glory
Painter of the east
Morning Glory
Guide our lives to peace

Morning Glory
Sparrow singing true
Morning Glory
Show us what to do

Morning Glory
Air crisp and sweet
Morning Glory
Born of night’s defeat

Morning Glory
Teach us to forgive
Morning Glory
Guide us how to live

Morning Glory
Sparrow singing true
Morning Glory
Show us what to do

Morning Glory
Painter of the east
Morning Glory
Guide our lives to peace
Guide our lives to peace

Gust of wind and increased tempo of the music.

JORDAN
The Voice of The Wanderer is T.H. Ponders. The Voice of The Forest is Jeanette Berry. The Wanderer is written and sound designed by T.H. Ponders. Produced by Jordan Stillman. Show art and design is by V Silverman. Additional art by Olivia Li.

Transcripts and full credits for each episode are available at callofthewander.com.

Ad sales and marketing support by Fable and Folly. If you’re interested in advertising with us, please email contact@callofthewander.com.

Our special thanks goes out to Sean Howard, Russ More, Christina Orlando, Elka Carl, Jeff Van Dreason, and Chad Ellis.

If you’d like to help us make more episodes of The Wanderer, and support independent storytelling, head on over to patreon.com/pondersproductions today. You’ll get to hear each episode a week early, get bonus episodes and features, and, when we reach 50 patrons (which we’re really close to!) we’re going to create a Patron only Discord! You get all of that for as little as $1 a month—but trust us when we say that dollar isn’t little to us. With that dollar you’re telling us, and the world, that you love The Wanderer and you support independent storytelling! Again, head over to patreon.com/pondersproductions to make a donation today!

And don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list! Not only will you never miss an episode again, but each month Ponders gives you a peek behind the curtains, to explore the ideas, stories, and experiences that went into The Wanderer. You can sign up today at callofthewander.com/newsletter. Or check out the links in the show notes!

Lauren says the thing that is giving her hope right now has been her sister, who she has developed an even deeper friendship with over the last year, and Jeff says it’s his daughter’s curiosity and bright approach to the world.

We want to hear what’s giving you hope right now. Head over to Apple Podcasts or Podchaser, and leave a review! Tell us what gives you hope and we may just read it out on the show!

Please stay safe, and thank you for wandering with us.

Music continues.


Chapter 2- The Rain

Show Notes

While moving through the rain, The Wanderer slips and twists his ankle. He has to make the choice between using some of his magic song on his own leg to keep going, or to wait and save his magic for whatever state he might find Andrew in.

Get the guitar chords and lyrics sheet for Rain of Mine.

Make a contribution to the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund today.

Listen to Signed, Venus, leave them a review, and let them know we sent you!

Support: Join our Patreon to get early access, bonus materials, and to hear your name before each episode.

Credits

Written and performed by T.H. Ponders.
The Voice of the Forest is Jeanette Berry.
Produced by T.H. Ponders and Jordan Stillman.
View the full credits for the show.

Transcript

Our transcript is available below, or in this Read Only Google Document, or through the Closed Captioning on the episodes YouTube Video.


JORDAN
The Wanderer will begin after these short messages. Thank you for your support.

PONDERS
This episode of The Wanderer was produced on the stolen lands of the Massachusett and Catawba peoples. But the struggle for indigenous rights and sovereignty extends far beyond our own borders. Right now, the Palestinian people are facing ethnic cleansing, genocide, and colonial violence perpetuated by Israeli Settlers. Please join us in donating to PCRF, the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, who have been working since 1993 to provide humanitarian relief to the Children of Gaza. Your donations are needed now for urgent medical relief, as children are being displaced, orphaned, injured, and killed by Israeli violence. Links to where you can donate are in the show notes. Thank you.

SFX: A gust of wind.

PONDERS
The Wanderer is made possible by the generous support of all our incredible patrons. The last time I saw the hermit Maren, they were down in the seagrass trying to capture a fairy. Don’t think anyone has seen them since… Hmmm...

No matter! Thank you to Maren for being one of our wonderful patrons, as well as Charles Gustine, Jeff Van Dreason, Kristin Tallis, Morgan Ainsley, James Oliva, and Hallie Casey. If you’d like to help support independent storytelling and hear your name before each episode, visit patreon.com/pondersproductions and join us today.

SFX: A gust of wind.

SFX: The sound of rain falling steadily. A rumbling clap of thunder peals. Rain continues.

WANDERER
When I was a boy, I used to love the rain. It’s not that I hate the rain now—but a cold fall morning drizzle isn’t quite the same as the tender warm kisses of a June afternoon thunderstorm, which seem to be fewer and fewer as the years go on.

SFX: The timber of the rain changes. The sound of children splashing in puddles in the rain.

WANDERER
I can recall many a day spent running about playing tag with friends in the rain, no tunics, no cares; only a boundless energy and a complete disregard for the amount of mud that had caked onto our boots.

SFX: A more subdued walking in the rain.

WANDERER
Even as I had traded the carelessness of childhood for the cares of being somewhere between young and adult, an afternoon rain storm was the perfect time for a walk...

SFX: Footsteps walking in the wet.

WANDERER
...to reflect, to smell the freshness of nature as it takes a drink.

SFX: Thunder. Rain.

WANDERER
Now, though I haven’t aged too terribly far beyond that, the rain is sometimes… more drown than drink.

SFX: Guitar strumming beneath the rain.

WANDERER
When the rain is cold, and my mind isn’t present enough to enjoy what it might offer, it can lead to a feeling of...separation, disconnect, from myself, from my body, from the world, from time—like I might never see the sun again, like I might be trapped in some kind of eternal fall, with winter’s quiet and spring’s reunion resting ever out of my reach. These days, those feelings all manifest in my longing for Andrew, in missing him. I know this, but knowing does not make the feelings any easier to dissipate.

SFX: Guitar strumming continues. Rain and soft thunder in the distance.

WANDERER
That is only sometimes though. Other times I’m ok. Which is its own frustration. If it were consistent I might be able to at least… I don't know… plan for it? On the ups, the rain isn’t a death sentence. I can have a rainy day and still make progress in the Wander.

Today is one of those. The find was fairly easy, the path came naturally, and the forest hasn’t caught me in her wily snares yet. I’ve made really good distance today. Perhaps it’s the momentum of yesterday and I’m carrying that energy forward. Or maybe it’s some bad day in my recent past that’s taken on all of the burden and is holding the Devil at bay. But momentum doesn't always last. I have to keep go…

SFX: The Wanderer slips in the mud. We hear him let out a gasp as he falls, the sliding and the thud. His breathing quickens.

WANDERER
No branches. No plants. No cut.

SFX: The Wanderer gives a sigh of relief. Then a cry of pain.

WANDERER
Okay. Okay.

SFX: He tries to stand up again. This time with more of a grunt and another cry of pain.

THE DEVIL
Pity. Pity. Pity. Pity. You were doing so well. You had made it so far.

SFX: The Wanderer lets out another cry of pain.

THE DEVIL
You’d just started to think you might actually do this... Pity. Pity. Pity. Pity.

WANDERER
I can do this. I can. I’m fine. It’s just a sprain. I’ll have to go slower but…

SFX: The Wanderer lets out another cry.

THE DEVIL
But. But. But. But. But I think I hear the Wander flitting away? You can’t keep up with it like this. Haven’t you realized yet? This whole day is wasted. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.

SFX: The Wanderer winces and sighs.

WANDERER
I’ve made it this far. And I will make it further.

THE DEVIL
Further. Further. Further. Further. Why even bother? Don’t you see that tree up ahead? With the soft patch of moss beneath it? Its deep swooping branches can provide you some shelter. Won’t you come in from the rain? Won’t you accept the gesture of kindness? The Forest is offering you some pity, some bit of comfort.
SFX: The Wanderer breathes in and sighs.

THE DEVIL
It’s right there. Just a few feet further. Further. Further. Further.

WANDERER
It’s a test. It’s always a test with the Forest. The Forest doesn’t have pity, she doesn't offer comfort, and she doesn’t care about me. She wants to test me. Wants to know how much I’m willing to…

SFX: The Wanderer winces in pain.

WANDERER
How much I’m willing to give.

SFX: The Wanderer takes out his guitar and begins tuning up the strings. He sighs.

THE DEVIL
Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame. It really is the only choice, isn’t it? When you’ve got so much wandering ahead of you, and no hope of knowing what you’ll meet at your journey's end. Do you think it wise to waste your gift on yourself? Why don’t you just give up? Just crawl under that tree and sleep. Let your shame and pity rock you to sleep? Shame. Pity. Shame. Pity. Shame. Pity.

WANDERER
No! I was doing so well today. I made it so far. It can’t all be for not. I’m not ready to stop yet. If I crawl under that tree I will be here for days. And…

THE DEVIL
And. And. And. And. Andrew.

SFX: The Wanderer winces.

THE DEVIL
You feel him getting closer don’t you?

WANDERER
I hesitate to think it but… yes. Something… some feeling, some little shard of hope I haven’t dared give a voice. It’s kept me on this run. Kept me going for a while now. I don’t want to lose that feeling. I don’t want to lose him. I want to keep going. I want...

SFX: The Wanderer tries one more time to get up and cries.

WANDERER
I have to do it. I have to fix it. This might be it.

SFX: The Wanderer continues tuning his guitar.

THE DEVIL
And. And. And. And what if you get to him and he needs your magic more?

WANDERER
At least we’ll be together. Even… even without my magic... We’ll be together. That will be enough. I hope…

SFX: The Wanderer plays the Song of Healing. A simple melody is plucked out on the guitar. An ambient hum is also heard. The rain continues. More complex chords follow as the song continues.

WANDERER
Oh. Much better. Onward.

SFX: Another peal of thunder. Rain. A driving melody begins to play.
WANDERER
Comfort. Comfort is the feeling of being a boy playing tag in the rain because afterwards there's a warm bowl of soup and a clean bath. A pair of arms to hold you. Comfort is the tender embrace of a cup of tea as you watch the raindrops trickle down the window pane. Comfort is the thing the Forest doles out in the smallest increments.

I recall reading once of a very, very ancient band of religious folk, who believed that to feel comfort would lead to sin. Moral wrongdoing. They would starve themselves and sit upon ten foot tall poles and sleep on slabs of stone. I never could understand it, until maybe today. Until I was given a choice between comfort and Andrew. I don’t think there's any sense in going as far as those bygone zealots, but perhaps they had their reasons. Perhaps there is some good in choosing a moment away from comfort, in drawing a line, insisting upon perseverance even though the temptation of comfort is so sweet. Maybe learning to do that makes us good. Maybe learning when to do that, and when not to, makes us even better. Or… maybe I just need to find a reason to justify what I did, the choice I made.

I took a risk using my gift to fix my ankle. I only have so much. But… with that feeling inside of me, that feeling like I’m getting closer. It seemed a much smaller risk than the risk I might take in the embrace of comfort. And when you wander, the balance of risk is sometimes all you have.

I can hear him, can hear a trace of his breath between the trees. The beat of his heart sometimes lines up perfectly with my footfall—only for a step and it’s gone. I heard that rhythm, the notes of that song only once before, just before I met him, just before he turned around and I saw the face of my love. I can’t afford to lose those sounds. I have to follow them. I have to keep going. The comfort of my youth will wait for another day. Perhaps I’m not giving up comfort like those ancient monks. No, I’m going in search of a greater comfort. Andrew will be my comfort, when I find him… when I find him…

SFX: Rain continues.

FOREST
WANDER!

SFX: The rain continues and peters out. The wind blows in gusts.

SFX: Night sounds. Forest sounds. The fire crackles. Night insects and birds call. Guitar strumming.

WANDERER (singing Rain Of Mine)

The old iron king
Has a body that will rust.
And the prairies are littered
With the wagons that bust.
There’s a moment unplanned
In the cold rains of trust,
And a hope for the damned
Between the mustn'ts and the musts.
Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.

The rules are all shallow
But the tall man still drowns.
And the people shuffle onward
Through a slowly ghosting town.
The iron king is aging
So he wears a golden crown.
And child holds his hand
As the rusting rain falls down.
Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.

We can clean up the prairies,
But the ghosts still remain.
And the child takes the crown
To begin their just reign.
Between the mustn’ts and the musts
Theres a freedom from the pain—
A freedom born of hope
As the world is cut in twain.
Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.
Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.
Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.
Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.
Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.

SFX: Gust of wind. Music underneath.

JORDAN
The Voice of The Wanderer is T.H. Ponders. The Voice of The Forest is Jeanette Berry. The Wanderer is written and sound designed by T.H. Ponders. Produced by Jordan Stillman. Show art and design is by V Silverman. Additional art by Olivia Li.

Transcripts and full credits for each episode are available at callofthewander.com.

Ad sales and marketing support by Fable and Folly. If you’re interested in advertising with us, please email contact@callofthewander.com.

Our special thanks goes out to Sean Howard, Russ More, Christina Orlando, Elka Carl, Jeff Van Dreason, and Chad Ellis.

If you’d like to help us make more episodes of The Wanderer, and support independent storytelling, head on over to patreon.com/pondersproductions today. You’ll get to hear each episode a week early, get bonus episodes and features, and, when we reach 50 patrons (which we’re really close to!) we’re going to create a Patron only Discord! You get all of that for as little as $1 a month—but trust us when we say that dollar isn’t little to us. With that dollar you’re telling us, and the world, that you love The Wanderer and you support independent storytelling! Again, head over to patreon.com/pondersproductions to make a donation today!

And don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list! Not only will you never miss an episode again, each month Ponders gives you a peek behind the curtains, to explore the ideas, stories, and experiences that went into The Wanderer. You can sign up today at callofthewander.com/newsletter. (Or check out the link in the show notes!)

Maren says: “Right now, I'm finding hope in the stories I encounter, and in the steps I'm taking to craft my own.” And Alexander says: “I’ve been brewing secret plans to make a blue cheese ice cream, which is precisely the right level of “thrill of the taboo” to keep me going.”

We want to hear what’s giving you hope right now. Head over to Apple Podcasts or Podchaser, and leave a review! Tell us what gives you hope and we may just read it out on the show!

Please stay safe, and thank you for wandering with us.
SFX: Upbeat music continues.

PONDERS
Need a show to listen to while you wait for the next episode of The Wanderer? Why not check out the delightful fantasy travel show Signed, Venus, one of my favorite shows to debut last year. Take a listen.

SFX: BIRDS CHIRPING, SOUND OF WAVES AND SEAGULLS

MIRAH
I notice that your first destination is Arabella, but… that’s not on your way.

HAYDEN
It’s the first destination The Writer went to… it’s sacred.

SFX: BACKGROUND NOISE FADES INTO UPBEAT LO-FI MUSIC

KAMERON
[laughter] Oh, how excited are you, on a scale of one to ten?

HAYDEN
A BILLION.

SFX: MUSIC FADES INTO ANOTHER, MORE TRADITIONAL TUNE

KAMERON
I thought the waters at Coast Venus were clear… This is... that’s something else!

CORA
Visitors… of course.

HAYDEN
You’re Captain Valeria, right? Of The Ultramarine?

VALERIA
Yup, that’s me! And that’s her - The Ultramarine.

NURI
Sentimentality is a virtue of ours. It is ingrained in our people.

CORA
I’m sure such a thoughtful gift will cheer her right up.

SFX: SOUND OF COFFEE BEANS FALLING INTO CUP

SFX: A DIFFERENT, MORE SOMBER LO-FI SONG BEGINS

HAYDEN
One of the most important people we have to meet is in Arabella.

VALERIA
Who was this person?

HAYDEN
Uh… no one knows, actually.

PRODUCER
SIGNED VENUS, PART I. LISTEN ON MAY 27.

SFX: MUSIC STOPS

VALERIA
Do you two know anything?!

PONDERS
You can find a link to Signed, Venus in the show notes. Go give it a listen, leave them a review on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser, and let them know we sent you.


Chapter 3- The Clearing

Show Notes

The Wanderer arrives at a clearing, with no way of hearing which way the wander has gone. He moves through the clearing, looking for a way out, and something to hold onto, to keep him going.

Make a contribution to Land is Life today.

Support: Join our Patreon to get early access, bonus materials, and to hear your name before each episode.

Credits

Written and performed by T.H. Ponders.
The Voice of the Forest is Jeanette Berry.
Produced by T.H. Ponders and Jordan Stillman.
View the full credits for the show.

Transcript

Our transcript is available below, or in this Read Only Google Document, or through the Closed Captioning on the episodes YouTube Video.


JORDAN
The Wanderer will begin after these short messages. Thank you for your support.

PONDERS
This episode of The Wanderer was produced on the stolen lands of the Massachusett, Miami, Menominee, Peoria, and Potawatomi peoples. But the struggle for indigenous rights and sovereignty extends far beyond our own borders. If you enjoy today's episode, consider joining us in making a donation to Land is Life, an Indigenous led non-profit, working to support the rights, self determination, and participation in policy making of Indigenous people all around the world. You can make a donation today by visiting landislife.org/donate, or by clicking on the link in the show notes. Thank you.

The Wanderer is made possible by the generous support of all our incredible patrons. We’d especially like to thank Maren Schroeder, Charles Gustine, Jeff Van Dreason, Kristin Tallis, Morgan Ainsley, James Oliva and Hallie Casey. If you’d like to help support independent storytelling and hear your name before each episode, visit patreon.com/pondersproductions and join us today.

SFX: A driving beat. A sweet melody. Birds chirping.

WANDERER
I don’t think Wandering is anything terribly exciting to look at. It probably just looks like a person walking through the woods. But when you experience it, when you’re in it— it's like water flowing through a stream, certain of its course, swift and unburdened by sudden obstacles. When I was just a boy, my grandfather taught me archery. He told me “An amateur appears to move fast. A master appears to move not at all.” When the mind and body are moving as one, the time between decision and action becomes an ebb and flow, a kind of dance.

SFX: Notes plucked out in the melody.

WANDERER
Each step bears no hesitation because it is the step that you have heard the forest sing to you, and you have committed to sing it back. Like harmonizing with a song you’ve never heard before, but knowing just which note comes next. The best singers, if not by memory, by intuition seem to know the harmonies to every song—mind and body working as one. Appearing to move, not at all. I’ve long since put down the bow but I’ve held onto that lesson.

The Forest has been good to me these past couple days. Given me plenty to eat, plenty to drink. Warm fires, cool mornings. The melody has been rather lovely. But, of course, when the forest gives, the forest…

SFX: The music stops abruptly. The Wanderer sighs.

WANDERER
…takes. A clearing.

If wandering is like singing, then this is the part where the forest bids me to sing a solo; she winks and whispers, “I’ll meet you on the other side.”

I’ve been lucky, up until now, to avoid any clearings, but of course, she would put one in front of me eventually. The problem is that in this meadow, the Wander dissipates. Like the mist at the bottom of a waterfall that feeds into a big mountain lake. Somewhere, on the other side is an outlet, a place where the Wander picks up again. But even the most weathered boatswain would be hard pressed to find this current.

Nothing. Not even a whisper.

Infinite paths ahead of me. Only one of them is right.

No guidance. Nothing clear about a clearing. I guess I just have to choose. Choose and hope. Or...

THE DEVIL
Or. Or. Or. Or. Or you could just give up? Better to give up than make the wrong choice.

WANDERER
Not here. Not now. I have no time for this.

SFX: The Devil sneers.

WANDERER
Well, if any direction could be the right direction, then I guess... every direction is the right direction? All I can do is keep going and hope I catch the Wander on the other side.

SFX: Footsteps as The Wanderer begins to walk across the field. A sweet guitar melody begins, building to bright chords and fading.

WANDERER
I would never say it, never even dare think it anywhere near her, but... it’s kind of nice out here, away from the Forest and the Wander. It reminds me... it reminds me of Andrew.

SFX: A sweet guitar melody begins.

WANDERER
Of the long walks we used to take. There was never really a destination—Andrew would just take my hand and I would go wherever he led. I don’t think he knew where he was going either, but that’s what’s so beautiful about Andrew—his sense of freedom, an internal call that only he knows how to answer. That’s the thing he was... is always best at. Me on the other hand—my freedom is but to revel in his.

SFX: More footsteps and guitar as he wanders to a different part of the field. We hear a huge school of prairie birds fly up, the kind that swarm and sway in a flock. Birds chirping.

WANDERER
When I was young, Ma and Pa would hitch up the wagon and take me and my sister on long rides out into the prairie to spot birds. They had all the books and knew when and where and by which water source the birds they meant to see would land. They tried to get me and Dani interested but... well, you know how children are.

Still, they’re amazing, aren’t they? A whole flock of prairie birds, dancing this way and that, carried about by the wind. So many birds that as a child I thought it must be a thousand or more, swaying in the sky, moving as one mass. Prairie birds, I always called them, on account of seeing them on the prairie. I’m sure Ma corrected me a half dozen times, but no name ever stuck, except the ones I gave them myself. Prairie birds...

SFX: Guitar continues. Footsteps as The Wanderer walks on. A whistle of wind.

SFX: Footsteps and guitar. Birds chirping. The sound of a babbling stream.

WANDERER
Pa often used to tell me about the ancient scholars with their paradoxes and riddles—how you could never make it anywhere if you alway had to get halfway first, and halfway again, and halfway again; how the flowing river exists only in concept; its actual contents always shifting, always new water, depositing new sediment, carrying away the old. How if the river never changed, the fish would get used to our lures and hooks, and we’d never catch another fish again, and then we’d all starve and die.

Pa always had a way of making the big ideas into games, challenges, goading me on, ensnaring me in some truth I couldn’t possibly think to be true and couldn’t possibly think to be otherwise. And I loved falling for them, loved to be tricked in this way.

As I got older, it soon became apparent that there were only so many ancient paradoxes and riddles. But every time he took me fishing, every time he started off about how this river wasn’t here the last time we were here, I’d listen and smile, and let him tell it all the same.

The first few times he told me about the river, I would pick up on something new about the tale. Then I started to pick up something new about me. Near the end, I was learning more about him from the parts he chose to tell and the parts he didn’t. It was never the same story twice, and we were never the same people.

SFX: A whisper of wind. The trickle of the stream. GuitarThe sound of the flock of birds again, and somewhere like a distant echo...

ANDREW (an echo)
This way, my love...

WANDERER (under his breath)
Andrew?

SFX: Footsteps rushing forward. Labored breathing. The space of the clearing closes around us, as The Wanderer approaches the edge of the forest. The drums grow loud and rise to a crescendo.

WANDERER (under his breath, out of breath)
I found it. I found it.

SFX: Footsteps. The music crescendos. A gust of wind.

SFX: A sweet guitar melody is plucked out on the guitar. Crackling of a fire.

WANDERER
I’ll be there soon.

JORDAN
The Voice of The Wanderer is T.H. Ponders. The Voice of Andrew is Adam Qutaishat. The Wanderer is written and sound designed by T.H. Ponders. Produced by Jordan Stillman. Show art and design is by V Silverman. Additional art by Olivia Li.

Transcripts and full credits for each episode are available at callofthewander.com.

Ad sales and marketing support by Fable and Folly. If you’re interested in advertising with us, please email contact@callofthewander.com.

Our special thanks goes out to Sean Howard, Russ More, Christina Orlando, Elka Carl, Jeff Van Dreason, and Chad Ellis.

If you’d like to help us make more episodes of The Wanderer, and support independent storytelling, head on over to patreon.com/pondersproductions today. You’ll get to hear each episode a week early, get bonus episodes and features, and, when we reach 50 patrons (which we’re really close to!) we’re going to create a Patron only Discord! You get all of that for as little as $1 a month—but trust us when we say that dollar isn’t little to us. With that dollar you’re telling us, and the world, that you love The Wanderer and you support independent storytelling! Again, head over to patreon.com/pondersproductions to make a donation today!

And don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list! Not only will you never miss an episode again, each month Ponders gives you a peek behind the curtains, to explore the ideas, stories, and experiences that went into The Wanderer. You can sign up today at callofthewander.com/newsletter. (Or check out the link in the show notes!)

We want to hear what’s giving you hope right now. Head over to Apple Podcasts or Podchaser, and leave a review! Tell us what gives you hope and we may just read it out on the show!

Please stay safe, and thank you for wandering with us.