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May 8, 2023Liked by Antonia Malchik

Everything you write is beautiful Antonia ☺️ and you take excellent pictures 👌 Please don't be someone's else lunch , maybe bring some peanut butter for the mountain lions (not sure big cats like 🥜) You are very brave!

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Such kind words, Alain, thank you. I will try very hard not to be someone's lunch! Though I'm not sure if the peanut butter would attract or distract ... will have to look into that. 🦁

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May 8, 2023Liked by Antonia Malchik

Mmm, every time I read your newsletter (or Chris La Tray’s, too) I become more intrigued with Montana as a geography. I’m glad you got another time at a cabin before the tourists/crowds arrive, even if it was not particularly comfortable on multiple fronts. It sounded somewhat healing, and I hope it was, at least a little bit.

And re: links - I like the idea of citing without linking, unless the link (which could also be a PDF of a document that wasn’t originally digital) is super difficult to find. I also don’t mind affiliate links to sites like Bookshop, so that the link sharer can make a little extra money (though I don’t actually know how that all sorts out, and if it’s an ethical system or not). I don’t write for money currently, but I feel you about trying to mitigate screen time, and like someone else said, not having the link available means I need to do an extra step to find the said piece of media. Sometimes that’s worth it; other times, maybe it helps me remember that I’m not a bad person for being up to date on everything all the time, and I’m allowed to not go down every citation rabbit hole.

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It was very good, even if not quite what I expected going into it! But if I'd been horribly uncomfortable I honestly could have just gone home. It's only an hour and a half drive from where I live. And it was cool to see the bear print (!) and do a short hike in a place I've only visited in midsummer. Back to an earlier exchange we had, that was definitely not a moment when I was happy to be alone. 🐻

Chris and I live in the same general region of the state, though a 2 1/2-hour drive apart, and often visit similar places (like Yellowstone -- which I grew up near -- or the American Prairie Reserve, which I've fallen in love with enough to visit almost every summer). Yet I find when he posts photos, or when I go there (to visit my mother and stepdad, who live in the same town), there are differences: a lot more ponderosa pines around that area than there are where I live, and a lot more variety in birds. It's really interesting.

This is great feedback about the links. It came up in comment threads elsewhere, so I was thinking about it, but your observations here brought me back to a deeper reasoning, which is a constant effort to make this space feel not quite as rushed or pressured as a lot of the internet. I don't really have an answer to this, but I'm often curious about how to create a space that *feels* different and distinct and welcoming in a digital world where "space" in that respect doesn't really exist. I can walk into a library or a bookstore or a cafe or a classroom and immediately feel a specific kind of response/tension/calmness. How do you get something similar online? I'm not sure anyone has really succeeded at that yet.

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May 8, 2023Liked by Antonia Malchik

Well, we could all just hang out in a virtual library or cafe in Meta… KIDDING. That sounds horrendous to me.

I think it’s hard to separate physical space and digital space for me. For example, I try to stay on task while I’m on my computer at my desk (which I am not doing successfully right now, oops) so that it stays as a Work Space, whether that’s paid work or personal projects. Meanwhile, the couch is almost never a Work Space, unless I have a tummy ache or need to recline for some other reason while still getting work done, cuz I want to feel relaxed and off the clock when I’m sitting there. I’ve been trying to be more intentional with where I engage with digital media, because I know that emotional response will affect my future experiences in that location, though that’s tricky when it’s hard to take a little or a lot of time truly away from a screen. So the whole “links aren’t here, to find it yourself” idea helps strip off a layer of mental engagement, which I think I like, but I still need to work on the overall disentanglement from digital tech that I think would be healthy. (I say as I type this on an iPad, with my work and personal phones next to me on the desk, and two monitor screens on in front of me.)

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If it's any consolation, I just read an article about how Meta's Metaverse was quietly allowed to die because nobody used any of its offerings. 🤷🏻‍♀️🫠 Here's to hoping some of the AI hype goes the same direction.

This all sounds very familiar to me. I have similar strategies and similar problems with entanglement. I keep Slack and Discord and any TV/movie/show watching for my iPad only, and pretty much only turn it on once it's close to dinnertime or after. (I'm only in two Discord channels, and only one with any regularity, and it's only got about 10 people in it so feels manageable. My Slack group of science writer friends only has 6 people.) The disentanglement gets hard because of so many ways we're pushed into lack of choice. When I'm copy editing, for example, I have to use whatever my clients use, so end up having Word and Adobe documents open, along with numerous Google docs (different style guides and chart trackers), and workflow/collaboration/tracking systems like Trello. Plus Toggl to track my hours for invoicing. It does tend to lock my laptop into one location because I plug it into a cheapo but much larger monitor to make the reading easier.

I don't know, it's a constant struggle, all of it. Going offline completely is the best strategy I have, but it's not like everyone has that opportunity. Even going for walks during the day I take my phone with me in case one of my kids gets sick at school. I'd rather leave it behind! But I do think talking about strategies and seeing how other people are trying their best to approach digital interactions with the most intention possible helps ALL of us.

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Nia, thank you yet again. This quote! : “The entire world spills out from every footfall like it’s being remade as you walk. I still think that’s magical.” ❤️

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I always know you'll understand the walking magic. 🧡

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May 6, 2023·edited May 7, 2023Liked by Antonia Malchik

Once again, Nia, you've struck many wonderful chords, not the least resonant of which would include: "The entire world spills out from every footfall like it's being remade as you walk." So true, especially in nature, and even on my routine route with the pup each morning.

And here's my modest remedy for the tyranny of the glowing screen and its hyperlinks: I push long reads, particularly from Substack, from the web or my phone to my Kindle. (Yeah, guilty guilty — a Kindle.) I have to admit that I've grown attached to it — a Kindle Paperwhite. When I send an article from the web, it arrives to the Kindle with no links, nothing fancy — just black-and-white text and images. Clean. Good for reading. No ads, not even from newspaper articles I push to the Kindle. None. So, basically, I don't read on my laptop or my phone (barely anything on the phone). And I can read that Kindle in full sunlight outside. I even sometimes shop on the Kindle, but buy the book locally or get an e-version from the Libby library app. I've even read that Kindle by the light of a kerosene lamp in cabin with no electricity.

I'm with you on radio news (except for my truly wonderful local radio station, WDEV, which is not an NPR station) and increasingly daily print journalism. A former journalist who's read The New York Times religiously for decades, I'm spending far less time with breaking/daily news for reasons that would overload this comment of mine. (I suspect Substack readers know the reasons, anyway.) I'm going with music in the morning -- or birdsong.

Finally, well, aw shucks -- thanks for mentioning my essay The Nature of War.

Oh, one more thing — your three butterflies (left to right): Green Comma (Polygonia faunus), Compton Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis l-album) and Milbert's Tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti). As for being tough in the cold, they overwinter as adults! (Those commas can be tricky IDs, but I'm fairly certain yours was Green Comma.)

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Thank you! I did somewhat hope someone (probably you!) would be able to identify these. ;) Especially the third one, Milbert's Tortoiseshell -- I took that screenshot from a video because the wind had picked up again and I figured my best chance with my phone was to take a video while it sat there trying to keep its wings steady or whatever it was doing! So pretty, all of them. And thanks for the tip on overwintering.

Actually, this might be the only case for a Kindle that has ever come close to persuading me! I do read a lot online, and unlike the books there's little choice about that. My husband has a Kindle and the light/glare seems a lot better than any of my devices. I get a lot of eyestrain headaches from all my copy editing work, and anything to relieve that is a big help. (I use Flux to lower blue light on my laptop, but unfortunately have to turn it off when copy editing because it washes out the editorial marks.)

I like most local NPR affiliates and wish we could get more plain news from them. I would listen to Montana Public Radio more but it's such a short slice of minutes and I get the same news from my local paper and a couple of online outlets and the various organizations that keep track of legislative bills. It's a hard thing to explain, as I'm not actively trying to avoid the news (can't do that anyway, and everything finds itself to me somehow), but if I spend time reading it, it both takes up time that can be used for others things, and I find the way I think about all of the news -- the perspective -- is framed in a way I don't necessarily trust. (Even as I write that, it almost sounds like going down a conspiracy theory route, which is not my intention, so I'll stop there!) I really look forward to your own thoughts on this. A friend of mine who's been a journalist for many years has a lot of thoughts about it, too, and especially the toll that the loss of local journalism has taken.

I'll keep my eyes and ears open and my feet moving!

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There is something to be said about the possibility of dying (at the paws of a hungry lil lion or a burly old bear) that reminds you that you are very much a living hobbit. It helps you forget that your bones ache and that bills are due and also that the human language is failing you in your attempt to wrestle it on to paper with ink.

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I love how succinctly you bring together what I spilled many words to get at! But mostly the reminder of being a living hobbit (who does in fact really love mushrooms).

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Well, as a Southern storyteller who tends to trade in absolutely unnecessary yarns, I absolutely love traveling with you on your journeys! If I synthesize, it's because I recognize something in your story that I see in my own Dunedain heart.

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I love that so much! You can wield the sword and rule Gondor if I can keep all the mushrooms. 😂

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Deal! Although I think you're coming out ahead in that exchange.

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I'll deputize Merry and Pippin and their descendants to bring regular tribute. 🍄 (But not that kind because it looks poisonous!)

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May 5, 2023Liked by Antonia Malchik

I love your writing. It is good for my soul. Thank you.

No preference regarding hyperlinks. Although if they're not there then maybe I have to be more discriminating about which citations I really want to take the time to delve into. This is probably a good thing.

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That is one of the kindest things I've ever heard, Kenneth. Thank you. 🧡🧡🧡

It's not a bad thing for all of us to have a chance to slow down our minds, is it?

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I don’t think I could’ve stayed in a chilly cabin, though I do admire you. And I got literal chills just reading about that bear print! My psychology urges me to click on every single link 😂 so my personal practice is reading thru a list of recommendations first and then going back and only clicking on the ones I’m genuinely interested in. I definitely added a few of your books to my list!

I absolutely love how you include audio clips. Thank you for sharing your loon!! ❤️

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I'm glad you liked it and SO glad I heard it to share. There is never anything like a loon, is there? 🧡 And it called so rarely. I got four calls in a little over 20 minutes of recording.

I think that psychology is really common, and it makes people's online experience even less pleasant, which is why I've been thinking about it. I definitely have that urge. And if you look at the numbers, very few people actually ever click on links (this is true internet-wide, I think), so why put ourselves through that extra stress?

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I love that you're concerned for the lion mountain eating you as you are you.

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It worries me more about bears, but it honestly does worry me! (Though being eaten by a mountain lion definitely has more visceral fear. It's probably something I imagine too often.

🦁<-- not a mountain lion)

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Yeah, the bear one can definitely be scary. One time we took a floatplane into Lake Eva in Alaska to state park cabin and there were grizzlies everywhere. One morning I got up, stood out on the dock, and looked to my right, and at first thought a man was fly fishing in the water. Then I realized it was a grizzly standing up in the lake as he fished.

But I was probably in way more danger biking outside of Anchorage one day when I rounded a corner and came too close to a bull moose. I've never done a turnaround so fast in my life!

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I read that one! Someone asked in the comments of my last "ran away to a cabin" post if I was scared of bears breaking into the cabin while I was staying there and I said I never had been until reading about your experience. 😂

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I forgot we wrote about that one. At least with a bear I figure it would be over quick. I have a feeling a mountain lion might toy with one a bit like a cat!

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Yes! Like their claws might be sharper.

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May 4, 2023Liked by Antonia Malchik

I just started reading Jim Harrison's memoir "Off to the Side" last night, and here's the epigraph:

"Beware, O wanderer, the road is walking too." Rilke

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That is a GREAT line. Gave me chills.

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When I opened this I immediately noted the length and sighed. You covered a lot of ground today and it was worth the read. I enjoy an old-fashioned magazine also. They can be fun and a simpler world.

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I'm sorry! I'd wanted it to be shorter but then wanted to try skipping the hyperlinks and then thought I needed to explain that and then just kept going ... I don't talk very much in person so suppose I save it all for the written word. I was worried about what Substack's estimated read time would be and definitely sighed myself when I was that.

I just remembered that on one of my contracts with Medium my editor made me keep going back to put more hyperlinks in my pieces because SEO optimization is always hungry for more of them. Now that I remember that, it makes me want to include them less!

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Funny! Don't forget that a picture is worth a thousand words 😁

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I'm not sure that applies to the quality of pictures I take. 😂

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As always, a balm for my overheated brain, all of this.

>>"I don’t really want to get eaten by a mountain lion, but I especially don’t want one to get in trouble for eating me."

You are completely and utterly mad. But the *right* kind of mad. (The wrong kind of mad is, say, deciding that stealing Ukraine from the Ukrainians is the best thing in the long run for absolutely everyone.)

You've got me thinking, as you always do: what are the right temperatures for humans to be at their most human? Because obviously those temperatures must vary from population to population (case in point: my time in Costa Rica, complete with "I'm an Englishman so now I must go drink 40 gallons of iced water and then lie down" syndrome). But also, the human ability to adjust. So what's the window for humanning, including things like fearless creative work, and the ability to display empathy instead of fight-or-flight, and all the other stuff? And is it possible that to truly persuade someone, to really win them over and get them to open up and cooperate and share ideas (and by "someone" I could also mean "kids in classrooms"), you need to get the right temperature? And maybe humidity? And other stuff? How much is communication and learning about environmental calibration? And why isn't this an Aeon essay?

Hooray for finally getting access to that finicky electronically-locked cabin! And boo that it turned out to be horrendously cold when you finally did get in.

Also, re. Substack Notes - it has been taking up too much of my bandwidth in recent weeks since it launched, and - that is not a good thing. It's felt addictive, and I don't want to get addicted to that. I have my chosen addictions, and they are books, my newsletter, and coffee. But Notes started working its easy dopamine hit Twittery magic and I got pulled in to the point I saw some work deadlines skid away like tires on black ice. Most definitely nope to that. Being devoured by bears and mountain lions is...less than ideal at the best of times, but being eaten alive by another social media platform is a fate I am happy to spend the rest of my life working hard to avoid.

It also occurred to me that I'd love to sign up to something that sent me one outdoors/nature/walking-related thing to read every day. Just one thing. A thousand or so words. One link, one story, one thing. I could do that with my first coffee of the day, outdoors, and that would feel lovely. Someone needs to make that thing. Maybe deliverable to a Kindle or something.

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“Eaten alive by another social media platform” Yes!

It’s not a daily email, but I’ve enjoyed meditations from https://www.otherwaystowalk.co.uk and their Nature Fix membership looks amazing too

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That organization looks so cool!

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"Other Ways to Walk teaches you how to intentionally connect with nature, using evidence-based creative and mindful techniques to improve your mental health and reduce stress."

OKAY I'M IN WITH BOTH FEET.

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When I first started researching and writing about walking, and also walking a lot more, it was noticeable how many people needed the *just right* conditions to go for a walk with me (obviously in Scotland those conditions rarely exist!), and it made me wonder a lot about whether or not our skin was devolving. Like a lot of people are just more sensitive to air temperature and air movement? I tried to see if there was any research on it but couldn't find it, though I didn't try too hard. Sounds like an interesting little research area for a fun writer who likes to splash around in fascinating science puddles. MIKE. ;)

I have such an issue with the Twitter-type things. I know we've talked about this a lot so I don't ned to belabor it again, but what it does to my mind and attention and everything else is just No Good. And yet I feel the pull strongly because, again, it's *right there*! I would see so much time just slip away if I started interacting in Notes.

Great line about being eaten alive by a social media platform. Hadn't quite thought about it that way.

I love that idea. Something not in your email inbox is what you're thinking? How delightful that would be! Reminds me of Scotland Outdoors, which is actually just a podcast version of the Out of Doors radio show from BBC Scotland, which I think broadcasts on Saturday mornings? Listening to a particular radio show at a particular time for a particular experience is something I really miss (for me it was a Celtic music hour called Thistle & Shamrock on Sunday evenings).

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May 5, 2023Liked by Antonia Malchik

Yes! Thistle & Shamrock!

Along with others, I used to listen to that show religiously, now only occasionally. I could listen to Fiona Ritchie's voice all day long. It is still on the air. https://www.npr.org/series/103063413/the-thistle-and-shamrock

I'm afraid that--with its never-ending clamor, frightful immediacy, and unparalleled ability to create ideological and perceptual silos--the internet (and especially social media) has become, along with consumerism, the new opiate of the masses. I have had to commit crimes against my own soul in order to afford the price of admission.

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I don't listen to the radio anymore (since the day after Trump's election, after listening to NPR my whole life), and have to say Thistle & Shamrock is the one thing I really miss. It was a bit of a lifeline when I was first home with a new baby, too.

"I have had to commit crimes against my own soul in order to afford the price of admission." Oof yes.

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Apologies for jumping into this conversation. The thought about the temperature range that is ideal. I recently watched a documentary full of wonderful insights. One was a different way of looking at global temperature rise (about 1C in the temperate zone and 3C at the poles). Instead of stepping back and musing, that's really not that much, a different point of view is possible. Think of our world as a complex system and we are just one significant part. What are the consequences for a natural system when temperature fluctuates in an UNAMBIGUOUS trend either upward OR downward)? If our body temperature is raised 1C we probably have the flu and are uncomfortable. If our body temperature is raised 3C we are frequently at death's door. My sense is what we perceive as not that big of a deal is quite a lot. A modest change in temperature is significant because a whole host of things in a complex inter-related system move in lockstep. I have shared with Antonia (b/c she is familiar with Minnesota) that the last boreal forest in the Continental 48 is retreating in Northern Minnesota. Who cares about 1C difference in temperature? Indeed.

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No apologies needed -- it's great when people have conversations about interesting things! And I hadn't thought about it this way. That's very interesting. "My sense is what we perceive as not that big of a deal is quite a lot. A modest change in temperature is significant because a whole host of things in a complex inter-related system move in lockstep." That's an important thing to be reminded of. Differences might *feel* small to me, but I don't know that they actually are.

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RemovedMay 6, 2023Liked by Antonia Malchik
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Thank you, Hannah!

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