Ghost pipes emerging from the ground always remind me of hattifatteners. And as saprophytes, they are a bit transgressive. I have to say I’m almost surprised they don’t make their way down to the river under cover of darkness and set off for the open sea. As with so many truly original artists, Tove Jansson’s creations come to feel like something that ought to exist. She’s close to the common creative source of everything, one could almost say, skating up to the edge of some very thin ice.


One of the things I really like about growing old is learning to feel in my body how time unfolds. This might not be as clear to people who move around a lot, but for example I can see mounds of moss in the woods and remember when they were logs—and before that, when they were trees. I am old enough that if I were a tree, I’d probably already be good for a bit of saw timber.


I always tell myself the same thing when I set out: it’s not about the miles, you don’t have to go far. But I almost always do.

I would never have called myself an athlete when I was younger, and I don’t now. There’s a culture of competitiveness and self-improvement around athleticism that is deeply alien to me. But I remember in high school gym class whenever we played soccer, since we’re Americans and had no idea how to play positions, everyone just ran up and down the field with the ball until one by one they dropped out, panting, and it was just Bonta, this weirdo brainiac with no friends, running idly back and forth with the ball and wondering what the hell was wrong with everyone else.

Then as now, the only thing I did differently was walk a bit every day. By the time I was in high school and stopped taking the bus home (which only got us halfway there), I guess I was walking four miles a day with a fair amount of up and down in it—pretty much the same as now. I didn’t run by choice but seemed able to run more or less indefinitely when needed. Some of that is surely down to genetics. But it’s striking how small a daily time commitment is required to reach this condition. “Year-round training!” I hear the athletes chorus. In your world, sure. If I looked at it that way I’d stop doing it tomorrow.

I just like being outside, walking the land. There’s deep sense of satisfaction I get after a walk of sufficient strenuousness and aesthetic pleasure, and I’m not interested in trying to disentangle the two. You can’t really talk about walking without talking about places and how and why we love them. A good part of the “how” is by walking. Some cultures have local pilgrimage traditions—a bit like that, maybe.


One of the things I dislike about getting older is the way flies will just brazenly walk around on top of my bald head as if they own the place. Be patient, will you?! Someday all this will be yours.


Watching small jets land at a regional airport 40 miles away a half hour past sunset may seem like a pretty minor thrill, but something about that bright, blinking dot descending in total silence gets me every time.

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