august 4/9 MILES

58 degrees
a little more than the almost downtown turn around

Running when it’s in the 50s is so much better than running in the mid 60s! It was a beautiful morning for a run. I felt strong and not too tired. I ran the first half without stopping, then took a brief walking break at the top of the hill and another one at some point during the run–I think? After spending a lot of time thinking/writing about the run to lake harriet and how it wanders beside the creek, I was struck by how straight the path to downtown is. While it occasionally strays from the biking path, they are usually right next to each other. And the path crosses under several bridges–Lake Street, the Railroad Trestle, Franklin Avenue, I-94, Washington Avenue, the biking/walking bridge to the East Bank of the U of M,10th Avenue and 35W–but not over them. You also don’t cross any roads. The biggest features of this route are the two hills: Franklin and 35W. And the river, the gorge, the views of the U of M campus and the Minneapolis skyline.

I picked up Mary Oliver’s collection of essays/poems, Long Life, from the library yesterday and started it after my run. I haven’t even made it through the forward and I’m already inspired!

Writing poems, for me but not necessarily for others, is a way of offering praise to the world. In this book you will find, set among the prose pieces, a few poems. Think of them that way, as little alleluias. They’re not trying to explain anything, as the prose does. They just sit there on the page, and breathe (xiv).

No Explanation Necessary

What a thing to do!
To sit and just breathe.
How novel,
how necessary,
how different from what is expected.
Who needs an explanation
when there’s inspiration
and expiration
and alleluias?

And, here’s one of Oliver’s Alleluias:

Can you Imagine? by Mary Oliver

For example, what the trees do
not only in lightening storms
or the watery dark of a summer night
or under the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now–whenever
we’re not looking. Surely you can’t imagine
they just stand there looking the way they look
when we’re looking; surely you can’t imagine
they don’t dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade–surely you can’t imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind, 
and then only in its own mood, comes
to visit, surely you can’t imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.

I’ve just been editing a piece in which I reflect on what leaves on a tree are for and last month I pondered whether or not trees sigh and why. Now, I want to imagine more about what trees do when we’re not around. As I wrote this last line, I remembered by Modern Philosophy class from college and studying the empiricist George Berkeley and the classic question prompted by his suggestion that “The objects of sense exist only when they are perceived: the trees therefore are in the garden, or the chairs in the parlour, no longer than while there is some body by to perceive them”: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?

Maybe I should play with this question? Here’s a link I found to how some people in the UK respond.