dec 23/RUN

3.4 miles
river road, south/north
25 degrees
10% snow-covered, a few ice patches

Ah, winter running! A great morning with a clear path. Only encountered a few runners and walkers.


  1. The cloud-covered sun, glowing quietly beneath the grayish white
  2. Wide, open white sky blending in with the white gorge, seeming endless and airy and like I was floating
  3. 2 walkers/hikers below me on the stretch of the Winchell Trail that hugs the steep slope of the gorge, between 42nd and 44th. Noticing them first when their bright blue jacket entered my peripheral vision
  4. The sudden, unexpected crunch of snow under my foot as I stepped down on a clump of snow that I hadn’t seen
  5. A little old lady with ski poles (the same little old lady? not sure) walking near the double bridge
  6. Tiny clumps of snow littered the path on the side closest to the street–how did that happen? Little pellets of white

dec 22/RUN

4.2 miles
to the falls and back
33! degrees
25% snow-covered

Ran south again this morning. Beautiful! Above freezing! Only wore one shirt and a vest today. Trying out a new thing where I post 5 observations (see/hear/feel/smell).

At least 6 Observations on My Run

  1. (Heard) Kids having fun, yelling near the savanna.
  2. (Saw) Runner running below on the Winchell Trail near 42nd. Shuffling along, steadily climbing up the snowy path.
  3. (Heard) Booming roar of the rushing water at the falls, Low rumbling roar of a plane overhead, High-pitched, frantic roar of a car engine, speeding on the parkway.
  4. (Saw) The ancient boulder by the bench (mentioned yesterday) partly buried in snow.
  5. (Saw) A snowy view of the other side of the gorge through the bare trees.
  6. (Heard) A biker on the road spitting.
  7. (Saw) A small gray car almost running the stop sign at Godfrey and 46th.
  8. (Saw) A runner’s red quilted vest–not bright red.
  9. (Saw) The curve of the wrought iron fence below the path, bending around the ravine near 42nd.
  10. (Saw) Snow trapped in a small pothole on the path that’s been getting bigger ever year.
  11. (Heard) The slushy crunch of my feet striking the snow on the path.
  12. (Saw) A dropped glove–black, thick–on the edge of the sidewalk.

Felt good again today. Enjoyed running south to the falls and stopping to admire them for a few seconds. Almost forgot–encountered a runner I’ve been seeing a lot on the weekends. Usually I see him running much farther north. Does he usually run this far or has he changed his route too because of the snow? Thought briefly about asking him how far he usually runs but didn’t. Will I see him again next weekend, shuffling along in his black sweatpants and hooded sweatshirt?

I don’t think I have posted this poem before although I know I have admired it.


I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don’t cut that one.
I don’t cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,   
an unseen nest
where a mountain   
would be.

dec 21/RUN

4.2 miles
to the falls and back
25 degrees
50% snow-covered

Ran south instead of north this morning. Much better conditions on the trail. I ran on bare pavement for much of it. Hooray! The sun was shining and the wind wasn’t too bad. A wonderful morning for a run. If it had been just a little clearer on the paths, I might have called today (near?) perfect conditions. Much easier to notice the river running this way. It’s because there’s not much other than steep slopes between the bluff and the river in this stretch. Nearing Locks and Dam #1, I could see shimmering river near the Ford Bridge. Open water! Beautiful. Ran through Minnehaha Regional Park and stopped for a few seconds to admire the rushing falls. Not frozen over yet.

Encountered lots of runners and walkers. 2 fat tires. I passed one runner on the way up to the double bridge. I could hear them behind me. At first growing more distant, then closer. They were speeding up. For a few minutes, I tried to speed up too but just past 38th street I gave up. I slowed down so they could pass and so I could stop hearing the crunching of their feet stalking me. Maybe someday I won’t be bothered by people following me but today was not that day.

This morning I read a great essay, The Art of Finding by Linda Gregg. She writes:

I am astonished in my teaching to find how many poets are nearly blind to the physical world. They have ideas, memories, and feelings, but when they write their poems they often see them as similes. To break this habit, I have my students keep a journal in which they must write, very briefly, six things they have seen each day—not beautiful or remarkable things, just things. This seemingly simple task usually is hard for them. At the beginning, they typically “see” things in one of three ways: artistically, deliberately, or not at all. Those who see artistically instantly decorate their descriptions, turning them into something poetic: the winter trees immediately become “old men with snow on their shoulders,” or the lake looks like a “giant eye.” The ones who see deliberately go on and on describing a brass lamp by the bed with painful exactness. And the ones who see only what is forced on their attention: the grandmother in a bikini riding on a skateboard, or a bloody car wreck. But with practice, they begin to see carelessly and learn a kind of active passivity until after a month nearly all of them have learned to be available to seeing—and the physical world pours in. Their journals fill up with lovely things like, “the mirror with nothing reflected in it.” This way of seeing is important, even vital to the poet, since it is crucial that a poet see when she or he is not looking—just as she must write when she is not writing. To write just because the poet wants to write is natural, but to learn to see is a blessing. The art of finding in poetry is the art of marrying the sacred to the world, the invisible to the human.

To see carelessly and to learn an active passivity. I remember writing/thinking about active/passive seeing a few years ago on this running log. I’ll have to find where. I think running lets you do this because you can’t actively think/theorize about the landscape as you’re running. You’re too busy running. The details get absorbed passively while you’re doing something else.

I like her idea of writing down 6 things you notice each day. I might try that on my run for a month. I already do this on the log but more informally.

6 Things I Observed On My Run Today

  1. Saw shining, open river water through the trees
  2. Heard then saw a Minneapolis Parks plow approaching me on the path, then veering off onto the road
  3. Heard but didn’t see some kids yelling at the park, about to sled down a steep hill
  4. Saw a person walking through the snow on a part of the Winchell Trail that climbs up closer to the road then back down again
  5. Heard then saw 2 people with a dog below me on the Winchell Trail. Almost sounded like they were skiing as they shuffled along but how could that be?
  6. Noticed how one of the ancient boulders on the path–the one near a bench–had a mound of snow on top of it

This was difficult. Maybe because I’d already written a bunch of observations earlier in this log? I think I’ll trying doing this through January.


In winter 
    all the singing is in 
         the tops of the trees 
             where the wind-bird 

with its white eyes 
    shoves and pushes 
         among the branches. 
             Like any of us 

he wants to go to sleep, 
    but he’s restless— 
         he has an idea, 
             and slowly it unfolds 

from under his beating wings 
    as long as he stays awake. 
         But his big, round music, after all, 
             is too breathy to last. 

So, it’s over. 
    In the pine-crown 
         he makes his nest, 
             he’s done all he can. 

I don’t know the name of this bird, 
    I only imagine his glittering beak 
         tucked in a white wing 
             while the clouds— 

which he has summoned 
    from the north— 
         which he has taught 
             to be mild, and silent— 

thicken, and begin to fall 
    into the world below 
         like stars, or the feathers 
               of some unimaginable bird 

that loves us, 
    that is asleep now, and silent— 
         that has turned itself 
             into snow.

dec 20/RUN

4.3 miles
top of franklin hill turn around
31 degrees
75% snow-covered

Great weather, (still) rotten path. Lots of loose, ankle twisting snow. At least it’s a little better than Tuesday–a bare strip of pavement for most of the way! Even with the rough path, felt good and strong and happy. Looked down at the river and thought about how un-riverlike it looks right now. Just a broad, flat plain of white. As usual, don’t remember much from the run. One thing: the squirrel that darted across traffic and then the path ahead of me. Not sure why it seemed strange–maybe I thought the squirrel was a leaf blowing in the wind? Put my headphones in on the trip back south and felt great. Greeted the Dave, the Daily Walker and then charged up the final hill–the biking path near the road on the other side of the split rail fence, retaining wall, and the walking path that winds through the tunnel of trees. Maybe I should write about this part of the path?

note: For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been reading through and summarizing the last year on this blog. First, I put all the poems I’ve posted on one page (in year 3). Then I started systematically reading through each month online and in my physical notebook and picking out bits I want to keep–I’m on July right now–and creating pages for each month. Yesterday, I finalized a redesign of the site inspired by how I’ve been using lots of colored pencils in my notebook. It’s good coding practice–I customized it myself with my basic css knowledge.

What Big Eyes You Have
Heather Christle

Only today did I notice the abyss
in abysmal and only because my mind
was generating rhymes for dismal,
and it made of the two a pair,
to which much later it joined
baptismal, as—I think—a joke.
I decided to do nothing with
the rhymes, treating them as one does
the unfortunately frequent appearance
of the “crafts” adults require children
to fashion from pipe cleaners
and plastic beads. One is not permitted
to simply throw them away,
but can designate a drawer
that serves as a kind of trash can
never emptied. I suppose one day
it will be full, and then I will know
it is time to set my child free.
The difficulty is my mind leaks
and so it will never fill, despite
the clumps of language I drop in,
and this means my mind can never
be abandoned in the woods
with a kiss and a wave
and a little red kerchief
tied under its chin.

Wow. I can’t decide which I love more, this poem–with its trash can drawer half filled with clumps of language–or her explanation of it on .

This is one of many poems I wrote in a short period of time early last year, when I stepped away from writing The Crying Book-—my first work of nonfiction—to return to my home form. I was seeking all sorts of wisdom from Merriam-Webster, trying to understand what layers there are to the words I think and speak, finding shiny edges I hadn’t known before: new to me, but long-known to the words themselves. Then, as one does, I followed the words into a figurative space, where they invited me to get lost. I’m never able to get quite as lost as I want to, but with each poem I get a little closer.

what layers there are to the words, what shiny new edges
words leading to a figurative space, inviting her to get lost

dec 19/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
basement, bike stand
run: 1.2 miles
basement, treadmill

Mostly biked today. Giving my legs a rest from running hard last night on the us bank stadium concrete. Watched a Superleague Triathlon race on the bike, listened to a playlist on the treadmill. Wore a pair of ridiculously patterned leggings that I bought for my daughter a few years ago that she has never worn. Wow–blue and white tie-dyed with bright blue patches on the back of the knees.

We Are Monica (Acrostic)/ Victoria Chang

What if it were true? That in the
End, no matter what dress we look for,
All we have in our closets are blue ones?
Remember the surface area of the body?
Each one inch square can be bruised blue.
Maybe we know how to betray cloth, its
Old downy fibers are really our skin,
Nightmare after nightmare, it grows back,
It desires to be touched, and nerved, and
Caught. Maybe it is meant to be put on
And taken off, then put on and taken off.


What happened to the blue girl who
Entered into the meadow, the one we
Accused, then asked how it felt,
Rubbing our ears against her mouth for
Everything she would give, for what didn’t
Matter—did his hand touch you there
Or there, did he control or tendril?
Nothing, she was to us, but how
I would still look if she rose one night,
Covet the night, listen for their lies,
And take joy in hearing her cries.


Who are we to say who belongs on
Earth? We hate the cold mornings
And the warm mornings. What we
Require we never get. We have the hots for
Everything. We aspire to be aspirers.
Maybe we were meant to fancy everything,
Or at least think each vowel in a word
Needs to exist. How many ways can we
Inch forward? We can walk towards, even
Crawl towards with no legs. But even then, we
Are still dependent on dirt and its filth.


Why did we spend our lives looking
Everywhere for what we have now, if
All we want is travel? The red leaves,
Regioning off our yards, not the responsible
Envelopes that stay on the trees, but
Maple leaves, the ones that giddily
Opt to follow rain, those opportunists,
Never accepting stasis. Maybe we all
Itch for twice, life. Watch a new
Checker who opens a line at a store,
And how fast we leave each other to get there.


We are done for then, or are we just
Erratic, like a tack, constantly moved
Around from paper to paper. A tack never
Reflects, a tack doesn’t die for truth,
Expressing crisis at every new job.
Maybe we are all like tacks, one side sharp,
One side dark. And maybe we are all
Narrow, only truly visible in the night,
In the line of a troubled light.
Could our fingerprints exist because
We know we can’t be trusted?


What if, in the end, the want for
Everything, a drink of water, a mother,
A new face, is not a waste, or even
Rare, but what keeps us alive?
East me then, I say to the wind, song me,
Move me where you will, to edge, to roots.
O compass in my mouth, take me to
Noon, the summer, and send the warmth
Into my veins. I will follow it, let it
Carry me through the squares in the screen,
And let me not get stuck.


When we are done looking for the
Ex-wife, the ex-lover, the ex-girlfriend,
And finished looking through telescopes, we
Remember how we used to look into
Each round hole for something larger,
Meant to test our vision, not turn it
Onto our hearts and mine its every
Nook, see the heart’s shape as love,
Its arteries as desire. Call me half-hearted,
Cull me from the cold, turn me back to
August, those nights I studied the celestial.


Why is writing about her odd?
Evening comes constantly and poets
Ask too much of the moon, too much of
Reeds that always seem to sway.
Everything I know is in a house,
Measured by hands of men that nailed
Over the reeds and tried to roof me from
Night and its eye. This is what
I know but will never understand, this
Capsule, body, this thing that loves others
And lies to us, that doesn’t last.

I love acrostic poems with (not so) hidden messages. I’d like to spend some more time with this poem to read it closely.

dec 17/RUN

3.25 miles
trestle turn around
21 degrees/ feels like 11
100% soft, uneven snow

The path was difficult again today. Soft, uneven, slippery snow. Really working those legs. Not too cold. Forgot to look at the river but did notice the floodplain forest. Encountered several other runners, at least 2 fat tires. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker. At the halfway point stopped to put in my headphones and listen to a playlist. It made the return run much easier. After crossing under the lake street bridge smelled some foot from longfellow grill up above–almost smelled like pizza. A pizza egg scramble maybe? Ran a lot faster for the last half mile.

excerpts from Summer’s Bounty/ May Swenson

berries of Straw
berries of Goose
berries of Huck
berries of Dew

berries of Boisen
berries of Black
berries of Rasp
berries of Blue

melons of Water
melons of Musk
cherries of Pie
cherries of Choke

nuts of Pea
nuts of Wal
nuts of Pecan
nuts of Grape

beans of Jumping
beans of Jelly
beans of Green
beans of Soy

glories of Morning
rooms of Mush
days of Dog
puppies of Hush

I found this poem in the collected works of May Swenson which I checked out of the library a few weeks ago. She really likes to play with how the poem looks on the page, which is cool. Summer’s Bounty reminds me of some of the rhythm chants I do while running–strawberry/blueberry/blackberry. I especially like berries of Goose, beans of green, rooms of Mush and days of Dog.

dec 16/ RUN

4 miles
top of Franklin hill turn around
22 degrees/ feels like 15
99% snow covered

Warmer air. Great temperature for a run. The path was almost completely covered with soft, loose snow. So difficult! A great workout for my legs. Hopefully the path will be more packed or clear soon. Can that be my Christmas present? Greeted Dave the Daily Walker. Was passed–actually briefly swallowed up–by a trot of male runners–a cross country team? Looked at the river a lot. Completely snow covered. If you didn’t know, you might not think it was a river, just a big white field. When I started I wondered how I could keep going–so slick, not slippery but difficult to move in–but by the end, I felt much better. Still happy to stop at 4 miles.

Love this beautiful poem and the final line! I copied it down in my notebook last March and rediscovered it this morning when I was reviewing my notes.

Rapture/ Linda Hogan

Who knows the mysteries of the poppies
when you look across the red fields,
or hear the sound of long thunder,
then the saving rain.
Everything beautiful,
the solitude of the single body
or sometimes, too, when the body is kissed
on the lips or hands or eyelids tender.
Oh for the pleasure of living in a body.
It may be, it may one day be
this is a world haunted by happiness,
where people finally are loved
in the light of leaves,
the feel of bird wings passing by.
Here it might be that no one wants power.
They don’t want more.
And so they are in the forest,
old trees,
or those small but grand.
And when you sleep, rapture, beauty,
may seek you out.
Listen. There is
secret joy,
sweet dreams you may never forget.
How worthy the being
in the human body. If,
when you are there, you see women
wading on the water
and clouds in the valley,
the smell of rain,
or a lotus blossom rises out of round green leaves,
remember there is always something
besides our own misery.

remember there is always something
besides our own misery

What if this final line was changed to beside our own misery? Reminds me of Ross Gay and his book of delights. He talks about how our experiences of joy are always in tandem with suffering and can be linked with others to create beautiful communities.