Felt warmer than 36 degrees this morning. So warm that I was surprised to encounter ice on the path near the Welcoming Oaks. Sunny. Not too windy, but windier than I thought it would be.
I yelled at a biker as I crossed 46th, a block from the river. They didn’t stop at the stop sign and weaved around barely missing running into me. I thought I heard them yell something but realized too late it was a voice from the radio they were blasting. I yelled, “you have a stop sign!” I stewed over my outburst for a few minutes, feeling hostile towards everyone I encountered–the other runners approaching me, not wanting to move over and make room for me until the last minute, the clueless walker who didn’t move at all. I worked hard to remember how wonderful it is to be outside by the river with a clear path. Then I encountered another runner, who was thoughtfully on the other side, and smiled.
Every time I started to think about my irritation and regret over yelling, I forced the thoughts out of my head. I looked at the river, open and flowing. I listened to the shuffling grit under my feet. I felt the strength in my legs. Then I saw the shadow of a bird above me and I thought about how I love shadows and the strange feeling of something being there but only in shadow form–like a ghost or a trace or something else. And, as I was finding delight in this I realized that this quick flash was it, my moment for the day. Such a small moment, but enough for me. Why? Not sure if I can put it into words yet.
Some other things I remember:
- Slowly catching up to and passing a runner just before the franklin bridge. Their gait was slow and relaxed.
- Thinking about the january joy poem I’m working on and how wonderful poetry is for giving me a reason to spend more time with the river.
- Dodging and hurtling over slabs of frozen earth on the walking path, probably unearthed by the plows last month.
- Wondering if any of the cars would drive through a puddle and soak me (they didn’t).
- Noticing that the Meeker Island dog park was open.
- Seeing a few people standing at the top of the stairs leading up to the marshall/lake street bridge and wondering why they were there.
- Hearing water rushing through the sewer on the street.
- Thinking about how much taller the trestle is on the east side of the river.
- Running on the bridge and hearing someone approaching from behind. It took them forever to pass! Is that how the runner I passed earlier in the run felt?
- Hearing my zipper pull banging against my chest, sometimes thinking the sound was another runner approaching (it wasn’t).
As I made the above list, I suddenly remembered another moment of delight, equally as mundane and strange as my bird shadow. Running near Meeker Island on the St. Paul side, everything became brown. No snow, no green grass, no leaves. Just a rich brown, made deeper by the sun. Mostly mulched leaves and bare tree trunks, a little ground. It made me think of my childhood and exploring wooded trails in Virginia. It made me think of driving through the Keweenaw Peninsula in late fall. It made me think of spring coming. It made me feel a deep, warm, glowing joy.
Before I started my run, I recorded myself reciting Heather Christle’s poem, The Spider (posted on jan 6), and Susan Stewart’s, Pine (posted on jan 18). Then I listened to them in my headphones just before I started my run. I didn’t think about Christle’s poem but I do think Stewart and the different ways she played with the word pine, inspired my thoughts about loving poetry and its invitation to spend time experimenting with words and ideas and images .