ford bridge and back
Today my mom would have turned 78. She died over ten years ago in 2009. When I headed out for my run, I wasn’t thinking about this fact or wishing she were on the run with me. I was thinking about how beautiful the gorge looked in the gloomy gray–so calm and wet and exposed. Even though it was windy and drizzling, I knew I needed to be out there beside it. Then, after I finished, feeling flushed and happy, I remembered that it was her birthday and I began to believe that getting me outside to the gorge, able to see all the way to other side of the river, to smell the smoke from some distant fire, to absorb the brown tree trunks and blue water, to breathe in the coming spring, to feel joy and delight and astonishment at the beauty surrounding me, was a present from her. She taught me to love being outside, to notice and wonder about the natural world, and to make life sacred through honoring daily routines. (I’m not sure I’m saying this quite right, maybe I’ll spend some more time today trying to figure it out?)
I looked back in this log, and I did runs on her birthday in 2017 and 2019–why not 2018? I looked at the entries near the 5th in 2018; it was snowing that day and my right kneecap was sliding around a lot.
I liked today’s run. The path was clear with only a few puddles. The gorge and the river were totally exposed. I could see all the hills and ravines and trails that are usually hidden by leaves or too much snow. I liked glancing down at my jacket and watching as little snowflakes bounced off the shiny black fabric. I could tell it was snowing and raining but I couldn’t feel it. Sleeves covered my arms, a baseball cap my face.
I encountered an annoying pedestrian who refused to move as I ran towards him. As I neared, I noticed he was wearing a surgical mask. Not sure what to say about this; just wanted to make a note of it. How strange and stressful and overwhelming it all is–between terrible presidents and failed parties and hoarding toilet paper and melting glaciers and possible pandemics.
After my run, walking home, I thought about how difficult it is to be (and stay) joyful in the face of so much fear and hate and fucked-up values. It is hard work you must do daily. In my own way, I’m trying to do that work through running by the gorge and writing about it. These thoughts were partly inspired by this twitter thread I read this morning.
Before leaving for my run, I recorded myself reciting 2 slightly different versions of the latest draft of my January Joy poem. Here’s my preferred one. It’s a lot different than the first draft I posted a few days ago. It is still not finished, I think.
January Joy/ Sara Lynne Puotinen
To see the river!
The open river!
Brown, a thin skin of pale blue
To be alone with the river!
The uncrowded river!
Nothing between us but bare branches
To be as empty as the river!
The bare white river!
A blank page waiting for words
To be as spacious as the river!
The boundless river!
Stretching, opening, able to hold multitudes
To be nothing next to the river!
The ancient river!
Small and new and insignificant
To be the space above the river
floating over the river
between tree top and sky, illuminated by sun!
Glowing up the gray gloom!
Warming my cold face!
Flashing through tall, thin tree trunks!
How wonderful it is to be alive and outside!
O great runs! O clear paths!
O strong legs and adequate knees and functioning feet!
How wonderful it is to be
on this winter-perfect day,
white and woodsy and blueish gray.