jan 31/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 1.8 miles
basement

Scott and I took Delia for a longer walk this morning, which was wonderful. Not too cold, hardly any wind, a few fluffy flakes falling from the sky. Lots of other people out too. So I decided to head to the basement again for my workout. While I biked, I continued watching Margaret Livingstone’s fascinating lecture about  vision and art. Then, after I finished biking, I listened to a playlist and tried to run faster, which I did but not necessarily because of the playlist. It’s time to make a new one, I think.

I’m enjoying Livingstone’s lecture. I’m not necessarily learning anything new, but it’s reinforcing thoughts I already had or ideas that I had encountered elsewhere. Maybe it’s the academic in me, but I like to have my ideas confirmed by others, especially by those who have devoted themselves to studying vision and the brain. After discussing how “your visual system has higher acuity in the center of gaze” (acuity = sharper, finer detail), she says:

But your peripheral vision isn’t bad, it’s just different. Your peripheral vision is designed to see big blurry things; your central vision is designed to see small detailed things and actually cannot see big blurry things as well as your peripheral vision. So there’s a trade-off.

It’s the forest from the trees again!

a moment of sound

jan 31, 2021

I stuck with it and recorded a moment of sound every day this month–31 moments. Nice. This final one is short and is from my walk with Scott and Delia. I can hear the chapel bells chiming from across the river at St. Thomas University in St. Paul; at least two birds–including a coo or trill or something at 15 seconds in; Delia huffing (at 22 seconds); traffic on the road; Scott and I discussing, mostly in whispers, what kind of bird we heard; snow crunching underfoot; Delia’s collar jangling; and the wind.

Slowly but surely, I am falling in love with birds. A few years ago I wrote a poem in response to Mary Oliver’s goldfinch poem “Invitation, in which I asked, “Anyway, who cares about the birds?” I do, now. I’m hoping to learn more of their calls in the upcoming months.

Speaking of birds, I found this video on Brain Pickings:

jan 30/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement

While I biked in the basement, I watched this great video lecture by a neuroscientist from Harvard, Margaret Livingston about vision and art. Very fascinating–and something I’ll have to watch a few more times before I get it all. Near the beginning she says,

So if you take anything at all away from this talk tonight, please try to remember: Vision is information processing; it is not image transmission. Your visual system does not just transmit an image of the world up to your brain, because there’s nobody up there to look at an image. There’s nothing up there except nerve cells and all they do is either fire or not fire. So seeing is whether some neurons are firing and some neurons are not and what information those cells are extracting by the firing patterns from the pattern of light that lands on your retina.

Yes! Vision is not just using your eyes to see an image that gets transmitted to your brain. Vision is a complex series of processes involving light entering your eye through your cornea then landing on the retina, traveling through the optic nerve to the brain where it is processed not merely reproduced.

During my run I continued listening to the audio book, The Guest List. Wow, the men in this book are terrible; I was actually getting angry and sad about what assholes they are. Despite this, finally, three-quarters of the way through I am invested in listening to the entire thing and finding out how it ends. Whenever I make it to this point in a book where I’m finally hooked even though I had thought about giving up on it several times, I feel a sense of accomplishment.

a moment of sound

On the deck again. Listening to a crow and my neighbors’ scare rods spinning in the wind, sounding like the scratching noise that Voldemort’s soul makes in one of his horacruxes in the last movie. For the first 20 seconds or so, Delia joined me. You can hear her collar clanging, then the door open as she goes back inside. Too cold or boring for her, I guess.

Jan 30, 2021

Note: Working earlier today on some notes about vision, I think I figured out my new project: peripheral vision. So much to think about literally and metaphorically! I was inspired by a line I came up with:

If central vision represents the trees, peripheral vision is the forest. I will never lose the forest, even as the trees fade further away.

jan 29/RUN

3.25 miles
neighborhood in reverse
20 degrees/ feels like 8
15-25% snow and ice covered roads and sidewalks

Not too bad outside, although I had the wind in my face for most of it. A bright, gloomy white this morning. Humid, too–75%. The main road was mostly clear and not crowded. The occasional walker, one biker, a few dogs. The highlight: a cross country skier skiing in the big open stretch between the river road and edmund! I rarely see cross country skiers, so when I do, I’m delighted. Heard several crows cawing, a woodpecker drumming, a saw buzzing. Crossed the river road at 33rd and trudged a few steps through the snow to the split rail fence right above the river. The river! Almost all ice, with a few slashes of open water. The open water wasn’t black like it has been in past winters, but a pale, grayish blue. Tried recording a moment of sound, but the rushing wind and the whooshing cars were all I could hear when I listened back to it. Tried again, after I crossed the road:

Jan 29, 2021

I can hear a black-capped chickadee doing the feebee call and my feet crunching on the crusty snow and cars whizzing by and another bird that makes a two note call that I can’t identify–I looked it up, but I couldn’t find it. I’ll have to keep working on my bird calls.

jan 28/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement

Thought about running outside again this morning but decided that I should run inside where it felt warmer than 0 and so I could listen to my audio book which is due in 8 days. (As usual, all of my books became available from the library at the same time.) Watched a few random races while I biked, then listened to the audio book, The Guest List, while I ran. I’m not quite sure why I keep reading/listening to books in this Ruth Ware/Paula Hawkins type genre: British, murder, troubled past, terribly toxic friends, forced gatherings. Do I even enjoy them? I guess I do a little because I always finish them, but I hate most of the characters: lost, selfish, never having their shit together. Listening to it this morning did help the 32 minutes on the treadmill go by much faster. The first few minutes were difficult as I thought, how can I stay on here for another 28 minutes? But it got easier. It is still easier (and much more fun) to run outside. I think one of my goals for this winter will be to work on my aerobic base (the long, slow miles at a lower heart rate) so that when it gets warmer and the paths are clearer I will be fit enough to run for an hour. Yes! I miss running for longer distances, traveling farther away from my house beside the river. So much more to write about.

how we see: eyes and brain

For the past few days, I’ve been reviewing how vision works, from when light enters the eye and hits the retina and then travels through the optic nerve to the visual cortex and the occipital lobe. So much jargon–names for parts of the cells and the neurons and the areas of the brain, ways of discussing direction (dorsal, medial, ventral). How much do I need (or want) to know about this process? When does it become too much, a distraction? What I find fascinating, from my limited research, is how, even as scientists use their fancy language to name/classify the parts of the brain and what they do, there is so much they can’t name or understand. I am not dismissing the important work that is/has been done on how we see, but I’m drawn to the limits of that language and knowledge. The mysterious parts. It seems like there is a lot that scientists don’t know about how the brain processes images and visual information. I’m basing this last conclusion mainly off of the lack of recent articles (in the last 10 years) on how we see and the conclusion to this article (it’s from 1993 so it’s old, yet I haven’t found many more recent articles):

Let me try to give you a sense of where we are, says Margaret Livingstone, in an effort to assess the status of visual research today. Take form perception. Human beings are very good at it. We recognize contours, faces, words, a lot of really complicated things. What we understand is that in the retinas, the lateral geniculate bodies, and the first layer of the visual cortex, we code for changes in brightness or color. In the next stage, cells become selective for the orientation of the change–that is, they code for contours, or edges. In some places cells select for the length of the contour. Then, if you go up very high, you find cells selective for certain faces. Livingstone pauses. We know remarkably little about what happens in between. It’s frightening how big a gap there is.

The Vision Thing

Instead of understanding these gaps as failures to KNOW, I like to think of them as reminders that seeing/vision is so much more than we can or ever will understand. It is complex and can’t be reduced to the simple, naive idea that our eyes see what’s in the world and then our brain correctly communicates that exact image to us. I am not sure this makes sense, but I have been interrupted several times in writing this entry and I think I lost my train of thought. I’ll keep it in and work on it later.

a moment of sound

Listen to those birds! Right outside my front door. It’s 18 degrees, but sounds like spring.

jan 28, 2021

jan 27/RUN

3.2 miles
neighborhood in reverse*
10 degrees/ feels like 0
25% snow and ice covered sidewalks and roads

*Normally I run north on 43rd ave, then right on 32nd st to the river, then south on edmund until I turn around at 42nd st, then north on edmund until I reach 35th. Today, I reversed it and added a stretch, running north on the river road trail between 42nd and 38th.

Another wonderful winter run! Felt colder today; was it the humidity? I could feel (and see) water turning to ice on my eyelashes. Not too much wind. There was a point, when I was running south on edmund that I thought, “I’m not feeling any wind. Uh oh. Does that mean it will be in my face when I turn around?” Yes, it does and it was, but never blustery, just persistently cold. Encountered a few more people out there today. Some walkers, some runners, a few dogs. Fairly certain I kept my 6+ feet distance the whole time. It was wonderful to run right above the river, all iced over, a grayish white. Still, stuck, silent. Except for the birds. Heard some black capped chickadees and some others chirping–finches, maybe? This year, I need to learn to identify a few of these birds which currently I only hear as chirps or trills.

Speaking of birds, as I was walking out of my house, I heard a black capped chickadee! Of course I had to make it my moment of sound. I knew it was a good omen for my run.

jan 27, 2021

Discovered this wonderful poem, and wonderful poet, the other day on Instagram:

Status Update/ Rebecca Lindenbery

Rebecca Lindenberg is drinking whisky. Feels guilty. Is caught in one of those feedback loops. Is a blankety-blank. Is a trollop, a floozy, a brazen hussy. Would like to add you as a friend. Would like to add you as an informant. Would like to add you as her dark marauder, as her Lord and Savior. Has trouble with boundaries. Rebecca Lindenberg is keeping lonesomeness at bay with frequent status updates designed to elicit a thumbs-up icon from you. Rebecca Lindenberg likes this, dismisses this with a backhanded wave. Rebecca Lindenberg wraps her legs around this. Has a ball of string you can follow out of her labyrinth. Has this labyrinth. Rebecca Lindenberg has high hopes. Has high blood sugars. Rebecca Lindenberg doesn’t want to upset you. Wants to say what you want to hear. Rebecca Lindenberg thinks of poetry as the practice of overhearing yourself. Rebecca Lindenberg thinks about love. About ribbons unspooling. Rebecca Lindenberg would like to add you as a profound influence. Would like to add you as a loyal assassin. Would like to add you as her date to the reckoning. Rebecca Lindenberg remembers a statue of a faceless girls with shapely feet. Rebecca Lindenberg remembers the Italian for “chicken breasts” is petti di pollo and the world for kilogram is kilo and that a kilo is way too much chicken breast for a family of three. Steals sage from strangers’ gardens. Runs for it. Misses Rome. Misses her family of three. Is lost in her own poem. Rebecca Lindenberg has dreams in which you come back. Rebecca Lindenberg lets it go. Rebecca Lindenberg crescendos and decrescendos. Rebecca Lindenberg is: Hey, you, c’mere. Rebecca Lindenberg is: You are not the boss of me. Rebecca Lindenberg is not the boss of you. Rebecca Lindenberg goes to movies. Needs a bigger boat. Gave you her heart and you gave her a pen. Can’t handle the truth. Rebecca Lindenberg loves the truth. Loves the smell of dirt gathered in water and the sleep-smell of your morning body. Loves her rumpled cat, her jimmied window. Loves long letters. Will write soon.

What a poem! I like the energy and her approach to describing herself. I’d like to put it beside my poem, A Bridge of Saras, which was a homage to Wayne Holloway-Smith’s Some Waynes.

jan 26/RUN

3 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/dowling, west/47th ave, nw/loop around Howe Elementary
11 degrees/feels like 0
sidewalks and main roads: clear
side streets: 100% snow-covered, 1/2 plowed

I love running outside in the winter! There was wind running north, but it didn’t bother me. And I wasn’t too cold. No frozen fingers or toes. I wore my yak trax, which was a bad idea. Most of the sidewalks were clear and dry. I ran in the street as much as I could so I wouldn’t damage the coils of my trax, but it would have been much safer on the sidewalk. Oh well.

a moment of sound

Running south on Edmund, when I reached 38th street, I crossed over the river road, walked down the steps to the Winchell Trail and admired the gorgeous river for a moment. Decided to record my moment of sound from that spot. It was so peaceful and icy and wonderful to watch, I had to turn the moment of sound into a video:

jan 26, 2021

Things I Remember

  • The uneven tracks of snow on the road jarring my foot and ankle but not twisting them
  • The sound of a kid laughing or talking or something to an adult on the river road
  • Running in the middle of the road, listening carefully and looking back every so often to make sure no cars were coming
  • Hearing a chain jangling near Minnehaha Academy, thinking it sounded like a dog collar then wondering why there would be a dog so close to the school entrance (I didn’t look to see what it actually was; I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell even if I had).
  • Walking up the steps from the Winchell Trail and hearing the shuffling steps of a runner approaching. Watching them (from a safe distance) run by, then noticing a fat tire off to my left
  • I don’t remember noticing if Minnehaha Academy’s parking lot was full or hearing any woodpeckers or black capped chickadees or seeing any cross country skiers or needing to avoid any irritating squirrels

One of the poetry people I follow on twitter really likes James Schuyler, which is fine with me, I really like him too. Here’s a poem they posted yesterday:

The Snow/ James Schuyler

that fell and iced
the walks and streets
is melted off: it’s
gone. I slipped a
little as I strode.
It’s early winter
yet though, more and
much is yet to come.
This gray day though
is much too warm
for snow. The window’s
up a crack and I shiver
only slightly. I
think of you and then
my thought slides
on, like slipping
on a lightly iced
walk. I have no more
poems for you, chum,
only for the ice and snow.

I love the ending of this poem: the idea of thoughts slipping on a lightly iced walk, which makes me think of Wittgenstein and his line about the need for rough, tractional ground, and referring to the reader as chum. Chum is such a strange, old-fashioned, wonderful word. For me, it conjures, simultaneously, a feeling of nostalgic affection for a friend and the image of bloody guts and Jaws–oh, and also Bart Simpson’s response to Milhouse in an early season of The Simpsons:

“Anytime chummmmmmmmmp”

This clip is from the 4th episode of the 7th season (1995) and is called, “Bart sells his soul.” Speaking of the soul, it came up on poetry people twitter this morning in this thread:

Interestingly, just as chum seems to be an old-fashioned word, so does soul. I don’t like the idea of the eternal, needs-to-be-saved-or-you’re-going-to-hell soul, but I do like Walt Whitman’s use of it in “The Body Electric”:

if the body were not the soul, what is the soul? 

O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul, 
O I say now these are the soul!

Returning to the ice, patches of barely formed ice on slightly warmer days is often the most dangerous type of ice. It’s harder to see and is so slippery! The only time I like ice when it’s warmer is when it forms into a thin, fragile sheet on the surface of a puddle. Such fun to walk over it, hearing it crack.

What a delightfully rambling log entry!

jan 25/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement

Cold this morning with snow-covered sidewalks. We got about 5 inches of snow on Saturday night and Sunday morning. I thought about running outside, but decided to stay inside to be warm and safe from slippery roads and/or crowded trails. Running inside on the treadmill is a good challenge for me, I think. It helps me to go slower and steadier and to work on pushing through the long minutes of monotony. Plus, I can work on my form and posture. I listened to my audio book (The Mesmerizing Girl) as I ran for just over 30 minutes.

moments of sound

Jan 24, 2021

For yesterday’s moment of sound, Scott and I were on a walk with Delia, right by Howe Elementary. Two sounds dominate: the buzzing/ringing of the furnace at the school (I think it’s the furnace) and the shshshshshing or crushcrushcrushing or thrashing? of my snow pants as I walk. We passed some kids playing on a mound of snow. I wish my phone would have done a better job of picking up what the one kid was saying. It was something about a sword and cutting something in half “with my MIND!” I have decided that I need some tips from Scott (the sound expert) on how to record better sound. That might be a goal for February.

Jan 25, 2021

For the majority of this recording, you get to hear the delightfully irritating crunch crack crush of ice breaking under my winter boot as I walk across the driveway. Yesterday this driveway was sheer ice, but Scott sprinkled some salt or sand on it and it melted and refroze in shards overnight. Love this sound! For the last 10 seconds or so, it’s much quieter. If you listen closely, you can hear a bird or two calling out. Today it is cold but sunny, and with the birds chirping and the sun warming my face, it feels like April not January.

Found out about this wonderful poem on twitter yesterday:

Story/ Tiana Clark

with its waterlogged wings spread open,
drying off on a rock in the middle
of a man-made lake after diving for food
and it makes me think about wonder
and it makes me want to pry and stretch
my shy arms open to the subtle summer
wind slicing through the park, sliding
over my skin like a stream of people
blowing candles out over my feathery
body and it makes me think about my
church when I was a kid, and how I
lifted my hands to Jesus, hoping
for surrender, but often felt nothing,
except for the rush of fervent people wanting
to be delivered from their aching, present
pain, and how that ache changed the smell
in the room to money and how I pinched
my face and especially my eyes tighter,
tighter and reached my hands higher—how
I, like the cormorant, stood in the middle
of the sanctuary so exposed and open
and wanted and wanted so much to grasp
the electric weather rushing through
the drama of it all like a shout
in the believer’s scratchy throat.

I don’t go to church anymore, but today
I woke up early and meditated. I closed
my eyes and focused on a fake seed
in my hand and put my hands over
my heart to shove the intention inside
my chest to blossom—I’m still stumbling
through this life hoping for anyone or
something to save me. I’m still thinking
about the cormorant who disappeared
when I was writing this poem. I was just
looking down and finishing a line
and then I looked back up—gone.

What a wonderful poem! I’d like to read this next to Mary Oliver’s “The Real Prayers Are Not the Words, But the Attention that Comes First

Reading this poem, I was not familiar with the cormorant, so I looked it up. Here’s a great site: Cool Cormorants, and Little known facts about one of nature’s feathery fisherman

  • They’re big, the size of a goose, with turquoise eyes.
  • They have matte black feathers and yellow-orange facial skin.
  • They eat a lot of fish–about 1 lb a day.
  • Their feathers are not waterproof, so their wings become water-logged.
  • They’re excellent swimmers and divers, but don’t look like it. Their water-logged wings make them look awkward.
  • They don’t fly as well as they swim (because: short wings), expending the most energy of any flying bird.
  • They regurgitate pellets–like owls–made up of undigested fish bones and animal parts.

jan 23/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 5K
basement

Unless I get out the door early, I don’t like running outside on the weekends. Too crowded on paths already narrowed by snow and ice. So I biked and ran in the basement. Watched the HOKA 100k challenge live online as Jim Walmsley tries to break the world record for 100K (currently held by Japan’s Nao Kazami 6:09:14/ 5:56.5 mile pace for 62.2 miles). Good god. Almost 5 hours in, he’s still holding on, running with blood on his shoulder–he clipped his shoulder on the edge of a fence early into the race. Hard core. Then I listened to my audio book as I ran. I decided to do a relaxed 5k. It’s getting easier to run longer on the treadmill. It will never be as fun or inspiring or invigorating as being outside, but it’s still the chance to move and not feel trapped in my restless body.

Before I starting working out, I memorized Emily Dickinson’s “Snow flakes,” partly because it’s supposed to snow later today. Such a fun little poem! I learned that this poem is only 1 of 3 (out of 1780) poems that Dickinson titled. Cool.

Snow flakes/ Emily Dickinson

I counted til they danced so
their slippers leaped the town —
and then I took a pencil
to note the rebels down —
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig —
And ten of my most stately toes
are marshalled for a jig!

I love the energy and the surrender to the delight of falling snow and her word choices: jolly, resign the prig, stately toes, marshalled a jig.

a moment of sound

Playing with Delia in the backyard, walking up the deck steps, then opening the door to let her in the house. I hear a few birds as the snow begins to fly on this cold (20 degrees/feels like 10) afternoon.

jan 23, 2021

jan 22/RUN

5K
45th ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/edmund, north/36th st, west
7 degrees/ feels like -3

Last week I said I would much rather it be colder with clear sidewalks, than warmer with icy sidewalks. That was proven today. As I was saying to Scott, you can always add layers to be warm, but you can’t do much to make uneven icy paths safer–yak trax work, sort of, but not when the ice is jagged and filled with ruts. Hooray for sun and not too much wind and mostly empty streets and a soundtrack of birds and clear, cold air and new Presidents getting shit done!

Encountered only a few walkers, no runners (I think) and one biker. Heard lots of birds. Smelled some smoke as I ran on Edmund. Noticed a foot wide stripe of faded white on the edge of the street–what’s left of the salt used to treat the road. The stripe stretched for a quarter mile or more. Once I realized it was only salt stains and not a thin sheet of ice, I ran on it. Heard some park workers and their chainsaws, trimming trees above the gorge. Yes, a better view! I should remember to stop during my run and go check out the river. I miss it! If I can’t run right beside the river for long stretches, at least I can admire it for a moment.

a moment of sound

Earlier this morning, sitting at my desk in the front room, I heard a black capped chickadee calling outside. Quickly, I got my phone to record it. It wasn’t until after it stopped that I realized I had forgotten to push the record button. Bummer. Still, I recorded some other birds and a bird or a squirrel or something knocking on wood or an acorn. You can hear the tap tap tapping. Towards the end, you can also hear my 17 year old son, yelling out from his room (behind a closed door) to his friends online as they prepared to raid a base or something like that on whatever online game they were all playing. He was yelling the whole time I was recording, but this was the only bit of it that I can hear on the recording.

Jan 22, 2021

I am almost positive I have posted this poem before, but I would like to memorize it, so I posting it again.

Winter Trees/WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

All the complicated details 
of the attiring and 
the disattiring are completed! 
A liquid moon 
moves gently among 
the long branches. 
Thus having prepared their buds 
against a sure winter 
the wise trees 
stand sleeping in the cold. 

jan 21/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 2.1 miles
basement

I guess I’m turning into a wimp this winter because the sidewalks looked uneven and icy and the wind was howling, so I decided to stay inside and work out in the basement. Actually, I think it has less to do with being a wimp, and more to do with it being harder to run in the road and the sidewalks than on the river road trail and harder to avoid people and harder to stay motivated to run outside when I can’t see the river or the gorge. That’s okay. I don’t mind running inside a bit more this month–hopefully just this month.

Watched some races while I biked, and listened to an audiobook, The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl, for the first half of my run. For the second half, I listened to a playlist and recorded video of my running. With my right knee prone to subluxations and my left hip and lower back often sore, it’s helpful to study my form. I think I need to do a better job of setting up the camera–either that or I really hunch over with my shoulders. Maybe I should try checking my form from the side too? It’s fascinating to me how, over almost my 10 years of running, I’m slowly learning how to accept and take care of my aging body. Oftentimes it sucks to have to worry about all of these aches and pains, but it is also very helpful and satisfying to learn how to work with my body instead of being afraid of its failures.

a moment of sound

I recorded today’s moment of sound on my driveway, back near the alley, in a spot sheltered from the wind. It was very windy. The loud whooshing sounds are not traffic but the wind rushing through the trees. If you listen carefully, you can hear wind chimes (my favorite) and water dripping off of the eaves on my garage (not my favorite). At one point, there’s a pop or a creak or a crack–some siding or wood fence contracting.

Jan 21, 2021

THINGS TO DO/ James Schuyler

Balance checkbook.
Rid lawn of onion grass.
“this patented device”
“this herbicide”
“Sir, We find none of these
killers truly satisfactory.  Hand weed
for onion grass.”  Give
old clothes away, “such as you
yourself would willingly wear.”
Impasse.  Walk three miles
a day beginning tomorrow.
Alphabetize.
Purchase nose-hair shears.
Answer letters.
Elicit others.
Write Maxine.
Move to Maine.
Give up NoCal.
See more movies.
Practice long-distance dialing.
Ditto gymnastics:
The Beast with Two Backs
And, The Fan.
Complain to laundry
any laundry.  Ask for borrowed books back.
Return
junk mail to sender
marked, Return to Sender.
Condole.  Congratulate.
” . . . this sudden shock . . . “
” . . . this swift surprise . . . “
Send. Keep.  Give.  Destroy.
Brush rub polish burn
mend scratch foil evert
emulate surpass.  Remember
“to write three-act play”
and lead “a full and active life.”

-from Collected Poems

I love lists. Making them, reading them, turning them into poetry. I think I’d like to write another series of lists.

jan 20/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
basement

Finally, it’s over! Already, Biden and Harris are working to undo some of the damage. What an awful, exhausting, traumatic 4 years. Yet, some good too, in spite of it all: a renewed faith in democracy, the chance for an actual reckoning with slavery and racism, and, most personally, a rediscovery of poetry and a new direction for my work on a feminist ethics of care. I started this running log in January of 2017, right as Trump was becoming president. There were many reasons I started writing here, but the urgent need to find a new way to be in the Trump era was surely one of them. In ways that I can’t yet articulate, this blog and my project of paying attention and of finding the small moments of delight–always letting the wonder win, as Aimee Nezhukumatathil says–was a form of resistance, a refusal to lose my faith in the world and my hope for the future. I must admit, it got much harder to resist these last few months, but the habits I built up from my miles and my words (and the beautiful words of many others), have helped me to persist and I know they will help me as I work hard to rid myself of all of the Trump-era toxins I’ve had to absorb. Does this sound too dramatic? Maybe, but today feels like a day for being dramatic!

I didn’t think about any of these things as I biked or ran. I just enjoyed moving and feeling free, even if it was in my dark unfinished basement.

Hooray for new administrations! Hooray for hope and possibility and room to breathe and grieve and imagine better worlds! Hooray for a renewed desire to do the work! And hooray for this beautiful poem by Amanda Gorman:

The Hill We Climb/ Amanda Gorman

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

a moment of sound

After the inauguration, Scott and I took Delia out for a walk. It wasn’t too cold, but it was windy and blustery and slippery–and difficult to get a moment of sound. In this recording, you can hear the wind and Delia’s collar clanging and our feet walking over the crusty ice and snow.

jan 20, 2021

jan 19/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 1.4 miles
basement

A little more snow, a little more cold, even more slick and uneven surfaces. Decided to workout in the basement. Watched some swimming races while I biked, then listened to the latest “Maintenance Phase” podcast while I ran. This one was about “The Biggest Loser” and it was disturbing. What a terrible show. I must admit, that I watched at least one season of it, and while I thought it was very problematic, sadly I still watched and enjoyed it. Such incredibly damaging ideas about bodies and fitness and health and fatness that reinforce dangerous and awful understandings of how we might live in and with our bodies!

After I finished I came upstairs and recorded a moment of sound on the back deck. Nothing too interesting today: it’s cold (15 degrees) and windy and the last 20 seconds were unusable because I was moving in some strange way that generated an irritating scratching noise. If you listen closely, you can hear the crunching, creaking sound of some car wheels. It’s my neighbor driving through the alley, slowly trying to navigate the icy ruts. The whooshing sound you hear is not a plane or traffic, but the wind rushing through the tall trees (pine? spruce?) across the alley. I don’t think I hear any birds or spazzy kids or barking dogs.

jan 19, 2021

jan 18/RUN

5K
2 school loop
20 degrees/feels like 11
sidewalks: 80% slippery, uneven ice
road: 1 thin strip of pavement

Yes! I ran outside today. It was cold. It was too crowded. It was icy. But I managed to stay warm in my layers, almost always keep a safe distance, and not fall. A great run. Fresh air! Trees and birds to admire! The ability to alter my pace without worrying about falling off the treadmill!

Lots of birds out today. I wanted to stop and record a moment of sound under a tree with a calling (crying?) bird, but it was too crowded. I don’t remember seeing many runners, only lots of walkers. The two women who annoyingly take over the entire road, spread out in a way that it is impossible to not get too close to them, were at it again. Sigh. I know I’m lucky that I can still run outside and almost always avoid other people.

Anything else? Noticed a few people skating at the rink at Hiawatha–the same rink that someone was just making a few weeks ago and that I featured in my moment of sound earlier this month. I didn’t see the river, or the Daily Walker, or any turkeys. But I heard the wind rushing through some dead leaves on a tree, a delivery guy grumbling as he left a house, and my labored breathing as I ran directly into the wind.

Most of the time, when the sidewalk was too treacherous (or tretch, as I like to say), I could find a strip of clear pavement on the road–usually near the edge, but sometimes in the middle. A few times, there was no escape from the very slick, very rutted ice. I’d stutter step and try to slow myself down gradually before carefully walking until it was clear. I bet I looked funny or ridiculous or foolish to someone watching. I don’t care. I didn’t fall and I got to be outside without a coat, moving and breathing and occasionally flying for 30 minutes!

Today I am doing okay. The trick is to avoid thinking about insurrections or more violence to come. And to believe that the inauguration will be a success and we will be able to celebrate it and cry tears of joy and not terror. And to forget that the pandemic is getting much worse. The trick is to remember the river and vaccines and Major and Champ and fresh air and exciting creative projects and how great lemon water tastes and sun (which is shining right now) and the black-capped chickadee that greets me almost every day.

a moment of sound

Today’s sound is from the backyard. Right now, we have 2 or 3 inches of crusty, icy, packed snow, which makes for a delightful crunching sound as you walk through it. This is one of my favorite winter sounds.

jan 18, 2021

jan 17/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
basement

Another day of icy sidewalks, so more working out in the basement. Will I be able to run outside tomorrow? I think so. If nothing else, I can do loops around Howe Elementary. When Scott and I took Delia the dog out for a walk this morning, I noticed that it was mostly clear there. It’s not as exciting as other routes, but still outside. Didn’t think about much while I was biking or running. Tried out a few spotify playlists, but didn’t really like any of them. Someday, I’ll put together my own playlist. Even though it wasn’t that exciting, it still felt good to move.

After I finished my run, I stood out on the deck and recorded my moment of sound. Very still and gray. The bare tree branches looked delightfully fuzzy and soft, almost like a smudge of gray. There’s at least one dog barking in the distance–one block over. Too bad the trio of spazzy dogs on that same block didn’t join in. What a cacophony of yelps and yips and ruffs they make! Sometimes I like walking Delia right by their house just to get them going.

jan 17, 2021

jan 16/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
basement

This morning when Scott and I took Delia out for a walk it looked like the paths were clear–at least to me with my too quick glance–when we left the house, but we soon learned the sidewalk and street were ridiculously icy and uneven and dangerous. No falls for either of us, but lots of slips, and one square block took almost 15 minutes to walk. No outdoor running for me today. So, I biked and ran in the basement instead. Watched the first episode of the Netflix Fran Lebowitz documentary, “Pretend it’s a City.” I love her cranking about people’s obliviousness to others in the world, particularly in New York City, and I appreciate this concept of pretending it’s a city so that we train ourselves to be aware and care about how we’re moving in spaces with other people. After that, I listened to a playlist and ran for a little more than a mile on the treadmill. No insights or interesting thoughts today.

a moment of sound

Yes! Today, I captured the sound of the wind chimes across the street (about 35 seconds in). I love the sound of wind chimes. You can also hear a scraping, slamming noise throughtout as a neighbor across the street attempts to break up the thick, craggy sheet of ice on their sidewalk. Yuck, this slightly warmer but not that warm weather creates the worst sidewalk conditions. I would much rather have it be 0 outside (or even colder), but with clear paths. And–warning–the recording starts with the loud, shrill creaking sound of my front door opening and then the slam of the glass/screen door. I thought about editing it out because it’s so loud, but decided I liked it.

jan 16, 2021

Happy to report that, at least so far, no violent insurrections at the State Capitol or in my neighborhood today.

jan 15/BIKE/RUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement

Very wet outside today. Sloppy and icy, the temperature hovering right around freezing. Yuck. Decided to stay inside today and bike and run. Watched a race and then checked the news while I biked, listened to a playlist while I ran. Ran more than I thought I would. Heard songs by Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Adele, Miley Cyrus. Mostly avoided thinking about anything, but every so often thoughts about impending violence and possible civil wars and how many people are at risk, and which people are more at risk, crept in. What a terrible time. I mentioned to Scott last night that we need to engage in a lot of public grieving (and reckoning) after all of this is over–Biden should establish a national day of mourning, I think–maybe an annual one.

At the end of my run, as I did my warm down walk, I recited Robert Frost’s “Dust of Snow” from memory. I couldn’t remember the line, “a change of mood.” I said “a better mood” instead. I spent a lot of time yesterday reciting this poem over and over again, working on getting the meter right. Why was it so hard for me to remember the correct lines? Not sure. Also not sure why meter is so hard for me to get right. I can’t seem to hear what’s stressed and what’s not.

a dust of snow, jan 15

a moment of sound

for jan 14: yesterday, I took Delia the dog on a walk when it was just starting to snow. We walked 4 blocks to the gorge, checked out the ravine, and then walked right above the rim to the overlook at 34th st. So beautiful. You can hear Delia’s collar jingling and snow falling on my coat, some cars passing behind us, and several birds: the “chickadeedeedee” song and a woodpecker drumming away + some other birds that I can’t quite identify.

jan 14, 2021

for jan 15: today’s moment of sound was recorded after my workout on my back deck. The crinkling noise is hard pellets (graupels!?) of snow falling on my coat. You can also hear the drip drip dripping of melting snow in a gutter. How delightful and strange and not that common in January to hear falling and melting snow at the same time. And there’s a loud rush/roar sound of city traffic from a freeway. It’s hard to believe, but we live more than a mile away from any freeway. The sound is traveling far today.

jan 15, 2021

jan 13/RUN

5K
43rd ave, north/32nd ave, east/edmund, south/edmund, north
37 degrees
clear roads, slushy sidewalks

So warm! And not too much wind! Tomorrow, snow. Running down 32nd, at the top of a small rise, I could see the gorge ahead. I decided to cross the river road and stop at the edge of the bluff to record my moment of sound. I stood in the snow and looked through the bare branches at the open water. Brown and ice-free. Too warm, I guess. In this moment, you hear an occasional car, some birds down in the gorge, my feet crunching in the snow, the hum of far away freeway traffic. I remember there was a bark from somewhere as I stood there, but I can’t hear it on this recording.

jan 13, 2021

Things I Remember

  • A whole gaggle of kids playing on the snow banks at Cooper School, making lots of noise as I ran by
  • A stupid squirrel, running out in front of me, forcing me to stop
  • Hardly any cars in the parking lot at Minnehaha Academy–are they doing distance learning now?
  • Admiring the beautiful river, thankful that I decided to stop and stare at it for a minute
  • Someone way over on the river road trail, speeding by on an outdoor elliptical bike! At least I think it was–I turned my head to look but it was too hard for me to see. The whirring of the wheels sounded like one, and not a bike, but I’ve misheard things before. I’ll choose to believe it was an ElliptaGO and continue to wonder, how does it handle icy, slushy trails?

Earlier today, I did 30 minutes of Yoga. Right after finishing, when I felt the most relaxed and buzzed from the amazing stretching (it almost always feels so good!), I recorded Snow-flakes:

snow-flakes, jan 13, after yoga

I also recited it a little as I ran. While it was easy to match my feet up with the first line–“Out of the bosom of the air”–the second line was hard–“Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken.” I’ll have to try it again.

jan 12/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 1.25 miles
basement

In the basement this afternoon. A little sore from my run on the slushy, uneven snow yesterday. Watched some old races on YouTube as I biked, listened to a playlist as I ran. I recited Longfellow’s “Snow-flakes” in my head at least once. I am writing this entry the next morning because I didn’t have time to write it earlier, and I don’t remember much from the bike or the run. No insights or interesting images but, as always, it felt good to move and to sweat and to lose track of time.

Earlier in the day, Scott and I took Delia the dog on a walk. Warmish (34 degrees), with sun on our faces, then on our backs. We heard some black-capped chickadees and almost believed it was spring.

Even earlier than that, I sat on the deck, my eyes closed and the inside of my eyelids red from the warm sun, recording my moment of sound. Quiet, peaceful. I could almost block out the insistent drip…drip…drip of water coming off the gutter. I only worried a few times about whether or not the gutters were clogged. At the end of the moment, I walked over to the other side of the deck to listen to another series of drips–more clogged gutters! Also heard: birds, some very enthusiastic neighbors–maybe playing at the field at the elementary school?

jan 12, 2021

jan 11/RUN

5K
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south
29 degrees
sidewalks, some roads: 99% slushy snow-covered

A great day to be outside in the warm sun! Not as great a day for the ankles–so much soft, slightly slippery, slushy snow. I didn’t slip or twist my ankle, but my legs felt sore trudging through the half melted snow. It was worth it to be outside, breathing in the fresh air, noticing the river sparking on the water piercing through the floodplain forest. What a view from up on edmund! What a great opportunity to forget about all of the uncertainty and awfulness happening right now–at least for 30 minutes.

As I started running, I was reciting Longfellow’s “Snow-flakes.” Did I make it to the end? I can’t remember; I was focusing too much on avoiding icy patches and keeping my striking feet soft and my ankles loose.

For my moment of sound, I stopped less than 10 minutes into the run, at the edge of Cooper field, to record some chatting birds and one annoying blue jay (I think. Here are some blue jay calls for comparison–the blue jay call is the worst, overpowering everything else). I also managed to capture a few instances of this rubbing sound–first at 22 seconds in. Not sure what someone was doing to make that noise, but as I approached the corner, a minute earlier, I thought the noise was a dog barking by the church. I almost stopped to try and see what was happening and record it, but decided to keep going. But then the birds were so delightful (except the blue jay) a block later, that I stopped anyway.

jan 11, 2021

Speaking of birds, scrolling through my Safari Reading List, I found this lecture on YouTube that I’d like to watch/listen to sometime soon: Dickinson’s Birds

While I was running, House Democrats announced their intention to impeach Trump for a second time. Yes. Very necessary.

jan 10/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 2.1 miles
basement

It’s the weekend and since it looked crowded near the gorge when Scott and I took Delia out for a walk this morning, I decided to stay inside and bike and run on the treadmill. Watched some YouTube videos while I biked and then listened to a good playlist as I ran: The Man/Taylor Swift; Sunflower/Harry Styles; Midnight Sky/Miley Cyrus; You Should See Me in a Crowd/Billie Eilish; We Can’t Stop/Miley Cyrus; Tightrope/Janelle Monae. All good songs for staying distracted (or not being distracted?) while running. I still cringe at the lyrics of Miley’s “We Can’t Stop,” but the beat works for my cadence. At the end of my run, as I walked and got my heart rate down, I recorded myself reciting a snow poem I memorized earlier today: Snow-flakes/ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. What a beautiful poem!

Snow-flakes/ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Out of the bosom of the air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow,
Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
In the white countenance confession,
The troubled sky reveals
The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded.
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.

Love the rhythm and the easy rhymes and the idea of snow as the poem of the air. I’m not as enthusiastic about his love of the word “bosom,” although it sings much better than boobs or chest.

Snow-flakes, Jan 10

Earlier today, after returning from my walk with Scott, I recorded a moment of sound on my front steps. I had hoped to capture the sound of the wind chimes we had heard as we walked, but I guess there wasn’t enough wind. Bummer. Not much to hear in this moment: some birds, faintly singing, some traffic one block over, a car rumbling by. It is very quiet on my block, which is nice.

a moment of sound, jan 10, 2021

jan 9/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
basement

Watched a race while I biked. Ran with a playlist, then remembered a runner mentioning listening to “thunderstruck” while they ran and liking it, so I switched to that for my final minutes. Nice. AC/DC is fun to run to. Didn’t think about anything except that I breathe better when I’m working out. I also breathe better outside and in the winter, which I noticed (again) earlier today when Scott and I were walking Delia the dog. So bright with the white snow.

A nice relaxing day. Managed to stop myself from obsessively checking the news every few minutes. Sat on the couch and read Agatha Christie’s “The Secret Adversary” with the sleuthing duo, Tommy and Tuppence. Scott and I discovered their 1982 (or 83?) BBC show a week or so ago and we’ve been watching it almost every night. I like their dynamic and saying “Tuppence” as much as I can–maybe Tuppence and Bunty from Father Brown should team up for a show. Such strange names.

Went out on the deck for my moment of sound this afternoon. Managed to convince my 14 year old daughter to join me. Today’s sound is mostly the scampering of Delia the dog–her collar clanging as she shakes, her claws scratching the deck, her scampering paws. Delia loves leaping through the snow like a bunny.

jan 9, 2021

I’m already liking these moments of sound. The quality isn’t that great and maybe what I’m capturing isn’t that interesting, but the act of capturing a moment of sound outside and then listening back to it and writing about it is helping me develop (or reinforce) great habits–making sure I get outside and that I stop and stand still and listen are important/helpful things to do right now. Plus, it helped me to get my daughter outside to play in the snow for a few minutes–something she hardly ever does.

Discovered this afternoon that there’s an animation for an awesome poem by Marie Howe:

And here’s a poem I found the other day that I like:

I Refuse to Report Bugs to Their Creator/ BRAYAN SALINAS

During roll call
a black beetle
wanders to the sink,
near my toothbrush,
and I say,
“Poor thing,
I better let you go.”

                                 My father says,
                                 “You better smash that thing
                                 before it multiplies.”
                                 I think he says the
                                 same about me.

I lie awake at night
and think
about crunchy leaves
crushed in the autumn.

                                 My mother sees
                                 six red ants
                                 running around
                                 the loaf of bread
                                 anticipating their breakfast.
                                 She says to me,
                                 “Get those things off
                                 the table.”

My sister panics
at the sight of a spider.
She runs to the kitchen
and screams bloody murder.
I remind her,
“We don’t find
scary things
scary anymore.”

                                 My mother flicks
                                 the grasshopper off  her book.
                                 She asks how I am doing.
                                 I lie to her
                                 and say,
                                 “I’m doing quite all right,
                                 I smashed a bug
                                 with my shoe.
                                 We all do
                                 what we don’t want to do.”

I see a cockroach
on the ground.
“Gregor,” I whisper,
“you better run fast.”
He says to me,
“I only need to run faster
than you.”

jan 8/RUN

3 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/edmund, north
20 degrees

This morning, right after I woke up just before 7 it began to snow. Only a dusting, but enough to coat all the sidewalks and the street. Time for my yaktrax! A nice and slow run. Bright white, but without any sun. Heard a black-capped chickadee doing their 2 note call near the gorge. Also smelled smoke at the same spot on Edmund. I think it’s coming from someone’s fireplace–or backyard? Saw a few walkers–no skiers or bikers. Lots of cars on the river road. Was able to keep a very safe distance from anyone else. No slipping, only lots of crunching. I bet my legs will be sore tonight and tomorrow.

Halfway through my run, I stopped to record a moment of sound–mostly because I wanted to take a brief break. Happened to stop about 1/2 block away from someone railing against Trump. It’s heard to hear, but if you listen over the roar of the wind or traffic or city buzz or whatever is making that loud hiss, you can hear him say “Trump” “get them all” and later, “Melania.” What a strange, terrible, exhausting yet hopeful, promising, revolutionary time we are living in.

jan 8, 2021

jan 7/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 2.1 miles
basement

Yesterday, pro-Trump domestic terrorists invaded the US Capitol while Congress was in the midst of certifying Biden’s victory. Terrifying, terrible, but not surprising to anyone who has been paying attention for the last 4 years. Scott and I sat in front of the tv all afternoon and evening, watching it unfold in real time.

A bit sore today from running outside yesterday–and maybe sitting on the couch all afternoon? Decided to do some biking and a shorter run inside today. As I biked, I split my time between watching a documentary about Bob Fosse (I loved watching Cabaret as a kid; it must have been in heavy circulation on HBO which was the cable channel I watched the most in the 1980s) and checking CNN and the New York Times to see whether or not they had invoked the 25th amendment on Trump yet (as of 2:30, not yet). After biking, I put in my “Daily Mix 3” on Spotify. Discovered that Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and the Beat” with Nikki Minaj is a great song to run to–it came up second, right after “xanny” by Billie Eilish and right before Demi Lovato’s “Sorry, not Sorry”. Forgot about everything but making sure I didn’t fall of the treadmill. Nice.

After my workout in the basement, I went outside and recorded my moment of sound on my deck. I was particularly interested in capturing the scratching or clicking (it almost sounds like water dripping) of the strange objects hanging from my neighbor’s eaves. Listening back to the recording, you can’t hear it until 40 seconds in.

jan 7, 2021

My neighbor has three of these objects, hanging from the eaves at the top of the house. I remember when I first noticed them in the late summer. Very irritating. They’re metallic and they spin, catching the sun and flashing it onto our deck and through my daughter’s window upstairs. I had no idea what they were for, which made me even more annoyed. Then Scott suggested they might be for keeping the woodpecker, that had already pecked a huge hole in their siding, away. Yep, he’s right. They’re called scare rods and the flashing freaks birds out–I can see why. I can’t find a image of the exact ones they have, but here’s a picture of a similar one. The only difference: this one has diamonds, while theirs have rectangles.

The flashing is still irritating but I can live it, knowing what these are for. I’m glad the woodpecker won’t be pecking at their house anymore!

jan 6/RUN

5K
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/edmund, north
29 degrees
50% snow-covered

Still lots of snow on the road and the sidewalk even though it’s been above freezing most afternoons this week. The uneven, sometimes sloppy, trail makes my legs more sore, but I don’t mind it too much. I slipped today on a patch of ice as I ran up from the road to the sidewalk. I didn’t fall–or even feel like I might–just felt that brief loss of control. I couldn’t get that close to the river but I was able to catch a very brief glimpse of it through the trees as I ran on the highest part of Edmund. It looked white and covered–is it, or are there still open spots? No sun to make it sparkle or dance. It looked flat and still. Listened to a black-capped chickadee–it was difficult to hear over the roar of the city. It has been so loud these last few days–is it the air quality? What does humidity (80%) do to sound? I looked it up, and yes, humid air makes sound travel farther. I think I heard some helicopters–does it have to do with any protests? Anything else? Noticed someone over on the river road trail wearing a bright orange shirt–or was it shorts? I can’t remember now. Heard someone (thankfully 20 or 30 feet away) vigorously coughing. Saw a few dogs–identified them more from the clanging of their collars than actually seeing them. Felt strong and fast and happy as I headed back north on Edmund.

a moment of sound

I like the idea of doing a moment of sound everyday, but I don’t always want to run everyday and I only want to post on days when I run (mostly for the calendar so I can quickly glance at it and see which days I ran in a month, and which days I didn’t). So I’m trying to figure out how to post the moments. For now, I’ll post the non-run day moments of sound on the next running day (how boring was that explanation, future Sara?):

For yesterday’s moment of sound, I was sitting on the deck, with only a sweatshirt on, feeling the warm sun on my face, listening to the snow melting off the eaves. Such a nice moment!

jan 5, 2021

For today’s moment of sound, I stopped right after I finished running (listen for my heavy breathing). For the first half, I stood on the sidewalk, holding my phone out, listening to the birds and the roar of a plane. For the second half, I started walking and sniffing and making the delightful sound of crunching snow. If you listen carefully, you can hear the crunch sound change a little as I move from mostly snow to a stretch of ice.

jan 6, 2021

Yesterday, while cleaning out my safari reading list, I found this great poem from last year–or the year before?

notes on winter holidays/ daniel biegelson

Even you are responsible
to more than you. My daughter likes visiting
the pet store. It’s like a zoo she says. She wants
a calico she can walk with a string. On the way
home she says do we sing poems before we light candles.
‘Not to see by but to look at.’ On one level,
the mind doesn’t impose order. The mind
doesn’t impose order. Order presumes
priority. Good credit score. A forwarding address.
My bills accumulate in empty spaces.
My subject position won’t stand still.
On one level, we are not casual acquaintances.
Imagine we are pressed upon one another.
For a while we lived on the second story
above The Leader Store just down the street
from The Woolworth, which still had a griddle
and a soda fountain and smelled of melted butter.
I am not nostalgic. No need. I can still remember
the photographs. I am a frame. Sometimes
a window enclosing and disclosing. We take
the subway to the museum exchanging yous
through the tunnel and into the terminal. Imagine
we are pressed against each other. ‘Mingled breath
and smell so close’ The silver doors. A cell membrane.
You are a witness only to what you admit. Some words
emit so many possibilities they threaten to burst.
What is light. What is rain. Now a metaphor.
Take two and answer in the morning. We look
and do more than look. My daughter says
you talk with your eyes off. Why should everything
we see interact with light. I am counting
clouds destined for Florida. I moved the store here.
This is inescapably common. Where is here. Will you pray
with me. Pray with your feet on the pavement.
When she was born we didn’t know if she would ever
walk. Now my daughter says my whole body is a winter
storm as she leaps across the couch cushions. No digging
out. The self is a reintegration of exponential
apologies—a crowd of people in multi-colored coats
holding handmade signs and choosing to sit or stand
in the same world. After you. No, I insist. After you.

Some favorite lines for today:

I am not nostalgic. No need. I can still remember
the photographs. I am a frame. Sometimes
a window enclosing and disclosing.

My daughter says
you talk with your eyes off. Why should everything
we see interact with light. I am counting
clouds destined for Florida.

Favorite parts of words: the ts in tunnel and terminal, the pleasing rhyme in admit and emit,

jan 4/RUN

5K
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/edmund, north
28 degrees
75% slushy, soft, uneven snow/ 25% bare pavement

More wonderful winter running! Warmer today. The path wasn’t clear–sidewalks, roads, the trail–but I didn’t care. Had to run closer than 6 feet to 2 walkers while I was running on the trail, which bothered me, but I ran by so fast and it was outside so I didn’t care. It’s difficult in the winter because it’s hard to move off of the trail with all the snow piled up on the side. Guess I won’t get too many river views this winter–or at least until it gets colder and keeps more people inside.

Things I Remember

  • Two people by Dowling Elementary, shoveling snow and breaking up the thick slabs of ice on the road, right in front of the school. I wondered, were they volunteers? Were they preparing for kids to come back to school? Are Minneapolis elementary school kids going to return for in-person school soon?
  • Turning around at 42nd, I noticed a few snowflakes. I hadn’t expected it to snow so I thought I was imagining it or there was stuff coming off of a branch above me. Soon, it started to snow a lot, covering the ground with a thin, mushy blanket of wet sludge. Falling, the flakes were hard and small, like little bullets or missiles aimed at my mouth. I choked slightly at least twice when I swallowed them. A few years ago I did some research on snow so I used to know the different types of flakes. I’ll have to find my notes. As I type this entry now, it is sunny and clear and there is no more snow.
  • Several times I heard some interesting sounds and I thought about stopping to record my moment of sound, but I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep running, so I waited until I was done and recorded the moment by my garage. 2 of the places: 1. on edmund, in a sheltered spot, in front of some fancy houses, near my favorite little stand of trees, the cottonwood three, I wanted to stop and record the chirping birds. 2. Again on edmund, close to 42nd, running past a van with its radio on, hearing some rock song mixing with a few power tools, a plane overhead, and the snow hitting the pavement.
  • Caught a glimpse of the river through the trees before turning off the trail to avoid a pack of walkers. I think I saw more big chunks of ice on the surface.

a moment of sound

I recorded this moment of sound after I finished my run. I thought that it might be quieter and more shielded from the city noise and wind back by my garage, behind the house, in the alley. Not sure if it was. The hum of the city is so loud! My main focus for this sound was the little pellets of snow falling on my vest–that’s what the soft crunching noise is–but I also captured some kid losing her shit down the block and some awesomely wet footsteps in the snow at the end.

Jan 4, 2021

In honor of the surprise snow shower this morning, I’d like to memorize some snow poems for the next few days. Here are a few I might consider:

update, a few hours later: I looked back in my notes from February 2018 (also, my log posts from February 2018) and figured out what the little hard pellets are called: graupels.

jan 3/RUN

5K
2 school loop
18/feels like 8
95% snow covered

Winter running is the best! I’m not sure how to express the joy I feel during and after I finish a run when it’s cold–but not arctic hellscape cold–and snowy–but not too snowy or icy–and I get to be outside breathing in fresh air and moving with warm fingers and toes. I love running over the snow, hearing it crunch, feeling it propel me forward–a bit of slide but not a slip. I love the sense of accomplishment I feel for just getting out the door–there’s no pressure to be fast or run for a long time because it’s enough to be there, resisting the urge to stay inside and be warm and protected (from the elements, from too many people, from hidden ice that might make me slip).

Things I Remember

  • As I was tying my laces, just about to go outside, I heard a black capped chickadee calling. I like imagining them singing to me: “Sara. Join us. Be brave, find joy.”
  • Several cawing crows–not a murder of crows because they weren’t flocked together.
  • Smelled smoke at the usual spot, on Edmund Boulevard. Still don’t know, does it come from a house or the gorge?
  • Saw my shadow and felt the warm sun on my face.
  • Running north on 43rd, I smelled the too flowery, too fake scent of dryer sheets. Must be laundry day on this block!
  • Never got close enough to see the river or hear it.
  • Heard a crow and a train having a conversation–first a caw, quickly followed by a “beep beep”–and I think an airplane joined in, roaring from high above.
  • Ran under the bushy fir tree with the limb that arches over the sidewalk on 43rd and thought about how it was covered with snow way back in November.

a moment of sound

While running around Hiawatha School, I got trapped: another pedestrian approaching, a knee-high wall of snow on the curb preventing my quick escape onto the street. I decided to try running in the deeper snow in the baseball field. When that didn’t work, I stopped for a minute to record my moment of sound. The sun was too bright for me to tell when the recording had reached a minute, but that’ okay because this is moment of sound, which is less precise than a minute.

Jan 3, 2021

Listening back to this recording, I’m struck by how loud the planes are. I didn’t even notice that there were planes when I was standing in the field. The next thing: if you listen close and you know what you’re listening for, you can hear the sprinkling of water. That’s someone watering the ice rink at the park. Every year the field, that can fit at least one soccer field and 3 baseball fields, is turned into a huge ice rink, with a large open section from just skating and a closed-in section for hockey. I love this about Minnesota. When I was a kid, I adored ice skating, but living in the South, I rarely skated–only when we went to the big mall in Charlotte with the indoor ice rink. My 8 year old self wouldn’t have imagined that now, at age 46, I live within a mile of 2 big outdoor rinks and 1 indoor one. Last year, I didn’t skate even once. Will I this year?

Was reminded of a poetic form that I tried 4 years ago (yikes, here it is), when I first rediscovered poetry: the triolet. It’s 8 lines with line 1 being repeated as line 4 and line 7, and line 2 being repeated as line 8. Here’s the rhyme scheme (with the capitals representing the repeated lines): ABaAabAB

Here’s the poem that made me think of the form again:

Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther/ A.E. STALLINGS

Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night,
The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?
Does he hum them to while away sad afternoons
And the long, lonesome Sundays? Or sing them for spite?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night?

I love this poem. Right now I especially love it because of its rhythm and how successful it is in inhabiting this form without making it cheesy or awkward or obvious–that is hard to do.

jan 2/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 1.5 miles
basement

Took a walk with Scott and Delia this morning. Cold. It always feel colder when I’m walking than when I’m running. Frozen fingers but no frozen face with my mask on. Nice. Heard some black-capped chickadees and crows and many other birds that I couldn’t identify. Also heard the dog that moans–the one that I heard this summer and told Scott about but that we’ve never been able to hear again until now. Yes! I wanted to record the sound but I found restarted–too cold? not enough charge? I was hoping to make that my moment of sound, but I couldn’t. Instead, I stood outside on my deck, a few minutes later, and recorded the neighborhood noises. A “chickadeedeedee,” a “caw caw”–I remember, but I can’t quite make it out on the recording, a feebee call at the end. Someone dropping down the lid of their garbage can. The low, steady hum of the city underneath it all.

jan 2, 2021

I am hoping to keep this habit up of recording about a minute of sound every day this month–or this year? I’m tagging them, a moment of sound

jan 1/RUN

5K
turkey hollow
14 degrees
95% snow covered

Happy New Year! Of course I had to get outside and run on the first day of the year. 14 degrees didn’t seem too cold to me with all of my layers: green shirt, blue hooded shirt, orange sweatshirt, black vest, 2 pairs of running tights, headband covering my ears, baseball cap, hood, 2 pairs of gloves, 1 pair of socks, yak trax. Not too much wind. Ran south on the river road trail. Encountered a few others runners or walkers but we stayed close to our opposite sides, which I think was about 6 or 7 feet apart. Yelled at the one biker I encountered who was biking in the middle of the trail–at least I thought he was. My depth perception is not the greatest. Saw 2 or 3 cross country skiers! One was crossing the river road, their skis scraping on the bare pavement.

birds!

No turkeys in turkey hollow, but as I ran on the river road trail, above the oak savanna, I heard the drumming of a woodpecker on a tree. The noise was deep and metallic. Was the tree dead inside? I read a poem or an essay that described how a tree can be dead and you can’t tell until you cut it down; it could be dying inside for years. Where did I read that? I almost stopped running for a minute to try and locate the woodpecker but I didn’t–I doubt I would have been able to see it anyway. I also heard some male black-capped chickadees and their feebee call. A three note call this time with a 2 note response. Nice! Such a good omen for the year, hearing my favorite bird, running close to the river!

the river!

Running south on the trail above the oak savanna, at first all I could see were trees, a hill, snow. Suddenly, the gorge sloped down near 38th and the river appeared. Wow! Shining in the soft spots that weren’t yet sharpened by cold . I love the visual effect of sparkling, glittering water–sometime soon I want to read this article about glittering patterns. Talking with Scott, I thought I remembered that the effect was called glint, but looking it up again, it’s glitter. Glint is a flash of light, not to be confused with glisk which is a gleam of light through a cloud. As I described the image to Scott, we also discussed whether the river had sheets of ice or, as I delightfully suggested, floes. Scott thought floes were only in the ocean. Looking it up, Wikipedia says that a floe is defined by it’s size–big!

“An ice floe is a large pack of floating ice often defined as a flat piece at least 20 m across at its widest point, and up to more than 10 km across.[1]Drift ice is a floating field of sea ice composed of several ice floes.”

Maybe I like using the term because it’s big and grand and makes the river–which is fairly big, but nothing compared to an ocean or a sea, at least where I see it–seem bigger and grander and my images more magical or fantastical or epic?

Another word encountered: brash ice. “Brash ice is an accumulation of floating ice made up of fragments not more than 2m across. It is the wreckage of other forms of ice.” Cool.

After I finished my run, I could hear so many birds. I decided to stop and record a minute of it–I might try to do this every day this month or this year.

jan 1, 2021

In addition to the feebee call, I hear the “chickadeedeedee” and some other chirping I can’t identify. Some dudes laughing, me still breathing hard after my run (and then adding in a gross sniff), and the delightfully irritating crunching snow! I love hearing the biomechanics of my feet walking–listen to the different types of crunches as one foot lifts off and the other sinks down.

Winter Poem/ Donika Kelly

We climb the stalk of early winter
into the sky. Below: the car, the road,
the gray branch. The sun, a mirage, multiplies
in the earth. The light beetles, makes of our
bodies a mirror. We are fallow
as the land beneath us. We climb, though our
arms tire and our legs burn, a gesture
of absolution–we forget,
are forgotten. We are fire or
the image of fire, the day, or
the breaking of it. We disappear, chaff
of myth, what held the story of a season’s end.

This poem! It’s from her collection, Bestiary. How did I miss it when I read that book this summer? I love beetles as a verb–the light beetles. Does she mean “to scurry” (like a beetle) or “project/jut”?

So many great words in this entry! brash, beetle, glint, glitter, glisk. I want to use some of them in a poem.