2 trails + the tunnel of trees
Even though I ran yesterday, I decided that I had to run today too, on my 10th anniversary of running. Taking those first steps with the couch to 5k program 10 years ago changed my life, and, honestly, saved my life. Not so much my literal life, as my livable life.
Today I ran south on the river road trail, then turned down at 42nd and ran north on the Winchell Trail. I heard lots of woodpeckers and black-capped chickadees and a tinny mechanical chirp that I think might be a robin but I’m not sure. At the end of my run, right by my house, I also heard a bird calling out, “tweet tweet look at me!” What is this bird? I looked up birdsong mnemonics but couldn’t find anything close to the phrase I heard. I encountered some other walkers and runners and bikers and a maintenance truck with someone up in a bucket trimming a tree. I heard the kids laughing and yelling on the playground. I greeted the Welcoming Oaks and got lost in the green in the tunnel of trees. I counted the stacked stones (2) on the ancient boulder. I noticed the cottonwood fuzz piled up on the edges of the grass. I thought about water and stones and how different yet connected they are here near the gorge. I stopped at the fallen tree branch balanced precariously on the fence creating a bridge to cross under and measured (roughly) the distance from my head–about 2 or 3 inches. No wonder I always want to duck! I avoided the dip in the road and the big crack that is marked by white spray paint in the shape of a tube sock or Florida (at least that what it looks like to me!). I tried to breathe deeply through my noise and swing my arms so that the right swung back as much as the left. I monitored how my left quad felt and my lower back. I crossed the road twice at crosswalks, twice not, making sure to triple check before I went. I peered down at the inviting opening carving out a space between dark green near the oak savanna.
But I didn’t look down at the river, or, if I did, I can’t remember anything about it. What color was it? Were there any rowers on it? Was it smooth or rough? This seems to happen a lot–I lose the river. Is it because when I look at it, I often don’t see anything but water–blue or brown or gray–just there. A blob or a streak or a wide swath. I guess I’m too far away, and it’s too hard to notice anything in a flash–unless it’s sunny and it sparkles or reflects.
Today’s poem on the theme of water and stone is from the amazing Alice Oswald:
Evaporations/ Alice Oswald
What I admire is Dew
To have the strength of Dew
To pass apparitional through a place
Without trace or title
To be Snow!
To be almost actual!
Oh pristine example
Of claiming a place on the earth
Only to cancel
Smashed against stone
I love leaf and un-leaf
Of frost and un-fern
All these incisions
And indecisions of the Dawn
Yes Yes there is Ice but I notice
The Water doesn’t like it so orderly
What Water admires
Is the slapstick rush of things melting
I have taken my bedding to the fields
First it was Mist
Then it was Dew
Disclosing the cold in my mind
Saying simply that it
Comes from nothing
And will return to nothing
Then it was…
In their lunch hour
I saw the shop-workers get into water
They put their watches on the stones and slithered
Into the tight-fitting river
And shook out cuffs of splash
And swam wide strokes towards the trees
And after a while swam back
With rigid cormorant smiles
Shocked I suppose from taking on
Something impossible to think through
Something old and obsessive like the centre of a rose
And for that reason they quickly turned
And struggled out again and retrieved their watches
Stooped on the grass-line hurrying now
They began to laugh and from their meaty backs
A million crackling things
Burst into flight which was either water
Or the hour itself ascending.
O, Alice Oswald! I read somewhere that when she does readings of her poems, she often?always? does it from memory. Very cool. I love so much about this poem: the gentle rhyming at the beginning–dew/through, place/trace. The idea of being almost actual. Frost and un-fern, the slapstick rush of things melting, the way the dew and the mist speak to her. Then, in the second part: the watches on the stones reminds me of M Oliver’s lamenting of clocks and the prison of normal time. I love the cormorant smiles and the meaty backs (which is kind of gross), and the “million crackling things” that burst into flight which could be water drops or the evaporation of the magical hour in and of the water.