bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis and back
Biked with STA to the lake for open swim. Not too difficult. Again, it helped that I didn’t need to pass anyone and it wasn’t that crowded. After the swim, leaving the lake, it was a little crazier. Lots of walkers on the bike path, feral kids zig-zagging on the path, a stalled surrey stuck in the middle of the trail.
swim: 3 miles/ 3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
partly sunny/slightly choppy
Wow, this was the most difficult open swim yet. I didn’t mind the swells near the big beach, but the placement of the green buoys so far from the beach, the bright sun draining them of color and shape, and the sneaky sailboats impersonating them, it was very hard to sight anything. When I stopped a few times to get my bearings, I still couldn’t see anything. Luckily, I never got off course too much and I kept swimming for 3 loops. After the swim, I met up with STA for a beer at Sandcastle. Very nice. It really felt like covid had never happened, which was mostly good. Saw lots of cute dogs and sailing boats. A beautiful night to be out in the world instead of holed up in the house.
It’s the first day of July, which means a new theme. Last month was water and stone. Up until a few hours ago, I was convinced that this month’s theme would be water, especially as it relates to my swimming. But I started thinking about open swim and then wrote in my almost finished Plague Notebook, Vol 8:
not wild or natural…not a wild swim, but an open swim…not pure adventure in unchartered territory but not really urban or tightly planned either…just off the beaten path…how do I describe where and what this is—this = being = running or walking or swimming or breathing outside?
And then, after walking Delia the dog:
Thinking about the “wild” and my neighborhood. Not wild, but messy, unkempt, order still there (or the trace of order) but yards/flowers left alone to roam or wander. Not rigid, tight control or the sharpness of a trimmed, edged lawn, approximate, not tidy but not chaos, a bit disheveled, off-track but cared for, attended to, intentional
I started thinking about centers and edges, which led me back to Emily Dickinson and her circumference, but also to Mary Oliver, and her devotion to things having a place in the world, in the family of things. And now I am wondering what to do with all of these ideas, what to spend time with this month? I think all of this wandering and wondering has to do with making sense of the place I’m recognizing (and creating) for myself, swimming in a swamp that was made into a lake 100 years ago and is carefully managed by a park system. Swimming across a lake in designated areas, with hundreds of others, watched over by lifeguards. It’s not the ocean or a remote lake or a secret swimming hole, but it’s also not a safe, chlorinated, regimented pool. There are bacteria and big fish and weeds that want to drag you to the bottom.
I’m listening to the latest Between the Covers podcast with Arthur Sze. Wow, he’s amazing. He read this poem midway through the episode.
The Unnamed River/ Arthur Sze
Is it in the anthracite face of a coal miner,
crystallized in the veins and lungs of a steel
worker, pulverized in the grimy hands of a railroad engineer?
Is it in a child naming a star, coconuts washing
ashore, dormant in a volcano along the Rio Grande?
You can travel the four thousand miles of the Nile
to its source and never find it.
You can climb the five highest peaks of the Himalayas
and never recognize it.
You can gaze though the largest telescope
and never see it.
But it’s in the capillaries of your lungs.
It’s in the space as you slice open a lemon.
It’s in a corpse burning on the Ganges,
in rain splashing on banana leaves.
Perhaps you have to know you are about to die
to hunger for it. Perhaps you have to go
alone in the jungle armed with a spear
to truly see it. Perhaps you have to
have pneumonia to sense its crush.
But it’s also in the scissor hands of a clock.
It’s in the precessing motion of a top
when a torque makes the axis of rotation describe a cone:
and the cone spinning on a point gathers
past, present, future.
In a crude theory of perception, the apple you
see is supposed to be a copy of the actual apple,
but who can step out of his body to compare the two?
Who can step out of his life and feel
the Milky Way flow out of his hands?
An unpicked apple dies on a branch:
that is all we know of it.
It turns black and hard, a corpse on the Ganges.
Then go ahead and map out three thousand mile of the Yantze;
walk each inch, feel its surge and
flow as you feel the surge and flow in your own body.
And the spinning cone of a precessing top
is a form of existence that gathers and spins death and life into one.
It is in the duration of words, but beyond words—
river river river, river river.
The coal miner may not know he has it.
The steel worker may not know he has it.
The railroad engineer may not know he has it.
But it is there. It is in the smell
of an avocado blossom, and in the true passion of a kiss.