oct 30/RUNHIKE

run: 3 miles
hike: 2 miles
franklin loop + extra trails
56 degrees

Scott and I decided to run part of the franklin loop, and hike the rest of it on a few of the extra trails near it. We started by running north on the river road trail, crossing the lake street bridge, then continuing north on the st. paul side. We stopped to walk when we reached the steep road that descends to the paved trail that winds through the flats right beside the east shore of the river. When we reached franklin, we climbed the steps — so many steps! — and crossed the bridge. We stopped to read the plaque for the Winchell Trail then searched for the northern start of the Winchell Trail. We hiked the trail, even the part that extends below the railroad trestle — a first for me — all the way to lake street and the Minneapolis Rowing Club. Very cool!

We talked about all of the vision stuff I’ve been skimming for the past 2 days and the differences between peripheral and central vision. There Plant Eyes (Godin) + Brainscapes (Schwarzlose) + Downcast Eyes (Jay Martin) + The Mind’s Eye (Sacks). And we talked about what Scott has been reading on extroverts and introverts (Quiet, Cain). We talked about the relationship between the senses (like touch and sight), how we navigate using senses other than sight, and “Batman” and echolocation.

10+ Things I Noticed

  1. A downy woodpecker. Heard it’s tap tap tapping first. I wondered if it was a squirrel pounding on a nut, then I saw it at the top of a dead tree. The tapping was rhythmic and persistent, reminding me of morse code or an old-fashioned typewriter
  2. Loud thumping and knocking and slapping — steady and rhythmic — oars from a 8 person rowing shell*
  3. Paths, dirt and asphalt, covered in yellow leaves
  4. Cheering coming from a football game at St. Thomas
  5. The coxswain instructing the rowers
  6. A man and a woman walking in the east river flats. Overhead the man say, “We are experiencing a drought” or something like that
  7. Scooters passing us on the trail, calling out, “on your left”
  8. Dead leaves floating on the surface of the river. From high above on the Franklin bridge, they made a strange mottling pattern on the water
  9. Smell: strong sewer gas coming out of a cluster of vents near the rowing club
  10. Many limestone ledges, exposed. At one of these ledges, the drip drip dripping of water, slowly seeping down
  11. Countless trails leading down to the river, created by seeping/draining water
  12. The white sands beach, just off the winchell trail and far below the paved trail above, is steep and broad and has trash and recycling cans
  13. From the shore at white sands beach: seeing the remains of the long-defunct meeker dam, which you can only see when the water is low

*Although I have written many times over the years about hearing the rowers below on the river, I have NEVER heard the sound of their oars slapping the water or the boat until today. What I was hearing before were their voices. It is very cool to hear the loud, awkward, unromantic, almost clumsy sound they make.

one more thing, added on 31 oct: I just remembered a moment during the hike/run that I don’t want to forget. Walking through the part of Winchell Trail that is wider, between the white sands beach and the minneapolis rowing club, I mentioned to Scott how, when I was a kid growing up in north carolina and virginia, I loved exploring the woods and semi-wilderness that existed at the edges of the many sub-divisions I lived in. I liked walking on trails that had already been made, not wandering through the thick woods, making my own path. I think I said something like, “I wanted to go where someone had already been.” Not sure if that quite captures the appeal of the already traveled path? Whenever I see a break in the trees, and a dirt trail winding somewhere, I long to take it. Or, if I don’t want to take it, I at least enjoy thinking about where it might lead. The path, created by countless feet tamping down the earth, or water descending to the river, is an invitation to imagine other worlds. Maybe also, I like it because it’s evidence that I am not alone, that others have been where I am, wanting to go deeper. To follow the trail they’ve made through their haunting (frequenting), is to connect and contribute to the reinforcing of that invitation. Will this make sense to future Sara? Does it make sense to present Sara? Almost.

oct 28/RUN

4.5 miles
John Stevens House loop
46 degrees
light rain / humidity: 94%

The forecast predicted light rain all day. Decided I wouldn’t mind running in the rain. Wore my vest, which is waterproof or at least water resistant, a baseball cap, bright pink headband, bright yellow shirt, tights, shorts, gloves, and my older running shoes. Ran south to the falls then around the John Stevens House. Ran north until I reached the entrance to the Winchell Trail then took that the rest of the way. Not much wind, not too cold, not too crowded.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. A glowing tree at the falls that, at first, looked all orange, but slowly seemed almost pink: a mix of some red, yellow, green leaves
  2. A rush of noise — leaves blowing in the wind? No. The falls, rushing in the light rain
  3. Water coming out of the sewer at 42nd street — not rushing or gushing or roaring but some other sound that indicates an abundance of flowing water
  4. Running near the river, noticing how the water closer to me was a blue so pale it looked light gray, the water closer to the st. paul shore was deep and dark, reflecting the evergreens
  5. The spot on the Winchell Trail right climbing up to 42nd no longer concealed by leaves, lined with tall, slender tree trunks and a clear view of river gorge st. paul
  6. A few honks, some kids yelling out, a line-up of cars: the beginning of the day at a local elementary school across the grassy boulevard
  7. A very short person walking around Minnehaha Regional Park. Wearing jeans and a dark sweatshirt with the hood up. Walking with a hunched gait
  8. A runner (or walker?) stopped beside the path, taking off a bright pink jacket and tying it around their waist
  9. A strange scraping metallic sound up ahead of me on the Winchell Trail. Then running by a man hunched over a fence post near the curved retaining wall with a hacksaw, sawing. After I passed, he stopped
  10. Squirrel after squirrel darting across the path and into the woods, never circling back to run in front of me

Earlier this morning, right after I woke up and made my coffee, I memorized the second half of one of my favorite Halloween poems: A Rhyme for Halloween. Here’s the bit I memorized:

Our clock is blind, our clock is dumb.
Its hands are broken, its fingers numb.
No time for the martyr of our fair town
Who wasn’t a witch because she could drown.

Now the dogs of the cemetery are starting to bark
At the vision of her bobbing up through the dark.
When she opens her mouth to gasp for air,
A moth flies out and lands in her hair.

The apples are thumping, winter is coming.
The lips of the pumpkin soon will be humming.
By the caw of the crow on the first of the year,
Something will die, something appear.

I recited it in my head throughout my run. I love this poem and its haunting feel (tone? mood?). As I recited the lines, I struggled with the second verse — was it bobbing or bob? gasping or gasp? Why was it difficult for me? I can’t remember now. I like stumbling with the lines; it gives me the chance to reflect on word choice and rhythm. And it helps me to think about what makes some poetry sing, some fall flat.

Favorite lines/images: the blind, dumb dogs; the martyr who wasn’t a witch because she could drown; the vision of her bobbing through the dark and gasping for air; the apples thumping — I imagine them falling on the ground; the lips of the pumpkin humming; something dying and something appearing.

Why is this haunting? One obvious reason: it takes up Halloween (spooky) images. But also: the rhymes. They aren’t sing-song-y. Instead, they echo. The rhyming reminds me of part of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Bells:

monody: a poem lamenting a person’s death
paean: a song of praise or triumph
rune: letters from an alphabet that was used by people in Northern Europe in former times. They were carved on wood or stone and were believed to have magical powers (source).
knell: the sound of a bell, especially when rung solemnly for a death or funeral

IV.

          Hear the tolling of the bells—
                 Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
        In the silence of the night,
        How we shiver with affright
  At the melancholy menace of their tone!
        For every sound that floats
        From the rust within their throats
                 Is a groan.
        And the people—ah, the people—
       They that dwell up in the steeple,
                 All alone,
        And who tolling, tolling, tolling,
          In that muffled monotone,
         Feel a glory in so rolling
          On the human heart a stone—
     They are neither man nor woman—
     They are neither brute nor human—
              They are Ghouls:
        And their king it is who tolls;
        And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
                    Rolls
             A pæan from the bells!
          And his merry bosom swells
             With the pæan of the bells!
          And he dances, and he yells;
          Keeping time, time, time,
          In a sort of Runic rhyme,
             To the pæan of the bells—
               Of the bells:
          Keeping time, time, time,
          In a sort of Runic rhyme,
            To the throbbing of the bells—
          Of the bells, bells, bells—
            To the sobbing of the bells;
          Keeping time, time, time,
            As he knells, knells, knells,
          In a happy Runic rhyme,
            To the rolling of the bells—
          Of the bells, bells, bells—
            To the tolling of the bells,
      Of the bells, bells, bells, bells—
              Bells, bells, bells—
  To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

Reading through this again, I’m thinking about how the bells in this verse are not clock bells, tracking the precise, steady passing of time (which reminds me of the lines about the blind, dumb clocks and no time for the martyr). These bells toll, groan, moan, roll, throb, sob, knell. The sound of the bells floats from rusty throats, is muffled, melancholy. When it is mentioned that they keep time, it is not the time of life, but of death.

oct 26/RUN

6 miles
ford loop
42 degrees
humidity: 72%


Damp. Cool, but not cold. A nice, relaxed run. Overcast, windy. Ran north through the welcoming oaks, the tunnel of trees, past the old stone steps, above the winchell trail that steeply climbs out of the gorge, up to the lake street bridge. Over the bridge, down the steps, up the hill — past one of my favorite, uncluttered views, on the st. paul side; past the bench perched above the river; above shadow falls — to the top. Then down the other side of the deep ravine. Around the World War Monument, beside the river on one side, fancy houses the other. A brief stop at the overview, around another ravine, over to the ford bridge. Through the smaller tunnel of trees above the locks and dam, north on the river road, and then, another brief tunnel of trees just before reaching the double bridge and the start of the Winchell Trail. Through the woods, up and down and up and down the undulating path, then finishing on the upper trail near the 35th st parking lot.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. Almost all of the welcoming oaks are bare limbed, the ground covered in crunchy, crispy leaves
  2. The river a pleasing pale blue, not smooth but slightly rippled, except for at one spot where it’s smooth
  3. The trees along the shore have all changed color
  4. The ravine near Shadow Falls, looking very fall-ish, so many yellow leaves
  5. Running up the long hill, hearing the bell at St. Thomas singing the clock song: ding dong ding dong/ding dong ding dong/ ding dong ding dong — stopping short because it was 9:45, not 10
  6. Running beside the fancy houses on east river parkway, hearing a women’s voice call out to someone else, “what a beautiful day!” Immediate thoughts: It’s windy and cool. Is it a beautiful day? (then thinking: yes, it is. I love this end of fall weather.) Also: actual people who notice and enjoy the weather, really live in this impossibly large and pretentious house?
  7. At the overlook near the entrance to the winchell trail, noticing the river. Farther away, it looked white, almost like snow or ice. Closer, and at a different spot, it sparkled and burned bright and white
  8. 2 squirrels crossing my path, managing to not double back and trip me
  9. So many dirt trails and breaks in the trees leading into the woods on the edge of the bluff on the st. paul side
  10. After ascending the steps of the overlook on the st. paul side, stopping at a bench and seeing a plaque embedded in the sidewalk for Brian Bates, who died in 2008, about a year before my mom did
seen on the St. Paul side of the river, near an overlook

I was curious, so I looked him up:

Age 60 Died June 12th of Cancer Brian was born July 14, 1947 in St. Paul and was a graduate of Notre Dame University. He spent his early business career in San Francisco. After returning to St. Paul in the early 1980’s, Brian received his law degree from Hamline University. He was active on the Mac/Groveland City Council, Scenic Minnesota, Scenic St. Paul, Clean Air MN, the DFL and other political and environmental endeavors. Brian’s work on environmental issues led him to become well-known in the St. Paul area. He was instrumental in the fight against billboards calling them “litter on a stick”.

Obituary (2008)

Not too long after hearing the bells of St. Thomas (as I climbed the Summit Hill), I decided to take out my phone and record myself mid-run. At the point of recording, I was probably running a 9 minute pace, with my heart rate at 170 (which seems to be my standard heart rate for running):

9:45

Running up
summit hill
I heard
bells
at st. thomas chime.
Was it 10 o’clock or
sometime
in 9?
9:45

reciting 9:45

I’ll have to keep working on these. It’s difficult to overcome my self-consciousness over other people see me do this, and my reluctance to slow down enough to get out my phone.

One more thing I almost forgot: Running north on the west river road through the small tunnel of trees before the double bridge, I suddenly noticed the faintest trace of my shadow ahead of me. At first, I wasn’t sure. Had I really seen my shadow or just imagined it? Then, it appeared again, and I noticed the sun had come out. I glimpsed it a few more times, always faint, casting itself on the thick-littered trail. Writing this paragraph, I suddenly wonder about how many times we think we’ve seen something but then discount it with, “it was just my imagination.” More often than not, we are seeing something and it is not being imagined; we just don’t have the right words to describe it, and we don’t trust how our brains see so much more than we realize (or fully process).

Periodically throughout my run, I recited Emily Dickinson’s We grow accustomed to the Dark –, which I re-memorized and then wrote about this morning. At one point, for a few minutes, I stumbled over the 3rd verse. I had no problem with:

And so of larger – Darkness –

But, I couldn’t quite remember the next line: I knew it wasn’t, The Darkness of the Brain or The dimming of the Brain, but the word wasn’t coming to me. Suddenly, it did: evenings:

Those Evenings of the Brain –

Yes. Such a brilliant line, and so helpful and rewarding to spend time thinking about word choice — the right word, so precise and effective, matters.

oct 25/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin loop
37 degrees
humidity: 87%

Breezier and cooler today but humid, so no cold, fresh air. Sunny. Possibly more leaves on the ground than on the trees. Wore my winter running tights, a bright yellow shirt, black vest, black gloves, a baseball cap that used to be black but is now a dingy gray, a bright pink headband, and a not bright orange and pink and cream buff. No stacked stones. No view through the floodplain forest of the water. No geese in the sky.

10 Things I Noticed (about the river)

  1. Shimmering white heat through the small gap in the trees
  2. Running over the Franklin bridge, the light reflecting on the water was hitting my peripheral vision just right, or just wrong — painfully, irritatingly bright
  3. The surface was a smooth, flat, unmoving blue (above on the franklin bridge)
  4. No rowers
  5. Shadows from the trees on the east side darkened the river at its edges
  6. Reflections of the golden trees on the west side brightened the water, coloring it yellow
  7. A circle of light on the water’s surface followed me as I ran south, mostly staying ahead of me, occasionally beside
  8. Most of the trees along the shore have changed colors, many yellows, a few reds, hardly any oranges
  9. Running above the paved trail below on the east side, I couldn’t see it or the water until I reached the trestle
  10. Looking ahead of me at the path, everything looked fuzzy, barely formed. Looking below me on the bridge, the river looked intense, sharp, clear, solid

As I ran, I thought about echoes and rings, circles and cycles, shadows as evidence of something else t/here. I also thought about how the tracing of a paved trail/loop can’t happen on the surface — unless it’s raining or snowing, the hard asphalt leaves no evidence of my footfalls. Instead the evidence is found in my memory, my familiarity with the path in my mind and body:

Familiarity has begun. One has made a relationship with the landscape, and the form and the symbol and the enactment of the relationship is the path. These paths of mind are seldom worn on the ground. They are habits of mind, directions and turns. They are as personal as old shoes. My feet are comfortable in them. 

“A Native Hill”/ Wendell Berry

Returning to the rings:

A Ring/ W.S. Merwin

At this moment and through every moment
this planet which for all we know

is the only one in the vault of darkness
with life on it is wound in a fine veil

of whispered voices groping the frayed waves
of absence they keep flying up like flares

out of hope entwined with its opposite
to wander in ignorance as we do

when we are looking for what we have lost
one moment touching the earth and the next

straying far out past the orbits and webs
and the static of knowledge they go on

without being able to tell whether
they are addressing the past or the future

or where they are ever heard these currents
that are the living talking to the dead

oct 23/RUN

3.1 miles
austin, mn
40 degrees

Ran with Scott in Austin. 40 but sunny, so it didn’t feel too cold. Unless you were in the shade, which we weren’t for most of the run. Started at East Side Lake and ran on a trail that leads to Todd Park. I don’t think we saw anyone else on the trail. No bikers or walkers or runners. Is that right? What I remember most about it was running slightly uphill into the wind at the end and how beautiful the lake looked in the late morning sun. I don’t think it was sparkling, but it was calm and blue and dotted with geese.

oct 22/RUN

5 miles
john stevens house and back
36 degrees
humidity: 87%

We are at peak, or just past peak, color here at the gorge. Wow! So beautiful that it’s hard to take it all in. How wonderful it is to live here and experience this every day! Running to the river, I heard a loud noise. A bell? No, the horn from a train. Was a train rumbling over the trestle? Ran south on the river road and received at least 2, maybe 3, “good mornings” or “morning” from other runners. Very nice. The sky is gray, but in one small corner of the sky, I could see the sun almost peeking through. Heard and saw some geese flying high in the sky. The falls were gushing a bit more than the last time I ran to the falls. Ran up the steps, over the creek, along the bluff, and around the John Stevens House. Encountered a woman running with 2 dogs. One of the dogs lunged at me, which didn’t bother me, and I could hear her yelling, “No! We don’t do that!” at it after I passed. Anything else? No turkeys. A roller skier. Oh–an older woman who stopped at the edge of the paved path to call out to someone from the city working on the sewer across the road, “thank you!” The worker was confused and called back, “Sorry?” “Thank you!” Don’t think I’ve ever seen (or heard) that before.

As I was running through minnehaha regional park, I thought about the things that have stayed the same, the things that have changed, and what seems to still be present as living and vital, and what only remains in decay, or in the faintest traces of what it had been. I was thinking about this as I ran by the playground, which was redone five or so years ago, but still has some old equipment, like the creaky, rusty swings. Something about that reminded me of a few lines from Poe’s “The Bells,” especially the bit about the rust.

Hear the tolling of the bells—
                 Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
        In the silence of the night,
        How we shiver with affright
  At the melancholy menace of their tone!
        For every sound that floats
        From the rust within their throats
                 Is a groan.

monody: an ode in a greek tragedy; a poem lamenting a person’s death

“the rust within their throats” — love that line and how it speaks to decay and sorrow and, almost, the living dead

oct 20/RUN

5.5 miles
ford loop
54 degrees
humidity: 81%

Decided to run the ford loop this morning and stop at some of the overlooks. Is today one of the last beautiful fall days? Possibly. So much yellow and red everywhere. Leaves drifting down like fat, fluffy flakes. Sun lighting up the surface of the river. Amazing. Writing this, an hour later, the sky is dark. Rain coming. I’m glad I got outside this morning.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. Running above the river, over the lake street bridge: the water looks a deep, dark blue
  2. From the edge of the bluff, on the east side at one of my favorite spots, the river looks lighter, richer, still blue
  3. Heading north, a strong-ish wind in my face
  4. Running beside Shadow Falls, wondering if what I was hearing was water from the falls or the wind in the trees or both
  5. Passing a group of pedestrians, walking 2 by 2 on the edge of the trail
  6. A barking, lunging dog, barely held back by a human also pushing a stroller
  7. The view, 1: from just below an overlook on the St. Paul side, standing on a rock, close to the edge. The bank on the west side of the river is mostly yellow and red, with a few bits of green still holding on. Looking left or right, all I could see were water, shore, trees, rock
  8. The view, 2: from the ford bridge. Mostly brown tree trunks and green/red/yellow leaves. Then, a break. A gleaming white — is this the limestone cave where the trail ends? The spot where STA and I watched the rowers a few weeks ago?
  9. The view, 3: from the overlook at the southern start of the Winchell Trail. The glittering, white heat of water lit by the sun. One way, the ford bridge. The other, trees
  10. Running on the Winchell Trail, right before 42nd, the trails curves close to the edge. As you climb, it looks like you might just keep going, out into the sky, above the river

Before I ran, I studied a passage from U A Fanthorpe’s “Seven Types of Shadow,” especially the lines:

Ghosts of past, present, future.
But the ones the living would like to meet are the echoes
Of moments of small dead joys still quick in the streets

In particular, I was thinking a lot about echoes and reverberations. Halfway up the Summit Hill, I started thinking about bells and the reverberations of sound they emit after being struck. These thoughts were partly inspired by a passage I read from Annie Dillard in “Seeing” from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek:

Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. The flood of fire abated, but I’m still spending the power. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.

Seeing/ Annie Dillard

I didn’t want to forget my thoughts, so I pulled out my phone, mid-run, and recorded myself. It was challenge, speaking while running and trying not to feel self-conscious as I passed other people:

Recording While Running / 20 Oct

Here’s a transcript of what I said. I turned it into a poem, using my breaths to break the lines. I’d like to try doing this some more — experiment with recording my thoughts mid-run, then using my breaths to shape the poem.

I’m thinking about
how
I’m a bell
and how
we’re all bells
and
when we are struck —
is it at birth or
is it like Annie Dillard:
there’s a moment of awareness
and clarity
that makes
our bell ring
reverberate
continue to echo?

added a few hours later: I forgot about how, just before I started recording my thoughts, I heard the bells of St. Thomas. Was it 10 am? or 9:45? Not sure, but it seemed fitting to hear these bells, which I often hear at my house too, as I was thinking about bells.

I thought about a lot of things on today’s wonderful run. Decided I’d like to make a list of the traces, trails, reverberations I encounter on my runs. Also decided to look up and listen to the Radiolab episode about echolocation. And I decided to think/research more about the presence of the WPA at the gorge. As I thought about this I wondered about my grandfather who lived in St. Paul and worked for the WPA. Was he a part of the gorge work — making benches, walls, steps? Shoring up ravines, minnehaha and hidden falls? He’s been dead for almost 30 years now, so I can’t ask him. A further set of questions I pondered as I ran past the steps leading down from the 44th street parking lot: Do I need to know the exact truth about his involvement with the WPA? Or, is it enough to know he was a part of it, and okay to imagine he might have helped build the old stone walls I run by, the benches I want to stop at but never do?

In between admiring the view and thinking about echoes, I recited the first part of the 7th section of May Swenson’s “October” in my head. Such a great part of a poem! I’m a big fan of May Swenson’s work.

Looked it up and found the echolocation episode. It’s from Invisibilia and not Radiolab: How to Become Batman

Finally, here’s a poem I’d like to remember and ruminate on about haunting bells. This audio I found of Tom O’Bedlam reading it is delightful.

The Bells/ Edgar Allen Poe

  Hear the sledges with the bells—
                 Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
        How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
           In the icy air of night!
        While the stars that oversprinkle
        All the heavens, seem to twinkle
           With a crystalline delight;
         Keeping time, time, time,
         In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinabulation that so musically wells
       From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
               Bells, bells, bells—
  From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

II.

        Hear the mellow wedding bells,
                 Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
        Through the balmy air of night
        How they ring out their delight!
           From the molten-golden notes,
               And all in tune,
           What a liquid ditty floats
    To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
               On the moon!
         Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
               How it swells!
               How it dwells
           On the Future! how it tells
           Of the rapture that impels
         To the swinging and the ringing
           Of the bells, bells, bells,
         Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
               Bells, bells, bells—
  To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

III.

         Hear the loud alarum bells—
                 Brazen bells!
What tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
       In the startled ear of night
       How they scream out their affright!
         Too much horrified to speak,
         They can only shriek, shriek,
                  Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
            Leaping higher, higher, higher,
            With a desperate desire,
         And a resolute endeavor
         Now—now to sit or never,
       By the side of the pale-faced moon.
            Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
            What a tale their terror tells
                  Of Despair!
       How they clang, and clash, and roar!
       What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
       Yet the ear it fully knows,
            By the twanging,
            And the clanging,
         How the danger ebbs and flows;
       Yet the ear distinctly tells,
            In the jangling,
            And the wrangling.
       How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells—
             Of the bells—
     Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
            Bells, bells, bells—
 In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

IV.

          Hear the tolling of the bells—
                 Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
        In the silence of the night,
        How we shiver with affright
  At the melancholy menace of their tone!
        For every sound that floats
        From the rust within their throats
                 Is a groan.
        And the people—ah, the people—
       They that dwell up in the steeple,
                 All alone,
        And who tolling, tolling, tolling,
          In that muffled monotone,
         Feel a glory in so rolling
          On the human heart a stone—
     They are neither man nor woman—
     They are neither brute nor human—
              They are Ghouls:
        And their king it is who tolls;
        And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
                    Rolls
             A pæan from the bells!
          And his merry bosom swells
             With the pæan of the bells!
          And he dances, and he yells;
          Keeping time, time, time,
          In a sort of Runic rhyme,
             To the pæan of the bells—
               Of the bells:
          Keeping time, time, time,
          In a sort of Runic rhyme,
            To the throbbing of the bells—
          Of the bells, bells, bells—
            To the sobbing of the bells;
          Keeping time, time, time,
            As he knells, knells, knells,
          In a happy Runic rhyme,
            To the rolling of the bells—
          Of the bells, bells, bells—
            To the tolling of the bells,
      Of the bells, bells, bells, bells—
              Bells, bells, bells—
  To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

Okay, one more bell poem:

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, (340)/ EMILY DICKINSON

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My mind was going numb –

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race,
Wrecked, solitary, here –

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –

I wrote about this poem on march 14, 2021.

oct 19/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
54 degrees

Another nice run. Another beautiful fall morning. Glowing yellow. Sunny, not too much wind, not too warm. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker twice. Ran past Daddy long legs. Noticed a roller skier. Encountered a clueless human and a small yippy dog, both taking up the very wide path on the franklin bridge, forcing an impatient biker to ring their bell and swerve around them. Some stones were stacked on the ancient boulder, the river was blue then, later, brown. No rowers (although STA and I saw them last night, rowing fast). The trees below the tunnel of trees were almost all gold. Soon: a view!

(The other day, I found a brochure online for the Winchell Trail. Reading through it again, I thought it was where I read about the plaque on a boulder about Newton Horace Winchell that was near the Franklin Bridge, but it’s not.) Having read about a plaque for Winchell somewhere near Franklin, I decided to look for it. When I couldn’t find it above the gorge, I turned and ran up the hill to the Franklin Bridge. There it was, the plaque! I’d never noticed it before.

Running on the east side of the river, between Franklin and the trestle, I thought I heard footsteps behind me, but when I looked back no one was there. I thought again about how ghosts and haunting involves more than visions and apparitions; it can come in the form of strange sounds, echoes, disembodied voices. Footsteps behind you or the rushing of wind past your ears or rustling leaves, amplified in the dry, deadness of fall. These sounds are both strange — hard to place, easy to confuse with other sounds, like beeping trucks that could be chirping birds, crying kids that sound like shrieking bluejays — and familiar. They conjure up memories, invoke the past.

A few days ago, I discovered Annie Dillard’s chapter in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: Seeing. I have read some (all?) of this book years ago, but I didn’t remember there was a chapter titled “Seeing”! Excellent. I read it online, from a pdf. Yesterday, I found my copy, which isn’t really my copy but my dead mom’s copy that I inherited or, more likely, borrowed years before she died in 2009, on the bookshelf next to my desk. I opened it up and discovered a wonderful surprise: a sticker in the front that reads, “This book is the treasured possession of Judy Puotinen.” My mom has signed her name so neatly and clearly. I could stare for a long time at the pretty loops of her J and y; the confident backward slant of her P, almost looking like a person puffing out their chest; the t that looms larger than the other letters and stands like a cross (she was not very religious, or as she might have put it, “I’m spiritual, not religious”); and the errant dot of an i, charging ahead to dot the n instead. This signature, too, is a trace, a haunting, more than a memory. It is her, still speaking 12 years after she died. Such a powerful voice in that signature! For a few years after her death, I would encounter her signature on a box in the basement of my first house in Minneapolis. I had a lot of these boxes; they were care packages she sent almost once a month: a new tablecloth, a candle, a cookbook, baby clothes for my kids. It was difficult to see that signature then. It reminded me of how much I had lost: not just her but the care and love she constantly gave me and would have given to my kids. But now, to stumble across her in this way is wonderful. To spend time with her, delighting in remembering how much she loved books and how carefully and beautifully she wrote her name.

Page/ Jane Hirshfield

It waits now for snows to fall
upward, into a summer
whose green leaves
vanish,
but back into branch, into sap, into rain.

It waits for the old
to grow young, fed and unfearful,
for freighters to carry their hold-held oil
back into unfractured ground,
for fires to return
their shoeboxes of photos and risen homes.

It unbuilds the power line’s towers
before the switch can be toggled,
puts the child, rock still in hand, back into his bed.

A single gesture of erasure
pours back into trucks and then river
the concrete wall,
unrivets the derrick,
replenishes whale stocks and corals.

And why not—it is easy—restore the lost nurse herds
of mammoths to grazing,
the hatched pterodactyl to flight?
Let each drowned and mud-silted ammonite once again swim?

One by one unspoken, greed’s syllables, grievance’s insult.
One by one unsewn, each insignia’s dividing stitch.
One by one unimagined,
unmanufactured: the bullet, the knife, the colors, the concept.

Reversal commands: undo this directional grammar of subject and object.
Reversal commands: unlearn the alphabet of bludgeon and blindness.
Reversal commands: revise, rephrase, reconsider.

And the ink, malleable, obedient, does what is asked.

oct 17/RUN

3.6 miles
minnehaha falls and back
41 degrees
humidity: 87%

Another cooler, wonderful morning. Wore running tights + running shorts + bright yellow long-sleeved shirt + bright orange sweatshirt + buff. It was humid, so even with the cool air, I was sweating. Starting my run, heading into the sun, I could see the moisture in the air. Hovering. Ran south on the path and noticed the river burning through the trees. Such a cool sight. The falls were falling, not quite a gush, but more water than the last time I was here. Encountered a roller skier, a few bikes, lots of walkers, a runner or two, dogs. Watched the back end of a squirrel darting back into the bushes as I approached.

As I ran back north, after the falls, I tried looking up higher so that more of peripheral vision was seeing the path. Last night, watching the 4th Harry Potter movie, I started looking at it through my periphery and was amazed at how much more I could see. I aimed my eyes off the side of the television and the images weren’t sharp and clear, but I could see more of them. Colors were more intense too. Strange–and a strange way to watch a movie, looking off at the wall.

Ending my run, crossing over to the grass between the river road and edmund, I watched my shadow ahead of me and thought about shadows and ghosts and how my shadow sometimes leads me, sometimes follows. Then I thought about the dirt trail I was walking on and wondered how long it had been there. And I thought about how it was formed where it was and not somewhere else on the wide expanse of grass. How many feet (or wheels) were needed to establish this trail as the unofficial path to take when walking or running on this grass? I also briefly thought about the Oregon Trail and how, when we were visiting Scott’s Bluff in Nebraska, you could still see and walk that trail, over 150 years later. Earlier this morning, I had also thought about trails, imagining them as a collaborative poem that walkers/runners offer to the gorge with their feet.

At some point on the path, I also thought about Robert Frost’s classic path poem—maybe it was right after I recited his, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”?

The Road Not Taken/ Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I found an essay about this poem that I’d like to spend more time with, maybe later today or tomorrow?:

You’re Probably Misreading Robert Frost’s Most Famous Poem

oct 16/RUN

4 miles
marshall loop
41 degrees / feels like 37!

Winter running is coming! Today was great. Cool enough to not get (too) overheated, sunny, not much wind. More yellow leaves. Right after I reached the river road, I heard 2 runners behind me. One of them had a booming voice that carried. I couldn’t tell how far behind me they were or if they were slowly approaching me. Instead of getting irritated or changing my pace, going faster or slower, I kept it steady and heard a few fragments of the conversation, mostly the loud guy’s part: they haven’t seen each other since the pandemic hit, so they were catching up, talking about their running and injuries and aging. I recall the quiet guy saying something like, Man, it’s tough getting old. Not too far from lake street, the quiet guy left. The last thing I heard before I turned up to the lake street bridge was the loud guy blowing a snot rocket (so glad he was far behind me!).

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The river, part 1: crossing the lake street bridge. Out of the corner of my right eye, barely below the railing, I kept thinking I was seeing a rower. Not the shell, but the wake or trail of the boat gliding through the water
  2. The river, part 2: crossing back later, I realized it had not been a rower or the trail from a boat but something else — the current, ripples from a something just below the water, scum on the surface?
  3. The floor below the Welcoming Oaks was covered in a dead leaf carpet. No visible grass or dirt, just crunching leaves
  4. Still no stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  5. Near the bottom of the marshall hill looking up at the red stop light at the top, seeming far and close at the same time
  6. Hearing voices as I ran above Shadow Falls on the St. Paul side — were they coming from the falls or The Monument?
  7. The women runners I encountered wearing pants or tights; the male runners shorts
  8. The huge empty lot near Summit on the St. Paul side that I’ve seen on zillow. Asking price: 2.75 million just for the land
  9. Right before greeting Dave, the Daily Walker, I heard a bike that had just passed brake loudly — not a squeal but a loud compression of air, or sneakers rubbing on a gym floor– then turning around and passing me again
  10. The river, part 3: Running south on the west river road, nearing the old stone steps, I glimpsed the river, on fire from the sun, burning bright white through a break in the trees

Something about seeing the river burning white made me think more about ghosts and traces and why I am interested in trails and flashes. Right after I finished my run, I recorded my thoughts. In this recording, I can’t remember what prompted these thoughts and I say lake when I mean river. Also, I keep intending to use notes on my phone when dictating my ideas because it can transcribe them. One day, I’ll remember.

after run / 16 october

Speaking of traces, here’s something I encountered on twitter this morning:

“I am slow and need to think about things a long time, need to hold onto the trace on paper. Thinking is adventure. Does adventure need to be speedy? Perhaps revising is a way of refusing closure?…”

Rosemarie Waldrop

Just got Rita Dove’s latest collection, Playlist for the Apocalypse, from the library. I love Rita Dove! Here’s one that doesn’t necessarily fit with this month’s theme, but I want to post it anyway:

Island/ Rita Dove

A room in one’s head
is for thinking
outside of the box,
though the box is still
there—cosmic cage,
Barnum’s biggest, proudest Ring.
My land: a chair, four sticks
with a board laid across:
This is the raft
I pile my dreams on,
set out to sea.
Look for me, shore.

oct 14/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around + extra
49 degrees
19 mph gusts

Brrrr. Colder and windier today. Wore tights and 2 shirts. The leaves continue to change. Today: bright brassy yellow with hints of green and brown. Not mustard or gold — at least to me. So intense and delightful that I exclaimed “wow!” as I reached the edge of the welcoming oaks. Down in the tunnel of trees more oranges and yellows. Still more leaves in the trees than on the ground, but if the wind keeps blowing like it did yesterday and it is today, that will change. By next week, will all the leaves have fallen? I felt strong and relaxed, running at an easy pace. Then a runner slowly approached from behind, not passing me fast enough, running alongside of me. I sped up to avoid them and knew it was a mistake almost immediately. I was running too fast. Ran for a few more minutes at that pace and then stopped to let the other runner pass. The lesson to learn: always slow down or stop to let another runner go by. Do not speed up to avoid them. This is a reminder of a lesson I should have learned several months ago with the group of kids on bikes under the lake street bridge (see may 28, 2021).

10 Things I Noticed

  1. A bright orange tree on the grass between edmund and the river road. Difficult to quite remember, but I think it wasn’t completely orange, maybe giving the idea of orange or orange-tinted leaves on an otherwise green leafed tree
  2. The man in black who was not in black at all but still has the very long legs. I think I might rename him “daddy long legs” — is that bad?
  3. The trees above the ravine and the slick slats and sewer pipe and concrete ledge were bright yellow and red
  4. The wind was blowing in many different directions, never at my back
  5. The jingling of my house key in the small zippered pocket in the front of my orange running shirt
  6. A roller skier without his poles — no clicking or clacking, lots of awkward arm movements
  7. No stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  8. Hardly any leaves left on the welcoming oaks
  9. An approaching runner avoiding me by running on the other side of a tree and through the grass
  10. 3 sets of steps (all inviting me to take them): the old, uneven stone steps after the tunnel of trees; the big stone slabbed steps before the trestle; the recently replaced wooden steps after the trestle. All leading to the Winchell Trail

Ran north listening to the wind, south listening to a playlist with Miley Cyrus and 2 songs by Silk Sonic — nice! At the end, above the ravine, I thought about how I rely less on a watch, and much more on the weather and the trees to keep track of time. Much more enjoyable to think in seasons or the progress of the leaves than minutes, hours, days.

Earlier today I was thinking about pace — and only slightly in relation to running pace, more about pacing and restlessness and ghosts that haunt the path. Pace and pacing, like watches or clocks, impose limits and boundaries: a running pace uses seconds and minutes per mile (or km) and pacing involves walking back and forth in a small or confined space, retracing your steps again and again until you rub the grass away and reach dirt, or wear the carpet bare. What to do with that information? I’m not quite sure…yet.

I found this poem on twitter yesterday. Even though it doesn’t deal with my theme (ghosts, haunting, haunts), I wanted to post it and tag it with water so I would have it for letter. Such a wonderful poem and poet!

Portrait of a Figure Near Water/ Jane Kenyon

Rebuked, she turned and ran
uphill to the barn. Anger, the inner
arsonist, held a match to her brain.
She observed her life: against her will
it survived the unwavering flame.

The barn was empty of animals.
Only a swallow tilted
near the beams, and bats
hung from the rafters
the roof sagged between.

Her breath became steady
where, years past, the farmer cooled
the big tin amphoræ of milk.
The stone trough was still
filled with water: she watched it
and received its calm.

So it is when we retreat in anger:
we think we burn alone
and there is no balm.
Then water enters, though it makes
no sound.

favorite bits: anger, the inner arsonist; the bats and the rafters the roof sagged between; the line break for “the stone trough was still/filled with water”; and water as the soundless balm for our burning alone.

random sighting/thought: Saw a sign in front of a house that read:

We love our rocks!
Please do not
take our rocks.

I thought about the importance of line breaks here. Maybe it’s just my faulty vision, but when I read this sign I am just as (or maybe more) likely to read the line “take our rocks” on its own and think they want me to take their rocks. How does the meaning of the sign change with different breaks:

Please do
not take
our rocks.

Please do not take
our rocks.

Please
do not take
our rocks.

What if you mix up the order?

Our rocks
do not take
please

Our rocks do
please take not

rocks? please.
ours do not take

do ours not please? (rock’s take)

take rocks — ours
please — (do not)

Too much useless fun!

addendum: I told STA about my fun wordplay, and he offered this one:

Our rocks please.
Do not take!

oct 12/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
59 degrees
humidity: 78%

Overcast today. No sun. I like how this makes the colors — the reds, golds, greens — glow more. Almost peak color in the trees. When I started my run, I felt awkward, almost like my limbs were working against instead of with each other. By the time I reached the river it was fine. Ran south to the falls on the trail, which I’ve been trying to avoid, and it was crowded. 4 roller skiers, skiing 2 x 2 were causing all sorts of problems for bikers and me as I encountered the bikers. Made it to the falls, stopped to check out the statue of Minnehaha and Hiawatha. Hardly any water in the creek. Ran north, heading home. Took the Winchell Trail and admired the leaves — their intense colors and the fact that many of them had already fallen. My view is coming back!

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The slow approaching clicking and clacking of ski poles. Click clack click clack
  2. A squirrel emerging from the trees then darting back in as I neared
  3. The lights from a bike coming closer, a sharp contrast with the gray gloom
  4. The trickle of the sewer pipe near 42nd. Drip drip drip
  5. Many leaves on the ground. In some spots erasing the trail
  6. 2 spindly, bare branches poking out from behind a golden tree, reaching up to the sky
  7. A clicking or rattling noise coming from some animal, probably a squirrel. Sounding a little like the rattle of a rattlesnake
  8. The falls barely falling. Hardly any water
  9. Kids laughing, yelling, talking at playgrounds — Minnehaha Academy and Minnehaha Falls. More kids playing tag around the fountain and the benches with parts of “Song of Hiawatha” etched on them
  10. Winchell Trail in full color — a perfect fall scene (can this perfection last for more than a day?)

As I ran, I was thinking more about the act of haunting (frequenting) a place, returning to it and then about trails and how I might want to write more route/trail/loop poems that play with ideas of haunting. At the end of my run, I recorded some of my thoughts. Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about trails and frequenting and haunting. And then I was thinking as I was running over the leaves, how the trails are hidden, can’t see the cracks or the trail at all. But then, when the leaves are gone and the snow starts to fall, when it’s just barely flurrying and there’s just a dusting on the ground, it illuminates the trails. You can only see that when the leaves are off and it’s just a dusting of snow. Thinking about how I want to play with that as part of this tracing. And also thinking about the different ways I can see — the visible and not visible. When is it a matter of seeing and when is it a matter of feeling? And thinking about the type of seeing I can do with the peripheral, which detects movement and gives you a larger sense of the terrain. What does that mean for these well-worn trails and how I experience them?

Voice Memo Notes / 12 Oct 2021
after run notes / 12 oct 2021

Here’s my ghost/haunt poem for today:

Seven Types of Shadow – an extract / U A Fanthorpe 

Part iii

This is a country of ghosts. Down the eastern shore
Lie the drowned villages, drowned luggers, drowned sailors.

After a hot summer, fields grow talkative.
Wheat speaks in crop marks, grasses in parch marks.

Wheat or grass, what they tell is the truth
Of things that lay underneath five thousand years ago,

The forts, the barrows, the barns, the shrines, the walls.
These are the native ghosts. After a hot summer.

No haunting. No rattle of chains. They just lie there
In their rigid truthfulness, the ghosts of things.

Part iv

We carry our human ghosts around with us.
As we grow we face the mirrors, and see

The spectre of a great-aunt, a vague look
Known only from sepia snapshots. The hands we’re used to –

Yes, these – their contours came by way of a long retinue
Of dust. We are photofits of the past,

And the future eyes us sideways as we eye ourselves.
We are the ghosts of great-aunts and grand-nephews.

We are ghosts of what is dead and not yet born.

Part vi

Ghosts of past, present, future.
But the ones the living would like to meet are the echoes
Of moments of small dead joys still quick in the streets,

Voices calling I’ve passed / We won / QED /
It didn’t hurt much, Mum / They’ve given me the job /
I have decided to name this apple Bramley;

And the women convicts singing their Holloway march,
While Ethel Smyth conducts from her cell with a toothbrush.

Part vii

These are the ghosts the living would prefer,
Ghosts who’d improve our ratings. Ghosts
Of the great innocent songs of freedom
That shoulder their way round the world like humpback whales,

Ghosts of the singers, the dancers, the liberated,
Holding hands and cheering in parks, while the tanks
Squat immobilized. Ghosts of the women on the fish quay
Hugging each other when at last the boats come in.

Ghosts of the last night of the Proms. And ghosts of lovers,
Wandering round London, so happy that they could
Have danced danced danced all night.

Like this bit: “And the future eyes us sideways as we eye ourselves.
We are the ghosts of great-aunts and grand-nephews./ We are ghosts of what is dead and not yet born.” Love this way of messing with linear time. On a smaller scale, I think about this with past, present, and future Saras.

october 11/RUN

5.25 miles
franklin loop
52 degrees

Still a little warm, but fall is here. Another great morning — sunny and cooler than last week. I wore shorts and a long sleeve shirt (my bright yellow 10 mile race shirt from a few years ago). For the first few minutes, I was chilly, but I warmed up quickly. I wouldn’t mind running in this weather every day. Frequently counted to 4. Sometimes felt strong, sometimes tired.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The Welcoming Oaks have lost most of their golden leaves
  2. The tunnel of trees and my favorite spot above the floodplain forest is slowly turning yellow. Still lots of green and no view of the river yet
  3. The new asphalt, put down only last year, near the trestle is cracking already. In addition to the long cracks, people have spray-painted a peace sign, an anarchy sign, and something else that looks like squiggly lines to me
  4. Running over the franklin bridge, thought I saw a rower on the river, but the railing blocked my view. Every time I turned back, I could almost see it, believed it was there, but could never fully see it. Finally, almost across the bridge, I looked back and there it was: a single shell
  5. The river was mostly a pale blue with the dark edges — the result of trees on the shore casting their shadows into the water like fishermen
  6. A dog barking below
  7. No stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  8. Another regular: the guy with big headphones on who I used to see on the track at the Y. Last week I saw him near the east side of the trestle, today it was below the lake st bridge on the marshall side
  9. Running back over the lake st bridge, I admired the rowers on the river. 6 rowers. 2 single shells and 2 doubles
  10. An older man running on the other side of the bridge, shirtless

My shadow was running in front of me for part of the time. I thought about her as a ghost, or me as a ghost, then about all of the running or walking feet that have landed on this path. I thought about other people — the ones still alive who frequent the trail, like me, and the ones who are dead. I wondered about the old woman whose death, caused by a speeding bike in the 70s, resulted in separate biking and running trails on the west side of the river. Where was she struck? I looked it up, and the only thing I had correct: a woman was struck and killed by a bike and the outrage over her death led to the creation of separate bike trails. BUT, it was not on the river road, but at Lake Harriet, and she wasn’t old, but 58. (Source) I thought about all of the past Saras that have run this trail too. How many of us are there?

oct 9/RUN

4 miles
wabun park + turkey hollow
65 degrees
humidity: 86% / dewpoint: 61

A little too sticky, but what a beautiful morning for a run! Sunny, calm, quiet. Before running felt uneasy about something I couldn’t name; running helped. I’m thinking about ghosts and haunting the path (frequenting it, floating above it, flashing through it) and trying to find a way into my next big project — my annual fall project. Something about the periphery and the approximate as not quite (human, able to see or connect, in this world, real). I need a door, or at least a window — anything that might let me enter this project.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The trail, covered in leaves, a lot of them red — not bright red, but faded, almost pink
  2. A processional of walkers, bikers, big groups of runners on the trail between 36th and 42nd
  3. A clanging collar on the other side of the boulevard, following me as I ran south
  4. Someone playing frisbee golf at Wabun, throwing a frisbee from the path. Were they playing or working, picking up frisbees others had left behind? Why were they throwing from the path? Why did it look — in my quick, unreliable, glance — that they had a golf bag?
  5. For over a year and a half, every time I run up 47th, as part of the turkey hollow loop, there is a dumpster parked on the street, in front of a house. It was still there today. Have they been remodeling their house for that long?
  6. The ford bridge, from the top of the hill at wabun, then from below, at the bottom of the path
  7. My shadow in the grass as I walked across turkey hollow
  8. The too white, newly redone road between 42nd and folwell, one side of it covered in leaves
  9. Feeling someone running at my same pace–me on edmund, them on the river road. Not wanting to look over to check too closely, trying not to race them
  10. The dirt trail between Becketwood and Minneahaha Academy Lower Campus, dry, covered with leaves, much more worn and well-traveled (haunted) than the barely there mostly tamped down grass, partly dirt path in front of Minnehaha Academy Upper Campus

Haunt/ Maya Phillips

Because there are so few hobbies left
to the dead, my father gives himself this:
his usual route, the Queens-bound F
to Continental, where he walks with the living
to work. Every day he finds a new occupation—
picks trash off the tracks, changes a dirty lightbulb,
makes rounds on the platforms,
tries to make some small use of his hands,
though no one notices
or acknowledges. Yet still he returns
every day, in his tan shirt and brown slacks
ironed with the impatience
of the perpetually late,
his keys jingling carelessly
in his left front pocket.

Twenty-plus years with the MTA
but some other guy’s got the job now,
someone younger, maybe someone
my father knows, standing in the operating booth
at the end of the platform, watching
the miniature trains on the board
carry lights through a digital New York.
And maybe the young man knows nothing
of the dead man, has no words
for a ghost who builds a home
of his absence. And if my father says haunt

he doesn’t mean the way rooms forget him
once he’s gone; he’s saying his leather chair
now in his coworker’s office, his locker
in the back room newly purged
of its clutter, or his usual table
in the break room where he sits
at 10:30 each night eating
the same steak club and chips, counting
the 10, 20, 30 more years till retirement,
cuz he’s close, he’s in the final stretch—any day
now and he’ll finally go on that vacation.

oct 7/RUN

5.5 miles
ford loop (with winchell trail)
62 degrees

Getting closer to peak fall color. More reds are creeping in, lots of yellow, a few bits of orange. Ran north to the lake street bridge, then up the hill beside shadow falls, past The Monument, down to the ford bridge, back over to Minneapolis, and ended below on the Winchell Trail.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. My favorite spot above the floodplain forest, near the old stone steps, is beginning to lighten–a few of the trees are turning yellow, not golden yellow, but more the color of a lime or a pear
  2. At least 4 stones were stacked on the ancient boulder
  3. The welcoming oaks are becoming a golden grove unleaving
  4. At one point, I noticed part of the river was a pale blue, almost white, while the other part was a darker blue
  5. Running over the lake street bridge looking down at the river, the water looked smooth, flat, stretched, only a few ripples right in the center
  6. Running over the ford ave bridge, I noticed, for the first time, the faint outlines of 2 squares just in from each of the railing posts. What are these? Was the bridge more narrow, with the railings in closer to the road? Would that even be possible?
  7. The Winchell Trail was covered with leaves
  8. All around the trails, the trees were shedding leaves, the leaves floated down like snow flakes or raindrops or butterflies
  9. Running on the Winchell Trail, almost to the steep rise by Folwell, the trees were bare, revealing another dirt trail that winds even closer to the edge
  10. An older runner in a bright yellow shirt, running on the opposite side of the road near St. Thomas

I remember the feeling of having revelations or insights or just interesting thoughts, but I don’t remember what they were. The feeling? Satisfaction, I think. Or comfort? Reassurance? A calming sense of peace?

I counted to 4 in my head for many stretches of the run. It helped me to focus my breath and my effort. I should try this more often.

oct 5/RUN

5 miles
bottom of franklin and back
58 degrees
humidity: 91%

A good run. I’m looking forward to even cooler temps — I wore my shorts and a tank top, which is the same thing I’d wear on the warmest summer day. I wasn’t cold. When I started out, I felt good. Around 2 miles in, I didn’t feel as great but kept going. I planned to stop at the bottom of the hill and walk all of it, but when I got there I felt good enough to keep going. I made it almost to the very top before I stopped to walk for about a minute. Then I ran the rest of the way back.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The path covered in leaves, making it difficult to see the edge of the asphalt
  2. Chirping birds — not sure what kind, but not geese or crows
  3. Circles–with minneapolis park logo or something else?–stamped into the trail. I saw at least 2
  4. The buzzing, whirring of a speeding back rushing past me at the top of the franklin hill
  5. The branches with red leaves poking out of the big hole at the edge of the trail heading down the hill
  6. Voice below, somewhere on the Winchell Trail
  7. A group of people — in their 60s, maybe — standing at the top of the old stone steps, contemplating whether or not to descend. One person saying, “It’s pretty rough” or “uneven” or “dicey down there” (I can’t remember their exact words)
  8. Someone on a fat tire, talking on a phone, powering up the steep franklin hill, not even out of breath — maybe they were on an ebike?
  9. A walker either talking to herself or through a (invisible, at least to me) bluetooth headset
  10. At least 2 different people walking with 2 dogs each, letting their dogs stretch out over the entire path

Chanted some berry triples: “strawberry, blueberry, raspberry” and recited Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese” in my head. Didn’t get very far because I kept getting stuck on the second and third lines: “You do not have to walk on your knees/ for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.” I couldn’t remember the order of the clauses: was it walk for a hundred miles, or walk through the desert, or walk on your knees. Not sure why I struggle with this bit.

a theme for october?

I was just starting to write that I’d decided to devote the rest of October to the peripheral, but then, as I typed those words I suddenly thought about ghosts and monsters and october as a scary month. So now I’m not sure. Because I love Halloween and scary movies — at least ones from the 70s and 80s — I think I will spend some time with ghosts, and then maybe monsters, like Medusa. I could also try to find a poem or two about creepy dolls/mannequins. Maybe think about the uncanny valley some more? All of these things are fascinating to me, and have started appearing in my writing (and my thoughts about my writing). Haunting and haunted places; feeling not quite there, floating; dead people, things, ideas suddenly being remembered or forgotten.

I’ll start with a poem that I found in a special feature on ghosts in poems at poets.org:

Unbidden/ Rae Armantrout

The ghosts swarm.
They speak as one
person. Each
loves you. Each
has left something
undone.

Did the palo verde
blush yellow
all at once?

Today’s edges
are so sharp

they might cut
anything that moved.

The way a lost
word

will come back
unbidden.

You’re not interested
in it now,

only
in knowing
where it’s been.

oct 4/RUN

2.1 miles
2 trails
60 degrees

Feeling a little cooler and a lot brighter out by the gorge this late morning. Yellows, reds, and oranges. Heard some kids at the school playground, some women talking. Earlier, when I was walking Delia, I heard a white-haired man on a bike loudly tell his friend, “At the end of next summer, I’m going to Maine, and I’m staying until the leaves have finished falling.” Am I remembering that right? Not totally sure. Saw and heard some people from the parks department chain-sawing some trees in the grassy boulevard. Encountered a few squirrels, heard a honk from a goose. Counted to 4, chanted in triples (strawberry blueberry raspberry). Ended my run at the bottom of the 38th st steps and walked on the Winchell Trail to the Oak Savanna. So many crickets and crunching leaves. One other walker who dramatically moved off to the side to give me room to pass.

Found this poem just now. It doesn’t fit with October or any theme I might have for this month, but it’s a wonderful love poem, to add to my month of love poems from August:

The Patience of Ordinary Things/ Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

The lovely repetition of stairs! The generosity of a window! I love it.

oct 3/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
58 degrees
dew point: 55

Ran with Scott to the falls before the marathoners raced on the river road. Not too warm, but humid. A mile in, I already felt like a damp sponge. A nice run with lots of fall color. Saw at least 2 turkeys chilling in the parking lot, the same spot they were at last week. Heard a bird calling out as we entered minnehaha park. Might have been a red-breasted nuthatch. The falls were rushing but not quite roaring, the creek was higher but not high. Listened to the leaves crunch as I ran over them. Saw at least one roller skier and lots of volunteers getting ready for the race — the twin cities marathon. Anything else? I’m sure I heard at least one goose, avoided more than one squirrel. I recall looking down at the river through the thinning leaves and hearing some rowers.

random thing for future Sara to remember: “Out of an abundance of caution” (as they like to say at RJP’s high school), we got covid tests last week. The spit test. I have a lot of trouble spitting and filling up the cup. That, combined with my inability to see signs or anything else well at the testing site, makes getting these tests incredibly difficult for me. Spitting into a cup seems like a basic thing that everyone can do without thinking. Not me. I’m actually going to have to practice before we take another test — whenever that will be. I’m trying to see this as funny, because it is, but it’s hard to laugh when it’s so upsetting. Not just because I can’t spit, but because I can’t see — it’s a reminder of how bad my vision is getting.

I love this October poem:

Neighbors in October/ DAVID BAKER

All afternoon his tractor pulls a flat wagon
with bales to the barn, then back to the waiting
chopped field. It trails a feather of smoke.
Down the block we bend with the season:
shoes to polish for a big game,
storm windows to batten or patch.
And how like a field is the whole sky now
that the maples have shed their leaves, too.
It makes us believers—stationed in groups,
leaning on rakes, looking into space. We rub blisters
over billows of leaf smoke. Or stand alone,
bagging gold for the cold days to come.

oct 1/RUN

4 miles
most of the franklin loop
68 degrees
humidity: 81%

I love October. Today it looked like October but didn’t quite feel like it — almost, with crunchy, earthy-smelling leaves, but too warm. Scott and I walked to the river together then split up — I went north for the franklin loop, he went south for the ford loop. We met in St. Paul at the Marshall bridge and walked the rest of the way.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The leaves are thinning and more of the river is visible everywhere including the spot above the floodplain forest
  2. 2 rowers on the river
  3. A class of kids and their teachers, biking on the trail, all wearing bright yellow vests
  4. The guy that Scott and I used to see at the Y, walking around the track in the winter–this time he was walking near the trestle on the east side of the river
  5. A guy pushing a stroller, walking a dog, taking up most of the path. When he noticed me approaching he moved over and muttered to himself, or to his kid, “I’m taking over the whole path”
  6. Walking over the marshall ave/lake st bridge, looking down at the water: blue with a faint texture of ripples from the wind
  7. The east side of the river has more color than the west side
  8. The steps just past the trestle glowing with orange, red, and yellow leaves
  9. The trail down to the Meeker Dam Dog Park glowing too, looking like THE fall scene, what I might describe to RJP as “so fall” in the same way I say certain trees are “so tree”
  10. The trees at my favorite spot just up from the marshall bridge giving off an intense golden light

1 Thing I Didn’t Notice

Right after I met up with Scott, he called out “bald eagle!” I couldn’t see it before it flew away

I’m not sure what my theme will be for October — or, if I’ll have one. For now, here’s an October poem I want to memorize:

October/ Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.