minnehaha falls and back
Another wonderful, spring-like day, if you consider 35 degrees and white ground everywhere spring-like, which I do. When the sun is this warm, the sky this blue, the birds this chatty, how can you not think of spring? Everywhere, wet: drips, drops, wide puddles stretched across the trail soaking my socks.
10 Things I Noticed
- that same bird call that I’ve been hearing and wondering about happened again, right before I reached the river. I heard it, then hoped it would be followed by some drumming. It was! I’m calling it; this sound is a pileated woodpecker
- a distant goose, or geese?
- cawing crows
- cardinals, doing at least 3 or 4 of their 16 (is it 16?) songs
- black-capped chickadees
- my shadow: off to the side, then behind, then finally in front of me
- the shadow of the old-fashioned lamp posts on the trail. So big, they almost looked ,\like giant potholes to me
- the river slowly opening. Still white, but darkening and thinning
- a kid yelling at the playground. At first, I thought they were a siren — so high-pitched and insistent!
- a mixing of sounds: an airplane, a bobcat, a crow, a kid, all crying out
As I left for my run, I remembered something I didn’t want to forget. I’m pleased that I still remember what it was after my run. Scott and I watched the first episode of After Party last night. Very good. Anyway, this episode focused on Aniq. For much of the episode he looked ridiculous: someone/s had drawn cat whiskers and ears on his face, along with the word “nerd” in big letters. It’s very obvious and a crucial element in understanding who he is as a character. Because of my vision problems — my lack of cone cells, limited central vision — I did not see any of this on his face until someone, the detective, finally referenced it. Up to that point, about 40 minutes, it was all invisible to me. I could see his face (well, roughly, I guess) and mostly follow what was going on, but I had no idea anyone had drawn on him. He looked “normal” to me. I wanted to remember this as an example of how my vision works, or doesn’t work, how much I miss that I’m not aware of. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but you miss out on a lot of what’s happening and how it’s being communicated when you can’t see certain things and don’t even realize you’re not seeing them (and no one else realizes you’re not seeing them either; they just think you’re not paying attention or being stupid, or that you don’t care).
Here are two poems featuring birds that I encountered today. Both wonderful, both about much more than birds.
Egrets/ Kevin Young
Some say beauty
may be the egret
in the field
who follows after
but I believe
the soul is neither
air nor water, not
this winged thing
nor the cattle
to make themselves
Instead, the horses
standing almost fifteen
like regret they come
most the time
Hungry, the greys eat
from your palm,
& rough as a match—
striking your hand,
your arm, startled
In her discussion of the poem for The Slowdown Show, Ada Limón discusses the soul:
The Portuguese writer José Saramago wrote: “Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are.” This seems clear enough. The soul is the part of you that you cannot name. One of the reasons I love the obsession that writers have with the soul is that their interest is not confined to what happens to the soul after you die. Rather, writers seem to be interested in what the soul is doing right now. Can the soul have likes or dislikes, coffee or tea, can one soul connect to another in what is called a soul mate? Is our soul only alive in relation to others, in community with nature, with something larger?
And here’s the other poem. It’s about cardinals. I heard, but never saw, many cardinals this morning on my run.
Statement of Teaching Philosophy/ Keith Leonard
In February’s stillness, under fresh snow,
two bright red cardinals leaping
inside a honeysuckle bush.
All day I’ve thought that would make
for a good image in a poem.
Washing the dishes, I thought of cardinals.
Folding the laundry, cardinals.
Bright red cardinals while I drank hot cocoa.
But the poem would want something else.
Something unfortunate to balance it,
to make it honest. A recognition of death
maybe. Or hunger. Poems are hungry things.
It can’t just be dessert, says the adult in me.
It can’t just be joy. But the schools are closed
and despite the cold, the children are sledding.
The sound of boots tamping snow are the hinges
of many doors being opened. The small flames
of cardinals and their good talk in the honeysuckle.
Wow, do I love this line: “The sound of boots tamping snow are the hinges/of many doors being opened.”
One more thing. After my run was done, and I was home, I went outside on my back deck and sat in the sun. Then I recorded this moment of sound. I’m calling it, Spring coming, drip by drip. As I listen back to it, I’m disappointed that trucks are so much louder than the drips.