bike: 20 minutes
run: 1.2 miles
Rain and wind. Short workout in the basement. Had to pump my bike tire up again. Definitely a leak. Took me only a minute to pump it up. I was reminded of how much I struggled to do it a few months ago when I hadn’t done it in a while. Thought how important habits/habitual practices are for me. Watched most of the 2018 Ironman television coverage while I biked. Listened to Taylor Swift’s Reputation as I ran. Have no memory of what I thought about.
before the workout
Day 3 with dirt: loam. Thinking more about compost and soil and humus, I suddenly remembered loam. I discovered this word a few years ago and it has made it into at least one of my poems. Some definitions of loam use the word humus, others don’t.
3. A soil of great fertility composed chiefly of clay and sand with an admixture of decomposed vegetable matter.from Oxford English Dictionary online (via local library)
a fertile soil of clay and sand containing humus.from Oxford Languages (Google’s dictionary)
Doing a brief search on loam and humus, I also found discussions of the distinctions between sand, silt, and clay. According to an answer on Quora, the difference is about particle size. This answer also offers the following distinction between loam and humus:
Loam is a mixture of clay, sand and silt and benefits from the qualities of these 3 different textures, favoring water retention, air circulation, drainage and fertility.
Humus is a highly complex substance still not fully understood. It is a stable and uniformly dark, spongy and amorphous material which come from the mechanical degradation of organic matter. Humus is fertile and gather all properties suitable for optimal plant growth. It is formed by complex chemical compounds, of plant, animal and microbial origin
Searched “loam” on Poetry Foundation and found a few poems:
Loam/ Carl Sandburg
In the loam we sleep,
In the cool moist loam,
To the lull of years that pass
And the break of stars,
From the loam, then,
The soft warm loam,
To shape of rose leaf,
Of face and shoulder.
We stand, then,
To a whiff of life,
Lifted to the silver of the sun
Over and out of the loam
Things to remember: the whiff of life, the silver of the sun
Speaking of loam as the whiff of life. Here’s another poem that I love:
Unveiling/ Gail Mazur
I say to the named granite stone, to the brown grass,
to the dead chrysanthemums, Mother, I still have a
body, what else could receive my mind’s transmissions,
its dots and dashes of pain? I expect and get no answer,
no loamy scent of her coral geraniums. She who is now
immaterial, for better or worse, no longer needs to speak
for me to hear, as in a continuous loop, classic messages
of wisdom, love and fury. MAKE! DO! a note on our fridge
commanded. Here I am making, unmaking, doing, undoing.
MAKE! DO! I love the different ways to read this, as: making do, managing, getting by, finding a way with limited resources and make something! do something! create act.
Just one more poem with loam in it. Powerful. Loamy roamers rising.
The Theft Outright/ Heid E. Erdrich
We were the land’s before we were.
Or the land was ours before you were a land.
Or this land was our land, it was not your land.
We were the land before we were people,
loamy roamers rising, so the stories go,
or formed of clay, spit into with breath reeking soul—
What’s America, but the legend of Rock ‘n’ Roll?
Red rocks, blood clots bearing boys, blood sands
swimming being from women’s hands, we originate,
originally, spontaneous as hemorrhage.
Un-possessing of what we still are possessed by,
possessed by what we now no more possess.
We were the land before we were people,
dreamy sunbeams where sun don’t shine, so the stories go,
or pulled up a hole, clawing past ants and roots—
Dineh in documentaries scoff DNA evidence off.
They landed late, but canyons spoke them home.
Nomadic Turkish horse tribes they don’t know.
What’s America, but the legend of Stop ‘n’ Go?
Could be cousins, left on the land bridge,
contrary to popular belief, that was a two-way toll.
In any case we’d claim them, give them some place to stay.
Such as we were we gave most things outright
(the deed of the theft was many deeds and leases and claim stakes
and tenure disputes and moved plat markers stolen still today . . .)
We were the land before we were a people,
earthdivers, her darling mudpuppies, so the stories go,
or emerging, fully forming from flesh of earth—
The land, not the least vaguely, realizing in all four directions,
still storied, art-filled, fully enhanced.
Such as she is, such as she wills us to become.
- Dineh, “the people,” what the Navajo called themselves
- for Frost = The Gift Outright / Robert Frost … discovered this was the poem he read at Kennedy’s inauguration, through this helpful analysis, Political Poeticizing (found when I searched, “Robert Frost settler colonialism”)
One more thing: Returning to the idea, in Sandburg’s and Mazur’s poem, I’m thinking about the smell of loam. Here’s something helpful I found:
We feel something deep in the smell of that fresh-soil, and it is one of those mysteries that takes us back to a place in time. The smell of soil invokes something so deep that it never really can be described. Can you describe the smell of soil in a forest, freshly tilled field, or in a swamp? Have you ever wondered if fresh tilled soil has always had the same sweet aroma?
Actually it’s not the soil we smell but the bacteria that enters the soil through the geosmin. It’s the bacteria that is producing the chemical that we smell. The smell will be different depending on where the soil is found. Healthy, productive soils should smell fresh, clean and pleasant or have little odor at all. If the soil smells like ammonia or has a rotten odor that is a good indication there is poor drainage or lack of oxygen in the soil.
The unique smell is because soil is not just dirt. Healthy soil is living and is a complex ecosystem with an abundance of bio-diversity. “Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals”. Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949. Soil…..”the Latin name for man, homo, derived from humus, the stuff of life in the soil.” Dr. Daniel HillelThe Smell of Living Soil