may 17/RUN

4 miles
2 trails, the longer version*
60 degrees

*the longer version = south on the river road/enter Winchell Trail at southern start/north on Winchell, past 38th street steps, through oak savanna, up the gravel by the ravine to rejoin the paved path/tunnel of trees/over to edmund at 33rd/west on 32nd/south on 43rd. Eventually I might try the longest trail, which would involve returning to the Winchell Trail past the lake street bridge and taking it until it ends near Franklin.

Decided to listen to music for most of my run this morning. Before I headed out, I thought about how I’d miss hearing the birds, but then I thought about how I’ve been struggling on my runs lately. Time for distraction, I think. I put Taylor Swift’s Lover on shuffle. Years ago I was critical of her but I’ve come to enjoy her lyrics, especially her ability to tell a story. I think it was Evermore that did it for me.

Initially I was planning to write more about the songs I listened to by Swift, starting with “ME!,” and how my perspective on her has changed, but I think that would take up too much time right now, and I’d rather use her music as a needed distraction instead of an opportunity for critically reflecting on excess, parody, and what it means for a privileged white girl to (ironically or not) claim so much space. (psst: after writing this aside, and then working on the entry, it turns out that a critique of Taylor Swift’s ME! haunts this entry. Funny how that happens.

So, back to the run. I made sure to look at the river, which was difficult. Even lower down on the Winchell Trail the green is taking over. It was mostly sunny with a breeze, but I couldn’t see any sparkle on the water. Was it because of the trees? No rowers either.

Can I think of 10 things I noticed? It might be difficult, but I’ll try.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. at the start of my run, passed under the thick, horizontal branch of a sprawling oak tree and imagined it falling on my head…crack!
  2. a blue river
  3. many of the benches were filled, one person per bench, not sure if I saw any with two or more people
  4. running down to the start of the Winchell Trail, I passed somone sitting in the grass, facing the river, right next to the paved trail
  5. took my headphones out as I entered the lower trail and heard the kids on the playground above me and on the other side of the river road
  6. heard some bikers above me as I crested the hill after the ravine with the sewer pipe that gushes (as opposed to the one that drips) — I tried to make out their words, but couldn’t
  7. a mix of sounds near folwell: a leaf blower, the rushing wind, a bird*, cars
  8. parts of the winchell trail were muddy, but the part that is usually the worst — the stretch between 38th and the savanna — was mostly fine
  9. the dirt trail below the mesa, in the oak savanna, was mostly soft sand (limestone?) instead of packed dirt. Is that the consistency of this soil, or did they bring in more soil here to create this trail?
  10. at least 4 (was it more? I couldn’t tell) stones stacked on the ancient boulder

*hearing all these sounds together, I suddenly had a question which led to a wonder (or wander): when a bird hears a leaf blower, what are they hearing? That is, how do they process that sound? Do they connect it with humans? Is it a threat? A singing partner? Do they ignore it? I’m sure the answers to these questions are different depending on how close the leaf blower is, this one was far away. As I posed these questions in my head I started thinking outside, or beside, myself about how others hear and listen to sounds and what it might mean to listen without immediately making it all about me and how the sound affects me or, as Taylor Swift sung to me this morning, “ME!”

After climbing the short, steep hill, near folwell avenue, this thinking about ME! turned to Alice Oswald and how she works hard to try to look beyond the beauty and herself to see the world from the perspective of a weed or, in this case, a bird:

I’m just continually smashing down the nostalgia in my head. And trying to inquire of the landscape itself what it feels about itself. Rather than bringing my advertising skills — getting rid of words like picturesque…there’s a whole range of words that people like to use about landscape, like pastoral, idyll. I quite like taking the names away from things and seeing what they are behind their names. I exert incredible amounts of energy trying to see things from their own points of view rather than the human point of view.

full quote and source in March: Alice Oswald’s Dirt

At some point after folwell and before the steps up to 38th street, I thought about care and a class proposal I’m trying to put together for the fall about poetry and social transformation. Audre Lorde’s suggestion of “selfcare as warfare” and Sara Ahmed’s 2014 blog essay about it popped into my head. It would be interesting to put this into conversation with Taylor Swift’s ME! claim.

Post-run, I’m thinking about nature poetry and birds. I randomly came across this amazing poem on Ours Poetica. Wow!

Where Every Bird is a Drone/ Tarik Dobbs
Where Every Bird is a Drone/ Tarik Dobbs

I also just started reading Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem. He writes:

I can’t write a nature poem
bc it’s fodder for the noble savage
narrative. I wd slap a tree across the face,
I say to my audience.

Let’s say I literally hate all men bc literally men are animals—
This is a kind of nature I would write a poem about.