bike: 8.4 miles
lake nokomis and back

swim: 400 yards
lake nokomis

My first outside bike ride of the year and my first swim! As my vision declines, I never know how hard it will be to bike. Will I be able to see? Will it be too scary? Today was okay. It’s very hard for me to see potholes or react quickly to unexpected things (crowded trails, passing another biker), but as long as I don’t go too fast and I give careful attention (all the time) as I ride, I should be okay. It’s a bit exhausting, but who cares? I can still bike!

Things I Heard While Biking

  1. drumming woodpeckers, twice
  2. the music from the ice cream truck
  3. a biker calling out calmly and quietly as she passed, “on your left”

Biked to the lake with my 19 year-old son, FWA. He’s planning to swim across the lake with me, at least once, although I’m hoping he’ll try it more than once. I’ve been dreaming about one of my kids being old enough to join me in open swim — you have to be 18. They were both on the swim team and are great swimmers. He wasn’t up for the 69 degree water, but I was. It didn’t seem cold to me. I love the cold water on my muscles. Very nice! It didn’t feel as good inside my right ear. Since FWA was with me, and I haven’t swam since last september, I decided to take it easy and only do one loop around the buoys at the big beach.

10 Things I Noticed While Swimming

  1. the season has barely begun and the part of the white buoys under the water was thick with muck…yuck
  2. no clear views below of biggish fish or hairbands or the bottom
  3. near the shore, dozens of minnows parted as I moved through the water
  4. the water was opaque, with shafts of light pushing their way through
  5. I could see the white buoys, mostly the feeling that they were there
  6. the view as I lifted my head to the side and out of the water to breathe was much clearer than my view as I looked straight ahead
  7. I heard some kids laughing as I neared the far end of the beach
  8. when I started, there were a few groups of people swimming, when I stopped, I was one of the few people still in the water
  9. I breathed every five strokes
  10. there was a seagull perched on the white buoy as I neared it. At the last minute, it flew off — was it looking for a big fish?

Here’s Poetry Foundation’s poem of the day. I love how H.D. imagines the trees as water — and how they describe it! Running in the tunnel of trees, past a part that seems surrounded by green, I’ve felt like I was swimming in a sea of trees.

Oread/ H. D.

Whirl up, sea—
whirl your pointed pines,
splash your great pines
on our rocks,
hurl your green over us,
cover us with your pools of fir.

note: Oread = “a nymph believed to inhabit mountains.”

june 7/RUN

3.25 miles
2 trails + extra
66 degrees

The rain that looked like it was coming never did, so I went out for a run. It’s overcast. Not cloudy, but CLOUD — one big cloud covering everything, making the sky gray and the greens more green. It seemed humid to me and I sweat a lot, so I thought the humidity would be high. Nope, only 47%. The run felt good, relaxed.

On the surface, all I remember is trying to lift my knees and my left hip and looking out for other walkers or runners or bikers. Can I remember more if I try? Yes!

10 Things I Noticed

  1. lots of bikers, mostly single bikers or groups of 2, one large, spread out group, several of them wearing bright yellow jackets
  2. no blue jays or chickadees, but lots of little chirping birds — I wondered if they were warblers
  3. the faint voices of kids playing on the Dowling Elementary playground
  4. exchanging deep head nods with a man using a walker
  5. Minneapolis parks is mowing today — saw and heard a big lawn mower speeding by on the path. More evidence of the lawn mowing: the smell of freshly cut grass
  6. encountering another runner down below on the winchell trail, near its southern start, where all the asphalt has reverted to dirt. They were wearing sweatpants and maybe (I can’t quite remember) a sweatshirt too?
  7. voices below, in the gorge — rowers?
  8. mud on the trail from yesterday’s rain, but not enough to slip in or on or through
  9. trickling water in several different spots in the ravine, just north of the oak savanna
  10. the dirt trail below the mesa that the parks dept cleared out last year is showing signs of being reclaimed: weeds popping up in the middle of the path

Today I got lost in the run, in some sort of reverie or just my mind shutting down for a while. I can’t remember what the river looked like, though I know I looked at it. I can’t remember anything about running through the tunnel of trees, not even a hint of a memory of the dark green or the sound of cars above, or whether I encountered someone as I ran past the old stone steps. Strange and wonderful. I like getting lost.

Found a beautiful poem through this tweet:

As from a Quiver of Arrows/ CARL PHILLIPS

What do we do with the body, do we
burn it, do we set it in dirt or in
stone, do we wrap it in balm, honey,
oil, and then gauze and tip it onto
and trust it to a raft and to water?

What will happen to the memory of his
body, if one of us doesn’t hurry now
and write it down fast? Will it be
salt or late light that it melts like?
Floss, rubber gloves, and a chewed cap

to a pen elsewhere —how are we to
regard his effects, do we throw them
or use them away, do we say they are
relics and so treat them like relics?
Does his soiled linen count? If so,

would we be wrong then, to wash it?
There are no instructions whether it
should go to where are those with no
linen, or whether by night we should
memorially wear it ourselves, by day

reflect upon it folded, shelved, empty.
Here, on the floor behind his bed is
a bent photo—why? Were the two of
them lovers? Does it mean, where we
found it, that he forgot it or lost it

or intended a safekeeping? Should we
attempt to make contact? What if this
other man too is dead? Or alive, but
doesn’t want to remember, is human?
Is it okay to be human, and fall away

from oblation and memory, if we forget,
and can’t sometimes help it and sometimes
it is all that we want? How long, in
dawns or new cocks, does that take?
What if it is rest and nothing else that

we want? Is it a findable thing, small?
In what hole is it hidden? Is it, maybe,
a country? Will a guide be required who
will say to us how? Do we fly? Do we
swim? What will I do now, with my hands?

For reasons I can’t totally express, this poem seems fitting to post this late morning, after spending time working on an introductory lecture for a class I’m teaching on noticing the world, then documenting that noticing in a log, and after writing in this log entry that I got lost in the run.

Also, it’s always a good time to post a Carl Phillips poem. His work is wonderful.

june 6/RUN

5.75 miles
franklin hill + extra
67 degrees

Everything green. Not dark green, like yesterday, but glowing green. Greeted the Welcoming Oaks as I ran past them. Noticed again — and I’m remembering this time, finally, to mention it — the non-oak (what kind is it?) tree that looks like a tuning fork. A few months ago, looking at it, I thought, “time to tune my body to the gorge.” I think this came to my mind because I had just listened to John Denver’s version of “The Garden Song” and the lines, “Tune my body and my brain/ To the music from the land.”

Things the Flew in my Face, a list

  1. a small, but not too small, bird flying out of the leaves towards me, then veering quickly, making me stutter step and raise my hands to my eyes
  2. a gnat, into the liquid protein in my right eye — it might still be in there…yuck!
  3. cottonwood fuzz
  4. another bird, not as close this time
  5. the leafy branch of a tree on the side of the trail
  6. wind

Speaking of wind, there was a point early on in the run when I noticed the wind in several different versions, all at once: the sound of rushing air past my ears; a sound that was not roaring or howling but talking loudly in the trees; the dancing shadows of the leaves on the trail.

Heard the rowers; encountered some roller skiers; greeted Dave, the Daily Walker and Mr. Morning!; looked up at the fluffy white clouds; wondered if the big bird soaring high above me was an eagle or a hawk or a turkey vulture; noticed all the empty benches; tried to, but couldn’t, identify the song coming out of a biker’s speakers as they passed me; thought about how fast the river was going and whether or not that was faster than I was running up the hill; appreciated my shadow ahead of me; smelled too much lilac; successfully avoided lots of groups of walkers; ran way too fast down a hill.

Inspired by an interview I encountered this morning, here’s the first poem from Ada Limón’s latest collection, The Hurting Kind:

Give Me This/ Ada Limón

I thought it was the neighbor’s cat back
to clean the clock of the fledgling robins low
in their nest stuck in the dense hedge by the house
but what came was much stranger, a liquidity
moving all muscle and bristle. A groundhog
slippery and waddle thieving my tomatoes still
green in the morning’s shade. I watched her
munch and stand on her haunches taking such
pleasure in the watery bites. Why am I not allowed
delight? A stranger writes to request my thoughts
on suffering. Barbed wire pulled out of the mouth,
as if demanding that I kneel to the trap of coiled
spikes used in warfare and fencing. Instead,
I watch the groundhog closer and a sound escapes
me, a small spasm of joy I did not imagine
when I woke. She is a funny creature and earnest,
and she is doing what she can to survive.

Here’s the final question, and her answer, in the interview:

Question: What is the poet’s role in finding meaning in the world, and what is our duty in deciding to reject meaning? Talk to me about the work of meaning making. Talk to me about the work of surrender and release?

Answer: That’s the nature of life, isn’t it? To desire to make meaning and then surrender to the mystery and the repeat and repeat and repeat. Toni Morrison once said, during her Nobel Prize speech in 1993, “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” And to me that quote is all about surrendering to our mortality, accepting our end, and yet recognizing the ways in which we honor our time here. How we point out the beauty, the pain, the full spectrum of all of our experience, so that we can live wholly, completely, and not miss the living we’ve been granted. Sometimes the message is only, “Look, I am alive.” And it does not have to transcend that. Why would it? What could be bigger than that?

june 5/RUN

2 miles
neighborhood wander
66 degrees

As I write this, about an hour after my run, there’s bright sun, but when I ran it was gray and ominous. The thick green looked especially dark and the sky felt heavy. The rain isn’t supposed to arrive until around 6, but it has already seemed like it’s about to rain twice. I ran through the neighborhood to avoid crowded trails and because I felt like trying something different.

Neighborhood Haunts

  1. Running by cooper school, I thought about the man I saw a few years ago working out by flipping a heavy sand bag across the field. Does he still do that, or has he moved onto some other strange (at least to me) way of keeping fit?
  2. Running down the hill toward (is it toward or towards?) edmund, I looked for the house with the fruit vines closest to the sidewalk. 2 or 3 years ago, the owners had posted a sign that encouraged anyone to take the fruit. The sign also said what kind of fruit it was, but I can’t remember.
  3. Also ran by the big, super cool 60s ranch house on the corner with the three gigantic cottonwood trees. The lawn was almost white with cottonwood fuzz. How difficult is that to rake up? Do you rake it up, or leave it — and, does it ever leave?

The run was helpful; it improved my mood, at least a little. And writing this entry while sitting out on my back deck listening to different birds, makes me feel even better.

Becoming Moss/ Ella Frears

I lie on the ground.
I open my mouth.
I suck on a spoon.
I embrace a stone.
A beetle crawls by.
I empty my mind
I stuff it with grass
I’m green, I repeat.

The sun is a drink
the yellowest squash
I can’t get enough
I can’t get enough
I can’t get enough
I can’t get enough
I can’t get enough
I can’t get enough

I love the idea of repeating, I’m green! I’m green! Also, it was fun to type I can’t get enough over and over again, even line after even line, the feel of the fingers on the keys and the look of the letters lined up so neatly.

june 4/RUN

3.5 miles
marshall loop
65 degrees

Saturday, mid-morning. I was worried that the path would be very crowded, but it wasn’t too bad. Maybe that was because I avoided some of the trail right above the river, through the tunnel of trees? Ever since I realized that I’m often hearing bluejays when I think I’m hearing crows, I hear bluejays all the time. Should I try to build some affection for them, or wallow in my annoyance? Mostly a good run. My left hip felt tight towards the end. Thought about trying to let the wonder win and being more open and generous to everything and everyone I encounter. It’s difficult. I suppose today’s run (and most of my runs) helped. So many other people out by the gorge, sharing in its awesomeness (can I find a better word? I wanted to say amazing-ness but, is that an actual word? I’m tired of “beauty” and it doesn’t quite capture what the gorge is, or what it does (to me). I’m using “wonder” too much. Fabulous? I’ll keep searching).

10 Things I Noticed

  1. heading east, over the lake street bridge, the water was blue and had lots of white, ghostly streaks near the surface. Not swirls but something else — what causes these cloudy currents? A few years ago, I wrote about these, referring to them as cataracts, or the clouds that come when eyes develop cataracts
  2. heading west, over the lake street bridge, the water was brown and the ghostly streaks less visible, even more ghostly
  3. lots of traffic everywhere — on the bridge, up the marshall hill. Running on the sidewalk, a safe distance from the road, I was able to pass some cars as they waited to merge or at the light
  4. running up the hill, I smelled some flowering bush. Not lilacs, but something else that I should remember but can’t right now. Too much!
  5. running at the top of the hill, I smelled waffles from Blacks coffee
  6. a kind pedestrian moved out of the way to let me pass on the sidewalk. When I thanked them, they replied, “Oh, no problem!” or something friendly like that
  7. some sort of sporting event happening at st. thomas. I could hear the cheers and an announcer saying something over the loudspeaker
  8. 3 bikers biked passed me on the bridge. I was pressed as close to the railing as I could. One of them whizzed by so closely that I almost felt their breeze. I whispered under my breath, “people suck.”
  9. music coming out of (I don’t think it was loud enough to be described as blasting) the speakers of a passing bike. No doppler effect
  10. emerging from the tunnel of trees, I heard (but didn’t see) the click click clack of the ski poles of a roller skier!

Listening/watching again Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s book launch for World of Wonders, I finally found the source of one of my new mantras: let the wonder win. In the Q & A at the end, AN says:

It’s there. A grief is there. Sadness and rage is always there. And then the wonder wins. I make sure the wonder wins. And definitely there are harder days than others, but that’s where the practice is. I try with all my might to make the wonder win by the end of the day.

Live with Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Ross Gay

Yes, that is where the practice is for me: struggling, finding ways, working dilligently on letting the wonder win out over everything else. Hanging onto the love and the joy and the generosity and the belief that there are good, delightful, beautiful, amazing things in the world that always make it worth it. Letting the wonder win is an expression/performance? of hope.

Found this poem by Jane Hirshfield on twitter this morning:

Termites: An Assay/ Jane Hirshfield

So far the house still is standing.
So far the hairline cracks wandering the plaster
still debate, in Socratic unhurry, what constitutes a good life.
An almost readable language.
Like the radio heard while traveling in a foreign country—
You know that something important has happened, but not what.

What is an assay? Searched online and found this: “the term, she says, is used as it is ‘in the mining industry, where a substance is disassembled and analysed to determine the strengths and quality of its various parts; only in this case the examination is done with the imaginative mind rather than the chemical one.’

june 3/RUN

5.25 miles
franklin hill and back
60 degrees

Ah, such lovely weather this morning! Ran north on the river road, through the tunnel of trees, under the lake street bridge, above the rowing club and the white sands beach, under the trestle, down the franklin hill, then everything again, in reverse. A nice run. I sped up too much in the second mile, and paid for it at the bottom of the hill. Decided to walk a bit of it. Then put in a playlist and ran back.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. cigarette smoke from somewhere — a car driving by? a person below, in the gorge?
  2. a screeching blue jay (or is it bluejay?)
  3. no stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  4. rowers on the river! I didn’t see them, but heard the coxswain calling out instructions through her bullhorn
  5. a roller skier slowly approaching from behind, not moving much faster than me. At first, the striking of the their poles was a loud sharp “clack!” in a steady rhythm. Clack! Clack! Clack! Clack! Then, heading up a hill, it shortend and softened: “clack clack clack” It took them almost half a mile to pass me
  6. saw at least 3 people with fishing poles — 2 walking on the trail, one by the edge of the river, ready to cast their line — what fish can you get in the river near franklin avenue?
  7. wind and a few creaks from the trees
  8. a large group of bikers spread out on the franklin hill, traveling up it at various speeds. Some were charging up it, others steadily plodding, one biker was weaving back and forth, another barely crawling. The bikers at the very back were walking their bikes
  9. all the benches were empty — were they lonely or relieved to have some solitude?
  10. ended in the tunnel of trees and marveled at the dappled/dappling light

Standing in the tunnel of trees was wonderful. Quiet, sheltered, calm. And, no bugs! Pretty soon that won’t be possible. I did a recording of the wind in the trees but listening back to it, I mostly hear static and car wheels whooshing from up above. I have decided that I’d like to give some more attention to the creaking trees and the sound of the wind moving through the branches. I have such happy memories of listening to the wind in the aspens up at my grandparent’s farm. It used to be my favorite sound.

The Sound of Trees/ ROBERT FROST

I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.

june 2/RUN

2.25 miles
2 trails
75 degrees

A quick run in the warm, sunny, windy afternoon to celebrate 11 years of running. 11 years ago today, sometime in the morning, when I went out to Minnehaha Creek and did my first session of couch to 5k, the first of many doors opened to a new way to be. I don’t remember much about how I felt or what I saw or heard; I didn’t begin keeping a log about my runs until the beginning of 2017. I remember it being hard, and that I was excited to go out again 2 days later and that some of the earliest songs on my running playlist were: “She’s a Bad Mama Jama” and “Firework” — or is it Fireworks?

What do I remember about today’s run? Hot and windy. I listened to a playlist as I ran south, then the gorge when I reached the Winchell Trail. The river was very blue and I was running with the wind at my back (that’s a tailwind, right?) when I started. There were bikers and walkers and runners out on the trail. No roller skiers.

Sound of the day: This sound is not from my run, but an hour or two earlier, when Scott, RJP, and I were driving over the lake street bridge. A bike bell distorted by the doppler effect as we passed it. Such a long bell sound! The ones I usually hear are much shorter and shriller. This bell was stretched and sounded so strange — long and bent.

Here’s some fun with five letter words. I love five letter words and five syllable lines and experimenting with the number five! (and Questlove.)

And here’s a poem that Aimee Nezhukumatathil read in a keynote she gave last year:

First Grade/ RON KOERTGE

Until then, every forest
had wolves in it, we thought
it would be fun to wear snowshoes
all the time, and we could talk to water.

So who is this woman with the gray
breath calling out names and pointing
to the little desks we will occupy
for the rest of our lives?

I’m thinking about wonder for my class and the idea of “childlike” wonder keeps coming up, especially how we lose it and then try to find it again. I just asked this question in a log entry from April 10 of this year.

june 1/RUN

4 miles
top of franklin hill and back
61 degrees

Wow! A beautiful morning. Sunny, calm, cool, not too crowded. Called out a “Hi!” to Dave the Daily walker, waved at Daddy Long Legs. Smelled some lilac, heard a distant weed whacker or leaf blower, felt my running belt flapping on my back. Saw some roller skiers, bikers, walkers, runners, and someone on an eliptigo (which, until I looked it up just now, I thought was called an “elitigogo”). Felt my left toe — the one that keeps getting pinched by the new design for Saucony grid cohesions. Wondered if a squirrel was going to dart out in front of me (it didn’t), or if the port-a-potty door would fly open in my face as I ran by it (nope). Overheard a conversation that I wanted to remember, but can’t now that the run is over and I’m home. Sprinted up part of the final hill that ends by the sprawling oak and the ancient boulder (that didn’t have any stones stacked on top of it today). No woodpeckers or crows or eagles or turkeys. I might have heard some music from a car or a bike somewhere, but I might be thinking of another day. No rowers or a school group of kids biking in bright yellow vests. Oh—almost forgot: the cottonwood is flying. A few wisps almost flew in my mouth.

Remembered posting a poem about Cottonwood a few years ago in this log. Found it, with a few sentences I wrote (from may 17, 2018):

Early on in the run, I remembered a poem I read this morning. It was about cottonwood trees. I wondered, when will the cottonwood trees start snowing cotton? Probably in June.

running log / 17 may 2018

Cottonwood/Kathy Fagan/from Sycamore

The cottonwood pollen is flying again,
Adrift like snow or ash. It lines
The curbs, it sticks to my lips
Like down to a fox’s muzzle.
I made a poem about it years ago.
We were new then. We’d set fire
To our old lives and made love day
And night, mouths full of each other.
Back then, we were a match
For June: arrogant, promising, feverish.
For as long as we live, summer returns
To us. And snow, ash, they, too, return.