august 16/BIKESWIM

bike: 9 miles
halfway to fort snelling
77 degrees
11:00 am

FWA and I decided to take a bike ride this morning. I got to choose where we went. I chose the paved trail to Fort Snelling, which I haven’t biked in 10 years. I chose wrong. It was bumpy 10 years ago, and they haven’t repaired it since then. We made it a few miles, then decided to turn around. Bummer. Glad we turned around because the trail was terrible, but disappointed that that meant the end of the bike ride. Will FWA be willing to take any more bike rides with me before he leaves for college in 3 weeks? Stay tuned.

Found this poem on twitter today. Makes me think about the end of open swim next week, and the end of swimming until next May or June.

Living Here/ Cleopatra Mathis

In the absence of ocean, I have the field,
and I walk there with the dogs
on a chain. One who won’t shut up,
the other large and grave
with his patient look–we all survey
gray sky, gray woods, absence
turning the season. The field
is married to silence, a cloud
lying across it, and when it lifts
no horizon takes my eye. No glory of night
falling at sea, light’s limitless plane.
In the field, containment
is everything, locked as it is by evergreen shade.
The scrimshaw of ice
is water’s only possibility, handiwork
the cold creek make in its secret
turning. Why not accept the bounds,
love the confined self?
In the world of appearances, teach me
to believe in the unseen.
The ground darkens to a threat.
I watch where I put my foot–no sound
in this universe but that reassuring thud.

swim: 4 loops
lake nokomis open swim
75 degrees
5:30 pm

Another wonderful swim! I felt strong and fast. Thought about myself more as a boat then a fish. Not fins but oars, shoulders as a broad bow cutting through the water, only partly submerged and partly above the water. Always moving with intent, trying to get to the other side. There’s something about how serious I am with my swimming, always working hard, rarely stopping. I like to push myself, not to get faster or be more fit, but because I like to work hard? Still trying to figure that one out. Imagining myself as a boat reminds me of a poem I posted a few years ago:

SWIMMER (FEMALE)/ Concha Méndez

My arms:
the oars.

The keel: 
my body.

my thought.

I found this poem on the site, Swimming at Dawn. In the entry in which this was posted, Dawn Swimmer describes how they try to return to the “elementals” to center themselves and to clear their mind.

Blue. Green. Tree. Breath. Arm. Hand. Bubbles. Sun. Moon. 

Sometimes when I’m open water swimming, with my mind full of thoughts and I want to clear it, I turn to elementals like primary colors. Single words for single moments. I turn my head to breathe, life giving agent, and there is the Sky. Cloud. Pink. Sun. Sensation. Joy. Cold. Water. 

Simplicity emerges. Each breath, a word. And, yes, Water. Water. Water. Always water, everywhere. Me inside the water. The water inside of me. 

Slicing through the waves, the currents, the liquid aqua. I’m flowing and moving somewhere and nowhere. Rock, Buoy, Colored house. Or perhaps, there’s a long section with nothing to distract me. The mind wanders. I turn my head to breathe. Mountain. Pine. Boat. Moored. 

Swimming My Verses: Poetry & Open Water Swimmming

I really like this idea. I’d like to experiment with some swimming poems made up of these elements. What were the elements of my swim?

Clouds. Sky. Plane. Vine. Wave. Buoy. Kayak. Swan. Strokes. Five. Breath. Roof. Treetops. Elbow. Cap. Blue. Green. White. Yellow. Orange. Pink. Shoulders. Hand. Hips. Foot. Slosh. Duck. Kick. Splash.

As we were waiting at the beach for open swim to start, a woman came up to me and asked, Do you ever think the buoys are staring at you? The handles look like eyes. When I’m rounding the buoy, I always see it watching me. I admitted that I’d never thought about that, but once she mentioned it, I could see it — the handles as eyes, the edge of the triangular buoy a long nose.

Tonight, the green buoy closest to shore seemed to grow farther away as I swam toward (towards?) it. Mid-lake, this green buoy also looked like a tiny glowing dot, more white than green.

A crowded lake with lots of open water swimmers and boats. During the third loop, I noticed a line of giant swans off to my left. Tonight, they didn’t seem menancing, just strange. Out of scale — were they too big, or was the lake too small?

Gave some attention to my stroke, noticing (again) how breathing to my left was a little harder. I don’t get my head out of the water as much on that side. Is it my rotation? I tried stretching out my right arm and rolling over on my right side more. I think it helped.

Here’s another bit of a poem that I’d like to play around with:

from “swims“/ Elizabeth Jane Burnett

The river is something that happens,
like exercise or illness, to the body
on any given day
I am rivering.

Not that the river is like the body
or the river is the body
but both have gone
and what is left is something else.

I wonder, is there such a thing as lake-ing? How does it differ from rivering? Also: what is the something else that is left? I like the idea of the water being a verb and not a noun.