sept 24/RUN

4.4 miles
st. thomas loop*
57 degrees / humidity: 88%

*a new loop! 43rd ave, north/31st st, east/46th ave, north/lake street, east/lake street bridge/up marshall hill/cleveland, south/summit ave, west/east river road, south/lake street bridge/west river road, south/stop at ancient boulder

A grayish-white, or white-ish gray?, morning. Cool, not crisp but damp. Lots of leaves on the ground. Lots of gold in the trees — more gold than red or orange. No rowers on the river, but at least one or two roller skiers on the path. I felt good.

Recited Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Spring and Fall” and Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” as I ran. I struggle with the rhythm in Hopkins’ third and fourth lines:

Leaves, the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

I don’t remember anything else I thought about. What did I think about? I’m happy to lose some thoughts and some time.

A quote from the wonderful Pádraig Ó Tuama about poetry:

A little block of letters in the middle of a blank page can open up windows into your world, and offer help, insight, company, spaciousness, reflection, and solidarity. In solitude we can appreciate a deeper solitude. In need we can approach company.” —Pádraig Ó Tuama


And, some more regular questions to ask ourselves that I want to add to my undisciplined site:

What are we pretending not to know today?” —Toni Cade Bambara What are we pretending not to see? What have we pretended not to see for a long, long time?

Deborah E. McDowell

sept 22/RUN

3.1 miles
2 trails
55 degrees

Fall leaves fall! More color, more leaves on the ground, more cool air. Ran south on the river road trail to the southern start of the Winchell Trail. Was almost hit by at least 2 bicycles — bikers biking on the walking path. Didn’t yell, but cried out, Watch out! to one person and exclaimed, Jesus! or Christ! or Jeez! beside another.

Didn’t see any squirrels or almost trip over any acorns. No clicks or clacks from roller skiers’ poles. No fat tires or honking geese. No territorial turkeys — I love how htis sounds! I want to write something that uses this phrase! No rowers or chapel bells. Not a single good morning.

I did hear some kids playing at a school playground. And jackhammers across the road. A weedwacker trimming the hillside. 2 guys talking — I tried to hang onto what the one guy said, but now I can’t remember.

As I was walking back after my run, I tried to recite Hopkin’s “Spring and Fall” and Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” I missed a few lines; time to memorize them again!

I think I found this pithy poem on twitter this morning:

Fall/ Ed Ochester

Crows, crows, crows, crows
then the slow flapaway over the hill
and the dead oak is naked

I don’t remember hearing any crows before/during/after my run today.

sept 21/RUN

5.75 miles
franklin loop
60 degrees

A beautiful morning for a run! Cooler, leaves scattered on the ground, more reds and oranges and yellows. Started slow and intended on staying slow, but looking at my splits after the run, I noticed I negative split each mile. Ran the franklin loop — north on franklin, over the bridge, south on the east river road, past the lake street bridge, up the hill beside my favorite viewing spot, then back down the hill to the bridge. I walked up the steps and on the bridge until I reached the overlook. Stopped to study the river, then put in Renaissance and ran all the way back.

To keep myself distracted, or focused on something other than my effort, I chanted triple berries. Strawberry/raspberry/blueberry/blackberry/gooseberry

Also thought about a poem I’m revising and the idea of learning to hold contradictions together without resolving or reducing them. In the case of this poem, it’s about both having great affection for the other swimmers in the lake with me because we all love the lake and being irritated by how they get in my way or kick me or push me off course. I can’t remember much of what I thought — something about other contradictions, lik how we always hold joy and suffering together too, and about the need to find balance with these contradictions.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the welcoming oaks are still green and full
  2. a few rips in the veil of green that hides the river below the tunnel of trees
  3. minneapolis parks worker was weedwacking near the lake street bridge. all the goldenrod poking through the rails and leaning over the trail is gone, so are the red leaves
  4. gusts and swells of wind, sounding like water falling from the limestone ledges
  5. evidence: the voice of a kid, then an adult and an empty bike with a kids’ seat in the back parked in the bike rack…assumption: there’s a kid somewhere nearby with his mom exploring the gorge, never verified
  6. passing a man with a “sporty” walker (its wheels looked like they were more rugged and ready to go fast) just before getting to the franklin bridge
  7. greeted Dave, the Daily Walker and Mr. Morning! Also passed a guy that I’m pretty sure used to walk on the track at the YWCA everytime I ran there. I think I’ll call him, Mr. Y
  8. water (not wind, I think?) falling off the ledge near the Meeker Dog Park — is there a way to get to this seep/falls?
  9. a bright red tree just below the railing at my favorite viewing spot above the lake street bridge
  10. the river! blue with slight ripples from the wind that were moving towards the middle of the river, streaks — from the sandbars? — were visible too. At the overlook, a little over halfway across, the river was split in 2. One side was sparkling and shimmering from the sun, the other side was almost flat. Up above, the sky was streaked with shreds of clouds; it looked almost like a mirror of the ripples in the water

Autumn/ Linda Pastan

I want to mention
summer ending
without meaning the death
of somebody loved

or even the death
of the trees.
Today in the market
I heard a mother say

Look at the pumpkins,
it’s finally autumn!
And the child didn’t think
of the death of her mother

which is due before her own
but tasted the sound
of the words on her clumsy tongue:
pumpkin; autumn.

Let the eye enlarge
with all it beholds.
I want to celebrate
color, how one red leaf

flickers like a match
held to a dry branch,
and the whole world goes up
in orange and gold.

Ever since I read Vertical by Linda Pastan, I have loved her poetry. This poem — “Autumn” — adds to that love. Some years, like this one, it’s harder not to think about death in the fall. Maybe I’ll try repeating pumpkin and autumn over and over.

sept 20/RUNswim*

*Yesterday afternoon, RJP, Scott and I drove by Lake Nokomis and noticed the buoys were still up. Since it was going to be warm today, I decided I’d swim one last time this morning. Arrived at the beach at 9:30 am. No buoys. This is not the first time this has happened. Oh well. I ran instead and then waded into the water at the end to cool down. I don’t like big goodbyes with grand gestures, so I was fine with not being able to make this the final swim. I like ending things when there’s still the possibility that it could keep going. When open swim ended, I could think, I can bike over to the lake and do a few loops until they take down the buoys. By the time it’s actually over, I’ve already been acting as if it’s over for a while.

2.5 miles
around lake nokomis
75 degrees

I haven’t run around the lake for many months. I can’t even remember the last time I did it. It was very hot, but nice. I like how they’ve been working on restoring the wetlands and the shoreline. More wildflowers. Running over the cedar bridge, I looked across the beautiful water. Ah, Lake Nokomis, I’ll miss you this winter!

10 Things I Noticed

  1. some very noisy crows
  2. a honking/moaning goose on the other shore — I think it was in the water and not up in the air
  3. a plane roaring over my head as I ran across the cedar bridge
  4. no buoys at the little beach, workers re-tarring spots on the bike trail
  5. 2 older men sitting and chatting at a picnic table near the bike racks just before the little beach
  6. an empty dock
  7. lots of people walking with dogs
  8. more walkers than runners
  9. after my run, wading in the water, just past my knees — brr! the water was cold
  10. seagulls strutting around on the sand

Glaucoma/ Charlene Fix

What my eyes see reminds me of under-exposed
negatives from my bygone wet photography days,
days replete with eyes—the camera’s, the enlarger’s, mine—
when I failed to admit sufficient light to the film,
resulting in negatives so thin that, held aslant,
they looked like printed pictures. Thin, yet yielding
tender images, the sweet round faces of children
rising and blooming in the developer tray as if

pulled from the photo paper’s fertile heart as it sloshed and sang
for an allotted time in nether clouds of liquid vapor,
images startling with the beauty of their truths.
Then into the final tray, a bath transforming love
and sight to artifact, though faint the accretion,
fragile memory made lasting with the help of chemical tears.

This is not what my eyes see but I appreciate the description. I’d like to return to this poem and think about how my experience differs.

After the run, while doing the dishes, I listened to an Ali on the Run podcast episode with Deena Kastor. Here’s a bit of it that I’d like to remember:

Ali: How do you keep going when a race isn’t going your way?

Deena: I think we always have the opportunity to talk ourselves out of something, or talk ourselves into something. And I feel, time and time again, how I am so suprised at how, when I talk myself into something, how it can get the job done. You can rely on excuses and feel okay with those excuses, but when you shove those excuses aside and you just convince yourself that one more step is the right thing to do, it’s amazing how we can accomplish something.

I am good at talking myself out of things and having excuses/rational and reasonable explations for why I’m not doing something. Sometimes this is okay, but…I’m finding myself saying no too often. I wouldn’t call it giving up, instead, I think of it as a narrowing of my world/options, a shutting of doors and foreclosing of possibilities. Lately, I’ve given myself a goal: keep the door open. Don’t do things/make choices that close the door. It reminds me of a line from Ron Padgett’s great poem “How to Be Perfect“:

Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don’t do
anything to make it impossible.

addendum, a few hours later: Reading through swimming entries from this summer, I came across this Ron Padgett line on August 5th. I was talking about the lyrics from the Mary Poppins’ song, “Anything Can Happen.”

sept 19/RUN

4.6 miles
to longfellow gardes and the falls
60 degrees / humidity: 90%

A nice run. Calm, quiet, not too warm. I was surprised to see that the humidity was 90%; it didn’t feel that humid. Ran south on the river road trail, past the falls, under to mustache bridge, near the old statue of Longfellow (is it Longfellow, or someone else? I can’t remember now) and over to Longfellow Gardens. Beautiful fall flowers. My favorites: purple cylinder-shaped ones and some bright pink ones that almost looked like zinnias but not quite. I stopped to walk through the flowers and noticed about a dozen people with cameras — a class? a photography group?

The falls were almost completely dry. Running on the path above then, close to the road, I heard a voice call out, echo! echo! Maybe someone walked on the dry creek to under the bridge?

Running south: no headphones
Running after the falls: playlist, Bruno Mars

10 Things I Noticed

  1. no water in the creek, just rocks
  2. clear, cloudless, bright blue sky
  3. the faint outline of the moon
  4. the dribble dribble sound of water trickling down the limestone in the park
  5. the recently re-paved (2 or 3 years ago?) path below the mustache bridge is already puckering in places — what causes that?
  6. a woman speaking to another woman while walking near the falls, It’s beautiful! She’s lucky to live here.
  7. more slashes of red and orange, no slashes of yellow — yellow comes in splotches, not slashes, I think
  8. the smallest sliver of sparkling river through the trees
  9. all the benches were empty
  10. lots of construction sounds on edmund, near Dowling Elementary — jack hammers, rumbling bobcats

Here’s a poem I found on twitter this morning. I’d like to read more of Swenson’s work.

The River/ Cole Swenson

It is a rare night
down along the river,
a sheet of glass repeating
“I am water.”
The lights upon it
do not dance, but strike
and go down forever.
This river has forgotten
the way to the sea,
it will wander the earth
like a liquid sleepwalker
stopping people on the street
and asking, “have I arrived?”

sept 18/RUN

4.6 miles
franklin bridge and back
64 degrees / humidity: 87%

note: as I write this entry, at my desk in the front, a fly keeps dive-bombing me. I think it might be the same fly that harassed me early this morning while I was drinking my coffee. Argh!

Dark this morning. Looked like it might rain; it didn’t. This sort of light makes everything look even darker and dreamier to me. Ran north on the river road trail to just under the Franklin Bridge. Stopped to walk back up the half of franklin hill that was left. Put in Renaissance and ran south. The trail was crowded, but not too irritating. Saw evidence of rowers — walking up from the rowing club — but no voices down below or shells in the water. Encountered a few roller skiers. I don’t think I heard their poles clacking at all. Heard some shrieking blue jays. No geese. No big running groups. No Dave, the Daily Walker or Mr. Morning. I did cross paths with Daddy Long Legs,

leaf watch, fall 2022

Some golden trees between franklin and seabury — I think Scott’s favorite tree might have turned yellow. More slashes of red and orange. Things are speeding up now. Full color by the beginning of October?

image of the day

I think I’ve mentioned this image sometime in the past — heading up the second half of the franklin hill, the stretch after the bridge but before the top, the trees on either side frame the sky in such a way that it looks like the shape of the Mississippi River. Very cool to see and to image everything upside down, with the sky as river, the ground as sky.

The fly continues to bother me. Bzzzzzz….bzz..bzz..bzzzzzzzzzz

Speaking of a fly, it’s hard to believe that I haven’t posted this ED poem before:

I heard a Fly buzz — when I died / Emily Dickinson

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –

With a loved one nearing death and the 13th anniversary of my beloved mom’s death at the end of the month and falling leaves and winter coming, I’m thinking about transformation and decay and things passing away. Speaking of decay, I saw a tweet a few days ago about IDK and how it both stands for I Don’t Know and I Decay.

sept 17/RUN

3.5 miles
marshall loop to cleveland*
67 degrees / humidity: 84%

*Ran up Marshall and kept going past Cretin to Cleveland. Ran south on Cleveland to Summit, then west to the river road. I met up with Scott at the bridge and walked the rest of the way. If I had kept running, the loop would have been over 5 miles — also, I ran to the lake st bridge through the neighborhood. If I had taken the river road trail from the beginning, it might have added a little more distance.

Ran after it rained. Lots of dripping. Humid. I’m pretty sure I have only run up to Cleveland one other time. I liked it. You run right next to the St. Thomas campus, which is beautiful.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. ran by Bethleham Lutheran and saw a sign for their 100th anniversary — all are welcome!
  2. the sidewalk on 46th near lake street is dug up. I had to run in the street for a block
  3. running past a house, hearing one sharp bark
  4. rowers on the river! one shell, 8 rowers, 2 of them in bright green shirts
  5. a small, bright orange tree
  6. passed 2 women on summit and said, good morning! they replied, morning!
  7. encountered a runner at the bottom of the hill, past shadow falls — she called out, morning, I replied, good morning!
  8. a steady stream of runners climbing the hill near the Monument
  9. the clock at St. Thomas chiming as I neared the bridge — 9:45, maybe?
  10. a car passing by, making some noise — was it the rumbling of their wheels crunching some acorns, or music from their radio? I couldn’t tell

leaf watch, fall 2022

Starting to see more color. A few orange trees, some slashes of red, a yellow glow.

Reading the draft of my new poem to Scott last night, he commented on how I pronounce the word hull: whole. It’s your semi-southern accent, he said. And then, you should put that in a poem. Yes, I do have a semi-southern accent, having lived for 5 years in North Carolina, ages 4-9, and southern Virginia, age 10. And I think I know which poem to put it in. It’s called “A Bridge of Saras” and it imagines over 40 different Saras, at different ages, all swimming in the lake together.

sept 16/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
66 degrees / drizzle

Checked the weather app on my watch: 0% chance of rain. Ha! A few minutes in, a few drops, then a soft, steady drizzle for the rest of the run. Who cares? I barely felt it, or could barely tell the difference between drops of rain and drops of sweat.

Ran to the falls. No roar or rush, just a trickle. I doubt this short rain will help.

Stopped to look at the falls at my favorite spot, near the former fountain where Longellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” is etched into the stone wall. The falls were hidden behind green. Instead, I noticed a few dartig birds. I think they were blue — blue is a very difficult color for me to see.

Started running again while listening to Renaissance.

quick life update for future Sara to remember: with very little warning, trying to figure out nursing homes and finances for elderly parents. A kid who is struggling with anxiety and depression and high school (which are connected but not necessarily in a causal way) — not wanting to go to school, but also not wanting to miss out.

I feel like I finally have a decent draft of my poem about punching waves. I recorded myself reciting it, then listened to it at the end of my run.

untitled/ sara puotinen

Look pal, this isn’t the
sea. Hell, this isn’t
even a proper
lake. Just a dredged out
cranberry marsh with
an average depth of
fifteen feet. And these
waves aren’t real waves. No
big rollers. No white
horses that thunder
to shore. Nothing pulls
you under, drags you
down. Still, people drown
here and when water
meets a strong wind, which
happens more often
these days, it’s ready
to rumble. Me too.
I square my shoulders
and stroke straight into
a small swell. SLAM!
All thought knocked clean out.
What’s left is air and
energy and body
as boat — oars for arms
shoulders as bow
rudder-like legs hull
belly. Whatever
this looks like, it isn’t
a fight. Stroke by stroke
crash after crash I
become worthy of
this water in the
middle of a marsh.

sept 14/RUN

5.6 miles
the flats and back
62 degrees / humidity: 80%

Fall running. Still wearing my summer attire — shorts and a tank top — but it felt cooler, easier. I ran 3 miles, all the way down the franklin hill and into the flats, then turned around at the steps. Ran below, right by the river, on the uneven path until I reached 3.3 miles. Walked up about half of the hill. Put in Beyoncé’s Renaissance and ran most of the way back.

Fairly early into the run, I realized that my eyes were drawn to things in the bottom of my periphery. All things on the ground: changing leaves, bright blue tarps, wildflowers.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a green glow
  2. slashes of red near my feet
  3. the strong smell of urine at a spot somewhere between the franklin and lake st bridges
  4. a big white tarp next the trash can near the WPA sign and the lake street bridge
  5. more goldenrod
  6. a lone goose up in the sky, honking
  7. an old car, puttering behind me, sounding like a rickity bike. I thought it was a bike, until it passed me
  8. Mr. Unicycle! As I neared the franklin hill, I saw him powering up the hill on his one-wheeled bike
  9. a runner ahead of me, running on the white line that divides the bike and walking paths. 2 fast bikers, speeding down the hill, swerving wide to avoid him
  10. 4 or 5 stones stacked on the ancient boulder. The top one bigger than the rest — nice balance!
a big boulder with several small stones stacked on it. The top stone, much bigger than the one just beneath it.
5, or is just 4?, stones stacked on the ancient boulder.

It’s not that much cooler than some summer days. And, I’m wearing my summer running stuff. Yet, you can tell fall is almost here (or is already here?). How? What makes the difference? I love this poem by W.S. Merwin that I first posted a few years ago for giving some answers:

To the Light of September/ W.S. Merwin

When you are already here
you appear to be only
a name that tells of you
whether you are present or not

and for now it seems as though
you are still summer
still the high familiar
endless summer
yet with a glint
of bronze in the chill mornings
and the late yellow petals
of the mullein fluttering
on the stalks that lean
over their broken
shadows across the cracked ground

but they all know
that you have come
the seed heads of the sage
the whispering birds
with nowhere to hide you
to keep you for later

who fly with them

you who are neither
before nor after
you who arrive
with blue plums
that have fallen through the night

perfect in the dew

Looked up mullein. It grows in Minnesota. Have I seen it? Possibly, I can’t quite tell.

a possible exercise: Go out for a run in early fall, when it still seems like summer. How do you know fall is coming/here?

  • quality of the light, a softer glow
  • slashes of red
  • kids biking to school
  • goldenrod
  • busy squirrels
  • geese

I feel a little stuck on the poem about my love of choppy water and the fun of punching the waves that I’ve been working on, without much progress, for the last week. Why do I like doing this? It’s not out of agression or frustration or grief. I’m not trying to hurt myself or break something. It’s about using/working my body, testing my strength, spending some energy. During the run, I had a thought: it’s not an expression of power, but of belief — belief in strong shoulders and my ability to hit a wall and not fall. Later, after I turned on the music, the song “Energy,” came on. Listening to the lyrics, I thought about how energy fits in with punching waves. I decided that when I got back from my run, I’d look up the lyrics and think about them some more. Beyoncé’s energy is a bit different than mine, but it is helping me to think more broadly about what the term could mean.

Energy/ Beyoncé

On stage rockin’, I’m stir crazy
Coco flow like 1980s
Come, let’s tell a drop lazy
None of that maybe energy (nah)
Just vibe
Votin’ out forty-five
Don’t get outta line (yeah)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Pick a side
Only double lines we cross is dollar signs (yeah)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh (hold up)
Wait, I hear you just got paid
Make it rain energy
She more Cancun, he more St. Tropez
Big wave in the room, the crowd gon’ move
Look around everybody on mute
Look around it’s me and my crew
Big energy
He was on stop mode, got froze
Froze front page Vogue, no pose
Chat too much, full clip unload
That’s that Kodak energy
Yeah, yeah
Gold links, raw denim
You know that we do it grande
You know that I’m gon’ be extra
When that camera go pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop
Keep ’em waitin’ like dot-dot-dot-dot-dot-dot
Ooh, la, la, la
That’s the way them boys sound when I walk through the block-block-block
Then I Uzi that doozy, shot-shot-shot
We was chillin’, mindin’ our business
Poppin’ our pain and champagne through the ceiling
Sippin’ it up, flickin’ it up
All this good energy got you all in your feelings, feelings
I’m crazy, I’m swearin’
I’m darin’, your man starin’
I just entered the country with Derringers
‘Cause them Karens just turned into terrorists
You was on stop mode, got froze
Froze front page Vogue, no pose
Chat too much, full clip unload
That’s that Kodak energy (go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go)
Energy (go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go)
Yeah, yeah

no maybe energy, vital, alive, extra, not frozen or stopped, less talk more action

sept 12/RUN

4.25 miles
ford bridge + turkey hollow
57 degrees

A fine fall morning. For most of the run, I didn’t listen to anything — not sure I remember any sounds from the gorge. For the last mile, I put in headphones and listened to Taylor Swift’s 1989. My knees ache a little, not like they’re injured, just sore from use. Could it partly be because of slightly cooler weather?

10 Things I Noticed

  1. 2 bikers on the road near the start of my run — 1 adult, 1 kid. My guess: a kid biking to Dowling Elementary School with his dad
  2. running above the oak savanna, a green glow as the sun streamed through the leaves of the trees lining the trail
  3. the ravine near the double bridge looked extra leafy and green
  4. the river, viewed from the ford bridge on the downtown side, was a beautiful blue and empty
  5. the sidewalk at the end of the bridge was under construction. Right now, it’s all dirt
  6. a few kids skating at the new skate park on the land that was the site of the ford plant
  7. the river, viewed from the ford bridge on the locks and dam no. 1 side, was still and high? — I couldn’t quite tell, but it looked like it had partly flooded the small island in the middle
  8. the locks and dam no. 1 is closed — carp invasion, I think. I didn’t see/hear the gushing water down the conrete apron
  9. no turkeys in turkey hollow
  10. no roller skiers or loud birds or darting squirrels or rowers or fat tires

a new regular

For a few months, I’ve noticed an older white man with white hair and a white beard (at least, I think he has a beard), using a walker when I run south on the river road. Sometimes he’s using the walker to help him walk pretty swiftly along the trail, and sometimes he’s using it as a chair. Today, we was sitting. We greeted each other as I ran by. He’s a friendly guy. It makes me happy to see him out there, continuing to walk with a walker, enjoying the beautiful trail. I think I’ll call him Mr. Walker.

I tried to think about my latest poem, but I got too distracted, I guess. No new words or ideas.

Here’s another poem from Tanis Rideout’s Arguments with the Lake. O, her last verse!

excerpt from Shirley As Drowned Ophelia/ Tanis Rideout

Though in the Lake are visions — submerged forests
of blossoming myriophyllum. I was cuaght
half-remembered in early morning darkness and a web of pondweed
that withered all when fathers died.

O, the Lake. The only thing that kept me afloat
was what I thought was on the other side.