sept 7/RUN

5.9 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
70 degrees / humidity: 95%
8:45 am

Back to warmer, more humid, mornings. Did my new regular routine with this route: run just beyond the bottom of the franklin hill, turn around, walk up the hill, put on a playlist, begin running again, much faster, at the top.

I don’t remember what I thought about as I ran. I started noticing my breathing pattern: 1 2 3 4 breathe. Then near the top of Franklin, I started chanting, 54321/54321/54321/123. And then, I changed the rhythm slightly and came up with words:

Here I go down the hill
Here I go down the hill
Here I go down the hill
Watch me fly.

To remember it, I decided to pull out my phone and recite it mid-flight down the hill:

chant, 7 sept

10 Things I Remember From My Run

  1. Reaching the bottom of the hill, the water was flat and still. No rowers or waves.
  2. I startled a squirrel as I ran by their hiding place in the brush.
  3. A group of women — I didn’t see them, only heard their voices — climbing the stone steps by the trestle.
  4. A unicycle biking up the steep Franklin hill! I noticed them after the turn-off to go above, so they might have only started there, but I like to imagined this biker biked all the way from the bottom on a unicycle. What a feat!
  5. That same unicycle encountering a skateboarder heading down the hill.
  6. A sewer smell, coming up from the ravine.
  7. Sweat dripping off of my face in big drops.
  8. The buzz of cicadas, the hum of the traffic on the I-94 bridge and the river road
  9. Saying Good morning! in my head to the Welcoming Oaks and out loud to an older jogger.
  10. Noticing the goldenrod lining the path as I walked up the hill.

Speaking of goldenrod, as I noticed the golden flowers on the edge of the trail and wondered if they were goldenrod or something else, I remembered Maggie Smith’s poem “Goldenrod” and decided I should memorize it. I also thought about Robin Wall Kimmerer and her chapter on Asters and Goldenrod.

Goldenrod/ Maggie Smith

I’m no botanist. If you’re the color of sulfur
and growing at the roadside, you’re goldenrod. 

You don’t care what I call you, whatever
you were born as. You don’t know your own name. 

But driving near Peoria, the sky pink-orange,
the sun bobbing at the horizon, I see everything

is what it is, exactly, in spite of the words I use:
black cows, barns falling in on themselves, you.

Dear flowers born with a highway view, 
forgive me if I’ve mistaken you. Goldenrod, 

whatever your name is, you are with your own kind. 
Look–the meadow is a mirror, full of you,

your reflection repeating. Whatever you are,
I see you, wild yellow, and I would let you name me.


bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis and back
73 degrees
11:00 am / 12:30 pm

So windy on my ride over to lake nokomis! I could hear it rushing past my ears. Looking down at the trail on the river road and the creek path, I noticed orange spray paint everywhere, marking the cracks. Will they fix those spots before the orange paint wears off? Probably not. As I biked, I thought about how wonderful it is to be able to bike to the lake to swim and how much I’ll miss it over the winter. The answer is not too much; I love biking to the lake and the trail is great, but I do get burned out on it by August. On the bike trail at the lake, they were patching cracks.

swim: 1.5 loops
main beach white buoys
75 degrees
11:30 am

Hooray! The buoys were still up. When will they take them down? Happy to have been able to swim today, even though it was windy, the water choppy. The water was also light brown and opaque. The only thing I could underwater were the bubbles coming off of my hands as they break though the surface. No silver flashes of fish, no hairbands at the bottom. Looking out above the surface, all I could see was the beach to one side, endless treeline to the other, white buoys in front of me, and strange, jagged clouds up above. There were a few people at the beach: 2 guys then later, 2 girls, and one metal detectorist. The metal detectorist was at the far edge of the wading area, near the orange-faded-to-pink circular buoys. When I swam nearer him, I think I could hear the vibrations of his detector underwater. The water didn’t feel cold when I first stepped in it but later, after a few laps, I felt chilled.

I stopped a few times near the far white buoys to be in the deeper water and to look out over the lake. I was drawn to one of my favorite, and most helpful, images: the bottom of the lifeguard boat at the little beach. It stood out clearly to me, making the little beach look closer than it was. I’m hoping to conjure that boat bottom as I drift off to sleep this winter. Today, with less sun, the bottom was white and flat. On the sunniest days this summer, it was silver and shiny.

paying versus giving attention

The other week, Scott and I were discussing the difference between paying and giving attention. I can’t remember everything we said, but here are some things I do remember:

Paying attention seems to be a demand, obligation, requirement. An annoyed teacher tells you sternly, Pay Attention! and might add, This will be on the test! It also suggests staring, focusing, closely concentrating, exercising your will, which indicates that attention is (only) a mental activity.

Giving attention is something given freely. To give attention to something is to turn to it, to notice it, but not necessarily to scrutinize, categorize, or classify it. You’re offering something, not because you have to, or because you want something in return. note: I want to read more about giving in Braiding Sweetgrass.

Found this poem on twitter from one of the poetry people:

To the Person Who Marked Up This Book of Poetry/ Amy Miller

I had forgotten about you
until this morning at Denny’s
when I didn’t have enough quarters
for a newspaper and pulled,
instead, this book from my purse,
laid in for such emergencies.

And there you were,
asserting your opinions in black ballpoint,
two stars next to the titles
you obviously liked,
crossed-out lines
you seemed to think superfluous—
scratched-off Wasatch,
penned-in mountains.

And then the waitress frowned
when I told her no hashbrowns.
She asked again—no potatoes?
No grits?—as if to correct
this error in the book
of my morning. She scrawled a note
in her own book, lips tight.

But she brought me the eggs
and you finally left the poet alone
as he went on to talk
of farmers, as his horse changed leads
on command, and sometimes not.
And it’s hard to tell
whether you simply tired
of the old, old game—
this singular shaping, this lonely work
for the betterment of us all—
or whether the poet won you over,
maybe with those lines on page 40
about chickens and the little
swaybacked shed he can’t
bring himself to knock down,
beautiful it its disrepair.

sept 5/RUN

4.4 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
60 degrees
9:00 am

Fall is coming. The air, a little cooler. The trees, a little more yellow. I’m still sad about swimming ending, but I’m happy to have more time to run. Ran north on the river road trail all the way to the bottom of the franklin hill and then turned around. Ran up it all the way to the top, then stopped for a few minutes to walk and put it in my headphones (listened to Beyoncé’s Renaissance).

Heading north, I heard the rowers and the mid-range voice of a coxswain — not a low voice, and not a high one either. Not sure if I’ve heard this coxswain before. Also heard the clicking of a roller skier’s poles and the awkward shifting of a bike’s gears.

Passed a runner in black with a white sweatshirt tied around their waist. Something about the sweatshirt transfixed me. It seemed to take forever to pass them as I stared blankly at the white of their sweatshirt.

The river down in the flats was moving in the breeze. The sun was frequently behind the clouds.

Encountered a few lunging dogs, a darting squirrel.

Overheard 2 bikers talking. Tried to listen, but all I could make out was, that must have been 300 minutes! Huh?

Here’s the latest version of my poem about the light and the waves in the lake. I’m happy with it, but as I listened to a recording of myself reciting it I thought, so many of my poems are serious and somber! It made me think that I should try writing about this experience from a more playful perspective. Can I, or am I too serious of a person? Here’s the draft:

Love (tentative title)/ Sara Puotinen

Hands slice through water
ripples catch light
sun surface swimmers
converge into chorus.
Listen, their notes of
shimmer & shine sing
to you. Each point of
contact between lake
and finger and light
an over here, this
way, you’re not alone
As your body breaks
surface stroke after
stroke, it sings along.

Walking back, after the run, I started thinking about the little girl, with the same name (and spirit) as my daughter, that I encountered at the end of an open swim one day. The image that lingers: her mischevious look after calling out a made-up Help! I’d like to write about her and a few of the other women I encountered in the water this summer. I wish I could remember more of these women. Maybe I’ll try?

sept 3/RUN

2.8 miles
2 trails
65 degrees
8:30 am

Writing this about 8 hours after my run. I wonder what I remember? 2 trips to the state fair + 2 trips to Rochester (70 minute drive) made it difficult to run a lot this week.

10 Things I Remember

  1. the coxswains, both male and female, calling out to their rowers
  2. a pack of runners taking over the paved path
  3. a dog somewhere down below, near where I was entering the Winchell Trail — I didn’t see them, but heard the pounding of their paws, the jingling of their collar
  4. 2 male voice below me — were they on the water in a boat or by the shore? I never found out
  5. the trickle of the sewer pipe at 44th
  6. the blue river — did it sparkle? I can’t remember
  7. hearing the rower below me and trying to find a spot in between trees to see their boats
  8. a leaning tree before 38th
  9. the dirt trail below the mesa is overgrown…at one point, the sunflowers have reclaimed the path
  10. 2 people standing by the information sign in the oak savanna, both wearing shorts, looking like they were planning to hike or run

Still playing around with a poem about the sparkle a swimmer’s body makes on the water. Here’s a draft that I haven’t broken into lines yet. I feel like I’m getting closer, but I’m not quite there:

Hands slice through water, ripples catch light, sun surface swimmers converge into chorus. See how their notes of shimmer & shine greet and guide you. Every point of contact between shoulder and lake and light, an over here, this way, you are not alone. Can you feel how your body sings this same song to others?

sept 1/RUN

5.3 miles
bohemian flats and back
67 degrees / humidity: 86% / dewpoint: upper 60s
8:00 am

A warm morning. Loud with cicadas. Sunny with very little wind. A good run. Early on, one of my quad muscles — maybe the vastus intermedias? — felt sore. I kept going. When I stopped to walk up franklin hill, it was still sore. By the end of the run, it hurt a little to lift up my left knee. Now, an hour later (and after blasting cold water from the shower on it), it feels better.

I ran to the hill without headphones; I ran back listening to Beyoncé’s Renaissance.

A woman walker greeted me with a good morning. Usually others greet with me just morning, but I think that’s mostly men. Do (many/most/some?) women add the good? Is the addition or omission of good gendered?

10 Things I Noticed

  1. someone singing a strange song as the biked above me
  2. music I couldn’t identify coming from a car’s stereo
  3. the click click click of a roller skier’s poles as they slowly climbed the franklin hill
  4. a brown leather couch parked at the bike rack nearest the trestle — was someone planning to drag it down the steps, either to under the trestle or on white sands beach?
  5. a few slivers of silver river through the trees
  6. a constant low rumble of the city
  7. a small black bug flew in my eye — yuck!
  8. at the bottom of the franklin hill, in the flats, the river was thick and still and covered with a thin layer of scum
  9. down in the flats, in a few spots, the river was still and acted like a mirror, reflecting the sky and the river bank
  10. In one spot, it shimmered silver. Why? It took me a minute to see the 2 rowers, each in their own scull/shell/rowing boat, disrupting the water and making it shimmer

The other day, I listened to a tinhouse lecture with Natalie Diaz about Building the Emotional Image. She discusses identifying the images that we are obsessed with. As I walked up the hill and talked into my phone about my run, I discussed 2 of my image obsessions: shimmering, sparkling water and how the sounds of the gorge — the hum of the city, the whoosh of the car wheels, the call of the birds, the buzz of the cicadas and leaf blowers — sing together. Here are the notes:

sept 1 / walking up the franklin hill

This beautiful poem I found on twitter last night by Sophie Klahr!

Tender/ Sophie Klahr

I spend late morning weeping with the news:
a black bear with burnt paws is euthanized
along the latest wildfire’s newest edge.
It was crawling on its forearms, seeking
a place to rest. I Google more; reports
leak out: the bear had bedded down behind
a house, below a pine, to lick its paws.
In hours before its end, officials named
it Tenderfoot, though some reports report
just Tender. later, I will teach a class
where we’ll discuss the lengths of lines in poems.
I’ll say a sonnet is a little song
to hold a thing that otherwise cannot
be held: a lonely thing; a death; a bear.