nov 10/RUN

5 miles
bottom of franklin hill turn around
64 degrees

Warm, sticky, damp. Thunderstorms coming in a few hours. Blizzards possible up north. A gray morning. Right before I left for my run the sun came out, then left again. Hazy, gloomy. I like this weather, although I’d prefer it to be colder, less humid. The gray sky looked smudged and made the bare branches seem extra wispy and fragile. I felt good running, relaxed. Ran north with no headphones, south with a Lizzo playlist.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. A runner passing me wearing an orange shirt that lost its glow in the gloom of the gorge
  2. A walker wearing bright yellow (like me)
  3. A roller skier climbing the Franklin hill. I don’t remember hearing any poles clicking or clacking or scraping
  4. Unlike yesterday, the cars on the river road had their headlights on
  5. Passing under the bridge at the bottom of the hill, I noticed a big blue circle on the ground with the numbers “94” on it. Interstate 94. Maybe now I will always remember that this bridge is 94, and the bridge near downtown is 35?
  6. Running north above the gorge, from the left (closer to the road) the wind was blasting very warm air, from the right (near the gorge) the wind was blasting cold air. Overdressed in long sleeves, I preferred the cold
  7. A bird flying up above me. Every time I tried to see it straight on, it disappeared. I could only see it off to the side
  8. I don’t think I looked at the river once, even when I was right by it below Franklin
  9. The pavement is wet, the dirt trails soft and muddy
  10. a big truck with a chain track like a tank instead of wheels on the road near the Danish Center — why was it there?

I don’t have one big theme for gray today, just a few smaller thoughts:

  • gray as a mix of white and black and gray as the mix of 2 opposites — like the hot and cold air I experienced as I ran above the gorge
  • what the gray of the sky did to the bare branches of the trees, making the small branches at the tips look wispy or like they were fading or dissolving or just soft and fuzzy

Googled “poem the color gray” and found this wonderful lyric essay: Ode to Gray

the color of cubicles and winter camouflage, of sullage, of inscrutable complexity, of compromise. It is the perfect intermediate, an emissary for both black and white. 

It is the color of soldiers and battleships, despite its dullness. It is the color of the death of trees. The death of all life when consumed by fire. The color of industry and uniformity. It is both artless and unsettling, heralding both blandness and doom. It brings bad weather, augurs bleakness. It is the color other colors fade to once drained of themselves. It is the color of old age.

I’m drawn to gray, as to a dream, but not to any old gray. Not storm-cloud gray or corporate monolith. I prefer tranquil gray: the undyed wool of sheep in rain, the mood inside a Gerhard Richter painting, the mottle of an ancient cairn. I don’t mean any one gray either but the entire underrainbow of the world, the faded rose and sage and caesious. Liard, lovat, perse. The human eye perceives five hundred—not a mere fifty—shades of gray. Paul Klee called it the richest color, “the one that makes all the others speak.” 

Gray is the endless and. It can be cooled or warmed, made magic or mundane. It’s almost always tinged with color, but nothing quite so bold as to commit.

In the realism of the black-and-white, gray is every color—without the tartness. The understudies take the stage, and not one seems to miss the headliners. We see the world without distraction. Andre Gide called gray the color of the truth.

Gray in the wild opens and spills. Put two grays together and you’ll see the color each one hides within, the “endless variations” noted by Van Gogh. I think of the handful of river pebbles I once snuck into my pockets on a day trip to a waterfall: they were dusty gray when I got home, but underwater, each concealed a secret separate life as green or red or blue. So many things that seem gray on the surface have a treasure to unlock—myself, I hope, included. [note: this idea of seeming gray on the surface reminds me of something I read about gray matter yesterday. The brain tissue only looks gray when it’s outside of the body being observed, inside the brain it’s more pink — I wish I could find the source for that now]

It is the perfect neutral, balanced and dignified—and yet it is so effortlessly swayed; it is the pool that takes in other colors as they bleed. It complements; it brightens light and lightens dark. It isn’t flat. It’s deep, endlessly deep. Gray is the dark end of the light. The light end of the dark. Unsettling, perhaps, but full of possibility. Just think how beautiful we all look in the gloaming. It’s liminal, the color of our own potential to become.