april 2/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
38 degrees
99% clear path

Yesterday we woke up to more than 1/2 foot (7 inches?) of wet, heavy snow. I opened the curtain and our service berry bush, which looks more like a tree to me, was so weighed down with snow that it drooped over the deck and blocked the steps down to the yard. Back by the garage, the four tall, narrow trees were bent over, looking like an ice spider. Scott took a video:

the aftermath of April snow

Of course, because this is April snow, it was all melted by the time I went out for a run this morning around 10:30. Hooray! By the end of next week, it might be close to 60. I am ready for spring.

Before I went out for my run, I read this poem by A. R. Ammons:

Grassy Sound/ A. R. Ammons

It occurred to me there are no sharp corners
in the wind
and I was very glad to think
I had so close a neighbor
to my thoughts but decided to sleep before

The next morning I got up early
and after yesterday had come
clear again went
down to the salt marshes
to talk with
the straight wind there
I have observed I said
your formlessness
and am

enchanted to know how
you manage loose to be
so influential

The wind came as grassy sound
and between its
grassy teeth
spoke words said with grass
and read itself
on tidal creeks as on
the screens of oscilloscopes
A heron opposing
it rose wing to wind

turned and glided to another creek
so I named a body of water
Grassy Sound
and came home dissatisfied there
had been no direct reply
but rubbed with my soul an
apple to eat
till it shone

some favorite lines:
there are no sharp corners in the wind
after yesterday had come clear again
wind as grassy sound with grassy teeth speaking grassy words
it rose wing to wind

I gave myself a task for my run on a windy (12 mph) day: observe how the wind speaks. I tried, but all I could hear was the wind rushing past my ears as I ran east toward the river. It didn’t speak as grass or swaying trees or wind chimes, just hissing whispers in my ears. By the time I reached the river I had already forgotten the task.

Running south to the falls, I listened to the birds, shuffling feet, and the fragment of a conversation that I hoped to remember, but have forgotten. On the way back, I put in a Taylor Swift playlist.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the cardinal’s torpedoed call (a line from Didi Jackson’s “Listen”), not coming in slow waves, not coming in waves at all, but one rapid trill — too many notes coming too fast to count
  2. the river, a beautiful shiny bronze
  3. right after I reached the river, encountering 2 walkers pushing strollers, taking up almost the entire path
  4. at least 2 fat tires
  5. almost everywhere, the path was clear and dry, except for at the double-bridge where it was almost completely covered with lumpy snow
  6. a big pine tree down at locks and dam #1, blocking the running path. As I ducked under it, I noticed where it the trunk had split — was that the only tree that was down? Had there been more, or had they already cleared them?
  7. at the falls, someone was driving a giant snowblower and shooting snow off to the side of the trail. I could see a blur of white, hear the whirr of the snow flying through the air
  8. I know I stopped to look at the falls, but I can’t remember what it looked like, or how it sounded
  9. at least one runner (male) in shorts
  10. no mud or dirt or bare grass, everything covered (again) in snow

Back to Ammons’ poem:

oscilloscopes a device for viewing oscillations, as of electrical voltage or current, by a display on the screen of a cathode ray tube.

I’m thinking about how the narrator in Ammons’ poem is dissatisfied that the wind didn’t answer his question directly. My thought, did you really expect the wind to reveal its secrets? Such arrogance! Then I thought about a poem I read the other day by Denise Levertov:

The Secret/ Denise Levertov

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of

I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.

I love the contrast between the Ammons and Levertov poems, their different perspectives on indirect communication — Ammons’ disappointed arrogance, Levertov’s grateful delight. Here, I’m on team Levertov. How boring to receive a direct, final answer. Much better to perceive incomplete answers that are soon forgotten and must be discovered again and again.

I’ll forgive Ammons for his arrogance though because of his wonderful image of the wind speaking as/with/through grass. I’d like to learn to speak as grass too or learn to listen for it. And, sometime when I’m running beside a field of tall grass, I’d like to recite his beautiful lines back to it:

The wind came as grassy sound
and between its
grassy teeth
spoke words said with grass