walk: 40 minutes
neighborhood with Scott and Delia
40 degrees

Feeling springier every day. Scott and I discussed how this last snow on Friday moved the twin cities up to the 3rd snowiest winter in history. Too much snow. It’s melting fast. Will everything be green by the end of next week, when we’re supposed to have a stretch of 50s and 60s? As we walked through the neighborhood, we looked at the colors of all of the houses; we’re getting our house repainted next month and trying to decide on which dark gray and whether to have a raspberry red, parakeet green, or copper harbor orange door. Mostly, I can’t really see the color on the door, but I’m fine with any of these three. It would seem fitting, though, to paint the door orange since I’m so obsessed with the color. And, copper harbor orange — where I was born in the UP!

Speaking of orange, I’m still working on my orange poem. Such a struggle. Not quite able to find the way in yet. For inspiration, I decided to search for orange songs, settled on Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE. Will it help or distract?

Also trying to take a different approach to this poem. In my notes and on this log a few days ago, I wrote I orbit the orange. In terms of open water swimming, this is literally true. I loop around the orange buoys all summer — or 5-6 times a week, more than 100 loops. It is also true as a metaphor: in trying to write about the color orange, I circle around it again and again, wanting to make sense of what orange means to me, searching for ways to be able to see it or to sense it or to find a way around or through it when seeing it is not possible. This orbiting also provides one definition for poetry, which I also wrote about last week:

One thing poetry is about is orbiting things that you can’t quite find the words to describe or pin down with meaning. Becoming obsessed with them. Writing around them again and again. 

log entry from march 31, 2023

Later, I wrote in my notes a possible title for an orange poem, Orange, an ars poetica. Orange as more than a color, but a method, the void that my words are trying to encircle. Not white space or blank space on a page, but orange space, orange breaths, an orange too full to rhyme or offer back an echo. A source, a center, the place where I practice learning to be without seeing or to see in new ways.

I want to channel the orange, conjure it into existence, inhabit its invisible space, learn to see it new ways.

Think citrus fruit leaves in late fall turmeric
Think cheese puffs Planters cheese balls extra sharp cheddar cheese
Think candied slices from the Sears candy counter sherbet Betty Crocker au gratin potatoes
Think surprise pumpkins growing in the back yard candy corn pumpkins before a swim meet
Think construction cones road closed signs for races spray paint around cracks in the asphalt
Think almost red 1974 VW bugs
Think buoys butterflies missing mountains
Think orange orange orange orange orange

yard work: 30 minutes
43 degrees

After all the discussion about yard work (Schuyler) and everyday chores (Ammons), I decided to document my yard work today. While Scott tried to figure out a way to straighten are tall trees (arborvitae) which are leaning too far to stage left (if you’re looking from inside the house and out the window), I was on poop patrol. In past winters, I’ve tried to stay on top of this relentless task, watching where Delia pooped and digging it out of the snow. Not this year. Did I ever pick it up? I don’t think so. As a result, the yard is filled with poop, and because everything is thawing now, it’s soggy, gooey poop. Gross, I guess. It doesn’t really bother me. I filled up entire Target plastic bag with poop, then decided I might wait until it all dries out a bit more. At one point, in awe of the amount of poop on the ground, I called out to Scott without thinking, Holy shit! Literally.

I looked through a few more A. R. Ammons poems this morning, but they were all so long. Garbage should be arriving in the mail today, so I’ll wait for that to study him more. Instead, here’s a great poem by Gary Snyder from is collection Riprap, which I’ve been thinking of buying for a few years now.

Thin Ice/ Gary Synder

Walking in February
A warm day after a long freeze
On an old logging road
Below Sumas Mountain
Cut a walking stick of alder,
Looked down through clouds
On wet fields of the Nooksack—
And stepped on the ice
Of a frozen pool across the road.
It creaked
The white air under
Sprang away, long cracks
Shot out in the black,
My cleated mountain boots
Slipped on the hard slick
—like thin ice—the sudden
Feel of an old phrase made real—
Instant of frozen leaf,
Icewater, and staff in hand.
“Like walking on thin ice—”
I yelled back to a friend,
It broke and I dropped
Eight inches in