may 8/RUN

4.5 miles
veterans’ home loop
61 degrees
humidity: 78%

Went out for my run too late (10:30 am) and paid for it. Very hot. I could feel it in my legs, thick and heavy. I was okay for the first half, but needed to walk a few times in the second half. Too much green air. I could feel it in my lungs, heavy and thick.

I could still see the river through the light green leaves, but I don’t remember what it looked like. Was it blue? Probably. Did I see my shadow? I don’t remember. I didn’t hear or see any rowers.

Lots of people at the falls. I ran up the steps by the bridge right above where the creek water falls, two at a time. Looking down from the high bridge that delivers you to the Veterans’ home, everything looked green. I thought I saw one of those stone bridges below but it looked strange — had it fallen into the rushing water? Not sure. On the grounds of the Veterans’ home, I smelled the freshly mowed grass, noticed the dark streaks of wet grass smeared on the sidewalk. Stopped to admire the water rushing over the concrete at the locks and dam #1. Put in my Sara 2020 playlist.

Listened to birds and shuffling feet as I ran south, Lizzo and Billie Eilish and Nur-D on the way back north.

Mary Ruefle and Green

before the run

As spring happens, the sudden shock of new life everywhere, I’m thinking about green, which makes it a good time to read Mary Ruefle’s prose poem about green sadness:

from My Private Property/ Mary Ruefle

Green sadness is sadness dressed for graduation, it is the
sadness of June, of shiny toasters as they come out of their
boxes, the table laid before a party, the smell of new straw-
berries and dripping roasts about to be devoured; it is the
sadness of the unperceived and therefore never felt and
seldom expressed, except on occasion by polka dancers
and little girls who, in imitation of their grandmothers,
decide who shall have their bunny when they die. Green
sadness weighs no more than an unused handkerchief, it
is the funereal silence of bones beneath the green carpet
of evenly cut grass upon which the bride and groom walk
in joy.

funereal: having the mournful, somber character appropriate to a funeral.

Reading about Ruefle’s “color spectrum of sadness,” somebody else pointed out her final words about her color poems in the last sentence on the last page of her book:

Author’s note: In each of the color pieces, if you substitute the word happiness for the word sadness, nothing changes.

Another thing to note about her note: she describes them as pieces not poems. I wonder if she talks explicitly about how/why/what she names them in an interview somewhere? Answer? I found a 2015 interview with her where (I think) she’s discussing My Private Property and she suggests that it contains fiction, essays, and prose poems, which I’m thinking refers to the color pieces. So I’ll stick with calling them prose poems.

I’m also thinking about green because of the Robin Wall Kimmerer story I encountered in the amazing journal, Emergence. I started listening to her reading of it — she has such a wonderful voice! — but it’s 35 minutes, so it will take some time.

Ancient Green / Robin Wall Kimmerer

One wonderful line I’ve already heard:

Mosses, I think, are like time made visible. They create a kind of botanical forgetting. Shoot by tiny shoot, the past is obscured in green. That’s why we have stories, so we can remember.

Yes, the idea of green obscuring/concealing things. I often think about that as I’m running beside the gorge, unable to see the river or the other side because of so much green.

On today’s run, I hope to think about green.

during the run

My green goal was off to a good start when I spotted a bunny in the alley just before starting to run and thought, the bunny from the line about green sadness, little girls who, in imitation of their grandmothers, decide who shall have their bunny when they die.

10 Green Moments and Feelings

  1. At the start of the run, just above the oak savanna, floating through light green air, both in color and weight
  2. Midway through the run, in Wabun, above Locks and Dam #1, plodding through bright green air, thick and hot
  3. green grass in the boulevard — growing fast
  4. green light shining through the trees — glowing soft
  5. green sinuses, closing up my nose
  6. green voices — kids at the playground
  7. green-stained sidewalks — the whispers of grassy sadness
  8. green sky instead of clean blue air
  9. green weeds pushing through pavers, joining the orange tulips beside Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” at the park
  10. green curiosity — how much of this green am I actually seeing and how much am I conjuring from when I had more cone cells?

As I ran, I also thought about a mood ring poem that I’m revising: incurable. I’m trying to contrast my disdain for searching for a cure for my vision loss which I’m linking to images of pickling, preserving, curing, with my relief in knowing, with some certainty, that there is no cure — this I’m envisioning as being outside in fresh, open spaces with wider views. As I write this description, I think I need to tighten up my fresh images. Anyway, as I ran, I thought that if these images correspond to colors, then curing would be green and fresh would be blue — or should it be another shade (or is it tint) of green?

after the run

a few passages from Ancient Green / Robin Wall Kimmerer:

If success is measured by widespread distribution, they occupy every continent, from the tropics to Antarctica, and live in nearly every habitat, from desert to rainforest. If success is measured by expanse, consider the vast peatlands of the north, blanketed by sphagnum moss. If success is colonization of new places, mosses are the first to occupy new places after an eruption or a forest fire or a nuclear meltdown. If creativity and adaptation are the metrics, mosses have diversified to fill every niche, generating more than eleven thousand uniquely adapted species, an outpouring of biodiversity. If success lies in beauty—well—just look.

Mosses make minimal demands on their surroundings. All they need is a little light, a sheer film of water, and a thin decoction of minerals, delivered by rainwater or dissolution of rock. If they are hydrated and illuminated, they will exuberantly photosynthesize and expand the green carpet. But when times are tough, most simply stop growing and wait until water returns. They don’t die, they just crinkle up and pause, following the rhythms of the natural world, growing in periods of abundance and waiting through periods of scarcity: a wise strategy for life that is in tune with uncertainty.

Moss lifeways offer a strong contrast to the ways we’ve organized our society, which prioritizes relentless growth as the metric of well-being: always getting bigger, producing more, having more. Infinite growth is ecologically impossible and exceedingly destructive, as it demands the transformation of the lives of other beings into raw materials to feed the fiction. Mosses show us another way—the abundance that emanates from self-restraint, from enoughness. Mosses have lived too long on this planet to be seduced by the nonsense of accumulation, the delusion of permanence, the endless striving for productivity. Maybe our heartbeats slow when we sit with mosses because they remind us that contentment could be ours.

Green teachers. Green patience resilience. Green enoughness.