sept 14/SWIM!

1.5 loops
lake nokomis main beach
79 degrees
windy choppy

So glad I wore my wetsuit! Also glad that I’m an excellent swimmer who doesn’t panic easily. That was a tough swim. And that was some rough water. Normally in an open swim, even one where I’ve picked up the pace or am swimming for more than an hour, my heart rate stays between 120 and 130. In today’s swim, my heart rate was 158. Wow.

10 Things

  1. seagulls, part 1: more than a dozen, floating in the water
  2. seagulls, part 2: flying furiously, stirred up by a little kid chasing them from shore
  3. before my swim: an almost empty beach, the sand had been tamped down by a park vehicle’s wheels
  4. after my swim: 3 sunbathers and one guy in jammers (men’s swim shorts that look like bike shorts) about to swim
  5. whitecaps
  6. swam over a few ghost vines reaching up from the bottom
  7. the giant swans are still in the water, tethered together by a dock
  8. only one sailboat with a white sail out in the water
  9. cloudy, murky water, impossible to even see my hand in front of me below the surface
  10. before the swim: a motorcycle pulling into the parking lot, blasting “Love Shack” — you’re what? tin roof … rusted

an unexpected ramble about libraries and unfamiliar places and my vision struggles

Picked up my first physical (non ebook) at the library yesterday. Last time I’ve been inside the library was sometime in early 2020, before the pandemic, and before the library suffered heavy fire damage during the George Floyd uprising, when white supremacists tried to burn it down.

There are lots of reasons I haven’t made it back to the library since then — I mostly read ebooks which you check out online because the light from the screen is always bright enough for me, while I often have to read physical books outside in direct sun to see the words. During and after the pandemic, I’ve been less willing to go into public spaces. I can’t drive anymore and the library is too close for a bus, but too far for an easy/quick walk.

Maybe the biggest reason: I’ve been scared. Walking into a building, I can’t read the signs that tell me where to go or notify me of something, like a new policy. What if I can’t find where to go? What if they’ve changed how to pick up holds, where to check them out? Of course, I could ask and I have been willing to do so, but it’s hard. Even if I ask, first I have to endure that moment of unknowing and confusion, when I enter a building and can’t see people’s faces, read signs, orient myself quickly.* This is Emily Dickinson’s moment in “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark” — A Moment — We uncertain step/For newness of the night –. Also, even though I’ve been working on it, it’s still hard to ask for help — to take the time, to bother someone, to not know how to do something. I’m hoping asking will get easier and I’ll care less and less about having to do it. For now, I have a different solution: Scott (or my kids or a friend) can come with me to a new place the first time, to help with any confusion I might have. Once I know how it works, I can come back on my own.

* To add to this: it’s not just that I’m uncertain, confused. Sometimes, my brain makes very bad guesses — often the exact opposite of what is actually there — and I overconfidently act on them. The more wrong I am, the more likely I am to boldly act. This is embarrassing — I look stupid or sound crazy/ridiculous, but it is also dangerous. Scott has witnessed this enough times to verify my assessment. I believe this is related to my failing vision, but I don’t know how. So strange and frustrating because I don’t seem to have any control over it, and I like to have control.

Gary Snyder’s Riprap

The book I had requested and picked up is one I’ve wanted to read for several years now: Gary Snyder’s Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems. I read/skimmed through it yesterday afternoon, and there are several poems that I’d like to read closely and study. I think they might help me with my series of Haunts poems. I like his sparse, matter-of-fact approach. I also like his love for walking/hiking. I think that I’ll devote the second half of September to his work! I just requested a few more books from the library.

Here’s a poem I’d like to start with:

Above Pate Valley/ Gary Snyder

We finished clearing the last
Section of trail by noon,
High on the ridge-side
Two thousand feet above the creek
Reached the pass, went on
Beyond the white pine groves,
Granite shoulders, to a small
Green meadow watered by the snow,
Edged with Aspen—sun
Straight high and blazing
But the air was cool.
Ate a cold fried trout in the
Trembling shadows. I spied
A glitter, and found a flake
black volcanic glass—obsidian—
By a flower. Hands and knees
Pushing the Bear grass, thousands
Of arrowhead leavings over a
Hundred yards. Not one good
Head, just razor flakes
On a hill snowed all but summer deer,
They came to camp. On their
Own trails. I followed my own
Trail here. Picked up the cold-drill,
Pick, singlejack, and sack
Of dynamite
Ten thousand years.

I want to spend more time with this. After the 3rd or 4th reading: love the line breaks and how they keep it moving. Also how some of the lines have new meaning when read alone:

Edged with Aspen–sun
Hundred yards. Not one good