nov 27/SHOVELBIKERUN

shovel: 35 minutes
about 8 inches of wet snow
deck/front sidewalk

The first serious snow of the season. I think this stuff is going to stay. No more running down below on my favorite part of the trail unless I get some snow shoes.

bike: 15 minutes
bike stand, basement

At the end of November, I will have filled all 3 of my rings on my apple watch for 6 months straight. Since shoveling didn’t burn enough calories, I had to add in some biking and a little bit of running on the treadmill.

run: about a mile
treadmill, basement

Listened to my playlist and ran a little. I don’t mind running for a short time on the treadmill but I’m not sure if I could run for a long time. Maybe I should try it once this winter?

nov 26/RUN

5.25 miles
franklin loop
36 degrees

What a great run! So beautiful and brown and calm outside. Tonight the first winter storm arrives and tomorrow the gorge will be white, most likely until March or April. I have loved this late fall running when the temperature is in the 30s and the paths are bare. And I will love winter running and the crunching snow, the impossibly beautiful branches painted white. Felt strong and relaxed. Ended my run at the overlook to check out the wider view then hiked down the gravel trail to the ravine. Lots of water coming out of the sewer pipe, making its way to the river. At the first ledge, the water was dribbling, sounding like the shower when I’m outside of the bathroom. At the second ledge, the water was moving more swiftly, sounding like when I’m inside the bathroom, under the shower. Really cool. As I was running, then later walking, I kept thinking about how this was probably the last bare day of the year. I will miss the way the blueish gray water complements the rich brown forest and the sweet smell of mulching leaves and the view above the rim of the gorge on the path that winds through the tunnel of trees (and doesn’t get plowed in the winter).

Four-Word Lines
May Swenson – 1913-1989

Your eyes are just
like bees, and I
feel like a flower.
Their brown power makes
a breeze go over
my skin. When your
lashes ride down and
rise like brown bees’
legs, your pronged gaze
makes my eyes gauze.
I wish we were
in some shade and
no swarm of other
eyes to know that
I’m a flower breathing
bare, laid open to
your bees’ warm stare.
I’d let you wade
in me and seize
with your eager brown
bees’ power a sweet
glistening at my core.

nov 25/RUN

4 miles
trestle turn around + extra
42 degrees/ 16 mph wind

Listened to my playlist. Sunny. Saw my shadow a few times but she didn’t lead me–I bet she was avoiding the awful wind. Ran into the wind most of the time as I headed north. Don’t remember admiring the river that much but did notice the railroad trestle. So easy to see now that the leaves are all gone! Briefly mistook a trash can for a person. Felt too warm. Took off my outer layer at the half way point.

A pretty good run, even with the wind. Allowed me to forget about kids playing video games too much, refrigerators needing to be defrosted but hopefully not replaced, snow storms messing up Thanksgiving plans, a wonderful dog demanding too much attention.

November
Lucy Larcom

Who said November’s face was grim?
Who said her voice was harsh and sad?
I heard her sing in wood paths dim,
I met her on the shore, so glad,
So smiling, I could kiss her feet!
There never was a month so sweet.

October’s splendid robes, that hid
The beauty of the white-limbed trees,
Have dropped in tatters; yet amid
Those perfect forms the gazer sees
A proud wood-monarch here and there
Garments of wine-dipped crimson wear.

In precious flakes the autumnal gold
Is clinging to the forest’s fringe:
Yon bare twig to the sun will hold
Each separate leaf, to show the tinge
Of glorious rose-light reddening through
Its jewels, beautiful as few.

Where short-lived wild-flowers bloomed and died
The slanting sunbeams fall across
Vine-broideries, woven from side to side
Above mosaics of tinted moss.
So does the Eternal Artist’s skill
Hide beauty under beauty still.

And, if no note of bee or bird
Through the rapt stillness of the woods
Or the sea’s murmurous trance be heard,
A Presence in these solitudes
Upon the spirit seems to press
The dew of God’s dear silences.

And if, out of some inner heaven,
With soft relenting comes a day
Whereto the heart of June is given, —
All subtle scents and spicery
Through forest crypts and arches steal,
With power unnumbered hurts to heal.

Through yonder rended veil of green,
That used to shut the sky from me,
New glimpses of vast blue are seen;
I never guessed that so much sea
Bordered my little plot of ground,
And held me clasped so close around.

This is the month of sunrise skies
Intense with molten mist and flame;
Out of the purple deeps arrive
Colors no painter yet could name:
Gold-lilies and the cardinal-flower
Were pale against this gorgeous hour.

Still lovelier when athwart the east
The level beam of sunset falls:
The tints of wild-flowers long deceased
Glow then upon the horizon walls;
Shades of the rose and violet
Close to their dear world lingering yet.

What idleness, to moan and fret
For any season fair, gone by!
Life’s secret is not guessed at yet;
Veil under veil its wonders lie.
Through grief and loss made glorious
The soul of past joy lives in us.

More welcome than voluptous gales
This keen, crisp air, as conscience clear:
November breathes no flattering tales;—
The plain truth-teller of the year,
Who wins her heart, and he alone,
Knows she has sweetness all her own.

Yes! Lucy gets how wonderful November is.

nov 24/RUN

4 miles
marshall hill
40 degrees

Listened to a playlist. Noticed the shimmering water on the river and in the ravine. What a beautiful view of the gorge from the lake street bridge! Encountered a roller skier, bikers, dogs, a trot of runners. Felt strong and capable and happy.

nov 23/RUN

4 miles
trestle turn around + extra
32 degrees

I think I got my layers right today: 1 shirt, vest, pair of running tights. Not too hot or too cold. My shadow led me as we ran north. Do I remember anything else from my run? Encountered a roller skier. Lots of runners. I think 2 of them were in shorts. At least 1 bike. Dogs, walkers. Heard a saw buzzing across the parkway. Counted to 4 as I ran. Ended at the overlook. Today was one of those runs that felt great and also like nothing–time stopped, I was just there at the gorge moving.

Speaking of runners in shorts: last night as we (Scott, me, our son) drove back from a concert on the river road, we saw a runner running in complete darkness with shorts and no shirt on. The temperature was 25/feels like around 15. What the hell? He didn’t have anything with him–no sweatshirt to put on if he got cold. I hope he made it home okay.

Like Coins, November
BY ELIZABETH KLISE VON ZERNECK

We drove past late fall fields as flat and cold
as sheets of tin and, in the distance, trees

were tossed like coins against the sky. Stunned gold
and bronze, oaks, maples stood in twos and threes:

some copper bright, a few dull brown and, now
and then, the shock of one so steeled with frost

it glittered like a dime. The autumn boughs
and blackened branches wore a somber gloss

that whispered tails to me, not heads. I read
memorial columns in their trunks; their leaves

spelled UNUM, cent; and yours, the only head . . .
in penny profile, Lincoln-like (one sleeve,

one eye) but even it was turning tails
as russet leaves lay spent across the trails.

What a cool idea to think about November trees as looking like coins. Love: “the shock of one so steeled with frost/it glittered like a dime.” and “blackened branches work a somber gloss/that whispered tails to me, not heads.”

nov 22/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls loop
23 degrees/feels like 14

What a wonderful run! Love the cold air and the sun and the clear view through the trees to the river. Ran south today to the falls. Was greeted by the Daily Walker who was heading north on the path. Heard some kids playing at their school playground. Noticed someone ahead of me turning down to the Winchell Trail at 42nd. They were wearing a heavy coat and shorts. Shorts when it feels like 14 degrees doesn’t surprise anymore, having lived here in Minnesota for the last 16 years. Approaching the falls, I could hear the water still roaring. The sound of it mixed with car traffic and a leaf blower. The water is very high at the top. I wonder when it will freeze. Running back north, I passed another runner. For about a minute I could hear their footsteps behind me. Didn’t see any roller skiers today or fat tires.

Checked out May Swenson’s poetry collection, Nature, from the library the other day and found this poem:

View to the North
May Swenson

As you grow older, its gets colder.
You see through things.
I’m looking through the trees,

their torn and thinning leaves,
to where chill blue water
is roughened by wind.

Day by day the scene opens,
enlarges, rips of space
appear where full branches

used to snug the view.
Soon it will be wide, stripped,
entirely unobstructed:

I’ll see right through
the twining waves, to
the white horizon, to the place

where the North begins.
Magnificent! I’ll be thinking
while my eyeballs freeze.

nov 20/RUN

4 miles
trestle turn around + extra
40 degrees

What a wonderful run on an overcast day! The sky seems so full, the air so thick. Rain and maybe snow moving in. As I ran through the tunnel of trees and looked down at the forest, I noticed (not for the first time) the black sewer pipe with the white plastic cap sticking out of the slope. A few minutes later I looked up and saw a squirrel’s nest, normally hidden from view by a thick veil of green leaves. And I thought about how many mysteries are solved in November: How does the water from the neighborhood make its way to the river? Sewer pipes in the slope. How high up are we and where is the bottom? There’s the forest floor, not too far down. Where does the trail that winds through the trees begin, end? At a bench near the franklin bridge. Where do the squirrels go when they’re not annoying me? A big nest up at the top of that one tree. Where does the water weep and seep through the limestone cliff? The seeping water freezes in the cold, creating white patches easy to spot. One mystery not yet solved: Down on the sand flats, just before the beach ends and the trail travels back into the forest, is that two people fishing or two trees standing? Running high on the gorge, I’ve stared intently at the mystery forms twice as I ran by and I still can’t decide.

Stopped to stare at the thing on top of the tall boulder: a mitten with fur lining. Realized it was placed on top of the stack stones to keep them from falling off. Can’t decide if I appreciate this or not.

[Lately when sorrows come]
Susan Laughter (law – ter) Meyers

Lately when sorrows come—fast, without warning—
whipping their wings down the sky,
I know to let them.
Not inviting them, but allowing each
with a deep breath as if inhaling a wish I can’t undo.

Some days the sky is so full of sorrows
they could be mistaken for shadows of unnamed
gods flapping the air with their loose black sleeves:
the god of head-on collisions,
the god of amputated limbs,
the god of I’ll-dress-you-in-mourning.

Is the buzz in the August trees,
that pulsing husk of repetition, an omen?
I hear it build to a final shaking. I hear it build
louder and louder, then nothing.
Like a long, picaresque novel that’s suddenly over.
Like the last inning of kickball until the rain.

What falls from the sky is not always rain
or any kind of weather. Call it precipitous.
I’m fooling myself, of course. Wearing sorrow
is nothing like skin shedding water.
It’s more like the weight of a cloak of crows.

And yet the sun still shines on the honey locust
arching its fringe over grass. Lit, too,
the pasture and its barbwire strung from post
to leaning post. See how the stump by the road
is rotting and how the small yellow leaves, twirling,
catch light on their way to the ground.

The more times I read this poem, the more I love it. A cloak of crows! Call it precipitous! That pulsing husk of repetition! Whipping their wings! So many great lines.

Let it Be, revisited

Before heading out for my run, I started playing around with a poem experiment I started in 2018, based on the phrase (which is on my coffee mug)–Let it be. Here’s a few I came up with:

Let ink trails be a way in
to a world of intelligent trees
who incubate theories
in their subterranean information thoroughfare.

Let indifferent trapezoids be
a model for how to live–
never interested in even, parallel lines
never caring to reach infinitely towards the sky?

Let indian takeout be
what saves us from eating
icky tacos again.

Let incanting toads be what finally
sings us to sleep
so we can dream better dreams
imagining terrains that believe in us.

Let invisible threads be revealed
so we may see how we belong
connected, tethered to each other–
vulnerable to violence yet
also to the inviting touch of another.

Let indefatigable toddlers be
given inside time to quell their irritating tantrums.

Let indigo tunics be required attire
for ill-tempered teetotalers

Let insufferable Todd be
forced to drink iced tea
while we imbibe tequila

nov 19/RUN

6.1 miles
flats turn around
39 degrees

Gloomy and humid. Greeted the Daily Walker. Encountered some squirrels. Admired the tree tunnel and the forest floor. Noticed the seeping water on the limestone cliffs near the U in the flats. All frozen. Ice patches everywhere. Almost looked like raindrops were falling on the river but I didn’t feel them on my skin. Saw some geese hanging out in the park. Ended near the tall boulder. Whatever was on top of it was still there–I think it’s a hat, not a dead animal. It’s always interesting what I see through my cone dystrophy eyes.

Happiness
BY JANE KENYON

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.