sept 29/RUN

5 miles
river road, north/south
51 degrees, drizzle

Ran through a light drizzle, which I loved. Wasn’t sure how much I would run when I started, but ended up feeling good and running 5 miles. Listened to an Agatha Christie audio book and didn’t think about much. Perhaps if I had remembered before heading out, I would have tried to conjure my mother to run with me. She died 10 years ago today. 10 years. I had imagined that this day would be a bigger deal, that I’d do something important to mark it. But I’m not. Why not? How has it already been 10 years?

sept 27/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
63 degrees

Running north, just after the old stone steps at the double bridge, I noticed that the fence was damaged and covered in caution tape. What happened? Was it a car? Someone on a scooter? Not sure. Farther up on the trail, past the Lake Street bridge, a dog suddenly popped out of the woods. Running back after the trestle turn around, felt like I was flying down the hill. That’s all I remember now, writing this a few days after the run.

sept 26/RUN

4 miles
2 trails + extra
56 degrees!

Finally Fall. Cooler this morning. Listened to an old playlist and felt great. Ran south, under the ford bridge, up to Wabun, down the steep hill above Locks and Dam #1, up the hill to the 44th street parking lot then down to the Winchell Trail. Came home and have been working on my map/guide about running by the gorge for most of the day.

Before heading out to run, learned a little bit more about the Railroad Trestle, or the Short Line Bridge. The train that uses the tracks transports flour from the ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) Mill on Hiawatha. This past spring it was announced that the Mill would be closing in “the next couple of months.” Has it closed yet? What will happen to the bridge now? This mill was the last flour mill in Minneapolis, which used to be called Mill City. Wild.

sept 25/RUN

3.35 miles
trestle turn around + extra
63 degrees

Cooler this morning. Sunny. Less humid. Beautiful. Greeted the Daily Walker. Saw a roller skier. Looked at the river sparkling in the sun and some green leaves shimmering in the wind. Admired more of the purple flowers on the bluff. Thought about the different fences lining the path: wrought iron near the rowing club and in the tunnel of trees, split rail near the trestle, chain link half buried near the 35th street parking lot. Made note of the WPA sign on the big boulder just before lake street. Tried to stay relaxed and even in my breathing and arm swinging. Wished I would have counted the number of times the running and biking paths separate on this route. Maybe next time.

the trestle

Earlier this morning, before my run, I started to think about the Railroad trestle and its history so I looked it up. It’s called the Short Line Bridge and it was built in 1880. It carried passengers from Minneapolis to St. Paul until 1971. Now it has a single track and is owned by Canadian Pacific (CP). In the time I have been running by/near this trestle (5 years on a regular basis), I can only remember seeing 2 trains. One crossing right over my head as I ran under it and one traveling on the tracks as I biked on the Midtown Greenway trail which starts at the end of the bridge and follows the trail across Minneapolis. For the past decade, ever since the greenway was built, bikers have been interested in extending the greenway over this bridge and to St. Paul and the bike trails there. I haven’t had time to read it closely yet, but here’s an article on the most recent efforts. It would be awesome if they could do this!

To the Light of September
BY W. S. MERWIN

When you are already here
you appear to be only
a name that tells of you
whether you are present or not

and for now it seems as though
you are still summer
still the high familiar
endless summer
yet with a glint
of bronze in the chill mornings
and the late yellow petals
of the mullein fluttering
on the stalks that lean
over their broken
shadows across the cracked ground

but they all know
that you have come
the seed heads of the sage
the whispering birds
with nowhere to hide you
to keep you for later

you
who fly with them

you who are neither
before nor after
you who arrive
with blue plums
that have fallen through the night

perfect in the dew

“But they all know/that you have come” Yes. I love how this poem captures my thoughts this fall about September and how it is fall but still feels almost like summer but not quite. It’s summer until you see the leaves changing color, or the light shifting earlier, or the geese wildly calling out in the evening as they head south.

sept 24/RUN

1.5 miles
part of 2 trails
82 degrees

Is this my new Tuesday tradition? Doing a short run in the afternoon to make sure I get my move goal? Maybe. If I do it next Tuesday, I hope it’s not as hot as today or last Tuesday. The thing I remember most about this run is being on the lower trail and hearing all the car whooshing by above my head. Very intense. Lots of people heading home, I guess.

Nature Aria
Yi Lei
translated by Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi

Autumn wind chases in
From all directions
And a thousand chaste leaves
Give way.

Scatter in me the seeds
Of a thousand saplings.
Let grow a grassy heaven.
On my brow: a sun.
This bliss is yours, Living
World, and alone it endures.
Music at midnight.
Young wine.
Lovers hand in hand
By daylight, moonlight.
Living World, hold me
In your mouth,

Slip on your frivolous shoes
And dance with me. My soul
Is the wild vine
Who alone has grasped it,
Who has seen through the awful plot,
Who will arrive in time to vanquish
The river already heavy with blossoms,
The moon spilling light onto packs
Of men. What is sadder than witless
Wolves, wind without borders,
Nationless birds, small gifts
Laden with love’s intentions?

Fistfuls of rain fall hard, fill
My heart with mud. An old wind
May still come chasing in.
Resurrection fire. And me here
Laughing like a cloud in trousers,
Entreating the earth to bury me.

sept 23/RUN

5 miles
franklin hill
60 degrees

Cooler. Is Fall finally here? Sunny. Calm. Some beautiful light purple wildflowers lining the path. Do they come every year? I’ve never noticed them before. Saw the Daily Walker and a roller skier who called out, “you’re going race pace!” Encountered a few annoying strollers taking over the entire path. Did a lot of counting to 4. 1 2 3 4/ 1 2 3 4/ 1 2 3 4. Reached the bottom of the Franklin hill and immediately turned around without noticing the river. Saw more slashes of orange and red in the trees. Thought more about my writing project and how narrow to make the focus.

A Blank White Page
BY FRANCISCO X. ALARCÓN

is a meadow
after a snowfall
that a poem
hopes to cross

What a beautiful way of describing a blank white page. Speaking of blank white pages, this morning I finished writing in my 4th running/training notebook and started the 5th one. Very satisfying to completely fill so many notebooks.

sept 22/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and two trails
62 degrees
81% humidity

Cooler but still humid. Sunny. A beautiful morning. Enjoyed watching the glowing river through the oak leaves. The falls were roaring and the creek was rushing. Ran by at least 2 wild turkeys under the ford bridge and a black squirrel at the start of the lower path. Noticed that the leaning tree near the 38th street steps is still there but it is no longer adorned with yarn. Why not? And why take the time to remove the yarn yet leave the precariously positioned tree?

sept 21/RUN

1.5 miles
river road, north/south
76 degrees

I’m writing this log entry the next day so I’m not sure what I remember. Ran a little later in the heat and humidity. Listened to an audio book. Noticed that stones were stacked on both of the boulders just past the welcoming oaks and before the tunnel of trees. More leaves on the ground–a lot of orange this year, which I love.

sept 20/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees/ 85% humidity

1 2 3 4/1 2 3 4/1 2 3 4…counted to four over and over again to keep myself steady and moving forward in the heat and humidity (dew point: 69). In the gorge, it’s starting to look like fall even if it doesn’t feel like it. Leaves floating, then littering the ground. Saw some more slashes of red, a few blobs of orange, some yellow stripes. Greeted the Daily Walker and 3 or 4 other runners and walkers. Smelled the sewer pipes. Avoided squirrels.

Thought more about my project and what I’m trying to do with it. Today’s goal: play with some lines of text from the “Great River Greening Management Plan, 2002” and Chapter 2 of the Mississippi Gorge Regional Park Master Plan 2018/2019. Possibly a cento? I’m specifically interested in phrases describing the impact of humans on the gorge and plans for protecting the gorge from humans.

Currently reading Wilder by Claire Wahmanholm which I discovered yesterday. Love it. A mix of free verse with erasures (take from Sagan’s Cosmos!), and prose poems (some based on a letter or the alphabet or an ongoing story she’s telling).

ALMANAC/claire wahmanholm

We head grown leaky. Our heads were full of fissures that wouldn’t seal no matter how tightly we claimed the vises’ jaws around our temples. Our scalps wept until only the present rattled in our ears, bone-dry and rabid. We walked around the corner or had been walking for years. We entered the same empty house at the end of the same dirt road. In every room I found a yellow almanac under the bed and read the same page, which told me the time Neptune would rise, the time civil dust would descend. I pressed the almanac to my head. What was time? What was descend? Whenever I left the house I would take the almanac with me. I put it under my raw-hide pillow, hoping that while I slept, my head would somehow mend. Every night I dreamed of frost spreading across a ragged field, knitting the furrows with its uniform white.

sept 19/RUN

3.1 miles
two trails + extra
72 degrees

Ran south almost to the falls then north until I reached the lower trail at 44th. Hot, again. Totally dazed, out of it, from a cold. When I’m trying to sleep or write it bothers me, but when I’m running it helps to enhance the dreamy, untethered state I like to reach. Listened to my playlist until the lower trail. Then, I don’t remember much. Heard some runners above me, school kids on the playground. Did I look at the river? Not really. Noticed some of the trees weren’t quite as excessively green.

Thought a little about my haibun/running route project and how I’m interested in linking my experience of the gorge with its management by minneapolis park and rec (and longfellow neighborhood and friends of the mississippi river and national parks, including mississippi national river and recreation area mnrra). It’s fascinating to read all the documents online. So many project proposals and detailed information about plants and trails and ecosystems and access.

Found this abecedarian poem on twitter. Love this form and love how it’s in prose form instead of lines. beginning/claire wahmanholm (in wilder)

Right now, I’m really interested in what wild/wilderness means in the context of the gorge and my experiences of it. Maybe this collection of poems will give me some ideas?

sept 18/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around + extra
72 degrees

Listened to my playlist again this morning. Greeted the welcoming oaks, then the Daily Walker. Avoided acorns and park workers mowing the green strips of grass between the walking and biking paths. Dripped a lot of sweat. Smiled and nodded at other runners. Felt tired 2 miles in and decided to try and steady my breathing and slow down, which of course meant I ran my fastest mile…almost 30 seconds faster. Funny how that happens. Warm and sticky after the thunder storms this morning. Noticed how the leaves are changing color. A few trees turning golden, some slashes of red on the low lying bushes. The floodplain forest is still green green green. Can’t wait for the leaves to start falling and for everything to turn rusty and brown and then bare.

sept 17/RUN

1.5 miles
two trails (almost)
83 degrees

So hot! Wasn’t planning to run today but then, when I didn’t think I would reach my move goal of 490 calories, decided to do a short run. The things we do to keep a streak going. 114 days now of filling all 3 rings on my apple watch. Very glad I did. Listened to a playlist and forgot that I had a cold–I always feel less sick when I’m running. I think I was the only person I saw running. I imagined people driving by looking at me like I was crazy running in this heat with the bright sun and not much shade. Ah September, the annoying month of being teased with wonderful fall weather and then cruelly tricked with mini heat waves.

Found this poem while searching for “heat” on the poetry foundation site. I feel like it really fits in ways that I don’t quite understand yet.

The Heat of Autumn
BY JANE HIRSHFIELD

The heat of autumn
is different from the heat of summer.
One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider.
One is a dock you walk out on,
the other the spine of a thin swimming horse
and the river each day a full measure colder.
A man with cancer leaves his wife for his lover.
Before he goes she straightens his belts in the closet,
rearranges the socks and sweaters inside the dresser
by color. That’s autumn heat:
her hand placing silver buckles with silver,
gold buckles with gold, setting each
on the hook it belongs on in a closet soon to be empty,
and calling it pleasure.

sept 16/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees/72% humidity/dew point: 65

Hot. Humid. Even though it was sunny, I don’t remember seeing my shadow. She was probably hiding in the cool shade down by the river. A squirrel, rustling in the brush, darted out right in front of me and then quickly ran back into the woods. At first I was listening to my audio book, but around the time I reached the Welcoming Oaks, I decided to turn it off and listen to my breathing, the traffic, the gorge. I counted to 4 over and over again. ONE two three four ONE two three four. Without headphones, I also managed to hear the loud cracks of acorns hitting the asphalt. Crack! Crack! Not one landed on my head or near my feet. And I heard at least one goose honking up above–were they confused by the weather. Is it summer or fall or what? As I write this I hear Scott annoyingly pointing out, “Technically, it’s still summer. Fall starts on September 21st.”

I copied this poem into one of my notebooks last year, but I don’t think I ever posted it on this log. I love how the oak tree says to only eat fruits and vegetables.

Elegy with Apples, Pomegranates, Bees, Butterflies, Thorn Bushes, Oak, Pine, Warblers, Crows, Ants, and Worms
Hayan Charara – 1971-

The trees alongside the fence
bear fruit, the limbs and leaves speeches
to you and me. They promise to give the world
back to itself. The apple apologizes
for those whose hearts bear too much zest
for heaven, the pomegranate
for the change that did not come
soon enough. Every seed is a heart, every heart
a minefield, and the bees and butterflies
swarm the flowers on its grave.
The thorn bushes instruct us
to tell our sons and daughters
who carry sticks and stones
to mend their ways.
The oak tree says to eat
only fruits and vegetables;
the pine says to eat all the stirring things.
My neighbor left long ago and did not hear
any of this. In a big country
the leader warns the leader of a small country
there must be change or else.
Birds are the same way, coming and going,
wobbling thin branches.
The warblers express pain, the crows regret,
or is it the other way around?
The mantra today is the same as yesterday.
We must become different.
The plants must, the animals,
and the ants and worms, just like the carmakers,
the soap makers before them,
and the manufacturers of rubber
and the sellers of tea, tobacco, and salt.
Such an ancient habit, making ourselves new.
My neighbor looks like my mother
who left a long time ago
and did not hear any of this.
Just for a minute, give her back to me,
before she died, kneeling
in the dirt under the sun, calling me darling
in Arabic, which no one has since.

sept 15/RUN

2.1 miles
2 trails
62 degrees/humidity: 94%!

An organized run took over the path–marathon training. Trots of runners forcing me to aggressively claim my own space on the upper path. Sunny. Humid. Happy to turn down at the 44th street parking lot and take the lower trail. Hardly any traffic. Saw the shining river. Heard the water trickling out of the sewer pipe. Felt my legs getting stronger. Noticed how the leaning tree near the 38th street steps is still leaning. Forgot to check if the yarn is still dangling from it.

Searching for “leaning tree poetry” on google, I found this fabulous poem on the third page of results. This poem! I want to spend some time with it, thinking about knowing and writing and language and experience and how words do and don’t matter.

Learning the Trees
BY HOWARD NEMEROV

Before you can learn the trees, you have to learn
The language of the trees. That’s done indoors,
Out of a book, which now you think of it
Is one of the transformations of a tree.

The words themselves are a delight to learn,
You might be in a foreign land of terms
Like samara, capsule, drupe, legume and pome,
Where bark is papery, plated, warty or smooth.

But best of all are the words that shape the leaves—
Orbicular, cordate, cleft and reniform—
And their venation—palmate and parallel—
And tips—acute, truncate, auriculate.

Sufficiently provided, you may now
Go forth to the forests and the shady streets
To see how the chaos of experience
Answers to catalogue and category.

Confusedly. The leaves of a single tree
May differ among themselves more than they do
From other species, so you have to find,
All blandly says the book, “an average leaf.”

Example, the catalpa in the book
Sprays out its leaves in whorls of three
Around the stem; the one in front of you
But rarely does, or somewhat, or almost;

Maybe it’s not catalpa? Dreadful doubt.
It may be weeks before you see an elm
Fanlike in form, a spruce that pyramids,
A sweetgum spiring up in steeple shape.

Still, pedetemtim as Lucretius says,
Little by little, you do start to learn;
And learn as well, maybe, what language does
And how it does it, cutting across the world

Not always at the joints, competing with
Experience while cooperating with
Experience, and keeping an obstinate
Intransigence, uncanny, of its own.

Think finally about the secret will
Pretending obedience to Nature, but
Invidiously distinguishing everywhere,
Dividing up the world to conquer it,

And think also how funny knowledge is:
You may succeed in learning many trees
And calling off their names as you go by,
But their comprehensive silence stays the same.

sept 14/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
60 degrees

Saw my shadow, a roller skier, groups of runners, bikers, squirrels, dogs, the river. Heard the doppler effect on a runner’s radio and some rowers yelling on the river. Counted to 4: 1 2 3 4/ 1 2 3 4 Didn’t think about anything except running and breathing. Heard some people raking leaves in their yard across the boulevard. Lots of people–including me–wearing blue shirts.

Doppler Effect
Arthur Sze – 1950-

Stopped in cars, we are waiting to accelerate
along different trajectories. I catch the rising

pitch of a train—today one hundred nine people
died in a stampede converging at a bridge;

radioactive water trickles underground
toward the Pacific Ocean; nickel and copper

particulates contaminate the Brocade River.
Will this planet sustain ten billion people?

Ah, switch it: a spider plant leans toward
a glass door, and six offshoots dangle from it;

the more I fingered the clay slab into a bowl,
the more misshapen it became; though I have

botched this, bungled that, the errancies
reveal it would not be better if things happened

just as I wished; a puffer fish inflates on deck;
a burst of burnt rubber rises from pavement.

Doppler effect (noun):

a change in the frequency with which waves (as of sound or light) from a given source reach an observer when the source and the observer are in motion with respect to each other so that the frequency increases or decreases according to the speed at which the distance is decreasing or increasing. [Merriam Webster]