august 11/RUN

3.2 miles
marshall hill
76 degrees

Ran with STA before I left for my trip up to Lake Superior and the North Shore. Over the lake street bridge, up the marshall hill, down the east river road trail, back over the bridge, through the minnehaha academy parking lot. Don’t remember anything about the run–we stopped very briefly at a light at the bottom of the hill; encountered someone walking into Black Coffee and Waffle Bar; and marveled at half of tree, on the ground, blocking the sidewalk, the remaining half looking completely dead inside.

august 9/RUNSWIM

run: 4.35 miles
minnehaha falls and back
70 degrees
humidity: 93% / dew point: 68

Ran south to the falls. More rain last night. The dirt, muddy. The tree branches, dripping. Stopped to check out the falls. More water falling. Also noticed how much I was sweating. Hard for my sweat to evaporate when the dew point is so high. Heading north, I turned down on the Winchell Trail. The mud was slippery and the path was crowded–more people on it than I’ve seen in weeks. No noise from the sewer pipe at 44th, but the one at 42nd was gushing. Los of cars and bikes rushing by on the path. A good run.

moment of curiosity

Just south of the double bridge at 44th, the walking trail splits from the bike trail and briefly descends down before climbing back up to meet with the bike trail beside the road again. This path is bumpy and narrow and steep–a perfect place to trip. And it adds an additional mini hill to climb. If you stay up above, the trail is all downhill. I never used to take it because it was easier (and safer) to stay up above, but lately I’ve been enjoying it. Today, as I was climbing out of it, I noticed a suitcase and a lampshade tucked away, under the low branches of a tree, hidden from the road. Who put it there, I wondered, and why? Had they left, and were they coming back for it later? Did they live down below, by the river? Had they hidden it a few days ago, or much longer? What did this suitcase contain? Clothes? Money?

swim: 2.25 miles / 6 loops
cedar lake open swim
84 degrees

A great Cedar Lake swim! Smooth and not too crowded. Near the shore, the water was very cold, but as I swam out deeper, it warmed up. I did a better job of sighting the orange buoy at the far beach and staying away from other swimmers. The thing I remember most: so much milfoil! Scratchy, persistent. It felt like some of it got in my suit–rough and irritating. It wrapped around my shoulder, my arm. Moved slowly down my back. No fish, some paddle boarders, a few planes.

At point beach, there’s a sandbar near the shore, but very soon, it drops away. How deep is the water here? I’m not sure. In other spots, where you can touch bottom, there’s lots of vegetation. The floor feels slimy and soft and gross. At east/hidden beach, the bottom is mostly small rocks.

Rounding the buoy, starting a new loop, a swimmer coming from shore cut me off and I had to stop for a second. I wasn’t upset because I’m never sure who has the right of way here. The swimmer seemed like they were going pretty fast. I followed behind, steadily. I think they almost ran into a few other swimmers. Just before we reached the far buoy, I passed them. Is it bad that this made me feel good? I’m not really competitive in the water, but I do enjoy passing people, not because I’m beating them (well, not too much because of this), but because swimming past someone slower than you makes you feel like you’re swimming fast. It’s fun to feel fast–powerfully gliding on top of the water.

I wanted to be surprised./ Jane Hirshfield

To such a request, the world is obliging.

In just the past week, a rotund porcupine,
who seemed equally startled by me.

The man who swallowed a tiny microphone
to record the sounds of his body,
not considering beforehand how he might remove it.

A cabbage and mustard sandwich on marbled bread.

How easily the large spiders were caught with a clear plastic cup
surprised even them.

I don’t know why I was surprised every time love started or ended.
Or why each time a new fossil, Earth-like planet, or war.
Or that no one kept being there when the doorknob had clearly.

What should not have been so surprising:
my error after error, recognized when appearing on the faces of others.

What did not surprise enough:
my daily expectation that anything would continue,
and then that so much did continue, when so much did not.

Small rivulets still flowing downhill when it wasn’t raining.
A sister’s birthday.

Also, the stubborn, courteous persistence.
That even today please means please,
good morning is still understood as good morning,

and that when I wake up,
the window’s distant mountain remains a mountain,
the borrowed city around me is still a city, and standing.

Its alleys and markets, offices of dentists,
drug store, liquor store, Chevron.
Its library that charges—a happy surprise—no fine for overdue books:
Borges, Baldwin, Szymborska, Morrison, Cavafy.

—2018

I like this poem and thinking about wanting to be surprised, and then about the differences between experiencing pleasure and joy and love and surprise. Is one of these more important than the others?

august 8/SWIM

2 miles / 2 loops
lake nokomis open swim
73 degrees

Very nice open swim! Super smooth water and overcast. Not too crowded and not too bright. Still couldn’t see the buoys that well, but it didn’t matter. What a joy to be swimming this morning. I encountered some swimmers–was seriously routed by one–but mostly felt alone. Just me and the water. Back to the swimmer who routed me: I was swimming on the inside, trying to get ahead of them. They kept drifting in the wrong direction. Finally they almost ran into me. I stopped for a second, they did too. Then I was able to go around them. A strange moment–not upsetting or irritating, just strange. I don’t remember seeing (or sensing) any fish. No loud noises or strange smells or choppy waves. No milfoil. No ducks. One seagull, perched on a white buoy near the little beach. At least one plane. No sailboats or paddle boarders. No conversations with other swimmers.

august 7/RUN

5.75 miles
franklin hill turn around
69 degrees / soft rain

Finally, rain! Not enough, but still helpful. When it stopped for a few minutes, I decided to go out for a run. Ran north on the river road trail all the way to the bottom of the Franklin hill. Turned around, ran all the way back up to the bridge, then walked a few minutes before running again. Everything wet and green. Heard lots of singing birds and imagined their song was a celebration for the rain. So much dripping. I couldn’t tell what was rain and what was water falling from the trees. I didn’t care. It all felt refreshing. Encountered some runners but it wasn’t too crowded for a late Saturday morning. Felt strong and happy and relaxed. I’m running slower these days, but it doesn’t feel too slow, which is nice.

Ran north listening to the gorge, ran south listening to a playlist–Todd Rundgren, The Black Keys, Billy Joel

moment of the run

Heading down into the tunnel of the trees, fog had settled in the mid-story canopy. Everything hazy, a soft white, then a dark green. As I ran deeper into the trees, the air cleared. Then, heading up and out of it on the other side, the fog returned. Such a cool experiences. Mysterious, other-worldly, bewildering.

Small Kindnesses/ Danusha Laméris

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”

I love the idea of small, brief moments of exchange carving out a sacred space together. Some might call these “good manners,” but I don’t like how that phrase suggests that displaying/practicing them is about ME and how good and moral I am. Small gestures like thanking someone or moving your legs to let them pass is more about another–about seeing and acknowledging them (beholding their existence and their worthiness). To me, these small, repeated rituals are essential for love and for living in the midst of/ with others.

august 6/SWIM

3.25 miles / 3 full loops + 2 mini loops
lake nokomis open swim
72 degrees

A great morning swim. Sunny, bright. Almost impossible to see anything at the start of the loop. I didn’t try, just trusted my strokes and shoulders and some part of me to know where the far shore was. It worked. Swam straight to the little beach and the overturned rowboat. Again, I marvel at how I can swim without seeing, how I swim straight into a background of vague greens and blues–no landmarks or distinctive forms. Water, sky, trees. About halfway to the other shore, I did get a quick flash of the boat bottom, but only once or twice. Also, a few times, people or lifeguards on kayaks popped up in front of me. I had enough time to avoid running into them. My feet didn’t feel strange, my shoulders didn’t hurt. Next time, I’ll have to swim a little longer. Anything else I remember? My goggles are still fogging up sometimes. I think I saw a fish just below me. A few vines of milfoil brushed past me. Some loud planes roared overhead. A seagull was perched on a white buoy I was approaching near the little beach. A few kayaks crossed my path. I mostly breathed every five, but sometimes I breathed every three or three then five.

Another love poem:

The More Loving One/ W. H. Auden – 1907-1973

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

august 5/RUN

run: 3.1 miles
2 trails the no-stress way
69 degrees
dew point: 64

Decided to try a variation on the 2 trails that would hopefully not be as stressful as the way I’ve been going this summer. Instead of heading south on the river road trail, which involves battling cars at the 4 way stop at 35th, and then avoiding pairs or packs of runners and speeding, crowding bikers, I ran on the grassy boulevard between Edmund and the River Road. I crossed over to the trail at 42nd and only had to run up above, on the more crowded trail, for 2 or 3 minutes. Much better! Love (for other runners and bikers + running by the gorge) restored, irritation avoided. Nice.

Shortly before starting my run, it had rained briefly. Not even enough to dampen all of the ground, everywhere patches of dry, parched dirt. Enough to make it all feel wet though, and to hear sprinkling coming out of the sewer instead of just trickling or dribbling.

Ran by the house on Edmund that posts poems in their front windows. No new poems today. Still 3 poems by June Jordan.

As I ran north on the lower trail, I started thinking about my vision. I imagined that I might need a white cane sometime in my 50s and I thought that it won’t bother me. Well, some parts of it will bother me, I’m sure, but I won’t worry about what other people think.

Yesterday at the eye doctor, during one of the tests the doctor said, “Now, this is the worst part.” It wasn’t bad at all for me, so I asked, “Why is this the worst part? It didn’t bother me at all.” He responded, “That’s because you don’t have any cone cells left.” He was shining a super bright light directly into the center of my eyes. For anyone with “normal” vision, the light would have been painfully bright. I’m glad I learned to ask. It’s helpful to know–a little disturbing too to think about how few cones I have left, and how dead the central vision in my eyes is.

It’s Thursday, so usually I’d be doing open swim too but the threat of a severe thunderstorm forced them to cancel. No storm. Bummer.

This month I’m thinking about love. In particular, I’m trying to think about love in new ways, beyond the clichés of what it means to love and how we represent that love. Here are 2 poems that complicate the ultimate symbol of love, the heart. Before posting them I just want to add, in my most grumpiest voice: I really don’t like the heart gesture that so many athletes are making with their hands at the Olympics as a way to signal their love to friends and family back home. Bring back Carol Burnett’s tug of the ear, I say! Much more personal and meaningful than the trendy, empty gesture of the hand-heart, popularized by Taylor Swift in the 2010s. I read that she tested out several different gestures on her audience and stuck with this one when it got the biggest response. Expression of love focus-grouped. I mentioned my complaint to my daughter and she showed me the heart hand signal that her favorite band, BTS, does. A fist with 2 fingers crossed. To me it looked like an actual heart with the fingers representing the aorta. Probably not, but I thought it was cooler.

Heart/ Maggie Smith

A child of, say, six knows you’re not the shape
she’s learned to make by drawing half along a fold,
cutting, then opening. Where do you open?

Where do you carry your dead? There’s no locket
for that–hinged, hanging on a chain that greens
your throat. And the dead inside you, don’t you
hear them breathing? You must have a hole
they can press their gray lips to. If you open–
when you open–will we find them folded inside?
In what shape? I mean what cut shape is made
whole by opening? I mean beside the heart.

Heart to Heart/ Rita Dove –

It’s neither red
nor sweet.
It doesn’t melt
or turn over,
break or harden,
so it can’t feel
pain,
yearning,
regret.

It doesn’t have
a tip to spin on,
it isn’t even
shapely—
just a thick clutch
of muscle,
lopsided,
mute. Still,
I feel it inside
its cage sounding
a dull tattoo:
I want, I want—

but I can’t open it:
there’s no key.
I can’t wear it
on my sleeve,
or tell you from
the bottom of it
how I feel. Here,
it’s all yours, now—
but you’ll have
to take me,
too.

Rita Dove and Maggie Smith are two of my favorite poets.

august 4/SWIM

2.25 miles/ 6 loops
cedar lake open swim
80 degrees

It’s hard to believe that I didn’t like cedar lake a month ago. What a great place to swim! Relaxed, easier to sight–and also easier to stay on course when you can’t sight, less crowded, shorter loops for faster, continuous swimming. It was windy tonight, and choppy in the water. My feet felt a little weird the first few loops, but they didn’t cramp up.

2 memorable things about the swim:

  1. The sky: noticed several planes above me, moving in and out of clouds. At Nokomis, the planes look like sharks circling in the sky, here they look like birds. Stopped mid-swim to determine if what I was seeing above me was a plane or a bird then watched it (a bird) soaring high.
  2. The vegetation: So many vines being stirred up by the wind and the choppy water. Sharp and scratchy, hitting my face, wrapping around my arm. At least one or two traveled down my back, which was very unpleasant. Several years ago, I remember getting part of a vine in my mouth. Gross.

Because the loops are shorter and I have a clear landmark to sight heading back from east (hidden) to point beach, I don’t have to be thinking constantly about where I was going. I could let my mind wander. I know it did, but I can’t remember what I thought about. Possibly about the optometrist appointment I had earlier in the day. Confirmation, yet again, that my vision is deteriorating. Difficult news every time I hear it, yet reassuring too. I’m not making this up, I really can’t see well. The doctor said almost all of my cone cells were gone. Just two tiny islands, one in each eye, protected by the rod cells I have in the very center. He said he was surprised that I could see as well as I could. So strange how vision works. I hardly have any cone cells left, but the few that remain are working so hard that the vision in my right eye is still 20/20 and 20/40 in my left. What? A new worry: possible deterioration of some of my periphery. It’s called paving stone deterioration. It is not that big of a deal, just something to monitor. Still, it’s unsettling to imagine losing some or all of my peripheral too.

I don’t have a poem about love to add here, but I’m thinking about care and my hard working cone cells and protecting rods and what they’re doing for me and the amount of love they show me everyday. This love is not the primary goal, but is still a part of what our bodies do for us everyday until, one day, they don’t: in spite of the odds and the difficulties, they find a way to keep working, even if that “working” barely works, or works in different ways. Does that make sense?

august 3/RUN

run: 3 miles
2 trails
69 degrees

A nice morning for a run, even if the smoke from the Canadian wildfires is still lingering. We are in a drought and everything is dry. Only a trickle out of the sewer at 42nd. My steps on the dirt and gravel sound sharper, crisper and the rustling in the bushes, more ominous. All around the leaves and vines droop, gasping for moisture. Running on the lower trail, I could smell the sewer more than usual. Overripe. Unpleasant. Near the start of my run, I could hear the coxswain calling out on the river.

Mostly I enjoyed my run, but I struggled to find the love for others and not just annoyance. Bikers cutting too close, walkers not giving me enough room. Running south on the upper trail in the morning is a challenge. Too many walkers and bikers, all seeming closer with my vision. I uttered, under my breath, “what the fuck?” several times. After the second or third time I thought, “what is wrong with people?,” I decided that it was not them, or me (which is often my next conclusion in these situations), but the trail. From the spot above the oak savanna to 44th, this stretch is a problem. The running and biking paths only separate a few times, and the bike trail is almost always right next to the road and to speeding cars, traveling too fast on a windy, narrow road intended for pleasure drives not commuting. So, to find the love, I will try to avoid running on this part of the trail. Because of how narrow it is and my constant need to look out for others when I’m on it, it isn’t usually much fun. I’m fine with finding other ways to run south. I might try running on Edmund or in the grassy boulevard again.

Here’s one of Maggie Smith’s most well-known poems. It feels fitting for a month about love and finding the love in spite of the world:

Good Bones/ Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

swim: 2.25 miles / 2.3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
85 degrees

Choppy tonight. So choppy that they removed the green buoys; they were drifting too much. On my first loop, heading towards the little beach, my eyes began to burn. I hadn’t washed enough of the baby wash out that I used to anti-fog my googles. It got so bad, I swam much of it with my eyes closed. Didn’t matter; I still swam straight. I stopped at the white buoy off of the little beach and rinsed my eyes out. Ouch. On the second loop, my feet started feeling weird. Almost like they might cramp up. Unsettling. I paused a few times mid-lake to try to relax them. Stopped after loop 2 thinking I was probably done. Not tired, just scared of foot cramps in the middle of the lake, too far from a shore. Decided to try one more loop. Still felt weird, so I turned around at the second buoy and headed back. Not as much as I would have liked to swim, but still over 2 miles. Met STA for a beer at Sandcastle. Even with the problems in the water, it was a nice night.

august 2/SWIM

2 miles
lake nokomis main beach
75 degrees

Finally, I was able to swim again! Last time I swam was Thursday. Too much smoke all weekend. I ran the most miles in a week that I have in a while, but I missed swimming. Swam around the white buoys at lake nokomis. There might have been one or two people in the water, much nearer to shore. My only companions: an occasional rower or boarder and a seagull that liked to perch on the white buoys as I swam by. I was happy to have the bird’s company, although I worried that they were there to catch a fish–which meant that I was also swimming with a lot of fish–and I wondered if they might try to attack me as I swam by. They didn’t. A few times they flew away, off to another buoy.

Because I’ve been swimming across the lake almost every day, I haven’t had much time to swim laps/loops around the buoys. It’s not as exciting, but it’s less crowded, more relaxed, and I don’t have to worry about sighting or getting off course. I’d like do more of these small loops but I don’t know if I have time (or the energy to add even more swimming).

The water was cold, but felt great. Very calm, no chop. Sunny, but not too bright. My goggles fogged up again. Is it time for a new pair? Heard lots of sloshing and, at one point, a loud shriek from shore. A kid freaking out. I breathed every 5 strokes and worked on closing my mouth before I put it back in the water. Also tried to pull harder and push by hand down more forcefully as it went under my torso. Thought about my dr’s appointment this morning for all of my sinus troubles this last year. No real answers for the sinus pressure or why my jaw would tighten up and my nose and eyes would feel like I had an iron blanket on my face. Was it largely due to stress over the pandemic? It’s both unsettling and fascinating how we respond to stress and anxiety in such physical ways.

Here’s a song about love that I heard on the radio this weekend by one of my favorite Schoolhouse Rock Singers (only second to my ultimate favorite, Blossom Dearie): Bob Dorough. I have always loved song lyrics and the interesting, compelling, complicated ways words are made into music and combined with music.

Love (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)/ Bob Dorough

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
tra la la la la
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
tra la la la la

Page 498
Love
L-O-V-E
Love

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
tra la la la la
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
tra la la la la

5 meanings are given

One: Love, a feeling of
strong personal attachment
induced by sympathetic understanding
or by ties of kinship
ardent affection

Two: strong liking for
feeling fondness
having good will
as love of learning
as in love of country
as in love of country

Three: tender
tender and passionate affection
which seeks fulfillment in sex

Four: Cupid or eros
as the god of love
sometimes Venus

Five: tennis
love in tennis means no points scored
and you have nothing
and you have nothing

antonym: hate

awesome instrumental interlude

Five: tennis (tennis)
love in tennis
means no points scored
and you have nothing
and I have nothing

antonym: hate

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
tra la la la la
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
tra la la la la

Five meanings of love

Since I mentioned Blossom Dearie, here’s on of my favorite love songs by her:

Down with Love/ Blossom Dearie

Down with love the flowers and rice and shoes
Down with love the root of all midnight blues
Down with things that give you that well-known ping
Take that moon & wrap it in cellophane

Down with love let’s liquidate all its friends
Moon and June and roses and rainbow’s ends
Down with songs that moan about night and day
Down with love yes take it away, away

Take it away
Take it away
Give it back to the birds and bees and the Viennese
Down with eyes romantic and stupid
Down with sighs, down with cupid
Brother let’s stuff that dove
Down with love

I am not down with (romantic) love, but I am tired of the well-worn ways it is represented in songs and poetry. I love the line about liquidating all its friends: moon and june and roses and rainbow’s ends

august 1/RUN

2.25 miles
neighborhood
77 degrees

No open swim again today due to the smoke from Canadian forest fires. No swim tomorrow either. What a bummer. Took a long walk down by the river with STA and Delia this morning, and then a run this afternoon. The air quality is already much better. Hopefully the smoke will stay gone. Could there be any chance that they reconsider open swim tomorrow? Maybe but probably not.

Running on the dirt between Edmund and the river road, I twisted my foot/ankle on a root. I’m pretty sure it’s fine. I hope it’s fine. Yes, it will be fine. Writing this a few hours later: it seems fine. Whew.

Today is the first day of August and have I decided that this month’s theme is love. Not so much romantic love, but a wide range of definitions of what it could mean to love in this time of seemingly intractable divisions and impending, ever nearing collapse. I have decided that this topic is much needed. I am tired of letting hate or fear or dismissal or disgust at how terrible some people seem to be dictate how I see and experience the world. I want to give as little energy to those negative, draining feelings as possible. I want to let love win and I’m interested in exploring the wide range of ways poets express it. This topic is partly inspired by Ed Bok Lee’s poem “Water in Love” and a possible title I have for a poem or a collection: How to Love Like the Lake Loves

the lesson of the falling leaves/ lucille clifton

the leaves believe
such letting go is love
such love is faith
such faith is grace
such grace is god
i agree with the leaves

july 31/RUN

4 miles
marshall loop
69 degrees / smoky

Keeping up the Saturday tradition of running the marshall loop. Got a later start so it was sunnier, with less shade. Listened to a iTunes playlist that I created a few years back–The Black Keys, Fall Out Boy, Billy Joel, ACDC, Pat Benatar, Jamirquai, and perfect timing for John Williams’ Theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark: running up the last stretch of the marshall hill, almost at the top.

Running over the lake street bridge to St. Paul, I watched a big bird–I think it was a turkey vulture–soaring high above the river. Running back over the lake street bridge to Minneapolis, I looked down at several shells. Rowers! Right below me, just crossing under the bridge heading south, was a single scull. The rower was wearing a bright orange shirt. Since they were facing me, I thought about waving, but then decided I was too high up and moving too fast.

Reaching the top of marshall, running by Black Coffee and Waffles, I could smell the waffles and their sweet bakery smell. I used to love waffles, piled high with whipped cream and chocolate. Now that much sugar gives me a headache. What a drag it is getting old.

There is still a lot of smoke in the air. It didn’t bother my breathing too much. Crossing the bridge, the smoke made everything hazy and the sky was almost white.

Sea Poem/ Alice Oswald

what is water in the eyes of water
loose inquisitive fragile anxious
a wave, a winged form
splitting up into sharp glances

what is the sound of water
after the rain stops you can hear the sea
washing rid of the world’s increasing complexity,
making it perfect again out of perfect sand

oscillation endlessly shaken
into an entirely new structure
what is the depth of water
from which time has been rooted out

the depth is the strength of water
it can break glass or sink steel
treading drowners inwards down
what does it taste of

water deep in it sown world
steep shafts warm streams
coal salt cod weed
dispersed outflows and flytipping

and the sun and its reflexion
throwing two shadows
what is the beauty of water
sky is its beauty

july 30/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back (on the winchell trail)
72 degrees

They canceled open swim today; the air quality is dangerous (176, which is unhealthy). The smoke from the fires up north is still here. I’m disappointed but also relieved. I can still feel the effects from the smoke of last night’s swim. I went out for a run instead, which made me feel better. I didn’t have any trouble breathing. Ran to the falls and back. The falls were low; no roaring, rushing water. I saw a large bird–a turkey vulture? hawk?–high up in the sky. I don’t remember hearing any black capped chickadees or cardinals or woodpeckers. Running at the start of the Winchell Trail, I (too?) quietly warned the walker ahead of me that I was coming. He had headphones on and didn’t hear me. Then he turned, saw me, and uttered, in surprise, “Oh God!” I wasn’t running fast, so it was no big deal. Just funny. Heard some water trickling out of the sewer pipe at 42nd. Don’t remember what I thought about, but I do remember trying to forget the increased anxiety I have over wildfires and Delta variants. Some days it’s a struggle hanging onto joy and delight in the midst of so much evidence that everything is falling apart.

Water: a smoky river, not glittering in the hazy sun; a subdued waterfall; a receding creek; dripping ponytail, forehead, back; trickling pipes; thirst and the desire for some sips from a water fountain; an empty, swimmer-less lake

july 29/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

run: 3.25 miles
2 trails
77 degrees

Hot. Sweaty. Too many bikes biking in pairs beside each other, taking over the path. Still, a good run. Just before starting, I listened to a recording of myself reciting 2 poems I’m working on. Thoughts about them came and went as I ran above the river. On the Winchell Trail, right before running up the short, steep hill near Folwell, I thought about how I don’t always notice the river when I’m running next to it. Sometimes I’m distracted by other thoughts or an approaching person. Sometimes the river is hidden behind a veil of green. And sometimes I’m too lost in the dream world. Then David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech with the refrain, “This is water” popped into my head. I decided to stop at the top of the hill and record my thoughts:

thoughts will running/ 29 july

Okay, I’m running and I had an idea. Thinking about how when I’m running on the Winchell Trail above the river, sometimes I don’t remember to look at the river, to acknowledge the river, behold it, recognize that it’s there. And I started thinking about David Foster Wallace and “this is water” and how sometimes it’s important to notice and behold and say, “this is water.” To say, “this is water,” is to stand outside of it, to have some sort of distance, to be beside it. Sometimes we want to be immersed in the water. We want to be immersed in a dream world or a now that is not outside, not as distant, not beside. That means we don’t notice that this is water because we’re in it, and that’s a good thing too.

I reread the transcript of Wallace’s speech. I like many of his ideas about the value of a liberal arts education for giving us the tools to think critically, to be aware, to notice a wider range of realities beyond our limited, selfish one, to move past our unconscious “default” settings. Much of it is based on choice and will and our ability, which we must cultivate through education/practice/habits, to be open to understanding situations in new, potentially more generous, ways.

I like these lines:

If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

In his speech, Wallace’s primary default setting is that we are selfish–everything is centered on us–and that we passively and consistently frame the world in this way. His solution: actively and deliberately think about the world in other ways. Seriously consider others’ perspectives, their struggles. Be actively critical, not passively uncritical. But, as I’m learning through poetry and various other things I’m reading about attention, sometimes letting go, being vulnerable and not in control, not trying to see things more generously but just being out in the world, moving and breathing and attending to it, sharing space in it with others (and not claiming it as yours) enables us to transform our experiences of it. I feel like I’m not quite making sense here, but I’m trying to get to the point that there are different forms of caring and giving attention, and some of them don’t involve deliberate, controlled focus on something. I’m thinking of soft fascination and being beside/entangled and the periphery.

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis and back
80 degrees
wildfire smoke from Canada

No problem biking to the lake even though it was very smoky. They finished the sewer work they were doing by the mustache bridge so the bike trail was finally open again. Hooray! So much easier and safer not having to bike on the road and cross back and forth so many times. Very happy to feel mostly comfortable on my bike, able to see most things and not feel scared all the time.

swim: 2 miles / 2 loops
lake nokomis open swim

Dark tonight. Strange, unsettling. Eerie on the lake with the sun covered with smoke. My googles fogged up again, even though I treated them, making it harder to see. I think Johnson’s Baby Shampoo doesn’t work, only Johnson’s baby wash does. Heard lots of sloshing and splashing. Enjoyed the swim, but felt less buoyant. At one point, it almost seemed like my foot was about to cramp up so I briefly stopped to stretch it. I’m getting better at stopping, taking my time. Another military plane flew low above me, roaring in the sky. That, with the waves and the smoke, make it feel almost apocalyptic. Noticed a bird flying in the sky too, near the plane. From my perspective in the lake, looking up from the side as I breathed, they looked the same size and shape. Funny how being the lake makes everything seem the same. Because of the smoke, I tried to take it easier, so I only swam 2 loops.

A few days ago (july 26) I foolishly asked how much choppier it is in Lake Superior than it was at cedar lake while I was swimming. Here’s one answer by the poet laureate of the UP (poet laureate? very cool!):

WAVE AFTER WAVE/ M. Bartley Seigel

Dawn, a lit fuse. The radioman says
“bombogenesis,” like agates tumbling
from a jar—system as meteorite
off Whitefish Point. In other words, water

lynx, Mishipeshu, lathered up in red.
In a heartbeat, rollers mass two stories
trough to insatiate tempest, unquelled
by prayer nor cigarette, careless, mean,

a cold-blooded indifference so pure,
a strong swimmer won’t last ten wet minutes.
At the Keweenaw, surf pummels the stamp
sands with ochre fists, ore boats stack up lee

of the stone, and entire beaches stand up
to walk away. At Marquette, two lovers
walk onto Black Rocks, sacrificial lambs—
their bodies will never be recovered.

july 28/RUN

4 miles
trestle turn around + extra
73 degrees
humidity: 85% / dew point: 68

Woke up to dark skies. An hour later: thunderstorms. Around 10 it stopped, so I went out for a run. It was warm and humid but not oppressive. How is that possible? Forgot (again) to greet the welcoming oaks, but checked for stacked stones by the sprawling oak tree. Zero. Everything was dripping. Including me, after about a mile. I don’t remember seeing the river. Too much green. Noticed one of the unofficial trails leading down into the gorge just before lake street. Also noticed a tent set up under the lake street bridge, right next to the portapotty. All zipped up. I wondered how hot they were last night, when the low was in the upper 70s. I also wondered if they were in the tent because they’d been evicted (looked it up and the 15 month eviction moratorium is ending but landlords can’t evict until Sept).

delight of the day

As I approached the trestle, I began hearing a loud rumble. At first I tuned it out, but then I realized: a train! It was hard to see with all of the green blocking my view of the bridge, but slowly I saw the cars. The train was still there, rumbling along, as I passed under the trestle a minute later. Very cool. In the hundreds of times I’ve run under this trestle, I have only encountered a train on the bridge 3 or 4 times. These tracks are hardly ever used. Why was the train crossing today? I kept waiting for the beep beep of the horn but it never came. Only booms as the car lumbered over the old tracks.

After the Rain/ Jared Carter – 1939-

After the rain, it’s time to walk the field
again, near where the river bends. Each year
I come to look for what this place will yield –
lost things still rising here.

The farmer’s plow turns over, without fail,
a crop of arrowheads, but where or why
they fall is hard to say. They seem, like hail,
dropped from an empty sky,

Yet for an hour or two, after the rain
has washed away the dusty afterbirth
of their return, a few will show up plain
on the reopened earth.

Still, even these are hard to see –
at first they look like any other stone.
The trick to finding them is not to be
too sure about what’s known;

Conviction’s liable to say straight off
this one’s a leaf, or that one’s merely clay,
and miss the point: after the rain, soft
furrows show one way

Across the field, but what is hidden here
requires a different view – the glance of one
not looking straight ahead, who in the clear
light of the morning sun

Simply keeps wandering across the rows,
letting his own perspective change.
After the rain, perhaps, something will show,
glittering and strange.

Wow, I love this poem. I’m very glad I searched “after the rain poetry” and found it. The different view he discusses in the later stanzas is what I’m exploring. It’s ED’s slant truth and my sideways/peripheral. It’s also the practice of soft fascination–what we don’t notice we’re seeing when we’re focused on other things. And it’s learning new ways to see without certainty.

july 27/RUNSWIM

run: 3.5 miles
2 trails
78 degrees
humidity: 79% / dew point: 68

Hot and humid this morning. Not too bad in the shade. Heard some birds, noticed the river. Can’t really remember what I thought about as I ran. The paved trail near the road was crowded with walkers, runners, and bikers. On the trail below, I was one of only a few humans. It was a good run.

Entanglements

  • the gnat swimming in the liquid in my eye
  • the darting chipmunk who crossed my path and made me stutter-step down in the savanna
  • the coxswain’s voice floating up from the river
  • the runner and 2 bikers side-by-side, approaching me on my left and right at the same time, too fast and too close
  • the calling cardinal
  • encroaching vines brushing my face, my shoulders, my ankles
  • the dog and their human walking near a big boulder, another pair on the gravel just past the ravine
  • the jingling collar of another dog, far below me, much closer to the water
  • the branch of a tree, waving from the weight of a critter–a squirrel? bird?
  • yellowed leaves littering the dirt trail
  • the stones studding the trail, a few making me slow to a walk so I didn’t trip over them

swim: 2 miles/ 2 loops
lake nokomis open swim
91 degrees

Very warm at the lake tonight. The air was warm, the water too. When I started swimming, I went through a few cold spots. Nice. Mostly breathed every 5. The water was much smoother, less choppy. Still had trouble seeing the buoys, but no trouble staying on course. Another great swim. I love how much time I’m spending in the lake this summer.

water thoughts

1

I have seen this commercial several times in the last few days, while watching the Olympics, especially the swimming events:

Are our hearts really made up of 73% water? Checked it, and yes, according to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158:

the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.

The Water in You

2

A science poem for 3rd graders:

Sound Waves/ Amy Ludwig VanDerwate

If you have ever seen the ocean
throwing cold waves from her hand
pulling shells from mighty depths
tossing each upon wet sand,
you can understand how sound waves
move like water through dry air.
One-by-one, vibrations follow
pressing sounds from here-to-there.
Sounds can pass through liquids.
Through gases. Solids too.
But sounds waves moving through the air
are sound waves meant for you.
Violin or thunderstorm —
each will reach your waiting ear
to play upon a tiny drum.
This is how you hear.

3

…underwater sound waves pass directly into your head, bypassing your ears altogether. That’s because body tissues contain such a large amount of water. Try plugging your ears underwater and listening for another splash of someone jumping in. It will be just as loud as the last splash when your ears were not plugged.

How Sound Waves Work Underwater

july 26/SWIM

2.25 miles
cedar lake open swim
85 degrees / windy / choppy

A little chaotic the first loop. Because of the wind and the waves, the buoy closest to the starting beach (point beach) was too far out to swim around. Swimmers were swimming all across the course–the right, the left, the middle. By my second loop it had settled down and both buoys were in place. I loved swimming in the waves. No white caps, but it seemed pretty choppy to me. I wonder how it compares to Lake Superior or the ocean. I’m sure still calmer, but by how much?

Earlier in the day I watched a video with tips for swimming in choppy water: breathe more often; when you can’t see the buoy, use something higher to sight; leave a little air in your lungs in case a wave makes it hard to get in more air when you turn to breathe; focus on your pull and glide for strong, straight strokes; stay relaxed and positive; and take breaks by flipping on your back when needed. Thought about these tips as I swam through the roughest water, which was on the second half of the loop. Mostly, I focused on more breathes and stronger strokes. It was fun. I enjoy swimming in rough water and I had no problem swimming straight. I used the break in the trees as my guide. The only trouble I experienced: a sore neck and left shoulder. Lifting my head higher to see and breathe is tiring for my neck muscles. And punching or stabbing or slicing into the rough water, which is really fun to do, is hard on my shoulder.

Thought about waves, literally and metaphorically:

  • Literal: The sensation of swimming in rough water, with waves crashing into me or rocking me or pushing me along. Currents that move me off course. Tall waves that disorient. Swells that make it harder to stroke in the water and breathe. All the spray. Feeling powerful as I use my shoulders to lift higher out of the water and slice through it. The initial panic I feel as I adjust to breathing and stroking differently. The enjoyment I get out of wrestling with the water. The satisfaction, from staying on course. The way time disappears as I focus on breathing and not swallowing too much water–no before or after, only now.
  • Metaphorical: Waves of emotion–grief, joy, worry, anxiety–washing over me. Often unanticipated, invisible at first, like the lake from the shore looking deceptively calm. Learning to handle the intensity/overwhelmingness: fighting the waves, surrendering to them, learning to adapt and adjust, relenting to the water or moving with instead of against it. Water as cleansing, scouring, washing away memories. Flowing, erasing, saturating.

july 25/SWIMRUN

3 miles/ 3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
84 degrees

Very sunny and difficult to see this morning. Even though I’m treating my goggles with baby shampoo before each swim, they seem to be foggin up. Do I need to tighten them, or have they just lost all of their anti-fog coating? The fogginess with the bright sun made it harder to see, but it didn’t matter. Stayed on course. As usual, the buoys were in a different place–especially the green ones. I don’t mind, and I don’t blame the lifeguards. I’m sure it’s difficult to set the course. I like the challenge of figuring out how to navigate a new course every time. My priority: avoiding other people + getting as much extra distance as I can. This strategy is the opposite of what you’d want to do in a race, but I’m not in a race, and I don’t want the loop to be as short as possible. For each of my three loops, I tried to adjust and correct for the mistakes I had made in the last loop. Mostly, I did. I fear I might have routed a few swimmers as I passed them.

I’m pretty sure my central vision is a bit worse. I am definitely finding it harder to see the buoys straight on, even when they’re not backlit or I’m not blinded by the sun. By seeing the buoys, I mean seeing anything, any flash of color, any evidence that there’s something out there other than boats and trees and water.

When I do see the buoys, they often look like something else, usually a boat. On my first loop, nearing the little beach, I wondered why there was a boat hovering off the shore, directly in line with where I wanted to swim. When I got closer, I realized it was the first green buoy. I partly mistook the buoy for a boat because it was much closer to the beach and shore than it ever has been before, but I also mistook it because my brain guessed wrong. It had to decide, with the limited visual data it was getting, boat, lifeguard, or buoy. Sara-brain went with boat.

Reading the book, Leap In, the author discusses how the biggest challenge for her in learning to swim freestyle was exhaling. She had no problem taking in air, but she struggled to let it out. For a few minutes, I thought about my exhales under the water. I also tried to work on being flatter and higher up in the water. Reaching, stretching, bending my elbows, sweeping them under my torso.

For a few moments–probably seconds–I wasn’t think about where I was going, or if I was too close to someone else. I was just swimming. Nice. I’d like to have more of these moments in the water. It’s hard to stop thinking when I feel like I need to be constantly sighting. What would happen if I tried sighting less? That sounds like an interesting experiment for this week.

water thoughts for today

1

On Friday at open swim, I noticed an older woman exiting the water with a limp. She looked very fit and strong but also like something was wrong with her leg. I could tell she was a great swimmer. I thought about Lord Byron and how I recently read that he was born with a clubfoot and walked awkwardly on land. In the water, this didn’t matter; no one could see his foot. Some of us are better in the water.

2

Last week, when the water was extremely rough, I overheard someone lament to a fellow swimmer, “I’m going to be drinking a lot of dirty water on the way back.” There is a myth, among some, that city lakes are dirty and polluted. This incorrect assumption angers me. Lake Nokomis, almost always, is a wonderful place to swim. Talking with STA about what I was posting here and he mentioned how the lake does have sediment that gets stirred up by the waves, which is true. The lake isn’t pristine.

3

7 Shard/ CAConrad


                            he said
                           breathe like you
                           read your poems

                         what the hell
                      does that mean
                 then suddenly
             I’m breathing it
              look at our hands
               baked into being
                 by a fleeting magic
                  bark with dogs to let
                  the neighborhood know
                 you can go to
               the address
knock all you want
   no one is there now
        where the exit signs
                 are burned out
                      the preexisting
                               condition is
                                  not cancer
                                        but the
                                       glass of
                                      polluted
                                     drinking
                                          water

4

Due to a worsening drought across the state, Minneapolis and St. Paul residents are being asked to water their lawns on an even-odd water schedule and to limit watering to mornings and evenings.

MPR News/ July 21, 2021

run: 2 miles
tunnel of trees + river road trail + extra
90! degrees

Earlier in the day, STA mentioned that the even though it was hot today, the dew point was relatively low, so 90 might not feel so bad. Somehow I got this stuck in my head and decided to go out for a quick run around 3:30. STA did too, but not at the same time as me. I listened to my song of the spring–Leave the Door Open–and summer–Solar Power. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad, especially in the shade. I didn’t really start sweating until about one and half miles in. I think I saw at least one other runner and a few walkers. Lots of people sitting in the shade on benches. As I ran by them I wondered what they thought of me running in this heat.

This morning, water meant: cool, refreshing, gentle rocking in 81 degree lake water, abundance, enveloped. This afternoon, water meant: lack, absent, thirst, delayed arrival, dripping, damp, soaked.

july 24/RUN

4 miles
marshall loop
73 degrees

No swimming today. First time since last Saturday. It’s already warm at 8 am. 90s in the afternoon. Ran the marshall loop. No stopping at the top of the hill–ran past Real Wicker and Black Coffee and Waffles. Is it called that because they only serve black coffee, no lattes? Never thought about that before. Chanted some triple berries: strawberry/blackberry/raspberry. Don’t remember noticing much. Looked down at the river as I crossed it–no rowers, a few logs near the shore. Don’t remember feeling any bugs or hearing any birds. No planes or trains. I might have heard a roller skier’s clicking poles. No music blasting from a radio or a bike speaker.

Water Thoughts: Fish

It’s still July, so I’m still finding water poems, which is getting harder, at least with my amateur approach to researching them. Anyway, here’s a few fragments about fishes. An entire poem, some parts of others, a poem of mine, a few fish sounds, and an excerpt from a commencement speech.

Fish/ MARY ANN HOBERMAN

Look at them flit
Lickety-split
Wiggling
Swiggling
Swerving
Curving
Hurrying
Scurrying
Chasing
Racing
Whizzing
Whisking
Flying
Frisking
Tearing around
With a leap and a bound
But none of them making the tiniest
                                              tiniest
                                                 tiniest
                                                    tiniest
                                                       tiniest
                                                          sound

from Wilderness/ Carl Sandburg

There is a fish in me . . . I know I came from salt-blue water-gates . . . I scurried with shoals of herring . . . I blew waterspouts with porpoises . . . before land was . . . before the water went down . . . before Noah . . . before the first chapter of Genesis.

from The Nude Swim/ Anne Sexton

All the fish in us
had escaped for a minute.
The real fish did not mind.
We did not disturb their personal life.
We calmly trailed over them
and under them, shedding
air bubbles

Imposter/ Sara Lynne Puotinen

Part of me wants to be a fish
forever submerged
in the middle of the lake
but most of me wants to stay human
and crawl back to shore. 

With each loop I wonder if
a transformation will occur
before the beach is reached.
Will I sprout scales gain gills lose lungs? 

Yet as the loop ends
and my feet touch sand
I always remain the same—
a human only pretending to be a fish.

Wait, fish make noise? Meet the “Fish Listeners”

from This is Water/ David Foster Wallace

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

***

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

“This is water.”

“This is water.”

It’s fun to put together these fragments around a theme. I used to love doing it when constructing a syllabus–maybe one of my favorite parts of teaching and syllabus writing: creating a conversation between different voices that might lead to more conversations in a class. I might do more of these…

july 23/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis and back
83 degrees

No big problems biking on the trail. Ran into a white bike cone checked to make sure that cars were stopping for me at the stop sign like they’re supposed to. No big deal–I was going slow, the cone was plastic. Was that my vision? Maybe, but that spot is tricky–a temporary stop sign for cars while they do sewer work at the creek. They’re almost done, after over a year. Looking forward to the trail going back to normal here again.

swim: 2.75 miles/ 3 loops (orange buoys only)
lake nokomois open swim
83 degrees

Not quite as choppy as yesterday, but still a lot of rocking and fighting with the water. Today I wore my safety buoy. It’s leaking a little air, not sure why, which makes it harder to stay high on the water. My neck hurt from breathing on one side so much and having to lift my head higher to breathe and see. By the end of the 3rd loop, I was tired. Even so, I enjoyed the challenge of choppy water. They didn’t have enough lifeguards to do a full course, so we just swam around the orange buoys today.

moment I remember:

Swimming back, between the first and second buoys from the little beach, I saw the flash of waving arms and a bright cap. A swimmer, heading towards me. I’m not sure, but I think they were waving their arms to let me know they were there so I wouldn’t run into them? I was surprised because I had deliberately moved way over to avoid getting close to other swimmers. They were off course. Even as I knew this to be the case, I still stewed over it for a few minutes, wondering if the other swimmer thought I was off course. Were they angry with me? Why does this bother me and why do I spend any time thinking about it? Is it that I always want others to think/know I’m doing the right thing? I hope not. Luckily, after a few more waves, I had forgotten about it.

I had a few other encounters with swimmers. At least 2 swimmers drifting further out, routing me. When this happens, I stop and swim around them from behind. Do they notice, and do they wonder where I’ve gone?

I stopped a few times mid-lake to recover from a big wave or see where I was or enjoy the view from the middle. During one stop, I noticed a dragonfly hovering just above the water. Often when I see a dragonfly I think about my dead mom. She loved dragonflies. I like to imagine that this dragonfly is my mom coming to say hi. But lately I’ve been noticing how much dragonflies look like helicopters. So I googled it: “are helicopters modeled after dragonflies?” I discovered that at least one type is/was, designed by Sikorsky in the late 40s. Also found this interesting bit of info about dragonflies and flight:

 The mechanics of dragonfly flight are unique: dragonflies can manoeuvre in all directions, glidwithout having to beat their wings and hover in the air. Their ability to move their two pairs of wings independently enables them to slow down and turn abruptly, to accelerate swiftly and even to fly backwards.

Source

Also learned that dragonflies have very good vision. I found this bit of info particularly interesting:

The quality and nature of vision in animals is related to the diversity of opsin proteins that they have in their eyes. We humans like to think that our eyesight is pretty good, and thanks to our large brains it is, but we rely on just three opsin genes, which means that we have three photoreceptors (cones), sensitive to blue, green and red light. So we can see across a colour spectrum from red to violet, but not ultraviolet (UV). If I now mention that dragonflies have between fifteen and 33 opsin genes, that gives some idea of just how good their vision may be! Some of these opsins may be non-visual proteins, but they still have large numbers of visual opsins, including ones for for short-wavelength (SW), long wavelength (LW) and UV light.

Dragonfly eyes/ Ray Cannon’s nature notes

Also see this article from a 2015 New Scientist: Dragonfly eyes see the world in ultra-multicolour

Here’s a poem about dragonflies:

After the Dragonflies/ W.S. Merwin

Dragonflies were as common as sunlight
hovering in their own days
backward forward and sideways
as though they were memory
now there are grown-ups hurrying
who never saw one
and do not know what they
are not seeing
the veins in a dragonfly’s wings
were made of light
the veins in the leaves knew them
and the flowing rivers
the dragonflies came out of the color of water
knowing their own way
when we appeared in their eyes
we were strangers
they took their light with them when they went
there will be no one to remember us

and here’s a poem about water and waves:

BY THE SEA/ EMILY DICKINSON

I started early, took my dog,
And visited the sea;
The mermaids in the basement
Came out to look at me.

And frigates in the upper floor
Extended hempen hands,
Presuming me to be a mouse
Aground, upon the sands.

But no man moved me till the tide
Went past my simple shoe,
And past my apron and my belt,
And past my bodice too,

And made as he would eat me up
As wholly as a dew
Upon a dandelion’s sleeve –
And then I started too.

And he – he followed close behind;
I felt his silver heel
Upon my ankle, – then my shoes
Would overflow with pearl.

Until we met the solid town,
No man he seemed to know;
And bowing with a mighty look
At me, the sea withdrew.

july 22/SWIM

2 miles/ 2 loops
lake nokomis open swim
80 degree

What a wild swim! I think these are the roughest waves I’ve ever swam in. I don’t remember seeing any whitecaps, just big swells. The first part of the loop, right after the big beach, was the toughest. I felt a little panic as I adjusted to all the waves and the difficulty breathing. Not sure it got easier, but I got better. By the time I rounded the orange buoy near the little beach, I was almost enjoying it. And when I neared the big beach again, I loved it. Very cool. My favorite part: slashing through the waves–not quite punching them–as I swam into a wall of water. Least favorite part: when a swell hit me from behind. It’s hard to explain, but it felt like the water was being sucked down. Hard to swim, hard to breathe. I don’t think I’d like to swim in such rough water every time, but it was fun today.

To Swim, To Believe/ Maxine Kumin

The beautiful excess of Jesus on the waters
is with me now in the Boles Natatorium.
This bud of me exults, giving witness:
these flippers that rose up to be arms.
These strings drawn to be fingers.
Legs plumped to make my useful fork.
Each time I tear this seam to enter,
all that I carry is taken from me,
shucked in the dive.
Lovers, children, even words go under.
Matters of dogma spin off in the freestyle
earning that mid-pool spurt, like faith.
Where have I come from? Where am I going?
What do I translate, gliding back and forth
erasing my own stitch marks in this lane?
Christ on the lake was not thinking
where the next heel-toe went.
God did him a dangerous favor
whereas Peter, the thinker, sank.
The secret is in the relenting,
the partnership. I let my body work
accepting the dangerous favor
from the king-size pool of waters.
Together I am supplicant. I am bride.

There are some things I don’t like about this poem–the last line; the way it could too easily be read as overly religious, where religion = christianity. But there are more things I like–tearing the seam and erasing the stitch marks; he who thinks sinks; the value of belief and relenting to that which is greater than you; a shucking off of the need to know where you’re from and where you’re going; the connection of all of this to the act of swimming. I like the line about thinking and sinking–maybe not he who thinks sinks, but the thinker’s the sinker? Hmm…anyway, I’m not opposed to thinking–I love doing it all the time and it is very necessary and important–but lately I’ve been very interested in ideas/understandings/poems/new ways of being that come to be or occur to us through methods other than concentration and directing our minds on objects or problems, which is how thinking is often defined. What can come to us when we’re not studying it directly? When we don’t have a specific objective, or need to be in control? Is this a different way of thinking about thinking?

Oliver Sacks, whose expertise ranges across many scientific and humanistic disciplines, has described in a sweet autobiographical essay, “Water Babies,” the joy that comes from playing in and with the buoyant medium that supports the swimmer. More important, he describes how the mind-altering properties of swimming can get thinking going as nothing else can. “Ecstasy,” he calls it—a word whose origin in Greek refers to standing outside of oneself: “There was a total engagement in the act of swimming, in each stroke, and at the same time the mind could float free, become spellbound, in a state like a trance.” In such trances one dreams, one composes— poems, songs, lectures, it hardly matters what.

Buoyancy/ Williard Spiegelman

In other reading, here are 2 ideas from the book, Leap In, about wild swimming. The first, speaks to my above discussion about giving up control, the second about what we see when we’re in the water.

‘What’s worth remembering about open-water swimming is that there are no irrational fears,’ said Patrick. I frowned. This doesn’t sound like great news. ‘After all, you can never entirely know what’s beneath you at any given time when you’re in the ocean. You can have a pretty good idea, and you can be careful with where you swim, and what the tides are up to. But you can’t ever know for sure. There is just . . . too much ocean, and too little human.’

Leap In/ Alexandra Heminsley

and

Where a runner sees the world in close-up, with time to view each passing tree’s leaves as they fall, each yellow raod marking as it fades through the seasons, each dog truffling treats from the roadside, I realised that a swimmer sees the long shot. A ball thrown across a beach, a seagull swooping for an unwatched doughnut half a mile away, a rumbling lorry meandering by as if being pushed by a four-year-old.

Leap In/ Alexandra Heminsley

july 21/RUNSWIM

run: 3.55 miles
2 trails
68 degrees
air quality warning, smoke from fires in canada

The air didn’t feel too smoky this morning, not hard to breathe. Overcast. A dark green. For a few minutes, heard a roller skier approaching from behind, their ski poles click click click clicking. Encountered more runners than walkers, a few bikers. Turned down at 44th to the start of the Winchell Trail. A wonderful dark, mysterious green. Heard the steady dripping of the sewer pipe. Also heard the rowers on the river. 2 coxswains, 1 male and 1 female, instructing the rowers: “Make sure you use your legs in the first half of your stroke. It should be mostly legs.”

Last week I mentioned to STA that there was some asphalt on the part of the dirt trail between 38th and the savanna. He didn’t think so. Today, running, I noticed that it was almost all dirt, but that there were a few chunks of asphalt–at least it looked like asphalt to me as I ran by it. Was it? I think so. How long ago was this trail abandoned to the dirt–the glacial till? The chain link fence beside it is in rough shape–this is the spot where there’s a tree trunk growing through the fence and a fence growing out of the tree limbs. Was it in the last century–the 1980s or 90s–that they repaired the fence or repaved the trail here?

Ran by the ravine up the steep gravel hill. Past the overlook and the ancient boulder–no stacked stones today. Down through the tunnel of trees, voices floating up from below. Rowers on the river, or hikers on the trail?

Speaking of trees growing through things, which I was just a minute ago, I found this wonderful twitter thread a few days ago about things to google when you feel bad (to make you feel better). Excellent.

And here’s a poem I discovered by W.S. Merwin that is wonderful:

Exercise/ W.S. Merwin (may 1972)

First forget what time it is
for an hour
do it regularly every day

then forget what day of the week it is
do this regularly for a week
then forget what country you are in
and practise doing it in company
for a week
then do them together
for a week
with as few breaks as possible

follow these by forgetting how to add
or to subtract
it makes no difference
you can change them around
after a week
both will help you later
to forget how to count

forget how to count
starting with your own age
starting with how to count backward
starting with even numbers
starting with Roman numerals
starting with the old calendar
going on to the old alphabet
going on to the alphabet
until everything is continuous again
go on to forgetting elements
starting with water
proceeding to earth
rising in fire

forget fire

swim: 2.25 miles / 6 loops
cedar lake open swim
85 degrees

Another wonderful swim! Windy. The water wasn’t choppy, but it was moving. Pushing everything off course, including the buoy. I didn’t notice it in my first loop until I realized I was way off course–far into the other side, almost swimming parallel to the shore instead of towards it. In other years, this would have bothered me. Not today. No panic or fear or frustration. Just getting back on course. This year, I am enjoying the challenge of figuring out how to adjust. Tonight the solution: swim hard at an angle into the current. At times, it felt like I was swimming in place. I wonder how many others swimmers enjoy this like I do?

The milfoil or whatever aquatic vegetation it is (I couldn’t find any more information), felt feathery today as it brushed past my arm and shoulder. The vegetation is thicker, growing up from below, at Hidden/East Beach, but in the middle of the lake, there were only a few stray plants being carried by the current.

Anything else I can remember? My left (OG) knee felt a little sore, so did my back. I don’t recall hear any strange sounds. No music or snippets of conversation. At one point, I thought I saw some big and dark hulk off to the side. Was something there? I never checked. In my first loop, I thought I saw the lifeguard on a kayak marking the edge of the course so I swam slightly away from them. Realized it was the buoy. Later, thought I was swimming towards the far buoy, realized it was a lifeguard. My skin felt itchy after I exited the water, on the drive home.

july 20/SWIM

2 loops/2 miles
lake nokomis open swim
88 degrees
air quality warning: smoke from canada

A strange night. Very hazy from the wildfires in Canada. Choppy water. Right as we were about to start, the lifeguards cleared the beach. I couldn’t see it, but I think someone had to be rescued. I’m assuming they’re okay because there was no ambulance and we were able to get in the water just a few minutes late. So crowded! Lots of people at the beach because of the heat, tons of open water swimmers. They’re must be a triathlon soon that people are training for.

The far green buoy, the one closest to the little beach, was not close at all. As far out to the left as I’ve seen it. Every week it’s different. I am so happy to know that this doesn’t bother me at all. I’m not worried about getting off course or needing to stop and check where the buoy is. I’m confident I’ll eventually find it and I won’t get lost in the middle–how could I? I know this lake very well by now. Instead of scaring me, when I can’t find the buoy, I enjoy the challenge. I look for the splash of an arm, or keep swimming in the direction I think it is, knowing that it will show up…eventually. Building up this confidence in the water, makes me believe that I can be okay on land too, even when I can’t see.

The moment of the night

I’ve just rounded the ridiculously far out green buoy for the first time. It’s so far that it’s right by all of the sailboats. Later I joked with STA that I was swimming in the shipping lane. The air is very hazy from smoke. The water is choppy. No whitecaps, just rough water that throws you around a bit. Suddenly, a line of military planes flies over the lake, low and loud. What the hell is going on? I felt like I was in a scene from Apocalypse Now. Surreal.

I only swam 2 loops which I was think was the right call. Too smoky. Too hard to breathe. Hopefully this smoke will have cleared by Thursday.

Looked up “smoke water poem” and found this great one by the wonderful poet, Jane Kenyon:

The Pond at Dusk/ JANE KENYON

A fly wounds the water but the wound   
soon heals. Swallows tilt and twitter   
overhead, dropping now and then toward   
the outward-radiating evidence of food.

The green haze on the trees changes   
into leaves, and what looks like smoke   
floating over the neighbor’s barn   
is only apple blossoms.

But sometimes what looks like disaster   
is disaster: the day comes at last,
and the men struggle with the casket   
just clearing the pews.

Wow. Earlier today, I was thinking and writing about how we don’t leave a trace/evidence in the water. No footprints or trampled down grass. The first bit of this poem reminded me of that–the fly that wounds the water but that wound soon heals. I love the idea of a tree’s green haze turning into leaves. Often when I look at trees, they’re just a blur of soft green–fuzzy, hazy. And both the smoke that wasn’t smoke and the disaster that was a disaster. What an ending!

july 19/RUNSWIM

run: 3.5 miles
austin, mn
62 degrees
humidity: 96% / dew point: 60

Cool but humid. Ran through Austin with Scott. We were in town, but parts of it felt like running through the country, especially the parts with narrow, windy roads and no sidewalks. Reminded me of rural North Carolina where I lived from ages 4-9, and where I would, on the rare occasion, “run” with my mom. A fuzzy memory: asking to run with her, becoming separated when I couldn’t keep up, getting trapped for a few minutes by a loose, barking dog (no leash laws in rural early 1980s North Carolina). How much did the Austin landscape really resemble Hickory, NC? Probably not that much, but enough to trigger this memory and make me look around for any loose dogs that might be about to attack.

swim: 2 miles / 5 cedar lake loops
cedar lake open swim
85 degrees

Back in Minneapolis in the late afternoon. Went to open swim at Cedar Lake. Wow, the water was warm near the shore. Almost too warm. Wore my new suit, my birthday suit–the one I bought with birthday money from Scott’s parents. The “birthday suit” joke never gets old for me. I remember turning 7 or 8 or 9 and getting a bathing suit for my birthday. I ran around the neighborhood, wrapped in a towel, looking like that was all I was wearing, and calling out to anyone nearby: “Want to see my birthday suit?” I’d open the towel, show them my suit, and laugh at their surprise–and relief, I’m sure, to see that I wasn’t naked. I was one of those irritating kids.

I think my central vision is getting a little worse. It’s harder to sight the orange buoys, even when the water is calm, the sun hidden. It doesn’t matter too much because I don’t really need the buoys to know where I’m going. I love my brain and whatever else in my body that’s allowing me to gradually adjust to this loss so that by the time it gets worse, I’ve already adapted enough that it doesn’t matter. Do most people have this experience when they’re losing something?

The swim was great. Earlier in the season, I was criticizing this lake, writing about how I wasn’t chill enough for it, but now I love it again. It feels more like a lake up north than one at the edge of Minneapolis. Gravel trails, no buildings, canoes and kayaks everywhere. What a great night for a swim! I felt buoyant and fast and confident. No planes flying overhead, circling like sharks. Only water and a clear landmark to sight: the split in the trees at the beach. Couldn’t see below me–at its deepest point, the lake is 51 feet down. I wonder if that’s anywhere near where I swim? Had a few encounters with vegetation. Scratchy.

Here’s a poem by Ellen Bass that I found on twitter. I’m posting it for the water image, but the idea of loving the world, in spite of its awfulness, resonates for me too.

The Thing Is/ Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, Haw can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violent eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will you love you, again.

Thinking about the image of water as heavy, making the air harder to breathe. When I’m running, and it’s hot, the wet air feels heavy and thick on my skin. Oppressive. But when I’m in the lake, swimming, the water feels light, free. Breathing is much easier for me. Somehow, I don’t need to do it as much, even while I’m wearing a nose plug and can only breathe through my mouth. The more I swim, the less I need to breathe. Every five strokes, then every six or seven. To love life, I don’t want to hold it in my hands and look at it, I want to swim in it. What to do with this image/metaphor?

july 18/SWIM

2 miles/ 2 loops
lake nokomis open swim
77 degrees

Another wonderful morning for open swim. It was bright and warm and calm. So bright I could barely keep my eyes open, but once I was in the water, it didn’t matter. I could still see the flash of silver from the bottom of the rowboat at the little beach. I felt strong and confident and happy. I didn’t feel like a fish today, but a boat–a kayak or a small shell, my feet as rudders.

Didn’t see any fish, but several vines entangled me, and when I took my suit off after the swim, I saw that I had taken some of them with me. More than sand and silt under my suit today–leaves and vines too.

Noticed a bird flying above me, and then a few planes. They all looked the same size. Thought about how much perspective changes in the water. Big buoys look tiny, planes look like birds, dragonflies look like planes. Very cool.

Here’s a lovely poem that might fit better with water and stone then just water:

Balance/ Alice B. Fogel

Balance is everything, is the only
way to hold on.
I’ve weighed the alternatives, the hold
as harbor: It isn’t safe
to let go. But consider the hover,
choices made, the moment
between later and too late.
Hesitation is later, regret
too late. You can’t keep turning
and turning, or expecting
to return. This earth

is not a wheel, it is a rock
that erodes, mountain by mountain.
And I have been too soft,
like sandstone, but there is a point
where I stand without a story,
immutable and moved, solid
as a breath in winter air.

I have seen my death and I know
it is my neighbor, my brother,
my keeper. In my life
I am going to keep trying
for the balance,

remembering the risks and the value
of extremes, and that experience
teaches the length of allowable lean;
that it is easier — and wiser —
to balance a stone as if on one toe
though it weigh a hundred pounds

than to push it back against the curve
of its own world.

july 17/RUN

4 miles
marshall loop
69 degrees
humidity: 79% / dew point: 62

10 Things I Noticed On My Run

  1. A shell with a single rower, from above on the marshall bridge. I wondered if they saw me too until I remembered, and then saw, rowers row with their backs leading.
  2. No stones stacked on the ancient boulder.
  3. The river was calm, blue. Saw a small log from high above on the bridge; it looked so tiny and far away.
  4. 2 young (younger than me, at least) runners passed, running much faster. A snippet of their conversation–R1: That was when you just started running again…. R2: Yes, after I recovered from the blood clots in my leg. Not 1, but 2 blood clots.
  5. Brown, dead leaves covering the path for a brief stretch. It looked like they had been dragged from the brush. Why?
  6. The loud buzz, crackle of a cicada.
  7. My right knee feeling a bit strange, almost like the kneecap wasn’t quite in the groove. Almost, but not quite.
  8. A kid approaching me on his bike as I ran over the bridge, doing a great job of staying to his side. Almost wanted to call out and tell their parent what a great job he was doing.
  9. Hearing a beeping sound down in the river, wondering if it was the start of a rowing race, never figuring out what it was.
  10. Running through the Minneahaha Academy parking lot, hearing someone on the field, wondered if they were playing golf

july 16/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis and back
77 degrees

A great morning for a bike ride! I love that there’s open swim at lake nokomis on friday mornings. It was an easy bike ride, mostly because I didn’t have to pass anyone and I didn’t encounter any unexpected obstacles. I noticed that I always look for traffic when I’m crossing, but more often I’m listening for it. This works for most cars, but not for bikes. I need to remember that and try to look and listen extra carefully for the whirr of wheels.

swim: 2 miles/2 loops
lake nokomis open swim
77 degrees

Such a great swim! It was bright and impossible to see the buoys on the way to the little beach, but I could see the little overturned rowboat, shining in the sun on the shore. Rounding the white buoy, I could see both of the green buoys on the way back. Not always, but enough to know where I was going. The water wasn’t too warm or too cold, although I recall swimming through pockets of both much warmer and much colder. The water was also smooth and easy and fast. I felt strong and steady, gliding through the water, pretending to be a fish. There were several dozen other swimmers, but mostly I felt like I was the only one in the water. No worries or expectations or responsibilities, just me and water–and a few strands of vegetation that kept wrapping themselves around my shoulder.

sighting a green buoy

If I stop at the white buoy near the little beach to look for the green buoys and I’m able to see them, I can usually see little triangles sitting on the surface. Once I start swimming, the most I can see is a green dot. As I get closer, the green dot often loses its color and begins to look like a hulking shape–a boat? a person? some strange thing floating in the water. Even when I’m not too far way, the buoy looks tiny. Only when I’m right next to it, can I see it fully–its green color, large size, triangular shape. Is this how normally sighted people see the green buoys? One day, I’ll ask someone else in open swim–maybe I’ll post a message on facebook and ask other swimmers if they’d be willing to talk to me about what they see? That might be cool.

july 15/RUNSWIM

run: 3.5 miles
2 trails
67 degrees

Ah, what a run! Slightly cooler, relaxed. On the Winchell Trail, about halfway done, heard water dripping out of the sewer and got lost in the sound and the words I could use for it: sprinkling, tinkling, shimmering, twinkling…not sputtering. A steady, pleasing rhythm of drips and drops.

At some point, it looks like most of the Winchell Trail was asphalt. Now, some of that asphalt has surrendered to the dirt, especially in the stretch between the start of the trail at 44th to 42nd and also north of the 38th street steps. As I ran past 38th, heading towards the oak savanna, I wondered: How long does it take for asphalt to crumble? To revert to dirt? How many foot steps? How many rain drops? Spring seeps? Sewer drips? Wheel ruts?

Ran up the hill past the ravine with the concrete then limestone ledges. Loose gravel. Difficult to ascend. On other paved hills, I ran up steep slopes on the tips of my toes. Running down, I could hear my left foot slap the asphalt. Heard lots of birds–not specific birds, just birds. Also heard a roller skier and a large group of kids–a summer camp?–yelling and laughing and rushing down the hill between Edmund and the river road. Encountered a series of pairs of walkers, two by two by two. Felt strong and steady and wonderfully lost in the acts of moving and breathing and being outside.

Returning to the question of how long it takes for asphalt to surrender to dirt, I’m reminded of Eamon Grennan’s wonderful poem about erosion in which he laments never having seen that moment, after countless years of slow, relentless erosion, when water and stone, flux and solidity, sea-roar and land-groan meet. Such a great poem! Asphalt erosion involves the clashing–or coming together–of water and stone, but not with such a dramatic conclusion, at least not on the trail. Just a slow, steady sink into the dirt as groundwater seeps down from above. Grennan’s poem also reminds me of the name the Ojibwe gave for the falls at St. Anthony: Gakaabika or severed rock. And, the idea of never witnessing these big moments and/or the slow, steady break down or build up of something reminds me of a poem I wrote for my collection of poems about seeing and swimming. I want to work on all of these poems for the rest of the summer. Revise them, rethink them, reshape them:

DETRITUS/ Sara Lynne Puotinen

No matter how hard I try to concentrate
I can’t seem to see the slimy sand seeping
inside, settling on my skin
but it’s always there when I take off my suit.

I marvel at the unnoticed murk I have carried with me
streaks on my stomach, half moons under my breasts
then wash it off
before my skin turns red and my mood too dark.

Even as the murk dissolves down the drain
the lake never leaves
I smell it in my suit days later
feel it in my dreams all winter.

With some more work, I think this poem has potential.

,swim: 3 miles
lake nokomis open swim
82 degrees

What a swim! A perfect night for swimming and then meeting STA for a beer at Sandcastle. Swam three loops and felt strong and fast. The first green buoy, on the way back to the big beach, was as far to the right, close to the sailboats, as it has ever been. At first I was irritated by how far out it was, but then I was glad. A challenge! A chance to test my sighting skills and an opportunity to swim farther into the lake. Yes!

july 14/RUN

3.25 miles
trestle turn around
73 degrees
humidity: 80%/ dew point: 67

It is supposed to rain for most of the day, starting in the late morning. Decided to run before it started. Hot and thick. Sweaty. Listened to my playlist, starting with my song of the summer: Lorde’s Solar Power. Felt strong. I think all the swimming is strengthening my hips and legs and back. Greeted Dave the Daily Walker twice. Heard the rowers when I stopped briefly at the trestle. Avoided a group of runners near the spot above the Minneapolis Rowing Club. I can’t remember any of my thoughts. Got lost for 30 minutes.

Here’s a great poem that fits better with June’s theme of water and stone, but I’m posting it anyway. It’s from her new collection, out at the end of this month, Goldenrod!

Wife for Scale/ Maggie Smith

This is a tender age––and in geologic time,
hardly an age at all. But a golden band

of rock, pressed paper-thin, will stand
for these years, a kind of scientific

shorthand. Once I had a professor
whose wife was in every photo he took

of rock formations. He’d click through
slide after slide, saying: My wife for scale.

Isn’t there always a woman in the picture
and isn’t she always small in comparison?

Forgive me: that was my grief talking.
Tell me: how do I teach myself to be alone?

The strata for this age will not be the first
to reveal what salt does to stone, as if

a sea had been here and not sadness only.
Tell me: with God a question, where

is solace but in the earth? The soul
I’m standing on in this moment–––

even as it shifts beneath my feet, as it gives
and cannot hold me—will be rock.

Love this poem!

july 13/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

run: 3.5 miles
2 trails
73 degrees/ sunny

Warm this morning, sunny too. Decided to try and run as slowly and steadily as I could using my heart rate. I soon realized that I couldn’t see the heart rate on my watch because it’s in red. My cone dystrophy and my struggle with colors and low contrast, makes red on a dark background especially hard to see. All this time, I’ve been looking at my cadence, which is in white. Why can’t the heart rate be in white too? I need more contrast. Looking through the accessibility options, there’s no way to change the color of the heart rate in a running workout.* Later, walking Delia, I noticed that the heart rate is white in the walk workout. Should I try running with the walk workout on? Yes. Another hack for how to make my eyes work in new ways.

*update: Was telling my 15 year old daughter RJP how I was planning to hack the watch. She told me that I can just twist the crown on the side of the watch to make the bpms white instead of red–when something is red that means it’s highlighted. I don’t think I ever would have figured this one out without her help. Such a apple genius. She should get a job at an apple store.

It was a good run. Everything felt fuzzy and dreamy, like I was swimming in air, not quite there. A great feeling. I don’t remember much. I was sweating a lot and I think I swallowed a bug. I remember hearing some birds, but not how their songs sounded. I saw the river–very blue. I put some effort into loving the world and everyone I encountered–not getting irritated by approaching runners, or trail hogging bikers. Mostly, it worked. I heard some trickling through the sewer pipes. I don’t remember smelling anything. No spazzy squirrels, but one darting chipmunk. Not too many bugs–just the one I might have swallowed. Oh–I saw a peleton on the road, not tightly packed but strung out in a long-ish line. Also heard the rowers just as I was leaving the river trail.

a few delightful verses by Lorine Niedecker

We are what the seas
have made us
longing immense
the very veery
on the fence

*

The eye
of the leaf
into leaf
and all parts
spine
into spine
neverending
head

to see

*

For best work
you ought to put forth
some effort
to stand
in north woods
among birch

*

We must pull
the curtains—
we haven’t any
leaves

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis and back
88 degrees

Very happy that biking is not too bad this year. Not really scary at all. No feeling of panic, no moments where I can’t quite see what’s in front of me.

swim: 3 miles/3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
88 degrees/ windy
choppy, wavy water

Yes! Big swells today. At least, big for this lake. I don’t mind the choppy water. I like the challenge and the feeling of being pushed around by the water. The buoys (even more) often disappeared in the waves; swimmers did too. I had no problem staying on course. When I could hardly see anything, which was most of the time–due to the waves and the haze from fires in Ontario–I could always see the hovering, shimmering roof at the big beach.