September: Try to Remember

Try to remember the kind of September

This month began with the death of my beloved father-in-law:

Scott’s dad died sometime in the early morning. We woke up to the buzz of the phone, then a message from the hospice nurse. Yesterday, knowing it was coming, I felt some relief — his long years of suffering finally coming to an end; no lingering almost dead for a year like my mom. Now, I feel tired and sad and tender. He was such a loving, wonderful human.

1 sept 2023

Try to remember when life was so tender

I spent the month haunted by death, feeling tender. On September 29, 2022, my mother-in-law died. On September 30, 2009, my mom died. And now, on September 1, 2023, my father-in-law died. This tenderness didn’t overwhelm me; instead it was just there beside me as life kept going, lived through daily rituals of running and writing.

One good way to represent the daily rituals is through my list of 10 Things Noticed; I did a lot of them this month.

the Daily Ritual of 10 Things

sept 1

  1. avoiding exposed roots on the hard-packed and very dry dirt trail at 36th and edmund
  2. later, keeping my balance in the soft, loose dirt near 38th
  3. encountering several runners and walkers in the grass, most with dogs
  4. one quick flash of the river: blue
  5. good morning! — good morning! — good morning! (greeting the people I passed on winchell)
  6. briefly running parallel to someone else near folwell — I was on the dirt trail, they were on the paved path — then descending the hill and losing track of them
  7. stacked stones
  8. mistaking the black fence in the tunnel of trees for a person (as usual)
  9. sprinting to Michael Jackson and Diana Ross singing “Ease on the Down the Road” — don’t you carry nothing that might be a load
  10. more buzzing cicadas

sept 3 (swim)

  1. just before I started, a vee of geese flew above me — the first geese of the season!
  2. a big crowd of noisy seagulls on the shore
  3. a seagull! a seagull! a seagull! — a kid (too) excited about spotting a seagull
  4. another flock of small birds flying overhead. I stopped to watch their progress across the sky
  5. more ghost vines — several reaching out for my wrist
  6. fluffy clouds in the sky
  7. a plane cutting through the clouds
  8. a metal detector dude slowly walking along the edge of the swimming area — for 45 minutes, the whole time I was swimming. What was he looking for? What was he finding?
  9. another swimmer — an older man who swam a little closer to shore
  10. cold water except for a spot near the buoy closest to the swan boats, which was warm — unsettling and welcomed at the same time

sept 4

  1. 3 turkeys on the part of the dirt trail we call the gauntlet because it’s so narrow and near the road. The turkeys didn’t care we were running by; they were too busy pecking the grass. What are they eating? we wondered*
  2. a bunch of barricades and a cluster of construction signs with flashing lights lining edmund bvld — uh oh, what are they planning to do here, and how will it impact my running?
  3. more sun than shade — so hot!
  4. lots of bikes over on the river road trail, not too many walkers or runners
  5. click clack click clack — a roller skier! said to Scott: I bet they’re excited summer’s over Scott (with some bitterness): good for them
  6. the falls were quiet — I forgot to look as we ran by — with the very low creek, were they even falling?
  7. Hi Mr. Longfellow! — checking out the Longfellow statue in the field below the garden
  8. Crossing under the mustache bridge, noticing the stagnant creek water — so low!
  9. songs overheard at the Falls coffee: an acoustic (asmr-y) version of “I’m So Excited” and a techno, poppy version of “Wonderwall”
  10. checking out the empty Riverview, wondering when the new owners will finally do something with the space; we’ve been waiting for about 2 years now

sept 5

  1. sewer construction all around the neighborhood — half of the street was blocked with trucks or huge circular holes in the pavement or pipes
  2. biking past the falls: they’ve patched (only) part of the potholes on the bike path near godfrey, the rest are still bumpy
  3. the creek on the other side of the duck bridge: mucky, stagnant, low — yuck!
  4. passing under the duck bridge, biking slowly and carefully, I heard a shuffling noise but couldn’t see anyone for a few seconds. Oh, there they are — a walker on the other side of the path
  5. a sound like rushing water near the bridge over Lake Hiawatha — I’m pretty sure it was wind. So much wind!
  6. blowing up my safety buoy near the bike rack, a man said, it’s windy out there today! when I responded with some noise — a grunt? — he added, it’s making you work for it
  7. swimming one direction, being pushed from behind and (a little) under, swimming the other direction, slam! straight into little walls of water
  8. screeching seagulls near the shore, honking geese on the other side
  9. stopped at the farthest white buoy to adjust my nose plug: a big splash less than 25 feet away — was it a fish? a boat? a fishing seagull? something menacing about to swim into me?
  10. more ghost vines below me and a wandering swimmer that I think I actually saw and didn’t just imagine

sept 7 — 6 Things Heard, 1 Smelled, 3 Unseen

  1. SCREECH! SCREECH! — bluejays
  2. tat tat tat tat tat — a roofer’s nailgun
  3. drip drip drip — the sewer at 42nd
  4. there’ve been so many drownings there — a woman walking and talking on the phone
  5. thump kerplunk — falling acorns
  6. good boy! — a woman talking to her dog as she stopped to let me pass on the narrow trail
  7. sickly sweet, slightly off, a hint of rotten egg — sewer smells near the ravine
  8. the voices of kids playing above and across the road (unseen: only voices drifting down, heard but not seen)
  9. a black shirt left on a bench (unseen: the shirt being left behind/the person who left it)
  10. a bare rock (unseen: no stones stacked, yesterday’s wind that must have knocked the stacked stones off)

sept 8

  1. the flash of bright yellow vests and hard hats
  2. a low constant rumble a few blocks away
  3. the loud roar of the big wheels of a dump truck rushing by
  4. the only slightly quieter roar of the smaller wheels of a bobcat following behind
  5. beep beep beep a truck backing up
  6. loose gravel and sand piled up to cover the pipes spread across the street, crunching under car wheels
  7. orange construction cones
  8. temporary stop signs
  9. big, city buses taking alternative routes on too narrow streets
  10. dusty, smoky clouds low in the air, breathed in through lungs

sept 9

  1. running over the bridge, a cross wind — hold onto your hat!
  2. the river was blue and empty — no rowers this morning
  3. continued construction on lake street — a blocked sidewalk, orange cones
  4. running around, sometimes over the little wooden bridges protecting the hoses/pipes/yellow tubes that the entire neighborhood is using to get water while the city is working on the sewers — almost done, Monday we get our water back!
  5. standing in a temporary trench at Marshall and Cretin because the sidewalk is being redone, waiting for the light to change
  6. a grand old plum-colored house on Marshall — I thought it was red, but Scott told me it was plum
  7. another, even grander house on the corner of Prior and Summit — we encountered the giant backyard first. I could see a net for a trampoline just above the fence line
  8. deep voices rising up from the ravine near Shadow Falls
  9. flowers placed next to the railing on the hill just above the lake street bridge — was someone else killed by a car, or is this in memory of someone who died years ago?
  10. Walking through the Minnehaha Academy parking lot at the end of the run — a girls’ soccer game — penalty kick — thwack! Hooray! some boys watching from the parking lot were impressed

sept 11

  1. (edge = almost, nearing) a soft golden light from the changing trees
  2. (edge = almost, nearing) over-rehearsed flowers — an excessive of past-their-prime blooms
  3. (edge = almost, nearing) school starting again, running past Dowling Elementary, watching cars line-up in the drop-off zone
  4. (edge = location) a garden worker kneeling at the edge of the flowerbeds, removing dead bulbs, weeds
  5. (edge = location) walking around the outside of the garden path, staying out of the way of a photographer taking pictures of the vibrant yellows, reds, oranges, purples
  6. (edge = location) running the stretch of the Winchell Trail that I’ve named “the edge of the world” because you’re running up a hill on the edge of the bluff that has a curve that if you miss taking would lead to falling off and into the river below. In late fall through early spring, when the leaves are all off and there’s nothing blocking your view of the empty air, it really looks the edge of the world
  7. (edge = location) encountering a walker, I moved to the very edge of the trail. No problem for me to navigate, but one wrong step and you could fall down the very steep hill — no railings here!
  8. off the edge: water trickling over minnehaha falls, through the sewer pipe at 42nd and down the limestone rocks to the river
  9. edges dissolving: listening to someone playing the accordion near the steps down to the bottom of the falls mixed with my footsteps mixed with the fast, steady rhythm of sprinklers. Difficult to tell which sound was the accordion, which my feet, which the sprinklers
  10. at the bottom of the steps, a choice: go up the stairs and run on the upper trail or go past the stairs and take the dirt trail through the oak savanna (I took the steps)

sept 12

  1. several stacked stones on the ancient boulder
  2. the port-a-potty is back near the overlook
  3. slippery trail, a few squeaking leaves
  4. burnt toast or burnt coffee bean smell near the Lake Street bridge
  5. passing a fast walker on the inside near the trestle 
  6. encountering a runner almost sprinting on the greenway
  7. a duet of chainsaws in the gorge below, probably cutting up the giant tree that we noticed on the ground last Sunday on our hike
  8. yellow vests at Brackett Park — park workers mowing the lawn?
  9. clashing colors: a pale green bench next to a pale blue church
  10. after finishing, walking to Dogwood, passing a welcome mat with thick stripes of black and white

sept 13

  1. the deep voice of the coxswain calling out instructions
  2. the blue, empty river
  3. graffiti on a post under the lake street bridge — block letters outlined in black — was there blue too? I can’t remember
  4. an old convertible sports car parked under the bridge, white or cream
  5. a photographer with a telephoto lens on their camera, standing under the trestle, probably taking pictures of the river
  6. Daddy long legs stretched out on a bench
  7. some guy talking (to the gorge? on the phone? to some other person I couldn’t see?) halfway up a column under the bridge — was I seeing this right?
  8. a line of bikers in bright yellow and orange vests heading south when I was heading north
  9. someone running in a bright pink shirt, another in orange, and one without a shirt 
  10. my shadow — sharp and dark in the sun, running alongside me

sept 14

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

sept 15

  1. no stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  2. lots of dirt and mud kicked up on the edge of the path — maybe from park vehicles’ wheels or from the rain
  3. a smell — something pleasant — green, almost like cilantro, fresh
  4. pale yellow leaves 
  5. a coxswain’s voice (female) from below
  6. the only view of the river I had was when I ran under the lake street bridge between the posts
  7. a walker holding a blue umbrella, from a distance I couldn’t tell that they were holding an umbrella. It looked like they were missing a head
  8. the ravine by 35th street overlook: the water was glittering, you could hear it falling out of the sewer pipe, moving down the limestone ledge
  9. more earthy smells — fresh, not sweet
  10. the Welcoming Oaks are turning from green to gold

sept 17

  1. people gathered outside the church, talking — was a service about the begin?
  2. crossing the lake street bridge, part 1: admiring the fog hanging low on the water
  3. crossing the lake street bridge, part 2: saying to Scott — this view looks like a fogged up window that needs to be wiped! Everything smudged, fuzzy
  4. a pileated woodpecker, laughing
  5. a whiff — the smell of up north, at my family’s farm in UP Michigan. What plant triggers that memory?
  6. running past a grand old building. Scott guessed that it used to be a school and that the big windows on the top floor were for an old gym
  7. Woodpecker castanets! A double clicking sound as a woodpecker drummed into a tree above our heads
  8. the house on the Summit that almost always has the sprinklers going during our Saturday run. This time they were shooting out from under the low bushes near the edge of the path. I felt a soft, cold spray as I ran by
  9. a runner ahead of us, running with 2 big golden retrievers. Their steps were so in sync that initially I thought there was only one dog — this could have also been because of my bad vision
  10. crossing the lake street bridge, part 3: returning to Minneapolis 40 minutes later, the fog had lifted. The river was empty and blue

sept 18 — periheral things

  1. dirt flying up on my ankles as I ran on the dusty trail
  2. brittle red leaves, crunching underfoot
  3. the shadow of a bird flying overhead
  4. frantic rustling in the bushes — I flinched in anticipation of a darting squirrel that never arrived
  5. a walker moving over to the edge of the path for me to pass — thank you! / you’re welcome
  6. a slash of red just below — a changing leaf
  7. flashes of orange all around — construction signs
  8. to my right and below: dribble dribble dribble — water falling down a limestone ledge in the ravine
  9. shrill squeaking under the metal grate in the ravine as I crossed over it — a chipmunk?
  10. is this peripheral? breaking through several spider webs on the winchell trail, about chest height

sept 19

  1. Dave the Daily Walker had on bright blue running shoes — nice!
  2. a rollerblader passed me from behind — no clicking and clacking ski poles to alert me to their approach
  3. minneapolis parks has trimmed back the bushes and wildflowers that were blocking part of the already narrow path that splits from the biking path and dips below the road
  4. a runner, only a little faster than me, entered the path in front of me at 32nd. Very gradually, he inched away, then turned off the trail again
  5. more yellow leaves, a few slashes of red, no orange
  6. human voices and the clanging of a dog collar down below on the Winchell Trail
  7. several openings in the otherwise thick trees — dirt trails descending to the Winchell Trail
  8. a noisy runner with an awkward gait — did he swing his arms awkwardly too?
  9. another runner, speeding fast. Almost a blur with feet thumping the ground
  10. at least one loud thud as an acorn fell

sept 21 — wheels

  1. car wheels, near the road — relentless, too fast, noisy
  2. car wheels, below, on the winchell trail — a gentle hum, quiet, distant
  3. bike wheels, approaching from behind very slowly — a little kid biking to school with his mom who had a carrier with another kid behind her seat
  4. bike wheels, nearby, another kid and adult on the way to school
  5. the wheel of life as a loop: a favorite route, running south, looping back north, first on edmund, then on the winchell trail
  6. the wheel of life as transformation: red leaves decorate a tree halfway to the river
  7. the wheel of life as cycles: not the end of the year, but the beginning — school time: kids at the elementary school
  8. the wheel of life as constant motion: on the trail, below the road and above the river, everything is active: birds calling, squirrels rustling, wheels traveling, river flowing, feet moving, leaves and lungs breathing
  9. the wheels of life as cycle: always in late september, hot and humid and too sunny
  10. the wheels of life as transformation: thinning leaves, falling acorns, a small view of the river

sept 23

  1. kids laughter drifting over the fence of my neighbor’s yard — a birthday party for her 3 year-old
  2. a big backhoe parked on the street — no digging today, hooray!
  3. a plastic orange slide, spied through the slats of another neighbor’s fence
  4. a dusty dirt trail, so dry it was slippery and uneven
  5. yellow leaves all around
  6. lots of red on the groundaa
  7. a biker’s bright headlight over on the river road
  8. a mountain bike — don’t think it had fat tires — on the dirt trail, approaching me
  9. 2 people in bright yellow construction vests, walking on Edmund
  10. a biker stalking me — approaching from behind. Not really staking, just unable to pass me before we crossed an intersection

sept 24

  1. a line of dead leaves floating on the surface of the river, almost under the lake street bridge
  2. slippery, squeaky leaves covering the sidewalks
  3. between fairview and fry the sidewalk narrowed — Scott guessed that it might be as narrow as 4 ft (it’s supposed to be 6, but is often 5)
  4. drops of water falling off some leaves, illuminated by the sun
  5. ORANGE! several bright orange and burnt orange trees
  6. lions, pineapples, bare-chested women with wings — lawn ornament on Summit
  7. waffles, falafel, “mixed” popcorn, Thai, ice cream — restaurants/stores passed on the run
  8. overheard: it’s hard to tell how well the Vikings will do — a biker to 2 other bikers
  9. looking across from the east side to the west bank of the river, thinking I was seeing some sort of color — not BRIGHT color, but the idea of it: redinstead of RED! Asked Scott and he said, Wow, that’s some RED! [how color works for me]
  10. 3 roller skiers on the bridge — no clicking and clacking because there wasn’t room for them to swing their poles

Try to remember…

Here are some things I’d like to remember from September of 2023:

future projects

This month I started, but didn’t finish (or get very far) with a few projects. First, Gary Snyder, Forrest Gander and circumambulation. I’d like to return to this project sometime in the future. Also, using poems as a basis for running treasure hunts. And, more writing about reading and writing and dying vision.