nov 3/RUN

5.25 miles
franklin loop
34 degrees
humidity: 70%

A bright, sunny late fall day. Not gray but golden. I over-dressed; tricked by a feels like temperature that was below freezing. One shirt too many. Ran north on the west river road, over the franklin bridge, south on the east river road, then over the lake street bridge. Breathing was more difficult today, mainly because I have entered a new phase of my cold: the stuffed-up, crudded-up phase. It bothers me, but not too much. I’m happy to be past the last phase, which made me anxious: the feeling of something sitting in my throat, always almost about to turn into cement in my chest. It never did, but throughout the day I imagined a future of not breathing, ventilators, the ICU. Ridiculous, of course. The fear of covid has really messed me up. I used to be an “easy” sick person — at least, I think I was? — but now, I’m a bit of a wimp about it all. Always looking to the future, worrying what my sickness could become.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. 4 stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  2. A view of the glowing white river through the bare trees near the floodplain forest
  3. Near Meeker Dam, on the St. Paul side: a mix of bare limbs, with yellow and green leaves
  4. So many views through the trees lining the bluffs: a smear of yellow or red, then open space with trails winding down to the river
  5. A little kid near the trail with an adult. The adult saying something about having a good run. The kid calling out at least 3 times, “Bye” “Bye” “Bye”
  6. An enthusiastic and friendly walker: “Good morning!” or was it just “Morning”? I’ve noticed that usually others say “morning” to me. I always respond, “Good morning.” Is it a regional difference? A east coast or southern thing to say both words, or is it just me?
  7. On the St. Paul side, somewhere up the hill just past Meeker Dam, someone has removed one of the black iron fence panels. The spot where it’s missing doesn’t lead anywhere. It’s been this way for a few weeks. Who did it and why? Will it be replaced sometime soon?
  8. Starting my run, heading north, the air was calm, everything quiet, until a car came by blasting music quickly distorted by the doppler effect. Instead of bothering me, this disruption enabled me to notice and appreciate how quiet it was when the car was no longer there
  9. The faintest trace of my shadow in front of me as I ran north at the beginning of my run
  10. Honking geese — only 2 or 3 honks + 1 chickadee calling out, “chick-a-dee-dee-dee”

Here’s the last bit of a poem that I posted on this log in November of 2019:

from November/ Lucy Larcom

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

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

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

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

Love the idea of “veil under veil its wonders lie” with the description of November as “the plain truth-teller of the year”

oct 28/RUN

4.5 miles
John Stevens House loop
46 degrees
light rain / humidity: 94%

The forecast predicted light rain all day. Decided I wouldn’t mind running in the rain. Wore my vest, which is waterproof or at least water resistant, a baseball cap, bright pink headband, bright yellow shirt, tights, shorts, gloves, and my older running shoes. Ran south to the falls then around the John Stevens House. Ran north until I reached the entrance to the Winchell Trail then took that the rest of the way. Not much wind, not too cold, not too crowded.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. A glowing tree at the falls that, at first, looked all orange, but slowly seemed almost pink: a mix of some red, yellow, green leaves
  2. A rush of noise — leaves blowing in the wind? No. The falls, rushing in the light rain
  3. Water coming out of the sewer at 42nd street — not rushing or gushing or roaring but some other sound that indicates an abundance of flowing water
  4. Running near the river, noticing how the water closer to me was a blue so pale it looked light gray, the water closer to the st. paul shore was deep and dark, reflecting the evergreens
  5. The spot on the Winchell Trail right climbing up to 42nd no longer concealed by leaves, lined with tall, slender tree trunks and a clear view of river gorge st. paul
  6. A few honks, some kids yelling out, a line-up of cars: the beginning of the day at a local elementary school across the grassy boulevard
  7. A very short person walking around Minnehaha Regional Park. Wearing jeans and a dark sweatshirt with the hood up. Walking with a hunched gait
  8. A runner (or walker?) stopped beside the path, taking off a bright pink jacket and tying it around their waist
  9. A strange scraping metallic sound up ahead of me on the Winchell Trail. Then running by a man hunched over a fence post near the curved retaining wall with a hacksaw, sawing. After I passed, he stopped
  10. Squirrel after squirrel darting across the path and into the woods, never circling back to run in front of me

Earlier this morning, right after I woke up and made my coffee, I memorized the second half of one of my favorite Halloween poems: A Rhyme for Halloween. Here’s the bit I memorized:

Our clock is blind, our clock is dumb.
Its hands are broken, its fingers numb.
No time for the martyr of our fair town
Who wasn’t a witch because she could drown.

Now the dogs of the cemetery are starting to bark
At the vision of her bobbing up through the dark.
When she opens her mouth to gasp for air,
A moth flies out and lands in her hair.

The apples are thumping, winter is coming.
The lips of the pumpkin soon will be humming.
By the caw of the crow on the first of the year,
Something will die, something appear.

I recited it in my head throughout my run. I love this poem and its haunting feel (tone? mood?). As I recited the lines, I struggled with the second verse — was it bobbing or bob? gasping or gasp? Why was it difficult for me? I can’t remember now. I like stumbling with the lines; it gives me the chance to reflect on word choice and rhythm. And it helps me to think about what makes some poetry sing, some fall flat.

Favorite lines/images: the blind, dumb dogs; the martyr who wasn’t a witch because she could drown; the vision of her bobbing through the dark and gasping for air; the apples thumping — I imagine them falling on the ground; the lips of the pumpkin humming; something dying and something appearing.

Why is this haunting? One obvious reason: it takes up Halloween (spooky) images. But also: the rhymes. They aren’t sing-song-y. Instead, they echo. The rhyming reminds me of part of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Bells:

monody: a poem lamenting a person’s death
paean: a song of praise or triumph
rune: letters from an alphabet that was used by people in Northern Europe in former times. They were carved on wood or stone and were believed to have magical powers (source).
knell: the sound of a bell, especially when rung solemnly for a death or funeral

IV.

          Hear the tolling of the bells—
                 Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
        In the silence of the night,
        How we shiver with affright
  At the melancholy menace of their tone!
        For every sound that floats
        From the rust within their throats
                 Is a groan.
        And the people—ah, the people—
       They that dwell up in the steeple,
                 All alone,
        And who tolling, tolling, tolling,
          In that muffled monotone,
         Feel a glory in so rolling
          On the human heart a stone—
     They are neither man nor woman—
     They are neither brute nor human—
              They are Ghouls:
        And their king it is who tolls;
        And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
                    Rolls
             A pæan from the bells!
          And his merry bosom swells
             With the pæan of the bells!
          And he dances, and he yells;
          Keeping time, time, time,
          In a sort of Runic rhyme,
             To the pæan of the bells—
               Of the bells:
          Keeping time, time, time,
          In a sort of Runic rhyme,
            To the throbbing of the bells—
          Of the bells, bells, bells—
            To the sobbing of the bells;
          Keeping time, time, time,
            As he knells, knells, knells,
          In a happy Runic rhyme,
            To the rolling of the bells—
          Of the bells, bells, bells—
            To the tolling of the bells,
      Of the bells, bells, bells, bells—
              Bells, bells, bells—
  To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

Reading through this again, I’m thinking about how the bells in this verse are not clock bells, tracking the precise, steady passing of time (which reminds me of the lines about the blind, dumb clocks and no time for the martyr). These bells toll, groan, moan, roll, throb, sob, knell. The sound of the bells floats from rusty throats, is muffled, melancholy. When it is mentioned that they keep time, it is not the time of life, but of death.

oct 26/RUN

6 miles
ford loop
42 degrees
humidity: 72%


Damp. Cool, but not cold. A nice, relaxed run. Overcast, windy. Ran north through the welcoming oaks, the tunnel of trees, past the old stone steps, above the winchell trail that steeply climbs out of the gorge, up to the lake street bridge. Over the bridge, down the steps, up the hill — past one of my favorite, uncluttered views, on the st. paul side; past the bench perched above the river; above shadow falls — to the top. Then down the other side of the deep ravine. Around the World War Monument, beside the river on one side, fancy houses the other. A brief stop at the overview, around another ravine, over to the ford bridge. Through the smaller tunnel of trees above the locks and dam, north on the river road, and then, another brief tunnel of trees just before reaching the double bridge and the start of the Winchell Trail. Through the woods, up and down and up and down the undulating path, then finishing on the upper trail near the 35th st parking lot.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. Almost all of the welcoming oaks are bare limbed, the ground covered in crunchy, crispy leaves
  2. The river a pleasing pale blue, not smooth but slightly rippled, except for at one spot where it’s smooth
  3. The trees along the shore have all changed color
  4. The ravine near Shadow Falls, looking very fall-ish, so many yellow leaves
  5. Running up the long hill, hearing the bell at St. Thomas singing the clock song: ding dong ding dong/ding dong ding dong/ ding dong ding dong — stopping short because it was 9:45, not 10
  6. Running beside the fancy houses on east river parkway, hearing a women’s voice call out to someone else, “what a beautiful day!” Immediate thoughts: It’s windy and cool. Is it a beautiful day? (then thinking: yes, it is. I love this end of fall weather.) Also: actual people who notice and enjoy the weather, really live in this impossibly large and pretentious house?
  7. At the overlook near the entrance to the winchell trail, noticing the river. Farther away, it looked white, almost like snow or ice. Closer, and at a different spot, it sparkled and burned bright and white
  8. 2 squirrels crossing my path, managing to not double back and trip me
  9. So many dirt trails and breaks in the trees leading into the woods on the edge of the bluff on the st. paul side
  10. After ascending the steps of the overlook on the st. paul side, stopping at a bench and seeing a plaque embedded in the sidewalk for Brian Bates, who died in 2008, about a year before my mom did
seen on the St. Paul side of the river, near an overlook

I was curious, so I looked him up:

Age 60 Died June 12th of Cancer Brian was born July 14, 1947 in St. Paul and was a graduate of Notre Dame University. He spent his early business career in San Francisco. After returning to St. Paul in the early 1980’s, Brian received his law degree from Hamline University. He was active on the Mac/Groveland City Council, Scenic Minnesota, Scenic St. Paul, Clean Air MN, the DFL and other political and environmental endeavors. Brian’s work on environmental issues led him to become well-known in the St. Paul area. He was instrumental in the fight against billboards calling them “litter on a stick”.

Obituary (2008)

Not too long after hearing the bells of St. Thomas (as I climbed the Summit Hill), I decided to take out my phone and record myself mid-run. At the point of recording, I was probably running a 9 minute pace, with my heart rate at 170 (which seems to be my standard heart rate for running):

9:45

Running up
summit hill
I heard
bells
at st. thomas chime.
Was it 10 o’clock or
sometime
in 9?
9:45

reciting 9:45

I’ll have to keep working on these. It’s difficult to overcome my self-consciousness over other people see me do this, and my reluctance to slow down enough to get out my phone.

One more thing I almost forgot: Running north on the west river road through the small tunnel of trees before the double bridge, I suddenly noticed the faintest trace of my shadow ahead of me. At first, I wasn’t sure. Had I really seen my shadow or just imagined it? Then, it appeared again, and I noticed the sun had come out. I glimpsed it a few more times, always faint, casting itself on the thick-littered trail. Writing this paragraph, I suddenly wonder about how many times we think we’ve seen something but then discount it with, “it was just my imagination.” More often than not, we are seeing something and it is not being imagined; we just don’t have the right words to describe it, and we don’t trust how our brains see so much more than we realize (or fully process).

Periodically throughout my run, I recited Emily Dickinson’s We grow accustomed to the Dark –, which I re-memorized and then wrote about this morning. At one point, for a few minutes, I stumbled over the 3rd verse. I had no problem with:

And so of larger – Darkness –

But, I couldn’t quite remember the next line: I knew it wasn’t, The Darkness of the Brain or The dimming of the Brain, but the word wasn’t coming to me. Suddenly, it did: evenings:

Those Evenings of the Brain –

Yes. Such a brilliant line, and so helpful and rewarding to spend time thinking about word choice — the right word, so precise and effective, matters.

oct 25/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin loop
37 degrees
humidity: 87%

Breezier and cooler today but humid, so no cold, fresh air. Sunny. Possibly more leaves on the ground than on the trees. Wore my winter running tights, a bright yellow shirt, black vest, black gloves, a baseball cap that used to be black but is now a dingy gray, a bright pink headband, and a not bright orange and pink and cream buff. No stacked stones. No view through the floodplain forest of the water. No geese in the sky.

10 Things I Noticed (about the river)

  1. Shimmering white heat through the small gap in the trees
  2. Running over the Franklin bridge, the light reflecting on the water was hitting my peripheral vision just right, or just wrong — painfully, irritatingly bright
  3. The surface was a smooth, flat, unmoving blue (above on the franklin bridge)
  4. No rowers
  5. Shadows from the trees on the east side darkened the river at its edges
  6. Reflections of the golden trees on the west side brightened the water, coloring it yellow
  7. A circle of light on the water’s surface followed me as I ran south, mostly staying ahead of me, occasionally beside
  8. Most of the trees along the shore have changed colors, many yellows, a few reds, hardly any oranges
  9. Running above the paved trail below on the east side, I couldn’t see it or the water until I reached the trestle
  10. Looking ahead of me at the path, everything looked fuzzy, barely formed. Looking below me on the bridge, the river looked intense, sharp, clear, solid

As I ran, I thought about echoes and rings, circles and cycles, shadows as evidence of something else t/here. I also thought about how the tracing of a paved trail/loop can’t happen on the surface — unless it’s raining or snowing, the hard asphalt leaves no evidence of my footfalls. Instead the evidence is found in my memory, my familiarity with the path in my mind and body:

Familiarity has begun. One has made a relationship with the landscape, and the form and the symbol and the enactment of the relationship is the path. These paths of mind are seldom worn on the ground. They are habits of mind, directions and turns. They are as personal as old shoes. My feet are comfortable in them. 

“A Native Hill”/ Wendell Berry

Returning to the rings:

A Ring/ W.S. Merwin

At this moment and through every moment
this planet which for all we know

is the only one in the vault of darkness
with life on it is wound in a fine veil

of whispered voices groping the frayed waves
of absence they keep flying up like flares

out of hope entwined with its opposite
to wander in ignorance as we do

when we are looking for what we have lost
one moment touching the earth and the next

straying far out past the orbits and webs
and the static of knowledge they go on

without being able to tell whether
they are addressing the past or the future

or where they are ever heard these currents
that are the living talking to the dead

oct 16/RUN

4 miles
marshall loop
41 degrees / feels like 37!

Winter running is coming! Today was great. Cool enough to not get (too) overheated, sunny, not much wind. More yellow leaves. Right after I reached the river road, I heard 2 runners behind me. One of them had a booming voice that carried. I couldn’t tell how far behind me they were or if they were slowly approaching me. Instead of getting irritated or changing my pace, going faster or slower, I kept it steady and heard a few fragments of the conversation, mostly the loud guy’s part: they haven’t seen each other since the pandemic hit, so they were catching up, talking about their running and injuries and aging. I recall the quiet guy saying something like, Man, it’s tough getting old. Not too far from lake street, the quiet guy left. The last thing I heard before I turned up to the lake street bridge was the loud guy blowing a snot rocket (so glad he was far behind me!).

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The river, part 1: crossing the lake street bridge. Out of the corner of my right eye, barely below the railing, I kept thinking I was seeing a rower. Not the shell, but the wake or trail of the boat gliding through the water
  2. The river, part 2: crossing back later, I realized it had not been a rower or the trail from a boat but something else — the current, ripples from a something just below the water, scum on the surface?
  3. The floor below the Welcoming Oaks was covered in a dead leaf carpet. No visible grass or dirt, just crunching leaves
  4. Still no stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  5. Near the bottom of the marshall hill looking up at the red stop light at the top, seeming far and close at the same time
  6. Hearing voices as I ran above Shadow Falls on the St. Paul side — were they coming from the falls or The Monument?
  7. The women runners I encountered wearing pants or tights; the male runners shorts
  8. The huge empty lot near Summit on the St. Paul side that I’ve seen on zillow. Asking price: 2.75 million just for the land
  9. Right before greeting Dave, the Daily Walker, I heard a bike that had just passed brake loudly — not a squeal but a loud compression of air, or sneakers rubbing on a gym floor– then turning around and passing me again
  10. The river, part 3: Running south on the west river road, nearing the old stone steps, I glimpsed the river, on fire from the sun, burning bright white through a break in the trees

Something about seeing the river burning white made me think more about ghosts and traces and why I am interested in trails and flashes. Right after I finished my run, I recorded my thoughts. In this recording, I can’t remember what prompted these thoughts and I say lake when I mean river. Also, I keep intending to use notes on my phone when dictating my ideas because it can transcribe them. One day, I’ll remember.

after run / 16 october

Speaking of traces, here’s something I encountered on twitter this morning:

“I am slow and need to think about things a long time, need to hold onto the trace on paper. Thinking is adventure. Does adventure need to be speedy? Perhaps revising is a way of refusing closure?…”

Rosemarie Waldrop

Just got Rita Dove’s latest collection, Playlist for the Apocalypse, from the library. I love Rita Dove! Here’s one that doesn’t necessarily fit with this month’s theme, but I want to post it anyway:

Island/ Rita Dove

A room in one’s head
is for thinking
outside of the box,
though the box is still
there—cosmic cage,
Barnum’s biggest, proudest Ring.
My land: a chair, four sticks
with a board laid across:
This is the raft
I pile my dreams on,
set out to sea.
Look for me, shore.

oct 14/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around + extra
49 degrees
19 mph gusts

Brrrr. Colder and windier today. Wore tights and 2 shirts. The leaves continue to change. Today: bright brassy yellow with hints of green and brown. Not mustard or gold — at least to me. So intense and delightful that I exclaimed “wow!” as I reached the edge of the welcoming oaks. Down in the tunnel of trees more oranges and yellows. Still more leaves in the trees than on the ground, but if the wind keeps blowing like it did yesterday and it is today, that will change. By next week, will all the leaves have fallen? I felt strong and relaxed, running at an easy pace. Then a runner slowly approached from behind, not passing me fast enough, running alongside of me. I sped up to avoid them and knew it was a mistake almost immediately. I was running too fast. Ran for a few more minutes at that pace and then stopped to let the other runner pass. The lesson to learn: always slow down or stop to let another runner go by. Do not speed up to avoid them. This is a reminder of a lesson I should have learned several months ago with the group of kids on bikes under the lake street bridge (see may 28, 2021).

10 Things I Noticed

  1. A bright orange tree on the grass between edmund and the river road. Difficult to quite remember, but I think it wasn’t completely orange, maybe giving the idea of orange or orange-tinted leaves on an otherwise green leafed tree
  2. The man in black who was not in black at all but still has the very long legs. I think I might rename him “daddy long legs” — is that bad?
  3. The trees above the ravine and the slick slats and sewer pipe and concrete ledge were bright yellow and red
  4. The wind was blowing in many different directions, never at my back
  5. The jingling of my house key in the small zippered pocket in the front of my orange running shirt
  6. A roller skier without his poles — no clicking or clacking, lots of awkward arm movements
  7. No stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  8. Hardly any leaves left on the welcoming oaks
  9. An approaching runner avoiding me by running on the other side of a tree and through the grass
  10. 3 sets of steps (all inviting me to take them): the old, uneven stone steps after the tunnel of trees; the big stone slabbed steps before the trestle; the recently replaced wooden steps after the trestle. All leading to the Winchell Trail

Ran north listening to the wind, south listening to a playlist with Miley Cyrus and 2 songs by Silk Sonic — nice! At the end, above the ravine, I thought about how I rely less on a watch, and much more on the weather and the trees to keep track of time. Much more enjoyable to think in seasons or the progress of the leaves than minutes, hours, days.

Earlier today I was thinking about pace — and only slightly in relation to running pace, more about pacing and restlessness and ghosts that haunt the path. Pace and pacing, like watches or clocks, impose limits and boundaries: a running pace uses seconds and minutes per mile (or km) and pacing involves walking back and forth in a small or confined space, retracing your steps again and again until you rub the grass away and reach dirt, or wear the carpet bare. What to do with that information? I’m not quite sure…yet.

I found this poem on twitter yesterday. Even though it doesn’t deal with my theme (ghosts, haunting, haunts), I wanted to post it and tag it with water so I would have it for letter. Such a wonderful poem and poet!

Portrait of a Figure Near Water/ Jane Kenyon

Rebuked, she turned and ran
uphill to the barn. Anger, the inner
arsonist, held a match to her brain.
She observed her life: against her will
it survived the unwavering flame.

The barn was empty of animals.
Only a swallow tilted
near the beams, and bats
hung from the rafters
the roof sagged between.

Her breath became steady
where, years past, the farmer cooled
the big tin amphoræ of milk.
The stone trough was still
filled with water: she watched it
and received its calm.

So it is when we retreat in anger:
we think we burn alone
and there is no balm.
Then water enters, though it makes
no sound.

favorite bits: anger, the inner arsonist; the bats and the rafters the roof sagged between; the line break for “the stone trough was still/filled with water”; and water as the soundless balm for our burning alone.

random sighting/thought: Saw a sign in front of a house that read:

We love our rocks!
Please do not
take our rocks.

I thought about the importance of line breaks here. Maybe it’s just my faulty vision, but when I read this sign I am just as (or maybe more) likely to read the line “take our rocks” on its own and think they want me to take their rocks. How does the meaning of the sign change with different breaks:

Please do
not take
our rocks.

Please do not take
our rocks.

Please
do not take
our rocks.

What if you mix up the order?

Our rocks
do not take
please

Our rocks do
please take not

rocks? please.
ours do not take

do ours not please? (rock’s take)

take rocks — ours
please — (do not)

Too much useless fun!

addendum: I told STA about my fun wordplay, and he offered this one:

Our rocks please.
Do not take!

another addendum: The sign actually started: Rocks rock!

oct 12/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
59 degrees
humidity: 78%

Overcast today. No sun. I like how this makes the colors — the reds, golds, greens — glow more. Almost peak color in the trees. When I started my run, I felt awkward, almost like my limbs were working against instead of with each other. By the time I reached the river it was fine. Ran south to the falls on the trail, which I’ve been trying to avoid, and it was crowded. 4 roller skiers, skiing 2 x 2 were causing all sorts of problems for bikers and me as I encountered the bikers. Made it to the falls, stopped to check out the statue of Minnehaha and Hiawatha. Hardly any water in the creek. Ran north, heading home. Took the Winchell Trail and admired the leaves — their intense colors and the fact that many of them had already fallen. My view is coming back!

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The slow approaching clicking and clacking of ski poles. Click clack click clack
  2. A squirrel emerging from the trees then darting back in as I neared
  3. The lights from a bike coming closer, a sharp contrast with the gray gloom
  4. The trickle of the sewer pipe near 42nd. Drip drip drip
  5. Many leaves on the ground. In some spots erasing the trail
  6. 2 spindly, bare branches poking out from behind a golden tree, reaching up to the sky
  7. A clicking or rattling noise coming from some animal, probably a squirrel. Sounding a little like the rattle of a rattlesnake
  8. The falls barely falling. Hardly any water
  9. Kids laughing, yelling, talking at playgrounds — Minnehaha Academy and Minnehaha Falls. More kids playing tag around the fountain and the benches with parts of “Song of Hiawatha” etched on them
  10. Winchell Trail in full color — a perfect fall scene (can this perfection last for more than a day?)

As I ran, I was thinking more about the act of haunting (frequenting) a place, returning to it and then about trails and how I might want to write more route/trail/loop poems that play with ideas of haunting. At the end of my run, I recorded some of my thoughts. Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about trails and frequenting and haunting. And then I was thinking as I was running over the leaves, how the trails are hidden, can’t see the cracks or the trail at all. But then, when the leaves are gone and the snow starts to fall, when it’s just barely flurrying and there’s just a dusting on the ground, it illuminates the trails. You can only see that when the leaves are off and it’s just a dusting of snow. Thinking about how I want to play with that as part of this tracing. And also thinking about the different ways I can see — the visible and not visible. When is it a matter of seeing and when is it a matter of feeling? And thinking about the type of seeing I can do with the peripheral, which detects movement and gives you a larger sense of the terrain. What does that mean for these well-worn trails and how I experience them?

Voice Memo Notes / 12 Oct 2021
after run notes / 12 oct 2021

Here’s my ghost/haunt poem for today:

Seven Types of Shadow – an extract / U A Fanthorpe 

Part iii

This is a country of ghosts. Down the eastern shore
Lie the drowned villages, drowned luggers, drowned sailors.

After a hot summer, fields grow talkative.
Wheat speaks in crop marks, grasses in parch marks.

Wheat or grass, what they tell is the truth
Of things that lay underneath five thousand years ago,

The forts, the barrows, the barns, the shrines, the walls.
These are the native ghosts. After a hot summer.

No haunting. No rattle of chains. They just lie there
In their rigid truthfulness, the ghosts of things.

Part iv

We carry our human ghosts around with us.
As we grow we face the mirrors, and see

The spectre of a great-aunt, a vague look
Known only from sepia snapshots. The hands we’re used to –

Yes, these – their contours came by way of a long retinue
Of dust. We are photofits of the past,

And the future eyes us sideways as we eye ourselves.
We are the ghosts of great-aunts and grand-nephews.

We are ghosts of what is dead and not yet born.

Part vi

Ghosts of past, present, future.
But the ones the living would like to meet are the echoes
Of moments of small dead joys still quick in the streets,

Voices calling I’ve passed / We won / QED /
It didn’t hurt much, Mum / They’ve given me the job /
I have decided to name this apple Bramley;

And the women convicts singing their Holloway march,
While Ethel Smyth conducts from her cell with a toothbrush.

Part vii

These are the ghosts the living would prefer,
Ghosts who’d improve our ratings. Ghosts
Of the great innocent songs of freedom
That shoulder their way round the world like humpback whales,

Ghosts of the singers, the dancers, the liberated,
Holding hands and cheering in parks, while the tanks
Squat immobilized. Ghosts of the women on the fish quay
Hugging each other when at last the boats come in.

Ghosts of the last night of the Proms. And ghosts of lovers,
Wandering round London, so happy that they could
Have danced danced danced all night.

Like this bit: “And the future eyes us sideways as we eye ourselves.
We are the ghosts of great-aunts and grand-nephews./ We are ghosts of what is dead and not yet born.” Love this way of messing with linear time. On a smaller scale, I think about this with past, present, and future Saras.

october 11/RUN

5.25 miles
franklin loop
52 degrees

Still a little warm, but fall is here. Another great morning — sunny and cooler than last week. I wore shorts and a long sleeve shirt (my bright yellow 10 mile race shirt from a few years ago). For the first few minutes, I was chilly, but I warmed up quickly. I wouldn’t mind running in this weather every day. Frequently counted to 4. Sometimes felt strong, sometimes tired.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The Welcoming Oaks have lost most of their golden leaves
  2. The tunnel of trees and my favorite spot above the floodplain forest is slowly turning yellow. Still lots of green and no view of the river yet
  3. The new asphalt, put down only last year, near the trestle is cracking already. In addition to the long cracks, people have spray-painted a peace sign, an anarchy sign, and something else that looks like squiggly lines to me
  4. Running over the franklin bridge, thought I saw a rower on the river, but the railing blocked my view. Every time I turned back, I could almost see it, believed it was there, but could never fully see it. Finally, almost across the bridge, I looked back and there it was: a single shell
  5. The river was mostly a pale blue with the dark edges — the result of trees on the shore casting their shadows into the water like fishermen
  6. A dog barking below
  7. No stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  8. Another regular: the guy with big headphones on who I used to see on the track at the Y. Last week I saw him near the east side of the trestle, today it was below the lake st bridge on the marshall side
  9. Running back over the lake st bridge, I admired the rowers on the river. 6 rowers. 2 single shells and 2 doubles
  10. An older man running on the other side of the bridge, shirtless

My shadow was running in front of me for part of the time. I thought about her as a ghost, or me as a ghost, then about all of the running or walking feet that have landed on this path. I thought about other people — the ones still alive who frequent the trail, like me, and the ones who are dead. I wondered about the old woman whose death, caused by a speeding bike in the 70s, resulted in separate biking and running trails on the west side of the river. Where was she struck? I looked it up, and the only thing I had correct: a woman was struck and killed by a bike and the outrage over her death led to the creation of separate bike trails. BUT, it was not on the river road, but at Lake Harriet, and she wasn’t old, but 58. (Source) I thought about all of the past Saras that have run this trail too. How many of us are there?

oct 9/RUN

4 miles
wabun park + turkey hollow
65 degrees
humidity: 86% / dewpoint: 61

A little too sticky, but what a beautiful morning for a run! Sunny, calm, quiet. Before running felt uneasy about something I couldn’t name; running helped. I’m thinking about ghosts and haunting the path (frequenting it, floating above it, flashing through it) and trying to find a way into my next big project — my annual fall project. Something about the periphery and the approximate as not quite (human, able to see or connect, in this world, real). I need a door, or at least a window — anything that might let me enter this project.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The trail, covered in leaves, a lot of them red — not bright red, but faded, almost pink
  2. A processional of walkers, bikers, big groups of runners on the trail between 36th and 42nd
  3. A clanging collar on the other side of the boulevard, following me as I ran south
  4. Someone playing frisbee golf at Wabun, throwing a frisbee from the path. Were they playing or working, picking up frisbees others had left behind? Why were they throwing from the path? Why did it look — in my quick, unreliable, glance — that they had a golf bag?
  5. For over a year and a half, every time I run up 47th, as part of the turkey hollow loop, there is a dumpster parked on the street, in front of a house. It was still there today. Have they been remodeling their house for that long?
  6. The ford bridge, from the top of the hill at wabun, then from below, at the bottom of the path
  7. My shadow in the grass as I walked across turkey hollow
  8. The too white, newly redone road between 42nd and folwell, one side of it covered in leaves
  9. Feeling someone running at my same pace–me on edmund, them on the river road. Not wanting to look over to check too closely, trying not to race them
  10. The dirt trail between Becketwood and Minneahaha Academy Lower Campus, dry, covered with leaves, much more worn and well-traveled (haunted) than the barely there mostly tamped down grass, partly dirt path in front of Minnehaha Academy Upper Campus

Haunt/ Maya Phillips

Because there are so few hobbies left
to the dead, my father gives himself this:
his usual route, the Queens-bound F
to Continental, where he walks with the living
to work. Every day he finds a new occupation—
picks trash off the tracks, changes a dirty lightbulb,
makes rounds on the platforms,
tries to make some small use of his hands,
though no one notices
or acknowledges. Yet still he returns
every day, in his tan shirt and brown slacks
ironed with the impatience
of the perpetually late,
his keys jingling carelessly
in his left front pocket.

Twenty-plus years with the MTA
but some other guy’s got the job now,
someone younger, maybe someone
my father knows, standing in the operating booth
at the end of the platform, watching
the miniature trains on the board
carry lights through a digital New York.
And maybe the young man knows nothing
of the dead man, has no words
for a ghost who builds a home
of his absence. And if my father says haunt

he doesn’t mean the way rooms forget him
once he’s gone; he’s saying his leather chair
now in his coworker’s office, his locker
in the back room newly purged
of its clutter, or his usual table
in the break room where he sits
at 10:30 each night eating
the same steak club and chips, counting
the 10, 20, 30 more years till retirement,
cuz he’s close, he’s in the final stretch—any day
now and he’ll finally go on that vacation.

oct 7/RUN

5.5 miles
ford loop (with winchell trail)
62 degrees

Getting closer to peak fall color. More reds are creeping in, lots of yellow, a few bits of orange. Ran north to the lake street bridge, then up the hill beside shadow falls, past The Monument, down to the ford bridge, back over to Minneapolis, and ended below on the Winchell Trail.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. My favorite spot above the floodplain forest, near the old stone steps, is beginning to lighten–a few of the trees are turning yellow, not golden yellow, but more the color of a lime or a pear
  2. At least 4 stones were stacked on the ancient boulder
  3. The welcoming oaks are becoming a golden grove unleaving
  4. At one point, I noticed part of the river was a pale blue, almost white, while the other part was a darker blue
  5. Running over the lake street bridge looking down at the river, the water looked smooth, flat, stretched, only a few ripples right in the center
  6. Running over the ford ave bridge, I noticed, for the first time, the faint outlines of 2 squares just in from each of the railing posts. What are these? Was the bridge more narrow, with the railings in closer to the road? Would that even be possible?
  7. The Winchell Trail was covered with leaves
  8. All around the trails, the trees were shedding leaves, the leaves floated down like snow flakes or raindrops or butterflies
  9. Running on the Winchell Trail, almost to the steep rise by Folwell, the trees were bare, revealing another dirt trail that winds even closer to the edge
  10. An older runner in a bright yellow shirt, running on the opposite side of the road near St. Thomas

I remember the feeling of having revelations or insights or just interesting thoughts, but I don’t remember what they were. The feeling? Satisfaction, I think. Or comfort? Reassurance? A calming sense of peace?

I counted to 4 in my head for many stretches of the run. It helped me to focus my breath and my effort. I should try this more often.