jan 17/RUN

2.2 miles
ywca track

Went to the y in the early evening, before community band rehearsal. Too crowded to swim, so I ran. Not as nice as running outside, but better than the treadmill. Listened to a playlist and forgot to count laps or notice the time. The track was crowded but not too crowded and not filled with oblivious people spread across the three lanes.

People I Encountered

  1. a woman who walked in the closest lane to the railing but often drifted over
  2. a guy, dressed in black shorts, a black shirt, and black running shoes, sprinting around the track then stopping to do battle ropes
  3. a tall guy with a blue shirt with the words “event staff” printed on it, watching over 2 young boys, shirtless, shoeless, and in sweat pants. Sometimes he held one of their hands as they carefully ran around the track. Sometimes he lifted them up at the far end so they could do pull-ups. As I left the track, I heard him say to one of the kids: you just ran a mile!
  4. 2 runners — a woman and a 10? year-old boy. Moving effortlessly around the track, their feet rhythmically rising and falling
  5. a guy in brown — not tan, but not dark either — shorts, running in a way that resembled speed walking
  6. an older woman in a white sweatshirt and dark pants, walking
  7. basketball practice below, in the gym — loud, exuberant players running up and down the court
  8. a man off in the corner doing burpees — his long torso and tall arms stretched high as he jumped up at the end of each one
  9. 2 men walking — the younger one looking out for the older one, making sure he didn’t veer out in front of any runner passing by
  10. a guy in a white shirt stretching before his run, doing leg swings

Other things I remember:

There was a white bucket for collecting drips set up in the middle lane on one side of the track. Scott peered into it and noticed that the bucket was dry. Why, he wondered, was it there?

Running the short end at the top, near the double doors, I saw a double shadow — 2 of me. At first I thought someone was about to pass me, but I was alone. Must have passed in front of the light just right. Strange and cool.

It was very dry on the track. My throat burned after a few laps.

As I turned the corners, I unintentionally tilted my head to the side. Corners are irritating.

At the far end, near where the man was doing the burpees and the kids were doing pull-ups, a banner was spread above the railing, blocking my view of the corner as I neared it. I imagined running straight into a group of walkers who might be hiding there

Did I think about anything? Did I look outside at the lights? I don’t think so.

After the run, Scott and I changed and met at the hot tub. The Otters swim team was having a practice. RJP’s and FWA’s old coach was still there, joking with the kids and calling out sets.

later: That night, I had a dream that I was swimming in a pool — the Y pool? Not sure — and a swim team coach — was it Whitney, FWA/RJP’s old coach? — said, Congratulations! You’ve made the team in the 100 free!

jan 15/RUN

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
35 degrees
clear roads / 50% snow-covered trails / puddles

Another warmer day. The sidewalks on my block and on the way to the river are still covered in ice and slick snow. Hopefully the warm temperature today will melt more of it?! A wonderful run. Ran on the road until edmund ended, then on the trail to the falls. I don’t remember hearing the falls at all. Maybe it was because I was distracted by trying to avoid people. Didn’t look at the river again today. Why do I keep forgetting? I felt good and strong and relaxed, although my right kneecap was shifting around again.

At some point, I decided that I — my brain and my feet — find it more interesting to run on a trail with a little bit of grit or snow or something more than just flat, hard asphalt.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. Near 42nd, right after I crossed over from edmund, I saw the blur of a runner moving fast down the Winchell Trail. I hope they had yaktrak on because I bet it was super slippery down there!
  2. crossing over at 42nd involved scaling a wall of slippery snow — the crosswalk on the side I choose was blocked with snow and ice
  3. Heard the scrape scrape scrape of a shovel on a driveway or a sidewalk — rough, loud. A stubborn stretch of ice?
  4. A cross-country skier skiing on the snowy boulevard between edmund and the river road
  5. Smelled smoke from a chimney, but not at the usual spot. The smoke I smelled today was farther south
  6. the falls were crowded! A big bunch (10-15) of people were spread across the sidewalk
  7. running above the giant sledding hill I heard a kid sledding down. I could tell the hill was bumpy because their yell, which they kept going the entire way, was jagged and cut in and out
  8. a runner in black tights and a white jacket stopped near the double bridge in the middle of the trail
  9. Passing a very tall runner in a blue jacket — me: good morning! them: morning
  10. my shadow beside me and ahead of me — dark, well-defined on this bright blue day

My favorite things about the run were spotting the cross-country skier and hearing the kid yell as they sped down the hill. That yell — so joyful and comical to hear it break up, bump after bump. I started thinking about how you can use your other senses to get to know a place. In this case, hearing helped me to notice that the path was bumpy and steep (the kid’s yell went on for a while). I think I’ll mention this in my class. It also reminded me of a walk I took with Scott one fall. We were walking on the Winchell Trail under a lot of trees. Without even looking we could tell when the trees still had their leaves because the air suddenly became cooler.

jan 14/RUN

4.75 miles
edmund, north/river road trail, north/seabury, south/river road trail, south
26 degrees
snow/ice-covered 75% (path) 25% (road)

For the first time since Monday, I was able to run outside. Hooray! What a difference it makes — for how the run feels, how I feel after the run — to run outside above the gorge. I ran on the road for part of it to avoid the worst stretches of the trail. Lots of loosely packed, slippery snow. I wasn’t as worried about falling as I was about having all my energy drained from the effort of running through the snow. Because of the bad conditions, I stopped to walk a few times.

Ran north to the Franklin bridge with no headphones. Turned around and put in a playlist.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. some of the roads were bare, others were still covered in soft, slippery snow
  2. a walker ahead of me on edmund was wearing a bright orange jacket
  3. running north, the wind was at my back. Returning south, in my face — cold and stubborn
  4. the river road was thick with cars, a steady stream
  5. a few bikers, more walkers, some runners
  6. a runner in a blue jacket, carefully making his way down the icy path near franklin
  7. an orange sign, a porta potty, a few barricades off to the side: there must have been a race earlier today
  8. a congress of crows cawing furiously, the sound echoing through the alley
  9. the scrape of a shovel on a sidewalk somewhere
  10. heading up from below the lake street bridge, hearing the wind shaking the dead leaves on the oak trees, sounding almost like water dripping — or was it water dripping?

Things I Forgot to Notice, or Didn’t Notice

  1. the river — don’t remember looking at it even once
  2. no regulars — no Dave the Daily Walker or Mr. Morning! or Daddy Long Legs or Mr. Holiday
  3. no geese
  4. no woodpeckers
  5. no black-capped chickadees
  6. no fat tires
  7. no kids laughing and sledding
  8. no overheard conversations
  9. no darting squirrels
  10. no music blasting from cars or smart phone speakers

Scrolling through twitter, I happened upon this poem:

Letter from the Catskills/ David Eye

Cousin–When a dozen robins blew into the yard yesterday–
I’d never seen so many–I watched them hop, cock their heads,
grab the thaw’s first worms. Such a pleasure, those yam-
colored breast feathers. Then snow las night, enough
for a fine white pelt, mostly gone by midday. (You’re better
off doing your play in the City, till it warms up for good.)
I wonder if the snow melted or–what’s that word?–
sublimed. To go from solid to gas, skipping liquid altogether.
The way I’d like to die. Grocery-shopping last night, I swear
I felt like such a loser. Not a fully set of teeth in the house,
yet I’m the freak: 45, alone at the Liberty Shop-Rite. And a snob:
can you believe it took four people to help me find capers?
So many breakups. My sister got the only keeper. God, I love
those kids. I dream of children almost every night. Awake,
I’m a eunuch. New vocal warmup, repeat before you go on
tonight: “unique New York eunuch unique New York
eunuch….” Give your boy a squeeze. The robins are back.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about how poetry makes the familiar strange, but I think poetry can also make the strange familiar. Give us a door into the unfamiliar so we can get to know someone else and their experiences. The door in for me with this poem was all the robins. This past week, I saw so many fat robins on my crab apple tree, swaying and bobbing and getting drunk off the shriveled up apples.

a note about editing: I have a lot of typos in my writing. I didn’t used to. For years, that was a super power, being able to catch all the errors and to write a draft with hardly any mistakes. Now, I make lots of spelling errors (before I fixed it, I had spelled crab apple, CRAP apple), leave out articles and other secondary words, and for some reason, use an excessive amount of commas. I feel like I over-comma everything. Why? I think these errors and excessive commas are happening because I’m getting older, I’m writing more, the way spellcheck is set up with autocorrect is fucked up, and my declining vision. I think my declining vision is probably the biggest culprit. It’s frustrating and irritating and humbling to confront a decline like this, but I’m working on reframing it. Less of a decline, more of a shift to new practices and less worrying about stupid typos that don’t really matter. Maybe I’ll write a poem about it?

jan 10/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
28 degrees / humidity: 90% / mist
100% soft, slippery, snow-covered

Quiet, gray, dreamy. Disconnected from the world. Alone, but not lonely. Immersed in a slow, hard effort on a slippery trail. I’m ready for this soft snow to go away. I want a clear, solid path, please. My leg muscles are sore, but I don’t regret the run. How wonderful to be outside and moving beside the gorge in the winter!

No fresh, clean air. Instead, a poor air quality warning. I couldn’t feel it in my lungs, but I could see it in the sky. Everything was even fuzzier than usual.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. heard some harsh honks, then looked up in the sky. A vee of geese! I stopped to watch them flying low until they disappeared behind a tree
  2. the sky was a pleasing, soft gray
  3. running past a park kiosk, I heard some deep thumping. Could it be the knocking of a woodpecker?
  4. the falls were frozen, although as I ran by the bridge just above the falls, I noticed a dark open spot. I didn’t stop to listen for gurgling water. Would I have heard some?
  5. only one car and one person in the parking lot, standing near the machine where you pay for parking
  6. stopped to walk on the unplowed pedestrian side of the double bridge and heard nothing but a loud silence
  7. the path was covered in soft, slippery snow, with a few short stretches of packed snow
  8. the road (edmund) was slick and wet and had lots of streaks of brown, slushy, slippery snow
  9. kids’ voices drifting over from the school playground, mixing in with the geese honks
  10. felt a fine mist on my face — was it freezing rain? moisture in the air?

Found this poem on twitter the other day:

Lit/ Andrea Cohen

Everyone can’t
be a lamplighter.

Someone must
be the lamp,

and someone
must, in bereaved

rooms sit,
unfathoming what

it is to be lit.

jan 6/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
14 degrees / feels like 6
100% snow-covered

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had a big snowstorm. 14.9 inches of snow in total. Schools went online — which is what they do now instead of snow days; students still have to show up, but just to their computers. Because it kept snowing, the city of Minneapolis didn’t declare a snow emergency and begin plowing side streets until it was over on Wednesday. The result: a mess. Today, they’re on day 3 of the snow emergency (plowing the odd side of the street) and walls of snow have appeared at the ends of sidewalks and where streets cross each other. These walls made for a slow start to my run as I climbed over them on my way to the river. The river road trail was plowed, but still covered with a hard pack of snow. I wore my yaktrax, which helped. I didn’t mind running on the snow and was able to sight and avoid all of the big, hard chunks of snow on the path. I didn’t slip, but once I almost rolled my ankle on some snow as I turned a corner at the falls.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. lots of soft ruts in the street — snow almost the color and texture of sand
  2. the river was completely white and still
  3. the dark, sharp shadows of bare tree branches sprawled across the white path
  4. kids having fun at the school playground — I couldn’t see them, but heard their exuberant voices
  5. a strange clanging, clunking, banging noise coming from the school –was it kids? — or Becketwood — a furnace?
  6. the falls weren’t falling, but frozen
  7. as they neared a tight curve by locks and dam #1, several cars slowed way down
  8. a smaller parks plow cleared off the walls of snow at the entrance to the trail near the falls
  9. the snow was so white, the sun so bright, that it all looked blue — the palest shade of blue
  10. a congress of crows calling out to each other. I remember thinking that they sounded much more pleasant than bluejays

overheard: Unfortunately, even though I tried to hang onto all of the words I heard as I ran by two walkers, I’ve forgotten some of them.

A woman to her walking companion: “Not all bosses are like that, Sheldon. My boss doesn’t do that…”

I wondered what her boss doesn’t do. Then, I thought about her frustrated tone and wondered if it was frustration over a boss who didn’t do things they way she wished, or Sheldon for assuming all bosses did things in the same way or for appreciating how his boss did things. The question became: for her, who is the asshole, the boss or Sheldon? All I had to go on were her words and her tone, which didn’t seem like enough. I imagined (but knew I’d never do) stopping to ask her: Excuse me, I’m not trying to be nosy, but what doesn’t your boss do? I thought about how not knowing was an opportunity to reflect on how we communicate and what clues we give with our inflections.

relying on my practice

A great run one day after my colonoscopy. A few days ago, I had mentioned that I was stressed out about the procedure. It went fine. In fact, there were parts of it I actually enjoyed — maybe “enjoyed” is too strong of a word? I’m glad it’s over, but it wasn’t that bad. Mostly because I’m healthy and they didn’t find anything wrong, but partly because I used the noticing skills I’ve developed from my practice of running and writing about it on this log to distract me. Is distract the right word? Maybe keep me focused on remaining present? Or occupied with something other than worry? As I waited in the crowded (but not too tightly packed) waiting room, I took notes of what I noticed. I kept paying attention (but without the notebook) when I headed back for preop and as they wheeled me into the operating room. Maybe I could turn it into a poem?

More than 10 Things I Noticed Before My Colonoscopy

  1. lime green chairs
  2. an older man, restless, tapping on the table like he was playing a keyboard or typing on a computer
  3. a nurse calling out, Sue
  4. the steady hum of the machine that circulates the air
  5. the sound of someone watching a video on a phone — the volume was low, so all I heard was a constant buzz of voices
  6. a woman with a mask below her nose walking by
  7. nurse: Sherry with Barb
  8. the hum of a copy machine or a printer
  9. Julia
  10. Tanika
  11. Isaiah (a little kid in pajamas walked by holding a woman’s hand)
  12. Mark
  13. Brandon
  14. the soft sound of someone folding a crease into a piece of stiff paper
  15. the rustling of a winter coat or nylon pants
  16. Scott’s keyboard keys clicking
  17. a deep rumbling voice
  18. a person walking by wearing bright red sneakers. I wasn’t sure if they were red or orange, so I asked Scott
  19. a cart with a blue cover being pushed by a nurse through the waiting room
  20. someone playing music — I could tell it was music, but not what kind or any of the words that were being sung
  21. a woman wearing a bright yellow stocking cap walked by
  22. Bridget
  23. Nancy
  24. the woman with her mask down coughing and sneezing and blowing her nose then making a call and saying something about 4%
  25. someone saying the phrase, Dad Bodies
  26. Wendy
  27. Travis
  28. feet shuffling, the low hum of murmuring voices

A few other things: 2 of my nurses were also named Sara/h — one was Sara, the other Sarah. My doctor’s sister is Zara. He told me the name means “flower.” When I was wheeled into the operating room, they were talking about how amazing air fryers are. As I drifted off to sleep I heard one of them saying, It’s the best appliance I have. Better than a microwave. I use it 6 or 7 times a week!


I’m continuing to work on my colorblind plate poem about orange. One key theme: I see orange everywhere. Here’s something to add to that: as the nurse (Sarah) was putting in my iv, she told me to look at the orange leaf (which was her way of saying look away so you don’t see me poking you and freak out). I turned and noticed a photograph of gray rocks with a bright orange leaf resting on them. Orange! Later, after I left the room I wondered if I had remembered correctly. Was it orange or red. But then I thought that it didn’t matter because I still thought of it as orange. This fits with my sighting of the red (which I though might be orange) sneakers (#18).

Found this poem on twitter this morning:

Blink/ Donna Vorreyer

A blur of movement where it does not belong,
a white floater in the window’s darkening eye.

A plastic bag, I think, caught in an updraft
or a bit of the dying yucca’s autumn fluff,

but I discover it is a hawk, all muscled breast
and feathered intent, settling to perch in the tree

outside my window, to survey the yard then
fly again, gone as quickly as it came, the same way

joy arrives. Without warning. Sometimes
unrecognizable. Never promising to stay.

Here’s what Vorreyer said about the poem: “If @MFiteJohnson hadn’t sent me the picture, I might have not believed it actually happened, but I have a poem keeping company with hers in the new issue of @pshares, something I thought I would never say. It’s a small poem about being in the moment, something I want to do more.

dec 29/RUN

5 miles
franklin hill turn around
34 degrees / humidity: 87%
60% snow and slush covered

A nice run, even if it was a little too slushy and slick. After I was done, walking on edmund, I took out my phone and recorded my thoughts and the sounds of this wintery Thursday morning. Very cool to listen back to the recording: the steady crunch crunch crunch of my feet, car wheels whooshing through the slushy puddles, the hum of the city, birds chirping, melted snow drip drip dripping through the metal gutter, the brief moments when my feet go silent as I cross over bare pavement.

Ran north with no headphones, south with a playlist (summer 2014).

post run winter morning sounds

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a congress of crows, cawing loudly (congress, council, and consideration are J. Drew Lanham’s collective name for crows instead of murder)
  2. greeting Dave the Daily Walker, good morning Dave!
  3. the river is white, completely covered
  4. in some spots, the trail was 1/2 slush, with a few spots of ice
  5. in other spots, bare pavement
  6. a woman in a yellow vest, running fast in the road. I marveled at the steady rhythm of her feet and before I knew it she was way over on the other side of 36th. I spotted her as a bright yellow dot in the distance
  7. the scraping of ski poles to the side of me — not quick thrusts, but the steady drag of poles down a hill
  8. some of the snow was white, some gray, some light brown
  9. several runners, many walkers, a few fat tires
  10. 2 women walking in the middle of the trail, in the barest spot, stopping every few seconds to stare at something — what?

Here are a few passages about the wonder of winter from Dallas Lore Sharp and his book Winter. I originally heard about him on The Marginalia.

I love the winter…its bare fields, empty woods, flattened meadows, its ranging landscapes, its stirless silences, its tumult of storms, its crystal nights with stars new cut in the glittering sky, its challenge, defiance, and mighty wrath. I love its wild life–its birds and animals; the shifts they make to conquer death. And then, out of this winter watching, I love the gentleness that comes, the sympathy, the understanding!

you must see how close you had passed to and for all summer to the vireo’s nest, hanging from the fork on a branch of some low bush or tree, so near to the path that it almost brushed your hat. Yet you never daw it! Go on and make a study of the empty nests….Study how the different birds build — materials, shapes, finish, supports; for winter is the better season in which to make such study, the summer being so crowded with interests of its own.

When the snow hardens, especially after a strong wind, go out to see what you can find in the wind furrows of the snow–in the holes, hollows, pockets, and in footprints in the snow. Nothing? Look again, closely — that dust — wind-sweepings — seeds!

winter, when the leaves are off, the ground bare, the birds and flowers gone, and all is reduced to singleness and simplicity — winter is the time to observe the shapes, colors, varieties, and growth of the lichens.

What a world of gray days, waste lands, bare woods, and frozen waters there is to see! And you should see them — gray and bare and waste and frozen. But what is a frozen pond for if not to be skated on? and waste white lands, but to go sleighing over? and cold gray days, but so many opportunities to stay indoors with your good books?

You will see the fishermen on the ponds catching pickerel through the ice — life swimming there under the frozen surface! You will see the bare empty woodland fresh budded to the tip of each tiny twig — life all over the trees thrust forward to catch the touch of spring! You will see the wide flinty fields thick sown with seeds — life, more life than the sun and the soil can feed, sleeping there under “the tender, sculturesque, immaculate, warming, fertilizing snow”!

The air was crisper; the snow began to crackle underfoot; the twigs creaked and rattled as I brushed along; a brown beech leaf wavered down and skated with a thin scratch over the crust…These were not the voices, colors, odors, and forms of summer. The very face of things had changed; all had been reduced, made plain, simple, single, pure! There was less for the senses, but how much keener now their joy! The wide landscape the frosty air, the tinkle of tiny icicles, and, out of the quiet of the falling twilight, the voice of the quail!

dec 26/RUNSWIM

run: 2.5 miles
ywca track

Went to the Y with Scott and RJP this morning, so I ran there. First time running on the track in 4 or 5 years. Wasn’t too bad — not that crowded. Very quiet. I forgot to count laps so my distance is approximate — my watch never seems to be accurate indoors. Listened to “swim meet motivation” playlist and observed people as I passed them.

10 People I Noticed on the track

  1. a man, sometimes running (slowly), sometimes walking, wearing black gloves — not boxing gloves but also not winter gloves
  2. another guy, pulling a sled at the far corner
  3. a woman running, the key to her locker jangling in her pocket with every step
  4. an older white woman with white hair — was she wearing a pink sweatshirt, or was it blue? I can’t remember now. She walked pretty fast on the track, but was slow on the stairs when I was behind her earlier
  5. RJP, walking — I waved at her every time I passed by. Was it annoying?
  6. someone using rattle ropes, off to the side, furiously lifting them up and down
  7. a woman on an eliptical machine in front of one of the windows
  8. an older white guy with white hair in jeans and a maroon shirt walking around the track
  9. Scott, running
  10. another older white man wearing gray shorts, walking

I don’t remember thinking about much, or noticing anything that interesting, or overhearing some strange conversation.

swim: .25 miles
ywca pool

Only needed a quarter of mile to reach my year goal of 120 miles. Not a very ambitious goal for an entire year of swimming; this goal was mostly for the open swim season. I’m thinking this year, since I’m swimming in the pool, I need to make it a lot bigger. 200 or 300? Not sure. Split a lane with RJP. Crowded today because of the break. All I remember was swimming next to a bunch of swim team kids, feeling sluggish in my first lap underwater, and noticing how the water was clearer than it had been last week.

Found this hybrid journal online. A call for submissions from jan 1-2. I want to submit something — either a mood ring or a colorblind plate, but which? One note: some of the site is almost unreadable for my bad vision. Not nearly enough contrast! Thankfully the journal pdf is easier to read.

I love lists, so I was excited to see this poem in the first issue:

List of Things to Make a List of/ Beth Mulcahy

Make a list of
things that sound like thunder but are not conversations to have
hard conversations to have
what makes conversations hard what makes conversations easy
things to do to get through a hard day
songs that helps with getting through a hard day
people to tell about it what to tell them
people not to tell
ways to prevent it
how to describe it
how to tell people the truth when to tell people the truth things you have said
things you should not have said things you should have said things you should say
to someone specific to anyone
to no one
how to let go of retroactive anxieties
things you used to care about that you don’t anymore things you wish you cared more about
things that used to be different
examples of passive aggressive statements examples of things that are too direct (harsh)
ways of beating around the bush
ways of cutting to the chase
how to calm yourself down
apologies you owe
things you can’t forgive
things you can’t forget
things you should forget
things that are your fault
things that are not your fault
the hardest things you’ve had to do
how to make things easier
for self
for others things you can explain
things that you cannot explain things you can’t describe things to write through
things that are private
people who love you
people who love you and also like you
things you have to offer
things to say to people you love things to say about the weather people you talk to every single day people you don’t know anymore people you loved who are dead ways to let things go
how to keep from having to let go ways to pay attention
things to pay attention to
things to ignore
places to fly away to
ways to be where you are

dec 21/SWIM

2 miles
ywca pool
winter storm warning — snow, wind, cold

Got to the Y with RJP and Scott just as the big winter storm was beginning. Swam for an hour, which is the most I’ve done since open swim ended in August. Mostly, I felt strong. A little tired, a little sore. It was fun to share a lane with RJP. It makes me very happy that she’s swimming again.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. there was a lifeguard today
  2. the leisure pool was open with lots of happy kids, at least one screaming, not in anger but delight
  3. one woman next to me did some side lunges as she walked in her lane
  4. another woman did a strange butterfly stroke — was it butterfly? She was doing the arm motions but not much else, and barely that
  5. as usual, orange everywhere. I looked up and the only color I could see was the orange from the 2 signs on the pool deck
  6. the water seemed a little less cloudy, clearer
  7. some new things (or things I haven’t noticed before) on the pool floor: 2 white somethings — what were they?
  8. after one of the women left, another swimmer came, a man wearing a blue speedo
  9. my nose squeaked as my noseplug shifted, my googles leaked a few times
  10. noticed what a great job RJP does with her streamline off the walls

Before heading over to the y, as I was drinking my coffee, I read some more of Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. Here’s an excerpt that I was thinking about:

40. When I talk about color and hope, or color and despair, I am not taking about the red of a stoplight, a periwinkle line on the white felt oval of a pregnancy test, a black sail strung from a ship’s mast. I am trying to talk about what blue means, or what it means to me, apart from meaning.

Bluets/ Maggie Nelson

I’m interested in how this distinction between meaning and what it means to me works in understandings of color. Also, what meaning means here. Not truth, or what color something actually is, but how it comes to mean something to us. How we’ve collectively decided that a stop sign is red, for example. Not sure if this makes sense, but I’m also thinking about the collective decision we’ve made to understand the line on a pregnancy test as blue and not green or gray or some other color that some of us might be seeing instead. With this last sentence, I’m thinking about more than my vision issues, but the idea that how we see color can be at least partly determined by how we’ve named it. See: Crayola-fication of the world

dec 20/RUN

3.6 miles
trestle turn-around
0 / feels like -16
100% snow-covered

Last year I decided that my limit for cold was a feels like temp of -20. Since it was only -16, I went out for a run by the gorge. It was cold, but not too cold. It felt good to be outside, breathing in fresh air, moving in sunlight, being beside frozen water and snow-covered trees.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. checked out the river at the trestle: all frozen, white and gray, solid, stiff
  2. the steady crunch crunch crunch of my yaktrax on the cold powder
  3. solid chunks of ice littering the path, not boulders, but big enough to hurt my foot or twist my ankle if I ran into or over them
  4. a skein of geese! first I heard their honks, then I stopped to watch them fly across the sky
  5. the roar of a plane
  6. the shadow of a big bird
  7. one other runner, one or two walkers, no dogs, no fat tires, no roller skiers
  8. two walkers below me, walking through the tunnel of trees
  9. a snow blower up above, near longfellow grill
  10. the path was slick and slippery with stripes of ice glowing in the sun


2 pairs of black running tights; 2 pairs of socks –1 gray, 1 white; a green long-sleeved shirt; a pink jacket with hood; a running belt for holding my phone; a gray Hot Dash 10 mile 2017 jacket; a gray buff; a black fleece-lined cap; sunglasses; black gloves; reddish pinkish fleece-lined mittens

Enough layers. The mittens were especially warm. Did it help that I had warmed up on the bike in the basement before heading out for my run? Probably. Neither my fingers or toes were too cold. Hooray?

feels like

It felt cold, but not cold enough to give me a brain freeze. I wore a buff over my mouth to warm my breath. My snot froze a little but not too much. After I took my sunglasses off, because they had fogged up, my eyelashes acquired a few bits of ice. The tops of my thighs felt cold and tingly by the end. No itchy legs or feet that felt like blocks of concrete. Dripping with sweat by the end. My braid, which had wicked all the sweat, froze again into a hard, twisted mass–or mess?

It feels like winter is here for good. Maybe the snow on the trail, too?

Listened to a playlist with only one headphone in, so I could hear the crunching snow and the gorge too. Did I hear any other birds beside the geese? I can’t remember.

I’m very glad I made it outside. I love these winter runs!

ongoing projects, dec 2022

Thought it might be interesting and helpful (for present and future Sara) to make a list of what I’m working on right now:

  • Reading through my entries from 2022 and adding to summaries of my runs, ideas and quotes, and a huge list of things I noticed. Right now I’m halfway through April.
  • Thinking about, reading up on color, especially orange. Trying to write a colorblind plate about orange, particularly how shifty and unreliable it is, and my obsession with seeing/not seeing orange buoys at open swim. Checked out Maggie Nelson’s Bluets for inspiration on how to write about color.
  • Planning my winter writing/creative process class for The Loft. Right now, I’m gathering poems and essays and thinking about my weekly lectures. As part of this, I’m reading/listening to Adam Gopnik’s Winter: 5 Windows on the Season.

dec 17/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
18 degrees / feels like 8
100% slick snow

Another dusting of snow last night. Just a slow, steady accumulation. Everything a bright, blinding white — the sky, the path, the trees, even the river, at least in one spot where the sun hit it just right and made it burn or glare or whatever word you might use to describe a blinding white light. Wow.

Layers: 2 pairs of black running tights, green shirt, pink jacket, gray jacket, buff, black fleece-lined cap with brim, 2 pairs of glovers (black, pink and white striped)

No headphones on the way to the falls; an old playlist titled “swim meet motivation” on the way back — David Bowie, Beck, Todd Rundgren, Ozzy Osbourne, Pat Benetar

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the creek was flowing and the falls were falling, making a delightful rushing sound
  2. when I stopped just before my favorite spot (because a couple and a kid were already at my spot), I could hear the falls as they fell. When I looked, all I could see was one white tree after the next
  3. the trail was not too slippery, but slippery enough to make my legs work harder
  4. I think it was between locks and dam #1 and the double bridge — as a car passed me , I smelled hot chocolate. did it come from the car, or was that just a coincidence?
  5. on the way back, stopped to walk on side of the double bridge that doesn’t get plowed in the winter. I looked down into the white ravine as I trudged through the snow
  6. glancing at the river through the trees, something about all the white in the trees, the light, and my vision made the river look like it was sepia-toned
  7. nearing the ford bridge, looking ahead, I noticed something that looked like an animal. I couldn’t see an owner and wondered if it was a coyote and not a dog. As I got a little closer I realized it was a person wearing a shirt so light — pale blue? gray? white? — that it blended into the sky. The dark I had seen was their pants. This is not the first time this has happened to me
  8. running by some steps saw the briefest flash of orange — must be a sign warning people not to enter, I guessed
  9. one car crawling along the river road, the line of cars growing behind it
  10. a runner in a bright orange stocking cap and bright yellow jacket

Discovered Wendell Berry’s window poems. I like collecting window poems. This morning, I was thinking about them in relation to winter and windows as frame for the world, and layer between you and the world, and a place to be delighted when it’s too cold to be outside. I think I want to add something about windows to the section in my winter wonder class about layers.

As I was writing this last sentence, I started thinking about Emily Dickinson and how she wrote so many of her poems sitting in front of her windows, so I googled, “Emily Dickinson window” and this post was one of the top results: Emily Dickinson and the Poetics of Glass. Very cool!

Aside from working in the garden and walking the grounds of the property, looking through windows was her primary mode of relating to the landscape around her.  Fortunately for Dickinson, she lived in a house abundantly punctuated by windows.

There were approximately seventy-five windows at the Dickinson Homestead.

Emily Dickinson and the Poetics of Glass/ Xiao Situ

Thinking about the literal windows in ED’s house, made me think of Berry’s Window Poem 3#:

from Windows/ Wendell Berry

The window has forty
panes, forty clarities
variously wrinkled, streaked
with dried rain, smudged,
dusted. The fram
is a black grid
beyond which the world
flings up the wild
graph of its growth,
tree branches, river,
slope of land,
the river passing
downward, the clouds blowing,
usually, form teh west,
the opposite way.
The window is a form
of consciousness, pattern
of formed sense
through which to look
into the wild
that is a pattern too,
but dark and flowing,
bearing along the little
shapes of the mind
as the river bears
a sash of some blinded house.
This windy day
on one of the panes
a blown seed, caught
in cobweb, beats and beats.

To add to this wandering, I remembered listening to Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine (the album that I had listened to over and over while writing my dissertation back in 2004/5) earlier this week and noticing her song about breaking the window. Had I ever thought about these lyrics in all those dissertation writing listenings?

Window/ Fiona Apple

I was staring out the window
The whole time he was talking to me
It was a filthy pane of glass
I couldn’t get a clear view
And as he went on and on
It wasn’t the outside world I could see
Just the filthy pane that I was looking through

So I had to break the window
It just had to be
Better that I break the window
Than him or her or me

I was never focused on just one thing
My eyes got fixed when my mind got soft
It may look like I’m concentrated on 
A very clear view
But I’m as good as asleep
I bet you didn’t know
It takes a lot of it away
If you do

I had to break the window
It just had to be
Better that I break the window
Than him or her or me

I had to break the window 
It just had to be
It was in my way
Better that I break the window
Than forget what I had to say
Or miss what I should see

Because the fact being that
Whatever’s in front of me
Is covering my view
So I can’t see what I’m seeing in fact
I only see what I’m looking through

So again I done the right thing
I was never worried about that
The answer’s always been in clear view
But even when the window was cleaned
I still can’t see for the fact
That it’s so clear I can’t tell what I’m looking through

So I had to break the window
It just had to be
It was in my way
Better that I break the window
Than him or her or me

I had to break the window
It just had to be
Better that I break the window
Than miss what I should see

I had to break the window
It just had to be
It was in my way
Better that I break the window
Than forget what I had to say
Or miss what I should see
Or break him her or me
Especially me