april 21/RUNHIKE

2 mile run/.5 mile hike
mississippi river gorge above and below, north/south
72 degrees

Ran a mile with Scott to the Lake Street bridge then hiked below to the river for 1/2 mile, climbed up some stone steps by the greenway, then ran 1 mile back. Beautiful. Everything was brown–almost looked like fall but felt like summer. I’d like to do more run/hikes like this. This side of the gorge is similar to the east side, except the east side has paved paths, an abandoned parking lot and benches/picnic tables. Scott and I encountered some dirt mounds, halfway up the gorge, and wondered if they were burial mounds.

Spent some time looking through the archives of Boaat and found this cool poem: DRIFTING/aya satoh

april 15/RUN

2.15 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
52 degrees

Watched the Boston Marathon this morning. Last year, when I was watching it, we were getting 17 inches of snow. This year, sun and above freezing temperatures. Did a short run with Scott this afternoon. Windy and overcast but warmer with a clear path. Felt pretty easy, like I was bouncing on the path.

Found a draft of a poem that I wrote a few years ago. It’s inspired by what I’d recently read on how different writers remember their thoughts when they’re walking or running.

How do you keep

an idea from running away? Grab a stick
and etch it in your arm? Pin a piece
of paper to your clothes? Jot it down
in a pocket-sized notebook? Speak it
into your smart phone? Why
not let it run away
instead of immobilizing it with words.
You might be able to follow it
into the woods or
over the creek or
down by the river or
under the bridge.
Words may not be fast enough to follow
but you might
with your flying feet.

And here’s a poem I read (and heard) this morning on the Poetry Foundation site. What a poem! I love the title and so many of the images–especially describing the field after harvest as a man’s unruly face. Even better than describing it as stubble (which I’ve often thought and read before).

Thinking of Frost
Major Jackson, 1968

I thought by now my reverence would have waned,
matured to the tempered silence of the bookish or revealed
how blasé I’ve grown with age, but the unrestrained
joy I feel when a black skein of geese voyages like a dropped
string from God, slowly shifting and soaring, when the decayed
apples of an orchard amass beneath its trees like Eve’s
first party, when driving and the road Vanna-Whites its crops
of corn whose stalks will soon give way to a harvester’s blade
and turn the land to a man’s unruly face, makes me believe
I will never soothe the pagan in me, nor exhibit the propriety
of the polite. After a few moons, I’m loud this time of year,
unseemly as a chevron of honking. I’m fire in the leaves,
obstreperous as a New England farmer. I see fear
in the eyes of his children. They walk home from school,
as evening falls like an advancing trickle of bats, the sky
pungent as bounty in chimney smoke. I read the scowl
below the smiles of parents at my son’s soccer game, their agitation,
the figure of wind yellow leaves make of quaking aspens.

april 8/RUN

4.6 miles
to downtown
69 degrees
wind: 6 mph, gusts up to 30 mph

Not sure how much wind there was but I was running into all of it the whole way. It made it much harder. I stopped to walk several times but I still made it to downtown. Do I remember anything other than feeling sore and tired? The river was beautiful. I was able to make a satisfying shshshsh sound on the grit at the edge of the path. My back felt fine. I saw my shadow, running beside me. What a fabulous late afternoon. It is hard to believe that we are supposed to get over a foot of snow on Thursday.

Sitting by the open window writing this, I hear birds chirping and cooing and trilling. So I decided to look for a poem about birds and this is what I found:

Words are Birds
BY FRANCISCO X. ALARCÓN

words
are birds
that arrive
with books
and spring

they
love
clouds
the wind
and trees

some words
are messengers
that come
from far away
from distant lands

for them
there are
no borders
only stars
moon and sun

some words
are familiar
like canaries
others are exotic
like the quetzal bird

some can stand
the cold
others migrate
with the sun
to the south

some words
die
caged—
they’re difficult
to translate

and others
build nests
have chicks
warm them
feed them

teach them
how to fly
and one day
they go away
in flocks

the letters
on this page
are the prints
they leave
by the sea

april 3/RUN

3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
49 degrees
bare legs!

Took a few days off of running. Partly because my back was sore, partly because we took a mini trip to Duluth. All the snow is melted, all the paths are clear. Listened to my playlist and didn’t think about much. Looked down and noticed the white sand beach way below the path, between the lake street bridge and the greenway. I will have to explore it this spring. Wore shorts and wasn’t too cold. No gloves. No buff. Next Monday the high is supposed to be 71!

Encountered this poem a few weeks ago and wanted to remember it. Love the repetition and the exploration of metaphors and similes.

Neighbor Sweeping His Porch
Keith Leonard

He sweeps, and gray plumes of pollen
cloud waist-high behind him.
My neighbor sweeps the porch as slowly
as a gondolier rows at sunset.
His tie is loose at the neck
but still fastened to his shirt by a clip.
At the edge of the porch, he sweeps
in quick spurts like a telemarketer
before the customer quits.
He sweeps possibly without thinking.
He wears the crown of forgetting.
His kingdom is the name
of that actress in that movie.
He has swept so long
he is last September’s sunlight.
His broom replaces the wet leaves
with order, a second thing like snow.

march 29/RUN

3.2 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
43 degrees

Turned right instead of left and ran in the afternoon instead of the morning today. Felt harder. Hotter. A few more people out on the trail. Stopped at the halfway point to take off my sweatshirt then spent the second half of the run fiddling with the sleeves tied around my waist. Listened to headphones so I didn’t hear my shuffling feet or trickling water or barking dogs, chirping birds, whirring wheels or anything else.


march 12/RUN

2.5 miles
basement, treadmill
100% cold, gloomy, icy rain outside

Scott finally decided he was over this winter. So he bought a treadmill. I hope I don’t have to use it very often, but it was nice today. Give me 15 below and blowing snow. I’ll go running. But freezing drizzle, blustery wind, jagged ice rutted paths, and slippery sidewalks? Nope. Too dangerous. And miserable. What a mess outside! And so dreary.

Cell
BY NAOMI COHN

The blood of language moves through the word cell from monk’s cell to prison cell to biological cell. I don’t know why a Braille cell is called a cell. I don’t know how many blood cells Louis Braille lost when the awl he was playing with as a small child slipped and injured his eye.

Red blood cells live some hundred days before they are worn out by their silent hustle—looping and looping, pounded through the heart’s chambered cathedral, rushing out to the farthest reaches of the body with the good news of oxygen, squeezing single file along capillaries, like anxious deer probing their tracks through the woods. Rushing, silent, looping the circuits of the body. Again, again, again. Load iron. Dump iron. Load dump squeeze hustle.

Red blood cells pushed through the capillaries that pushed through my 
retinas. They broke loose to run a green swarm in the corral of my eye. But that is history. Today cells still push through the capillaries fenced off by my calloused fingerprint. This one that I run over the Braille cell, the pattern of bumps.

A red blood cell is measured in microns. A solitary prison cell is measured in feet. Six feet by nine feet or less. I don’t know what the unit of measure is for how living in solitary changes a person. We know that living in a confined space, without access to the long view or landscape, changes the eye. The eye, for lack of practice, loses its ability to make out what lies in the distance. I don’t have a unit of measure for what this does to the heart.

A Braille cell is measured in spaces in a grid—two across by three down—that can be filled with a raised dot or bump. Different combinations of dots represent different letters, punctuation, symbols, shorthand.

The oldest cell I find in the dictionary is the monastic cell, a place for contemplation. From the concealed place where wine was stored. As in cellar. I find Braille contemplative. I touch my index finger to a bumpy piece of paper. My hand advances slowly left to right, the touch receptors in my finger triggered by the uneven contact of paper and skin. Messages run along nerves, finger-to-brain, brain-to-finger. Cognition sizzles. Mind notices this feels different than the pathway of sound in ear to auditory processing. Listening pulls me out into the world in an infinity of directions. Touching my reading educates me on my exact location in the world, feet in shoes, weight of foot on ground, weight of bones and flesh in chair.



march 4/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
6 degrees/feels like -3
100% snow-covered

Totally snow-covered path. According to my log, the last time the path was half covered was feb 2 and 0% covered, jan 25. That’s a long time (for me at least) to be running on snow. There’s a possibility of another 7 inches on Saturday. Wow. The run started slow and I felt cold. Right around the time I reached the railroad trestle, when I was planning to run around, I suddenly felt really good. So I kept going for 1/2 mile longer. Heard some geese–and saw them in a flash–somewhere between the lake street bridge and the railroad trestle. Also heard my feet crunching on the path. Watched my shadow. Didn’t see another runner or the Daily Walker. Did see one walker. No fat tires or skiers. Just me and the ice chunks scattered on the side of the path. The other day, when Scott and I were running, we saw a brown mouse unsuccessfully try to scale a mountain–probably 4 feet high–of snow. I wondered what happened to it. It scampered up the side but then fell backwards onto the path.

march 2/RUN

1 mile
mississippi river path, south/north
20 degrees
100% snow-covered

Was planning to run 3 miles with Scott but the path was terrible. Mushy, uneven, slick. Yuck!

From a Window
BY CHRISTIAN WIMAN

Incurable and unbelieving
in any truth but the truth of grieving,

I saw a tree inside a tree
rise kaleidoscopically

as if the leaves had livelier ghosts.
I pressed my face as close

to the pane as I could get
to watch that fitful, fluent spirit

that seemed a single being undefined
or countless beings of one mind

haul its strange cohesion
beyond the limits of my vision

over the house heavenwards.
Of course I knew those leaves were birds.

Of course that old tree stood
exactly as it had and would

(but why should it seem fuller now?)
and though a man’s mind might endow

even a tree with some excess
of life to which a man seems witness,

that life is not the life of men.
And that is where the joy came in.

feb 17/RUN

3.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
26 degrees
50% loose snow, 35% packed snow, 15% ice

feels like: I might fall or my legs might give out or I might twist my ankle in the loose, uneven snow

The conditions on the path are pretty bad but I still enjoyed being outside, especially having spent my morning in too many stores. Heard tons of crows–probably hanging out in the flats. Saw the sun completely covered by grayish white clouds, making them glow as it tried to break through the gloom. Saw fat tires, several dogs, a few runners and some kids sledding down the hill. The favorite thing I saw happened after I was done running and was walking back. A man and woman were running with their dog. Their gaits were so graceful and rhythmic and effortless. I stopped and watched, mesmerized by how they gently bounced, their feet going up and down on the path. It hardly looked like they were touching the ground at all. So cool.

Here’s my poem for the day:

Spell to Practice Patience

What burns will burn, what’s left

is brick and the soot marring the brick—

what’s left is the rebuilding.

Become small as the seed, which waits

without speaking. Settle as the cicada does,

humming faintly in its dark bed of earth.

Count the pearls in the heirloom necklace,

each a grain of sand gilded by decades,

made in the murks under an ocean’s weight.

Practice moving your fingers through the air

so gently, you can hold a feather

without it touching your hand.

Stare at ice so long, it becomes the same

as water. Stare at water so long, it is gone.

Stare at the mark made after.

Parse apart the slung syllables of every book

until your tongue is nimble iron, then

teach your tongue the strength in silence.

Bridle your desire, halter and harness until

it stands at attention, taut as the rope

that leads to the bell that waits to be struck.

When you ring, ring loud, exactly when you need to,

bright note pitched as the phoenix hatches

and you burn and burn and burn and burn.

Such a lovely poem. I love the idea of poems as spells. If I had more time and energy right now, I’d like to add a stanza about the patience involved in standing and watching the runners and their graceful gaits.

feb 9/RUN

1 mile
mississippi river road path, south/north
8 degrees/feels like -5
100% snow-covered

feels like: my face is burning off, the wind is coming from every direction, more snow might be coming, colder than it is

Ran a mile with Scott this afternoon. It felt colder out there this afternoon than it did yesterday. Was it because it was later in the day? No sun? More wind? I’m glad we did it. It felt easy, like we could have run a few more miles. Noticed the river. Running south, I see more of the river than running north. Scott suggested that it’s because further north, there’s more land between the top of the gorge and the riverbank. I agree. Everything was white and gray and cold-looking. A little winter wonderland. Nice to be in it instead of just watching it through the window. Windows I watched it through today/what I watched: the writing desk in my bedroom/the snow-covered branch of the tree in my front yard; living room/snowy back yard; car window/river road, minnehaha parkway, south Minneapolis; the 3 story huge picture windows at Minneapolis Institute of Arts/Stevens Square Park.

feb 8/RUN

3.4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
0/feels like -15
100% snow-covered

feels like: victory, the inside of an ice cube

Wow, that sky. The brightest blue. Noticed it when I saw a bird flying in my peripheral vision and tried to track it in my central vision. So sunny and white. Thick slabs of snow on the side of the path. The trees coming up from the floodplain forest had snow slabs too. Bare brown branches, outlined in white, holding up the sky. Amazing. It was cold, I guess. Didn’t really bother me. My fingers were warm because I wore a pair of gloves and mittens. My toes were cold for the first mile. I think my butt was cold at some point too. Everything else was warm. Saw one other runner, a few walkers, no bikers, no skiers. Ran under the lake street bridge at the same time as the plows. The first plow hit a bump–such a loud noise. I flinched. Listened to my feet striking the snow. A constant, sharp crunch. Much quicker than when I walk.

layers: 2 pairs of running tights, a green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket, gray jacket, buff, balaclava, hood, sunglasses, 2 pairs of socks, 1 pair of mittens, 1 pair of gloves

Why do I like running in this weather? I like being (almost) the only one on the path. I like testing the limits of how cold is too cold. Mostly, though, I like running in the cold. Being out in the snow. Hearing it crunch. Admiring how it decorates the trees and the forest floor. Breathing in the winter air. I think I also like how there’s no pressure to run fast when it feels like 15 below. Just being outside is an accomplishment.

jan 27/RUN

3.25 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
4 degrees/feels like -14
100% snow-covered

Today it was cold. I have run in colder weather at least once (jan 2, 2018) when it was 0 and felt like 20 below, but today’s feels like 14 below has to rank as one of the coldest runs. Mostly, I enjoyed it. I didn’t feel too cold. Started loosening my layers about a mile in. Was fine with only one pair of gloves. Listened to headphones and felt disconnected. Also felt distracted by layers covering my ears–headphones, music, a buff, a hood, a thick hat–and layers of concern clouding my mood–was my knee okay or was it a mistake to run today? I think my left knee is okay but I’m planning to take a few days off from running. Conveniently, we are expecting a big winter storm and dangerous wind chills until Thursday so even if I wanted to run, I couldn’t.  The path was totally covered with snow and a little slick. I didn’t slip but it was harder to get traction. Encountered a few runners, walkers and dogs. No fat tires. No squirrels. No sleds or skis. Don’t think I looked at the river even once. Too busy trying to stay warm and upright. When I started running, there were patches of blue sky but by the time I was done, it was all gray. A snow storm moving in. Barely noticed the snow crunching under my feet. Instead I heard Beck and Lizzo and Ke$ha.

Speaking of layers, which I’m doing a lot these days, I found a great poem about onions:

Monologue for an Onion
Suji Kwock Kim

I don’t mean to make you cry.
I mean nothing, but this has not kept you
From peeling away my body, layer by layer,

The tears clouding your eyes as the table fills
With husks, cut flesh, all the debris of pursuit.
Poor deluded human: you seek my heart.

Hunt all you want. Beneath each skin of mine
Lies another skin: I am pure onion–pure union
Of outside and in, surface and secret core.

Look at you, chopping and weeping. Idiot.
Is this the way you go through life, your mind
A stopless knife, driven by your fantasy of truth,

Of lasting union–slashing away skin after skin
From things, ruin and tears your only signs
Of progress? Enough is enough.

You must not grieve that the world is glimpsed
Through veils. How else can it be seen?
How will you rip away the veil of the eye, the veil

That you are, you who want to grasp the heart
Of things, hungry to know where meaning
Lies. Taste what you hold in your hands: onion-juice,

Yellow peels, my stinging shreds. You are the one
In pieces. Whatever you meant to love, in meaning to
You changed yourself: you are not who you are,

Your soul cut moment to moment by a blade
Of fresh desire, the ground sown with abandoned skins.
And at your inmost circle, what? A core that is

Not one. Poor fool, you are divided at the heart,
Lost in its maze of chambers, blood, and love,
A heart that will one day beat you to death

jan 21/RUN

4.3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
9 degrees/feels like -9
16 mph wind/0% snow-covered

Cold. Windy. Snow flurries in the air. Gray. Beautiful. I don’t remember the air burning my lungs but it did burn my face after I started overheating. Most of me didn’t feel cold, just both of my index fingers around the end of mile one. Encountered several runners, a few walkers, no fat tires, no Daily Walker, no dogs. Listened to a playlist and felt relaxed. Not sore or too tired or afraid of injury. Only running and breathing and being outside. Felt great running north. So fast and free! Forgot what that meant: the wind was at my back, pushing me along. When I turned around, it would be in my face. And it was. Much harder running on the way back. Was able to run on the walking path instead of the biking path for about half the time. Smiled a lot. Don’t remember much of what I thought about. Did I look down at the river? Don’t think so. Up at the sky? No. Notice any trees? Nope. I do recall glancing down at the gorge between lake street and franklin and wondering if any critter was down there.

dec 25/RUN

3.1 miles
austin, mn
35 degrees

Ran with Scott around Austin Christmas day. Hardly any snow and not too much wind. What do I remember? Wishing Merry Christmas to a man walking his dog that crossed our path. Noticing that the sky was almost all white with gray smudges. Checking to see if Bessie–the big plastic cow at the county fairgrounds–was wearing a scarf (she wasn’t). Watching a rabbit haul ass across the road–they can run fast! Listening to a dog’s bark echo across the open field. Cutting through the parking lot of the Japan Panda (Japanda) restaurant and noticing they were open and one car was in the parking lot. I don’t remember seeing that many holiday decorations. No Santa Claus. Didn’t hear any Christmas music. Or smell any good food.

dec 9/RUN

3.35 miles
greenway bridge turn around
30 degrees
10% snow-covered

Ran again today, since I felt so good yesterday and because it’s so nice and warm–almost above freezing! Sunny skies. Clear path. Saw a few fat tires biking on the path. Several runners. Lots of walkers. A mom and her son singing holiday songs. No puddles on the path, but no slick spots either. Didn’t wear headphones, but don’t remember hearing anything–except for a runner passing me early on in my run, a biker alerting me to his approach with a always appreciated, “on your left” and the singers singing their holiday songs. Is that really it? I guess. I can’t remember any crunching snow or honking cars or trickling water or rushing wind or cawing birds. Guess I wasn’t paying attention today.

nov 2-4/RUN

nov 2/3.1 miles/austin, mn
nov 3/4 miles/austin, mn

Ran with Scott on various trails in Austin, MN. Ran around east lake, beside a cemetery, near a house that had a turret, through a tunnel, by many barking dogs, in the street, on the sidewalk then a trail, over roots, under a bridge, next to a creek, by at least 2 gas stations, close to his grandparents old house and then his parent’s first house and near the fairgrounds. It’s amazing how much of Austin you can visit without running that far.

nov 4/1.75 miles/mississippi river road path

I’ve decided to join Scott in his November challenge of running at least 15 minutes a day every day of the month. Even though it was cold and wet and drizzling a little, I went outside and ran for 15 minutes. I was overdressed and overheated but felt great while I was running. I felt faster then my watch seemed to think I was going but who cares when you’re having so much fun? Not me. I loved running over the wet leaves and in the cool air.

oct 30/RUN

4.2 miles
minnehaha falls and back
52 degrees

Ran to the falls, stopped. Looked at the falls above, then below. Took the 100+ stone steps down to the lower bridge. Beautiful. Decided to run on the dirt path that follows the creek until I reached another bridge. Ran over it and then walked back up the steep incline. It was fun to run on a dirt path by the river. I was much less concerned about how fast I was going. Started running again and, just after reaching the double bridge (a bridge for bikers, another for pedestrians) at 44th street, I followed the trail that snaked down a hill to another dirt trail, halfway above the river. Well, some of it was dirt, some of it leaves, much of it abandoned asphalt, worn and rutted. I encountered a few walkers, but mostly had the trail to myself. My legs felt sore–maybe because I had run 3 days in a row?–but I liked looking at the river and St. Paul on the other side. Running on this trail reminded me of training with the kids this summer. Both of them preferred running on it over the main trail right by the road because they could be hidden from view. Summer seems so long ago.

sept 24/RUN

5 miles
minnehaha falls
70 degrees

Hopefully this is (one of) the last too warm days of the year. I’m ready for cool, crisp air. Decided to do a run that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: run to minnehaha falls, then take the dirt path, following minnehaha creek, to the mississippi river. It was 2.6 miles from the start, a block from my house, to the bluff, at the end of the trail before it turns and crosses to the other side. Pretty although it will be beautiful in a few weeks when all the leaves start changing colors. Most of the path to the river is downhill which made it easier getting there, harder coming back. Stopped briefly at the top of a bluff overlooking the river before heading back. I’ve stopped at this bluff before–last October–sat on one of the many flat rocks studding the hill and took notes about what I saw and heard. I want to go back and do that again. Here’s what I wrote then:

the notes
mississippi river
just south of the ford bridge
a sky that leaves the water as white
then turns gray
then blue
then even bluer
golden leaves that look like gold dust sprinkled on the sky
a small motorboat floats by
its engine off
water laps and then slaps on the rocks
depending on the wind and
whether or not the boat will start its motor
it does and the water starts slapping
then sloshing
until the boat’s wake has passed
then it laps again
brown water
white foam
gold leaf static
a bigger boat approaches
hugging the other shore
a broken branch
not a small limb
but a main branch
taking a drink in the mississippi
the lock at the lock and dam #1
is locked permanently
shut down to an asian carp invasion
so the bigger boat returns
this time it doesn’t hug the shore
but travels down the middle
it’s named Riff Raft
Will I care when I can’t see?
How bad will it get?
In the distance
I can see
the water as it tumbles roars pours rumbles rains rushes
down the rocks
the concrete rocks
the water slides
or does it glide
past me?
the creek that feeds into this river was rushing
then it stopped
Why?
Where?
How?
Every half minute or so
a leaf falls
phfftt to the ground
a gentle pat on the earth
but not gentle enough to be silent
more white foan
an occasional voice
across the river a pear green to gold canopy
a low rumble of traffic and
a plane

sept 4/RUN

4 miles
73 degrees/94% humidity/dew point 72
mississippi river road path, north/south

Intermittent rain
somewhat refreshing yet still
oppressively damp

Could this dew point be
the highest I have ever
run in? Probably.

I passed some runners
but no bikers or skiers
or dry anything.

When running in rain
it’s hard to determine which
drips are rain, which sweat.

Running under trees,
it’s hard to determine which
drips are drips, which drops.

Miserably hot.
So why did my run feel fine?
My pre-run fruit shake?

Not one glance at the
river today. Too busy
avoiding puddles.

Running down below the road, above the gorge, into the dark green, momentarily hidden from the road, I thought about running as a woman and what I would do if I someone popped out at me. Then I remembered something I read the other day: a satirical essay on women and running over at McSweeney’s: How to Jog: A Guide for Women

june 16/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
72 degrees/91% humidity

Ran at noon when the rain and thunder finally stopped. Started raining again while I was running. Not sure how hard or how much–was it earlier rain dripping from the trees or sweat dripping from my face or a new, light steady drizzle landing on my head? All three, I think. My favorite part of the path was a gorgeous green. Lots of twigs and chunks of wood littered the path. Luckily, no big branches blocking my way. Legs felt strong. Pace didn’t feel too hard. Listened to my playlist, sometimes floating, sometimes flying. Saw some other runners. A few walkers. No bikers or rollerbladers or roller skiers.

Lots of water everywhere. Rain, wet leaves, puddles on the path, dripping sweat. Speaking of water, found this beautiful poem the other day:

Wind, Water, Stone
BY OCTAVIO PAZ
TRANSLATED BY ELIOT WEINBERGER

for Roger Caillois

Water hollows stone,
wind scatters water,
stone stops the wind.
Water, wind, stone.

Wind carves stone,
stone’s a cup of water,
water escapes and is wind.
Stone, wind, water.

Wind sings in its whirling,
water murmurs going by,
unmoving stone keeps still.
Wind, water, stone.

Each is another and no other:
crossing and vanishing
through their empty names:
water, stone, wind.