dec 10/RUN

3.25 miles
trestle turn around
4 degrees/feels like -12
100% snow-covered

Yes, -12 feels cold but today felt even colder than that. Tried out some hand warmers in my gloves. I guess they worked. It snowed so little yesterday that they didn’t bother to plow–at least an inch of snow covering the path, one narrow-ish strip of it packed down. The wind was in my face heading north, which wasn’t fun, but then at my back heading south, which was. Only the crazy-for-winter fools were out here today. I encountered one fat tire and one other runner besides me. We had the path to ourselves–one of the big advantages of winter running. Noticed that the river is icing over. The path was snow-covered but not icy or slippery. I could hear it crunchy delightfully over the noise of my audio book.

Layers: I was almost too warm at one point. Felt bulky in my 2 pairs of gloves + 2 shirts + vest + jacket + 2 pairs of tights + 2 pairs of socks + buff + hat + sunglasses.

Happy Birthday Emily Dickinson!

It’s all I have to bring today (26)
Emily Dickinson – 1830-1886

It’s all I have to bring today—
This, and my heart beside—
This, and my heart, and all the fields—
And all the meadows wide—
Be sure you count—should I forget
Some one the sum could tell—
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

Today I brought my heart, and my legs, and my lungs, and the crunching snow, and the river, and the bright white solitude of an almost empty path.

dec 4/RUN

3.2 miles
ford bridge and back again
34 degrees
15% snow-covered

Ran to the river and turned right instead of left today, heading towards the falls. So much sun. Encountered several walkers, a few runners. Any bikers? The river was sparkling, much prettier today. The bike path was mostly clear of snow, the walking path was not. Encountered a group of walkers taking up the entire path and refusing to move at all. I actually had to stop moving as they approached me. Finally the guy realized I was there and moved over a little. After I turned around, catching up to them again, I had to call out “excuse me” 2 or 3 times before they moved. Surprisingly, I was not mad at all. I wish I could be this chill about path hoggers all the time.

I just discovered a wonderful book (and project) from Georges Perec, An Attempt at Exhausting a Place. A wonderful inspiration for my running beside the gorge. In his brief introduction he writes:

My intention in the pages that follow was to describe the rest instead: that which is generally not taken not of, that which is not noticed, that which which has no importance: what happens when nothing happens other than the weather, people, cars, and clouds.

what happens when nothing other than the weather, people, cars, and clouds?

Cherry blossoms
Toi Derricotte – 1941-

I went down to
mingle my breath
with the breath
of the cherry blossoms.

There were photographers:
Mothers arranging their
children against
gnarled old trees;
a couple, hugging,
asks a passerby
to snap them
like that,
so that their love
will always be caught
between two friendships:
ours & the friendship
of the cherry trees.

Oh Cherry,
why can’t my poems
be as beautiful?

A young woman in a fur-trimmed
coat sets a card table
with linens, candles,
a picnic basket & wine.
A father tips
a boy’s wheelchair back
so he can gaze
up at a branched
heaven.
All around us
the blossoms
flurry down
whispering,

Be patient
you have an ancient beauty.

Be patient,
you have an ancient beauty.

No cheery blossoms for a long time, but I couldn’t resist posting this beautiful poem and its description of a place and a relationship. Oh Cherry Blossom, why can’t my poems be as beautiful? I love the answer: be patient.

nov 12/RUN

4 miles
west river parkway, north/south
12 degrees/feels like 0

Day two of the early cold snap. Brr. Liked the fresh & cold air but not how it made my feet feel, like heavy inert blocks of concrete. Saw a squirrel dart across the path in front of me, a biker, a few dogs and their humans, some walkers, bundled up. Thought I heard the clickity-clack of a roller skier but it was just a nail gun across the boulevard–a house getting a new roof. Very windy on the way back south. Felt tired and wanted to stop but convinced myself to keep going. Like most of the time, it got easier. My face burned from the cold. Again, too many layers. Next time I should lose a shirt. My favorite part of the trail–in the tunnel of trees, just above the forest that leads to the river, was bare & beautiful, all the leaves turning into mulch on the ground. Listened to an audiobook and ran in a daze. Couldn’t remember running over parts of the path that I had just crossed a few minutes before–at least 5 minutes where I was able to leave my Self. Cool.

Thinking about form a lot again. Found a YouTube video made in 2014 by a woman with cone dystrophy. She mentioned how her cones are almost all destroyed (just like me) and she relies on her rods. Cones enable us to see fine details, rods outlines of shapes and forms. Yes! I love the forms and shapes at the gorge–I don’t need to see them sharply to appreciate their beauty or to recognize what they are. Had an idea: what if I try to represent those forms/shapes in a poem? It could be concrete poetry or something similar. I really like the book cover for Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (I also loved reading the book).

Thinking about simple forms combined with strong, compact language–possibly verbs? Ways in or Finding a Way In or The Way In? Took some pictures of the gorge at my favorite spot for inspiration.

a final thought:

“Matter has potential that is made actual by form” (jane alison).

oct 12/RUN

2 miles
river road, north/south
34 degrees
Snow!

Of course I had to get out and run in the snow. A bit blustery but not too bad. The snow is not sticking to the path or the road but it is staying on the trees. Down below the road, the snow makes some of the trees glow white. Greeted the Daily Walker. Today he’s wearing 2 shirts and gloves, still no jacket. Ran above the lake street bridge and then turned around. Lots of walkers, a few runners. At the end of the run, stopped and looked down at the ravine. Lots of leaves gone, the wrought iron fence below almost visible. No view of the river here.

sept 29/RUN

5 miles
river road, north/south
51 degrees, drizzle

Ran through a light drizzle, which I loved. Wasn’t sure how much I would run when I started, but ended up feeling good and running 5 miles. Listened to an Agatha Christie audio book and didn’t think about much. Perhaps if I had remembered before heading out, I would have tried to conjure my mother to run with me. She died 10 years ago today. 10 years. I had imagined that this day would be a bigger deal, that I’d do something important to mark it. But I’m not. Why not? How has it already been 10 years?

sept 23/RUN

5 miles
franklin hill
60 degrees

Cooler. Is Fall finally here? Sunny. Calm. Some beautiful light purple wildflowers lining the path. Do they come every year? I’ve never noticed them before. Saw the Daily Walker and a roller skier who called out, “you’re going race pace!” Encountered a few annoying strollers taking over the entire path. Did a lot of counting to 4. 1 2 3 4/ 1 2 3 4/ 1 2 3 4. Reached the bottom of the Franklin hill and immediately turned around without noticing the river. Saw more slashes of orange and red in the trees. Thought more about my writing project and how narrow to make the focus.

A Blank White Page
BY FRANCISCO X. ALARCÓN

is a meadow
after a snowfall
that a poem
hopes to cross

What a beautiful way of describing a blank white page. Speaking of blank white pages, this morning I finished writing in my 4th running/training notebook and started the 5th one. Very satisfying to completely fill so many notebooks.

sept 21/RUN

1.5 miles
river road, north/south
76 degrees

I’m writing this log entry the next day so I’m not sure what I remember. Ran a little later in the heat and humidity. Listened to an audio book. Noticed that stones were stacked on both of the boulders just past the welcoming oaks and before the tunnel of trees. More leaves on the ground–a lot of orange this year, which I love.

sept 15/RUN

2.1 miles
2 trails
62 degrees/humidity: 94%!

An organized run took over the path–marathon training. Trots of runners forcing me to aggressively claim my own space on the upper path. Sunny. Humid. Happy to turn down at the 44th street parking lot and take the lower trail. Hardly any traffic. Saw the shining river. Heard the water trickling out of the sewer pipe. Felt my legs getting stronger. Noticed how the leaning tree near the 38th street steps is still leaning. Forgot to check if the yarn is still dangling from it.

Searching for “leaning tree poetry” on google, I found this fabulous poem on the third page of results. This poem! I want to spend some time with it, thinking about knowing and writing and language and experience and how words do and don’t matter.

Learning the Trees
BY HOWARD NEMEROV

Before you can learn the trees, you have to learn
The language of the trees. That’s done indoors,
Out of a book, which now you think of it
Is one of the transformations of a tree.

The words themselves are a delight to learn,
You might be in a foreign land of terms
Like samara, capsule, drupe, legume and pome,
Where bark is papery, plated, warty or smooth.

But best of all are the words that shape the leaves—
Orbicular, cordate, cleft and reniform—
And their venation—palmate and parallel—
And tips—acute, truncate, auriculate.

Sufficiently provided, you may now
Go forth to the forests and the shady streets
To see how the chaos of experience
Answers to catalogue and category.

Confusedly. The leaves of a single tree
May differ among themselves more than they do
From other species, so you have to find,
All blandly says the book, “an average leaf.”

Example, the catalpa in the book
Sprays out its leaves in whorls of three
Around the stem; the one in front of you
But rarely does, or somewhat, or almost;

Maybe it’s not catalpa? Dreadful doubt.
It may be weeks before you see an elm
Fanlike in form, a spruce that pyramids,
A sweetgum spiring up in steeple shape.

Still, pedetemtim as Lucretius says,
Little by little, you do start to learn;
And learn as well, maybe, what language does
And how it does it, cutting across the world

Not always at the joints, competing with
Experience while cooperating with
Experience, and keeping an obstinate
Intransigence, uncanny, of its own.

Think finally about the secret will
Pretending obedience to Nature, but
Invidiously distinguishing everywhere,
Dividing up the world to conquer it,

And think also how funny knowledge is:
You may succeed in learning many trees
And calling off their names as you go by,
But their comprehensive silence stays the same.

sept 13/RUN

4 miles
almost to franklin turn around
59 degrees

Such weird weather. Windy. Sunny then cloudy then misting then sunny again. Cool then warm then cool. Listened to my audio book (Once Upon a River) and avoided slow squirrels sauntering on the path. Felt strong and relaxed. Greeted the Daily Walker. Faintly heard some rowers in the gorge. Stepped on and over acorns and piles of fallen leaves littering the path. Occasionally glanced down at the river. Hard to see through all the green. Even when it was overcast and the sun was hidden, I glowed in my neon yellow 2018 10 mile race t-shirt.

Returning to my haibun route project. Started reading Lorine Niedecker’s Lake Superior for inspiration. Here’s an excerpt:

The journey of the rock is never ended. In every tiny part of any living thing are materials that once were rock that turned to soil. These minerals are drawn out of the soil by plant roots and the plant used them to build leaves, stems, flowers and fruits. Plants are eaten by animals. In our blood is iron from plants that draw it out of the soil. Your teeth and bones were once coral. The water you drink has been in clouds over the mountains of Asia and in waterfalls of Africa. The air you breathe has swirled thru places of the earth that no one has ever seen. Every bit of you is a bit of the earth and has been on many strange and wonderful journeys over countless millions of years.

page 7

sept 10/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
70 degrees
humidity: 84%

Weird (almost) fall weather. Yesterday I had to wear so many more layers, today summer had returned. Humid and hot. Greeted the Daily Walker. Encountered other runners and walkers and bikers. No roller skiers on the path but I did see one on the street later when I took the dog for a walk. Listened to an audio book (Once Upon a River) and noticed the river and a spot in the tunnel of trees that opens up into an amphitheater of air–this spot is different than the one I tried to write about earlier in the summer. So spacious and airy and light–and still quite green. What color will it turn in the next month? Don’t remember noticing any non-green leaves. Today, with the sun so bright and warm, it’s hard to get excited about fall or winter. It feels like summer will never leave.

Reminded by someone on twitter of these great lines from Mary Oliver:

Sometimes/Mary Oliver (in Red Bird):

Instructions for living a life:
Pay Attention.
Be Astonished.
Tell about it.

Mannequin of the Day:

There’s something about this mannequin’s face that makes me think she really doesn’t give a fuck. She doesn’t even care that a ribbon is covering her cheek. It’s the eyes, right?