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?
Did a short run today in-between rain drops. It’s starting to look like fall. A few trees are losing leaves or turning red and yellow. Will there be bright orange this fall too? I hope so. In my 20s and 30s, I didn’t appreciate orange. Too bright or earthy or… orange. Green–darker, more muted–was my favorite. I still love green but I love orange now too. Is it because it was my mom’s favorite color? Maybe. I love bright oranges that glow unnaturally. And earthy, rusty oranges. It’s funny that I like orange now, when I can’t always see it because of my cone dystrophy. I’m thinking of getting some orange sneakers to wear this fall–not to run in, but just to wear and admire.
Right now I’m reading Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights and listening to podcast interviews with him and thinking about his ethics/politics/pedagogy of delight. So wonderful! Here’s one of his poems from a few years back:
—after Gwendolyn Brooks No matter the pull toward brink. No matter the florid, deep sleep awaits. There is a time for everything. Look, just this morning a vulture nodded his red, grizzled head at me, and I looked at him, admiring the sickle of his beak. Then the wind kicked up, and, after arranging that good suit of feathers he up and took off. Just like that. And to boot, there are, on this planet alone, something like two million naturally occurring sweet things, some with names so generous as to kick the steel from my knees: agave, persimmon, stick ball, the purple okra I bought for two bucks at the market. Think of that. The long night, the skeleton in the mirror, the man behind me on the bus taking notes, yeah, yeah. But look; my niece is running through a field calling my name. My neighbor sings like an angel and at the end of my block is a basketball court. I remember. My color’s green. I’m spring. —for Walter Aikens
“there are, on this planet alone, something like two/million naturally occurring sweet things,/some with names so generous as to kick/the steel from my knees…”
4 miles almost to franklin bridge turn around 54 degrees light rain
Ran in the rain. Just a light drizzle that I could barely feel. Nice. Listened to an audio book. Forgot to check if there were any stones stacked on the boulder. Looked for, but couldn’t find, the forest floor. Still too many leaves. Noticed a few changing colors, turning yellow. Thought I heard some cheering from the gorge. A rowing competition? Passed the Daily Walker, good morning-ed him on the way back. Worked on lifting my head, straightening my back. Saw a few squirrels, a dog, a roller skier, bikers, runners, walkers–lots of people out in the rain. Didn’t really see the river, only an occasional flash of white through the trees. I loved my run this morning.
Found this poem this morning while searching for the subject “september” on poets.org. Thinking about my mom and the 10th anniversary of her death at the end of this month. I deeply feel this profit and loss in my own grief and also the idea of not trying to assess it or to reconcile the feeling of loss with the unexpected joys it has brought–like a deeper appreciation of the woods or a football game or, in my case, the leaves in the gorge. The more I read this poem, the more I love it. Such a beautiful way to express the process of learning to live with grief.
Mannequin of the day:
Is the white in the middle of the pupil just because the paint is wearing off, or is it an artistic effort to indicate life/a spark/a soul within?
I find delight (reading Ross Gay’s wonderful, The Book of Delights, I’m trying to be better about claiming my own quirky delights) in this mannequin and her continued (and improbable) presence at the State Fair in a space barely touched by progress where the amateur is celebrated and beauty is never slicked up. Every year, walking into the creative activities building and seeing these cracked, faded, weathered mannequins still adorned in handmade hats and coats and scarves and sweaters, looking creepy and odd, I am delighted–and not in an ironic, hipster way. Here, the ugly and old and outdated have a space. I think I’m almost able to articulate this delight, but not quite. I’ll keep working at it. Something about how these mannequins represent resistance to the relentless need (by capitalism) to constantly change things to make them better! and newer! and prettier! and, in doing so, erase/remove/destroy those things which don’t fit their vision of better/newer/prettier. I love things that are ugly and overlooked and unsettling.
3 miles trestle turn around 64 degrees humidity: 85%
Back home. Last day before school starts for the kids. Heard the rowers on the river, geese traveling south above my head. Spotted a fat tire, a roller skier, several runners. No Daily Walker or man in black. Made sure to look at the river, but forgot to check out the floodplain forest. Noticed that there were no stones stacked on top of the ancient boulder. Smelled an over-filled porta potty. Whacked my elbow on a tree, running too close to it. As my vision declines, I have started to run into more things. Chanted in 3s: raspberry, blueberry, strawberry. Tried to think of other 3 syllable words as I ran: mystery, ambitious, remember, September, decadent, difficult. Tried to unsuccessfully remember the words to “try to remember”:
Try to remember the kind of September, When life was slow and oh so mellow. Try to remember the kind of September, When grass was green and grain was yellow. Try to remember the kind of September, When you were a tender and callow fellow. Try to remember, and if you remember, Then follow (follow) follow (follow) follow
My godfather sang this at my mom’s funeral almost 10 years ago. Will this month–her death month–be difficult this year?
Also attempted to recite Silverstein’s “Sick.” All I could remember was: “I cannot go to school today/said little Peggy Ann McKay/I have the measles and the mumps/a gash, a rash and purple bumps…”
In the 50s. Yes! Love the cooler weather. Listened to my audio book–Agatha Christie’s Sad Cypress–and enjoyed feeling cooler and relaxed. I don’t remember much from the run. Didn’t see the Daily Walker or the river. Didn’t hear the clickity-clack of ski poles or the whirring of bike wheels. Lots of traffic backed up when someone was turning left and at the 4 way stop by the greenway. So nice to not be in one of those cars! Finishing the run I felt good. Not sore or tired just strong and excited about more fall and winter running.
Woke up too tired this morning. Running helped a lot. Windy and cooler. Starting at 8:15, there are lots of cars. Such a crowded parkway! A few runners, some bikers, at least 2 roller skiers. Listened to an audio book up above, the water coming out of the sewer below. At the first pipe, it was a quiet, steady stream. At the second, a little louder and faster. Thought about my breathing and locking it into a rhythm that would keep me steady. 1 2 3/45 up hill and 5 4 3/21 down hill then 1234/5678 Slowly, I’ve been working on poems that mimic my breathing while swimming and running.
This morning I read an essay by Jericho Brown in which he describes his invention of the duplex form. He writes:
I decided to call the form a duplex because something about its repetition and its couplets made me feel like it was a house with two addresses. It is, indeed, a mutt of a form as so many of us in this nation are only now empowered to live fully in all of our identities. I wanted to highlight the trouble of a wall between us who live within a single structure. What happens when that wall is up and what happens when we tear it down? How will we live together? Will we kill each other? Can we be more careful?
At the end of the essay, he lists the rules of the form:
Write a ghazal that is also a sonnet that is also a blues poem of 14 lines, giving each line 9 to 11 syllables.
The first line is echoed in the last line.
The second line of the poem should change our impression of the first line in an unexpected way.
The second line is echoed and becomes the third line.
The fourth line of the poem should change our impression of the third line in an unexpected way.
This continues until the penultimate line becomes the first line of the couplet that leads to the final (and first) line.
For the variations of repeated lines, it is useful to think of the a a’ b scheme of the blues form.
And here’s an example from his latest book, The Tradition:
Cooler. Breezier. Overcast. Too many cars rushing past me on the road. Listened to my audio book for a while then took out my headphones. Played chicken with a woman running up by the lake street bridge. I was running to the right, furthest from zooming bikes that might be coming up the hill behind me, she was to the left, also hugging the rail. She wouldn’t move, probably because she was oblivious. I wouldn’t move either because I’m stubborn and need rules, like always stay to the right, because my eyes don’t always work and I can’t see if someone is coming. I was prepared to run into her if she didn’t move, which I recognize is somewhat ridiculous but I get really angry when people don’t pay attention in these simple ways. As someone who can’t always see, other people’s refusal to care can be dangerous. The good news: just a minute or two after that, I completely forgot about it and enjoyed the rest of my run. Didn’t stop to walk at all and looked at the river at least once, but forgot to check if there were any stacked stones on the big old boulder.
I love this poem. I love Maggie Smith. Her mix of joy and grief is so great. So much I love about this poem. Here’s a list:
the focus on lists and their connection to and
lists of not quite grievances, lists of things loved
describing a fear of death as not wanting to be in the dirt
the desire for two parts bees humming to one part bee sting
What do I remember from my run today? Noticed the water came out of the sewer pipe in quick bursts. No gurgling or gushing just spurting. Watched the river through the trees–beautiful. The leaning trunk was still there. Lots of bikers and runners. No roller skiers on the trail but one on the road, after I was finished. No rowers–why not? No huge groups of runners–the most I saw together was three.
A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority.
Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils.
Across the lake the campers have learned
to water-ski. They have, or they haven’t.
Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone
suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”
Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod
brighten the margins of the woods.
Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.
The cicada’s dry monotony breaks
over me. The days are bright
and free, bright and free.
Then why did I cry today
for an hour, with my whole
body, the way babies cry?
A white, indifferent morning sky,
and a crow, hectoring from its nest
high in the hemlock, a nest as big
as a laundry basket….
In my childhood
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.
The damp dirt road gave off
this same complex organic scent.
I had the new books—words, numbers,
and operations with numbers I did not
comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.
Spruce, inadequate, and alien
I stood at the side of the road.
It was the only life I had.
This poem! I’ve read it before but I don’t think I’ve posted it here. I would love to write an homage (poem or lyric essay) to this. Maybe tomorrow? Love so much about this poem. Right now: Across the lake the campers have learned/ to water-ski. They have, or they haven’t.
Another good run. Down below, on the way back north on the lower trail, I noticed how the first sewer drain I ran by vigorously trickled while the second one sporadically gushed. Heard a bird making the classic bird call through the trees, deep in the gorge, that I imagine when I think of a bird chirping in a forest. So bird. Didn’t take the steps at 38th street again and planned to continue on to the gravel hill just past the social justice keys but took a wrong turn at the fork in the trail and ended up climbing sooner, conveniently right by the water fountain at the 36th street parking lot.
Yesterday I posted a poem with a wonderful use of the word O. (O, to take what we love inside/to carry within us an orchard, to eat/not only the skin, but the shade,/not only the sugar, but the days, to hold/the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into/the round jubilance of peach.) So when I saw a poem that takes on the O even more, I wanted to post it. I love the unbridled enthusiasm of an O! (and of the exclamation mark!!)
O, she says (because she loves to say O),
O to this cloud-break that ravels the night,
O to this moon, its mouthful of sorrow,
O shallow grass and the nettle burr’s bite,
O to heart’s flare, its wobbly satellite,
O step after step in stumbling tempo,
O owl in oak, O rout of black bat flight,
(O moaned in Attic and Esperanto)
O covetous tongue, O fat fandango,
O gnat tango in the hot, ochered light,
O wind whirred leaves in subtle inferno,
O flexing of sea, O stars bolted tight,
O ludicrous swoon, O blind hindsight, O torching of bridges and blood boiled white, O sparrow and arrow and hell below, O, she says, because she loves to say O.
swim: 1.3 miles cedar lake
Another great swim! I am really enjoying how much smaller cedar lake is. I heard someone say a loop is 600 yards. It’s easier to swim longer and farther and faster. The water was choppy again, which is great. I love battling the waves. I had no problem swimming straight today and had fun passing people.
Ran up above listening to another audio book, down below listening to a bird, my breathing and water gurgling out of the sewer–not gushing or rushing, falling? When I got to the leaning tree trunk and the 38th street steps I didn’t go up but stayed on the lower trail. No mud, only dirt, an occasional stone and wildflowers. Not too overgrown. Think I could see my breath as it hit the sunlight streaking through the trees–was this because of steamy humidity? Ran past the railing where the keys with social justice messages painted on them used to hang and up the gravel hill to the paved path, near the overlook, the welcoming oaks and the two old boulders. No stacked stones on the taller one. Saw the dark-haired woman I usually pass and the old lady in the straw hat. She wasn’t listening to any TED talks today.
From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live as if death were nowhere in the background; from joy to joy to joy, from wing to wing, from blossom to blossom to impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
O, what a poem! I want to spend some time memorizing these lines so I can remember them when I need them. I want to carry within me an orchard and live from joy to joy to joy!
swim: 1 miles cedar lake
A great evening for a swim. The water was choppy, which I liked. The sun was blinding, which I didn’t. Again, couldn’t see anything on the way back to the start except for an opening in the trees which I determined was where the beach was. So I swam straight towards it and was right. When I was done, I swam through the swimming area. Suddenly it got much darker below me–is it deeper? The attitude at the lake is more laid back than at Nokomis. Kayaks in the swimming area, a dog swimming out to greet the swimmers as they made their way to the first buoy, lifeguards sitting in camp chairs. Surprisingly, it didn’t bother me. Next year I will try to make it to more of these cedar lake swims. Almost forgot: too many scratchy, pesky vines floating in the water, getting tangled on my shoulders, in my fingers as they entered the water.
A nice and easy run. Cooler. Not too much sun. Not that crowded. Didn’t see the little old lady shuffling by that I’ve been writing about but I did encounter a woman I’ve seen at least 2 or 3 times before who walks the opposite way I run. While I start by running south on the upper trail, north on the lower trail, she starts north on the upper trail and south on the lower. I get to greet her twice. Don’t remember much about the upper path run, but I remember noticing how bright and glowing the river was below me on the lower trail. Heard some roller ski poles clicking-clacking. A car horn aggressively honking–at least 5 or 6 times. Some bikers talking. The leaning tree trunk is still leaning near the 38th street steps. After taking them up and running north, I noticed 3 rocks stacked on the ancient boulder near the tunnel of trees.
On the Dirt Path Near Folwell Avenue Haibun Sara Puotinen
Even if you try to time it just right when you climb the steep, short hill up to the dirt packed path, you cannot avoid the swarming swath of sex-crazed gnats or the little old lady slowly shuffling by, swinging her hiking poles, a voice TED-talking out of her phone’s speaker reminding you that this is why we are all here. Do not bother the bench resting on the rim of the gorge to ask what this is. If looking through the thickly thatched oak leaves to gather glimpses of the silvery river sparkling in the morning sun doesn’t already answer everything, the bench certainly won’t be able to help.
Bugs and old ladies
wake up early in June but
so does the river.
A great ride early in the morning before it was too crowded. Thing I remember most: not once but twice some dumb squirrel darted out right in front of my bike, forcing me to use my brakes. I hate squirrels.
run: 2.7 miles two trails
Such a beautiful morning! Not too hot or windy or humid. Decided to do a quick run even though I’d already biked to the lake and walked around it. Up above, encountered at least one roller skier, some bikers, a dog and their human, a few other runners. Down below, an unleashed dog running ahead of its owners, a few solitary walkers. Watched the river out of the corner of my eye. Avoided muddy, mucky leaves. Ran cautiously under the leaning, yarn-bombed tree trunk.
swim: 1 mile cedar lake
Finally decided to try out open swim at Cedar Lake. I’ve never been because it’s a lot farther from my house. Really wonderful. Not too many people there, which was great. Smaller loops–not sure, but I think a loop was 400-500 yards? (instead of 1200 at Lake Nokomis). I liked mixing it up with smaller loops. Easier to not get off track even when you couldn’t see, which I couldn’t on the way back because of the sun. Why are so many of the beaches east/west, with one way always being in the sun? No big, crazy beach filled with too many people. Found out after I finished swimming that the rest of lake nokomis open swims will be at cedar. It’s very sad to be done for the season at nokomis without being able to say goodbye to the lake but I’m glad I can still swim–if I can make it over to Cedar. It’s about a 16-18 mile bike ride round trip. Breathed every five strokes. Felt strong and fast and free.
Lake Water By David Ferry July 16, 2007/ The New Yorker
It is a summer afternoon in October. I am sitting on a wooden bench, looking out At the lake through a tall screen of evergreens, Or rather, looking out across the plane of the lake, Seeing the light shaking upon the water As if it were a shimmering of heat. Yesterday, when I sat here, it was the same, The same displaced out-of-season effect. Seen twice it seemed a truth was being told. Some of the trees I can see across the lake Have begun to change, but it is as if the air Had entirely given itself over to summer, With the intention of denying its own proper nature. There is a breeze perfectly steady and persistent Blowing in toward shore from the other side Or from the world beyond the other side. The mild sound of the little tapping waves The breeze has caused—there’s something infantile About it, a baby at the breast. The light Is moving and not moving upon the water. The breeze picks up slightly but still steadily, The increase in the breeze becomes the mild Dominant event, compelling with sweet oblivious Authority alterations in light and shadow, Alterations in the light of the sun on the water, Which becomes at once denser and more quietly Excited, like a concentration of emotions That had been dispersed and scattered and now were not. Then there’s the mitigation of the shadow of a cloud, Phrases and even sentences are written, But because of the breeze, and the turning of the year, And the sense that this lake water, as it is being Experienced on a particular day, comes from Some source somewhere, beneath, within, itself, Or from somewhere else, nearby, a spring, a brook, Its pure origination somewhere else, It is like an idea for a poem not yet written And maybe never to be completed, because The surface of the page is like lake water, That takes back what is written on its surface, And all my language about the lake and its Emotions or its sweet obliviousness, Or even its being like an origination, Is all erased with the changing of the breeze Or because of the heedless passing of a cloud. When, moments after she died, I looked into Her face, it was as untelling as something natural, A lake, say, the surface of it unreadable, Its sources of meaning unrndable anymore. Her mouth was open as if she had something to say; But maybe my saying so is a figure of speech.
I’d like to read this poem several more times. Wow, that ending!
Slightly cooler this morning. Noticed the river sparkling in the sun. Saw the old woman in the straw hat sitting on the bench that I’m writing about in my most recent haibun as I ran south, but by the time I turned around and reached the bench again she was gone. No rowers. No roller skiers. Not many bikes or runners. A few walkers. Only the leaning, yarn-bombed trunk is here.
note: No open swim tonight due to bad water quality. No!!! Hopefully the lake won’t be closed for the rest of the season. What a bummer.
When I am asked
how I began writing poems,
I talk about the indifference of nature.
It was soon after my mother died,
a brilliant June day,
I sat on a gray stone bench
in a lovingly planted garden,
but the day lilies were as deaf
as the ears of drunken sleepers
and the roses curved inward.
Nothing was black or broken
and not a leaf fell
and the sun blared endless commercials
for summer holidays.
I sat on a gray stone bench
ringed with the ingenue faces
of pink and white impatiens
and placed my grief
in the mouth of language,
the only thing that would grieve with me.
Writing this a few days late, so I don’t remember much. Listened to my audio book up above, nothing down below. Was hoping to encounter the woman with the radio for another writing prompt. I did, but I passed her from behind and couldn’t hear anything. Bummer. Looked a little closer and saw that the yarn hanging off the leaning tree trunk is yellow and pink.
swim: 1.5 miles lake nokomis
Swam a few little loops, then one big loop. A great swim. Absolutely couldn’t see the buoys until they were right next to me on the way back, but I could occasionally see a lifeguard on their kayak and the sparkling roof of the changing room building so I managed to stay on course the whole time. Felt strong and relaxed and happy to be swimming.
2.5 miles two trails 72 degrees humidity: 87% dew point: 69
Last night my weather app told me there would be scattered thunderstorms this morning but when I woke up they had been pushed back to noon.Cloudy this morning and feeling like stepping into a sauna or the bathroom after someone has taken a too long hot shower. Listened to my audio book (another Agatha Christie) up above, everything else down below. Heard trickling and some rowers, car wheels whooshing and ski poles clickity-clacking up above. For the third time, encountered the little old lady walking with her hiking poles listening to a radio show or an audio book or something. Today I heard, “which reminds us of why we are all here.” Decided that I should create a poem or some piece of writing around this phrase. This phrase could be the title or the ending line of the whole poem or a sentence or a refrain. A week or so ago I posted a cliffhanger about the tree trunk leaning over the path near the 38th street steps. It’s still there and still continuing to lean lower. Someone has yarn-bombed it–yarn in colors I can’t remember are dangling down as decoration or warning. Will anyone ever take this trunk away?
Had a thought about my vision problems and their impact on how I see the gorge. My deteriorating vision has helped me to pay more attention to everything–to hear more, smell more, see more. It has also twisted/warped/made strange what I see which can make it more interesting or fantastical.
It’s hot again. Ran the two trails. Listened to an audio book (Agatha Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage) on the upper trail. Nothing on the lower–excerpt for an older woman’s radio (the same woman I passed last week). Instead of taking the steps up at 38th, I kept running on the dirt trail to the savana. Sometimes this trail is muddy, today it was not. I think I quickly glanced at the river only once or twice. Mostly, I don’t remember what I saw or heard. No interesting smells or sounds.
Does the sword seem toothed like a toddler’s smile
or sharp as your first ice skates?
On a scale of anglerfish to northern lights
how bright are the flashes in your head?
When I touch this, here, which constellations
light the sky behind your eyes?
Would you say that pulsing is the flicker of a satellite
or the stubborn heartbeat of a newborn chick?
Ask, Can we for a moment make of beauty
the measure of our pain? and I will answer.
This poem is so great. Immediately reminds me of Eula Biss’s The Pain Scale essay. I don’t think I have a favorite line, they’re all beautiful. Maybe, “which constellations light the sky behind your eyes?”
bike: 8.5 miles lake nokomis
Great weather for a bike ride. Especially fun after the swim, on the way home, when it was almost twilight. The final stretch up the river road is always tricky at this time–so crowded. Bikers/runners/walkers spreading out over the path, disregarding the lines or the rules of which path to stay on. It makes it so much more dangerous for me. I’m fine biking in my lane, following the lines, but I can’t always see darting people or judge the amount of space I need to get around someone. Very frustrating.
swim: 1.5 miles lake nokomis
Did a little loop before open swim started, then 2 big loops. Might have been able to do more, but my brain got tired of not being able to see much. Still, a great swim. The water felt nice–not too warm or cold–and the waves weren’t bad. For the first time, I ran into someone. Not hard, just a tap on their leg before I veered off. The buoys were too far off the main beach but in a straight line. Easy to follow. The sun was blinding heading back from the little beach. I wonder, does it get better or worse the longer you stay in the water? I can’t remember because I usually stop swimming by 6:30. Next time, I should stay until 7:30. Heard some clangs underwater, roaring planes in the sky. Several sailboats. Breathed every five strokes for the first loop. Second loop: every five to the little beach, every 6 to the right on the way back to the main beach. After I finished, met Scott at Sandcastle for a beer and watched a sailboat, with a brightly colored sail, slowly drift closer to us. What a great night! What a great lake!
3.1 miles trestle turn around 66 degrees humidity: 89%
Forgot to look for the river again today. Instead saw lots of green. A few slashes of light purple. What are those wildflowers? Green with purple all over the edge of the path. Didn’t hear any rowers. Car after car after car passing me on the river road. No birds or annoying squirrels. No rollerbladers or roller skiers. No Daily Walker.
Biked to the lake for open swim. As I arrived, it thundered and I heard the lifeguard call out, “Open Swim is delayed for 30 minutes.” Bummer. Then, after waiting for a few minutes, the sky unzipped and it began to pour. Waited under the overhang of the building with Scott until it stopped. Thundered again. 30 more minute wait. So we left. Double bummer. At least I got to see a rafter of wild turkeys in a field across from Locks and Dam #1 as I biked to the lake. Pretty cool!
run: 2.4 miles river road path, north/south 75 degrees humidity: 87% dew point: 70
I am currently on day 62 of filling all three rings on my apple watch. Decided to run so I could keep up the streak. So hot and humid! For the first time this year, I saw haze hovering around the tunnel of trees. It was raining as I ran. Not too hard and offering no relief. Encountered some idiot teenagers playing catch on the running path under the bridge. Two of them almost threw a ball over my head as I ran by them. I gave them one of my vigorous disapproving head shakes which my daughter says are very effective in shaming. Why did she say that? Have I given her one before?
Another hot one. Listened to my audio book as I ran, partly because I’m enjoying it and partly because I need to finish it so I can move onto the next one. It’s hard to keep up with books these days. Audio books are great but I can’t skim them like I could a regular book. And regular books make me tired so quickly. Lots of traffic out on the upper trail: bikers, walkers, other runners, strollers, dogs. Was happy to turn at the 44th street parking lot and run back on the lower path. So much cooler and quieter and calmer! Turned off my audio book. Glanced down at the river, through the trees, a few times. Think I heard–but didn’t see–some rowers. Encountered a few walkers but no other runners. Startled a squirrel–at least I think it was a squirrel. Marveled at the green and the occasional breeze.
Summer Breeze/Seals and Croft
See the curtains hangin’ in the window
In the evening on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin’ through the window
Lets me know everything’s all right
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ though the jasmine in my mind
See the paper layin’ on the sidewalk
A little music from the house next door
So I walk on up to the doorstep
Through the screen and across the floor
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ though the jasmine in my mind
Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day’s work
And you’re waiting there
Not a care in the world
See the smile awaitin’ in the kitchen
Through cookin’ and the plates for two
Feel the arms that reach out to hold me
In the evening when the day is through
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ though the jasmine in my mind
3.1 miles trestle turn around 70 degrees humidity: 87% dew point: 65
Hot and humid again. Legs really sore 2 miles in. Listened to an audio book instead of the gorge. What do I remember from the run? Encountering one of those annoying lime scooters on the walking path with the tunnel of trees. Feeling strong for the first mile. Trying to avoid wandering branches with wet leaves. Don’t think I saw the river at all. Noticing how the clearing in the middle of the tunnel of trees constricts as the days thicken. More leaves, more green, less light and space and room to breathe. Sweating so much with the high humidity and dew point.
Hot! Thick air. Sluggish legs. Listened to an Agatha Christie audiobook on the upper trail, the gorge on the lower trail. Also heard some kids up above somewhere. The lower trail was a little muddy from the recent rain, especially the mulch-y leaves. Writing this a day later so I don’t remember much. Ran for two miles before stopping to take a quick walk break up the stairs. Pretty soon I’ll have all the ups and downs and turns of this short trail memorized.
Cliffhanger: a fallen tree leans across the path, near the steps up to 38th street, held up by the trunk of another tree. Will it fall soon and hit someone walking under? Will the parks department remove it? Will it stay here all summer?
bike: 8.5 miles lake nokomis
On the way to the lake muttered “jerk” under my breath at one idiot driver. On the way back muttered to another clueless driver, “ass.” Aside from that, was hot and happy to be able to see well enough to bike. At one point I wondered, has my brain just memorized the path? I’ve biked it 100s of times and have carefully noticed all the curves and curbs and craters. At the last scan of my central vision, it was almost gone. How can I see anything? Brains are fascinating.
Cliffhanger: There’s a short stretch of trail, right before and after 28th, that’s “officially” closed for construction. Even though signs are blocking the trail, you can still get by them and the trail/road are still bike-able. When will they start construction? How many more times can I bike on this part of the trail? Will it take the rest of the summer? What path/trail/road/sidewalk will I bike on instead? Update as of 4/3.20: still closed!
swim: 2 miles lake nokomis
Another wonderful open swim. The water was too warm, almost like bath water. At times it felt heavy and slow, like swimming in place or through simple syrup. Other times, it felt fast and smooth. I stayed on course the whole time. Swimming to the little beach, I could see the buoys enough to know I was swimming straight. On the way back, I could only see them when they were right next to me. Instead of sighting with buoys, I used the kayaks to line up the path. The third time I was swimming back, my goggles fogged up and I really couldn’t see anything. I didn’t panic but I still don’t like swimming without being able to see something–the roof of the building, the light pole, other swimmers, buoys. Glad I only swam 3 loops. After biking home, I was exhausted!
Decided to run the Franklin loop, which I haven’t done in a while. Felt cooler this morning because it was cloudy and breezy. Proud of myself for making it 4.2 miles before stopping to walk for a few minutes. At some point, on the way to the Franklin bridge, I heard the rowers–or at least the bullhorn of the coxswain, so I paused my audio book, took off my headphones and listened. Tried to see the rowers while running across the bridge, but they were gone. Heard some trickling water on the east side of the river and noticed that the Meeker Island dog park was still closed. Still flooded or flooded again? Walked over the Lake Street bridge and stopped at the overlook to admire the deep gray water. Looked at the west shore and couldn’t tell if I was seeing a person or a plant. Looked at my watch at the bottom of the final hill, the one that climbs up through the tunnel of trees and ends by the two ancient boulders, to figure out the distance of this climb: .2 miles. Thought about how the trees seem thicker and the need to be out of the tunnel and in the open air much greater when you’re climbing up the slight hill then running down it. I should try to incorporate that idea into my haibun about the place.
Frost: Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
Joyce: and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall.
A wallflower, I peeked at Mr. Popular leaning against a brick wall.
Wallowing, I wept for Ms. Popular as if desire were a wall-
paper pattern Charlotte Perkins Gilman traced decades before Stonewall.
What? Have we all become proverbial balls to some caterwauling wall
of fake news? After each hurricane, I replace the drywall
as if any wall stands a chance against nature. What’s a wall
but a makeshift “fuck you,” waves walloping the seawall
like walleyes bent on survival. Some walls are metaphorical walls
in the mind of a tyrant who promises a nation concrete walls.
Cavafy: Ah why did I not pay attention when they were building the walls?
Emerson: Murder will speak out of stone walls.
3.25 miles mississippi river road path, north/south 72 degrees
Another warm morning when it was difficult to breathe. Stopped to walk for 1 or 2 minutes at 2.5 miles, then finished strong. This summer I don’t care if I have to walk. More opportunity to check out the gorge. Listened to my audio book because I’m enjoying it (and trying to finish it). Encountered a lot of runners on the path. Saw the Daily Walker but wasn’t able to greet him. No Man in Black. I think I heard the rowers but I’m not sure because I was listening to my book. Noticed my shadow a few times. Saw 2! groups of rollerbladers, a group of 5 and a group of 7 or 8, zooming down the path gracefully. Love watching them fly by with their rhythmic arms.
Haze. Three student violists boarding a bus. A clatter of jackhammers. Granular light. A film of sweat for primer and the heat for a coat of paint. A man and a woman on a bench: she tells him he must be psychic, for how else could he sense, even before she knew, that she’d need to call it off? A bicyclist fumes by with a coach’s whistle clamped hard between his teeth, shrilling like a teakettle on the boil. I never meant, she says. But I thought, he replies. Two cabs almost collide; someone yells fuck in Farsi. I’m sorry, she says. The comforts of loneliness fall in like a bad platoon. The sky blurs—there’s a storm coming up or down. A lank cat slinks liquidly around a corner. How familiar it feels to feel strange, hollower than a bassoon. A rill of chill air in the leaves. A car alarm. Hail.
I know I’ve read this poem before but I don’t think I’ve posted it. I love how it seems like simple reporting of the mundane but offers much more. Some great lines–sweat as primer, heat as the coat of paint. The rill of chill, the lank cat slinking, the couple on the bench interrupting the scene repeatedly, the coming storm–literally and metaphorically, the hollow bassoon. So good! I want to try to write a poem like this about my neighborhood.
2.75 mississippi river upper path, south/lower path, north 84 degrees
Ugh, this heat. I have a lot of trouble running when it’s this hot. Listened to my audio book and tried to take it nice and slow. Ran above on the way to the falls and down below on the way back. Don’t remember much except for being hot.
Earlier this morning, I took Delia the dog for a walk to the gorge. On the lower path to the left, past the big sewer drain, below the path with the Welcoming Oaks. Kept going to the part of the running path that dips below the road. Before heading down, stopped at the top and studied the two boulders. 4 small stones make up the cairn perched on the taller rock. No plaque on this rock. How long has it been here? The boulders rested beneath a sprawling oak tree with a branch that bent down to greet me. The leaves were perfect forms of the classic oak leaf–like the cartoon versions I used to see at my elementary school in Northern Virginia–Oak Hill Elementary. Walking down into the tunnel of trees, there was so much cotton in the air and on the edge of the path. I realized, this doesn’t look like snow but feathers, like someone was in the midst of a big pillow fight or a goose had flown off in a hurry or a seam from my winter coat had ripped and spilled out the feathery lining. The fuzzy white cotton softened the rough edges of the path and decorated the dirt patches in the grass.
So hot and hard to breathe! Not sure if it’s all the cottonwood flying but I had a lot of trouble breathing. Time to start running earlier–good thing school ends for the kids tomorrow. Listened to my audio book as I ran, so I don’t remember much–except it was hot, I was sweating a lot and my throat needed to be cleared all the time. Came close to tripping over a dog.
Stopped running at the spot I’m trying to write a haibun about. 4 fences–wrought-iron, stone retaining wall, wood retaining wall, split rail. These fences stand at the start of the ascent into the tunnel of trees. Noticed some small maples (I think) on the edge of the path. Not sure what the other trees are. I did see some broad leaves with jagged edges. What are those? At the beginning, the slope isn’t too steep or high but it gets steeper and higher and darker and narrower as you climb. Wondered why this not so steep spot was the place where a wrought iron fence was placed when there are much steeper spots farther up and decided it was for the cars coming around a curve up above. Not sure if that’s correct. Did a car crash through the split rail here too as some point? In the winter, when this lower path is not cleared and I have to run above on the biking path, I sometimes worry that a car might slip on ice, slide up on the path and hit me. At the end of the tunnel of trees and almost the top of the hill are too boulders (I need to go back and study them some more) and a welcoming oak tree. On top of the taller rock is a cairn of 3 or 4 rocks stacked on top of each other. Who put them there? I think I first noticed them last year. At the top of the hill, is a porta potty, a parking lot, an overlook, some benches, more boulders and the welcoming oaks.
Breathe . As in what if the shadow is gold en? Breathe. As in hale assuming exhale. Imagine that. As in first person singular. Homonym :eye. As in subject. As in centeroftheworld as in mundane. The opposite of spectacle spectacular. This is just us breathing. Imagine normalized respite gold in shadows . You have the right to breathe and remain . Imagine that .
swim: 1000 yards lake nokomis
More shafts of light. Such a cool effect. Tons of cottonwood on the water surface (and in my suit after I got out of the lake and took a shower). A few strange floating objects–wood or something else? The sun was creating this weird red tint effect on everything. I think I saw a few fish swimming below me and another swimmer next to me. Lots of boats encroaching on the designated swimming area. Nearing the shore, swimming inside the wading area, the water was clearer and I could see the bottom. Really cool. I didn’t see all the things on the bottom, like hairbands, but just where the bottom began.
2.9 miles north to railroad bridge/stairs to path below/white sands/rowing club/upper path 68 degrees
My legs are sore today. Partly because it’s my third day in a row running and partly because I decided to start runner’s world’s squat challenge this morning (since my lower back has been bugging me intermittently for the past 6 months, I’m always looking for ways to strengthen it). Decided to listen to my audio book and run past the part of the path above the floodplain forest and towards the railroad trestle. Noticed right away that it was hard to breathe–the cottonwood trees are snowing cotton. The edges of the path were a soft white and little bits of fuzz floated in the air in front of me.
Ran to the railroad trestle and felt wiped out. Took the steps down below and walked the Winchell trail, halfway up the gorge. Beautiful! I was a bit uneasy because after seeing no one but one man, I looked up at the sides of the limestone gorge and realized, in all the green, how hidden I was and how steep any path out would be. No steps leading up. No winding dirt trail. But my unease wasn’t too bad. I started running and caught quick glimpses of the river through the breaks in the tree line. Made it to the Minneapolis Rowing Club and walked up the steep driveway. Started running again and kept going until I returned to my favorite part of the run: where the walking path dips below the road and follows the edge of the bluff right above the floodplain forest.
I stopped on the edge to look down at the forest and noticed that I was in the midst of three fences: a wrought iron fence on the edge of the hill, a stone retaining wall dividing the lower walking path from the upper biking path, and a split rail fence above the wall beside the biking path. So cool to have all 3 fences here, especially since I’ve been wanting to write about this section and about the different types of fences on this route.
The other thing I noticed as I walked up, along the edge, was how green everything was. Different shades (or tints?) of green covering the ground, blotting out the sky. No river, no sky, no forest floor. Only green with the occasional brown trunk or branch. Disorienting, but really cool. At this part, the footpath is flanked on both sides with green–a tunnel of trees, with a smallish circle of light up the hill (the opposite direction of this picture), leading out to 2 big boulders and a porta potty at the northern edge of the 35th street parking lot.
On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of wildflowers and bracken. There is no fence, though here and there a weathered post asserts a former claim, strands of fallen wire taken by the dust. To the left a cornfield carries into the distance, dips and rises to the blue sky, a rolling plain of green and healthy plants aligned in close order, row upon row upon row. To the right, a field of wheat, a field of hay, young grasses breaking the soil, filling their allotted land with the rich, slow-waving spectacle of their grain. As for the farmers, they are, for the most part, indistinguishable: here the tractor is red, there yellow; here a pair of dirty hands, there a pair of dirty hands. They are cultivators of the soil. They grow crops by pattern, by acre, by foresight, by habit. What corn is to one, wheat is to the other, and though to some eyes the similarities outweigh the differences it would be as unthinkable for the second to commence planting corn as for the first to switch over to wheat. What happens in the gully between them is no concern of theirs, they say, so long as the plough stays out, the weeds stay in the ditch where they belong, though anyone would notice the wind-sewn cornstalks poking up their shaggy ears like young lovers run off into the bushes, and the kinship of these wild grasses with those the farmer cultivates is too obvious to mention, sage and dun-colored stalks hanging their noble heads, hoarding exotic burrs and seeds, and yet it is neither corn nor wheat that truly flourishes there, nor some jackalopian hybrid of the two. What grows in that place is possessed of a beauty all its own, ramshackle and unexpected, even in winter, when the wind hangs icicles from the skeletons of briars and small tracks cross the snow in search of forgotten grain; in the spring the little trickle of water swells to welcome frogs and minnows, a muskrat, a family of turtles, nesting doves in the verdant grass; in summer it is a thoroughfare for raccoons and opossums, field mice, swallows and black birds, migrating egrets, a passing fox; in autumn the geese avoid its abundance, seeking out windrows of toppled stalks, fatter grain more quickly discerned, more easily digested. Of those that travel the local road, few pay that fertile hollow any mind, even those with an eye for what blossoms, vetch and timothy, early forsythia, the fatted calf in the fallow field, the rabbit running for cover, the hawk’s descent from the lightning-struck tree. You’ve passed this way yourself many times, and can tell me, if you would, do the formal fields end where the valley begins, or does everything that surrounds us emerge from its embrace?
Wow. Sunny. A slight breeze. Low humidity. What a wonderful way to celebrate 8 years of running. Saw the Man in Black and the quartet of in-sync rollerbladers (what should I call them? first thought: the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, but that doesn’t quite fit–I need to think of another famous group of four–the Beatles?). Encountered a lot of runners, a large group of walkers and some bikers. Busy on the trail this morning. The run felt easy then hard then easy again. Let gravity do the work as I ran down the hill under lake street bridge. Then managed to outrun two bikers up the hill–I think one of them was around 10 so maybe it’s not that impressive? Listened to my audio book for most of the run then switched to Lizzo on my running playlist. The only time I looked at the river was when I briefly stopped to study the railroad bridge. Even then, I barely saw it. I was too busy studying the trestle. Turning around and running south, I noticed the black metal fence on the other side of the trestle and I started thinking about the different types of fences that line the trail: wooden split rail, abandoned chainlink (on the lower path), black wrought iron, stone. I want to add some of that detail into my haibun or write something else about these different types (or do both).
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
run: 3.5 miles mississippi river road path, north/south 55 degrees 84% humidity
bike: 8 miles lake nokomis and back 68 degrees
Felt cool this morning after last night’s thunderstorms. Green and dark and dripping. Listened to a new audiobook, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, which was a nice distraction. Ran to the split rail fence and noticed the crumbling stone wall at the railroad bridge. Also noticed that the slivers of river looked very white through the thick vegetation. Encountered various pairs of runners–almost always in pairs–and my favorite: the group of 4 hardcore rollerbladers. Every summer they train on the river road path. They’re so fast and synchronized. With about 1/2 mile left, I heard the rowers on the river so I turned off my audiobook and listened. Running up the last hill I twisted my foot slightly on an invisible stick. And a few minutes later remembered that tomorrow is my 8th runniversary. On June 2nd, 2011, I started running.
Within this black hive to-night There swarm a million bees; Bees passing in and out the moon, Bees escaping out the moon, Bees returning through the moon, Silver bees intently buzzing, Silver honey dripping from the swarm of bees Earth is a waxen cell of the world comb, And I, a drone, Lying on my back, Lipping honey, Getting drunk with that silver honey, Wish that I might fly out past the moon And curl forever in some far-off farmyard flower.
Found this on The Slowdown podcast. I love Tracy K. Smith’s reading of it.
Mississippiriver road path, north/greenway bridge/franklin hill/river flats/top of 4thstreet/mississippi river road path, south
A longer run this morning. Bright sun. Not much wind. No rain! Cooler. Listened to Murder on the Orient Express again. Really fun. Greeted the Daily Walker. Heard lots of trickling water. Noticed how high the river was down in the flats–and flowing so fast. Encountered some bikers, walkers, runners, a rollerblader. Checked out the progress at Annie Young Park in the flats. They’ve finished the path and added some picnic tables. Didn’t see the bald eagle perched on a tree, only a crow flying high. Felt okay running up the franklin hill. Made a bargain with myself: keep running for 40 minutes, then take a 2 (or was it 3?) minute walk break. After that, ran the rest of the way home. Looked closely at the split rail fence near the railroad trestle–I’m writing about it in a haibun. It’s the spot where a car went off the road and landed on top of a tree last year and where I remember the fog being the thickest on march 14th of this year.
coming from a place where we meandered mornings and met quail, scrub jay, mockingbird, i knew coyote, like everyone else, i knew cactus, knew tumbleweed, lichen on the rocks and pill bugs beneath, rattlers sometimes, the soft smell of sage and the ferment of cactus pear. coming from this place, from a place where grass might grow greener on the hillside in winter than in any yard, where, the whole rest of the year, everything i loved, chaparral pea, bottle brush tree, jacaranda, mariposa, pinyon and desert oak, the kumquat in the back garden and wisteria vining the porch, the dry grass whispering long after the last rains, raccoons in and out of the hills, trash hurled by the hottest wind, the dry grass tall now and golden, lawn chairs, eucalyptus, everything, in a place we knew, every thing, we knew, little and large and mine and ours, except horror, all of it, everything could flame up that quickly, could flare and be gone.
I like the listing of so many named things in this prose poem. And the twist at the end. And how it flows.