lake nokomis and back
bike: 8.6 miles
The first outdoor bike of the year! I’m always anxious, not knowing how much I’ll be able to see on my earliest bike rides of the season, but today was fine. Hooray! Not scared at all, nothing popping up unexpectedly. okay, maybe once when I was focusing on a bike that was approaching from far off, I didn’t notice another bike that was much closer to me. I was more concerned with my tires, which NEED to be replaced; they’ve been leaking air for a few years now. They were fine too. Several times during the bike ride I had a big smile on my face as I thought, I can still bike! then, I get to bike to the lake and swim across it all summer!
10 Things I Noticed
- the wind was rushing in and past my ears as I biked south
- several bikers on fat tires — I wondered why. Do they know something about the road conditions that I don’t?
- the port-a-potties at the falls for the race this past weekend were still there, so were the detour signs
- the duck bridge is temporarily gone — it’s being repaired until ? As I biked by, I noticed a chainlink fence and an asphalt trail abruptly ending where the bridge should be — now that’s an image for one of my nightmares!
- squeak squeak squeak On your left — some squeaking bikes approaching from behind, then passing me just past the duck bridge
- the lake — open water, but not empty water — some people already swimming
- the safety boat — a silvery white beacon across the lake
- the surreys (Scott’s nemesis) were lining the trail, ready to torment him
- an older guy, sitting in a lawn chair at the beach, telling someone a story about how his baseball card collection isn’t worth anything — he said, you might as well throw it all away. — even this card? it should be worth something?! Nope
- an even older guy stopping a woman in a bikini walking by and talking at (not to) her about how there aren’t any lifeguards. Couldn’t quite tell what he was saying, but I assume he meant, but there should be! If he had asked me, I would have said — the season doesn’t start until next weekend and who will you be able to hire this early in the year?
yardwork: 1 hour
mowing, raking, pulling weeds
Mowed the front yard, raked some fallen branches, pulled the irritating garlic mustard that erupts every spring. Least favorite thing about it: it always comes back. Most favorite thing about it: it’s satisfyingly easy to pull; it just pops right out! Listened to an audiobook — the 2nd in a murder mystery series where Agatha Christie’s bff and head housekeeper solves murders. This one’s called, A Trace Poison.
I like mowing the lawn with our reel mower. (I didn’t know that it was called a reel mower. Last summer, when I asked the guy working at the store for help I thought he said real mower, and then I thought, as my daughter would say, he gets it. Yes, the only kind of mower to get is a hand-powered one and not a loud, huge monster mower. But no, he just meant a mower with a reel, a reel mower.) Anyway, it’s fun to be outside, and it’s a chance to move while I listen to my book. Unfortunately, as my vision gets worse (and our yard does too), it’s harder to see where I’ve mowed and where I’ve missed. My aesthetic has always been “almost-chic” or that’s good enough, so I don’t mind, but I think Scott might. So this summer, FWA will have to mow, and I’ll stick to pulling weeds.
Mary Ruefle and not knowing or knowing nothing
Today I finally arrived at the part in Madness, Rack, and Honey in which Mary Ruefle uses one of my favorite quotes of hers, a quote that was an inspiration for my “Bewildered” poem:
The difference between myself and a student is that I am better at not knowing what I am doing.“Short Lecture on Socrates,” page 250
I am almost positive I did read this exact passage when I checked out this book from the library, but maybe I didn’t? Anyway, reading Ruefle’s book was much later after I had already encountered the quote and fallen in love with the idea of being better at not knowing. I first read it in an article about bewilderment, Less Than Certain. I had no idea (or no memory of it, at least) that the quote is in a lecture about Socrates and the unknowingness/not knowing/knowing nothing as the foundation of Western civilization. Wow. I forgot to take my own advice to always think about the larger context of a quote that I want to use!
Reading this small lecture, recognizing that we know nothing seems to be about humility. Recognizing the limits of what you do or can know. Not believing you can know everything. In another article on this topic that mentions Ruefle’s quote, Jack Underwood echoes this:
What interests me about poetry is that rather than looking up for answers, it tends to lead us back indoors, to the mirror, as if seeing ourselves reflected within its frame, confused, gawping, empty-eyed, and scalded by circumstance, might re-teach us the lesson: that meaning presents itself precisely as a question — therefore, you can’t entertain it by seeking to answer it. Imagine! The old, old universe, arranging itself legibly into a puzzle that our small brains might be qualified to solve with the knowledge we can accrue from our small corner of its tablecloth. Solving the mysteries of the universe: isn’t that just the most arrogant, preposterous thing you ever heard? The idea of there being some sort of Answer to Everything is an admirable feat of imagination but also displays a woeful lack of it.On Poetry and Uncertain Subjects
Even as I appreciate the importance of humility, I like thinking about this not knowing or knowing nothing in other ways.
Not knowing as an action. To actively not know something. This could mean unlearning it, to be engaged in the act of not knowing it or divesting (disinvesting?) from it. Or it could mean willful ignorance — a refusal to know some fact, someone. I choose to not know! It could be Mary Ruefle’s wonder from “On Secrets” — I would rather wonder than know. Or it could my moment or many moments of refusing to conceal my not knowing to others, to admit/embrace/accept that I can’t see that bird, right over there, that you are pointing out to me.
Knowing nothing as knowing the thing, or things, that is/are nothing, where nothing is a space where time is stopped or where productivity doesn’t happen (Ross Gay). Or where nothing is the Void, the absence, the blank space around which we orbit, trying to find meaning or possibility or connection. Or where nothing is Marie Howe’s singularity:
No I, no We, no one. No was
No verb no noun
only a tiny tiny dot brimming with
is is is is is