bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis and back
73 degrees
11:00 am / 12:30 pm

So windy on my ride over to lake nokomis! I could hear it rushing past my ears. Looking down at the trail on the river road and the creek path, I noticed orange spray paint everywhere, marking the cracks. Will they fix those spots before the orange paint wears off? Probably not. As I biked, I thought about how wonderful it is to be able to bike to the lake to swim and how much I’ll miss it over the winter. The answer is not too much; I love biking to the lake and the trail is great, but I do get burned out on it by August. On the bike trail at the lake, they were patching cracks.

swim: 1.5 loops
main beach white buoys
75 degrees
11:30 am

Hooray! The buoys were still up. When will they take them down? Happy to have been able to swim today, even though it was windy, the water choppy. The water was also light brown and opaque. The only thing I could underwater were the bubbles coming off of my hands as they break though the surface. No silver flashes of fish, no hairbands at the bottom. Looking out above the surface, all I could see was the beach to one side, endless treeline to the other, white buoys in front of me, and strange, jagged clouds up above. There were a few people at the beach: 2 guys then later, 2 girls, and one metal detectorist. The metal detectorist was at the far edge of the wading area, near the orange-faded-to-pink circular buoys. When I swam nearer him, I think I could hear the vibrations of his detector underwater. The water didn’t feel cold when I first stepped in it but later, after a few laps, I felt chilled.

I stopped a few times near the far white buoys to be in the deeper water and to look out over the lake. I was drawn to one of my favorite, and most helpful, images: the bottom of the lifeguard boat at the little beach. It stood out clearly to me, making the little beach look closer than it was. I’m hoping to conjure that boat bottom as I drift off to sleep this winter. Today, with less sun, the bottom was white and flat. On the sunniest days this summer, it was silver and shiny.

paying versus giving attention

The other week, Scott and I were discussing the difference between paying and giving attention. I can’t remember everything we said, but here are some things I do remember:

Paying attention seems to be a demand, obligation, requirement. An annoyed teacher tells you sternly, Pay Attention! and might add, This will be on the test! It also suggests staring, focusing, closely concentrating, exercising your will, which indicates that attention is (only) a mental activity.

Giving attention is something given freely. To give attention to something is to turn to it, to notice it, but not necessarily to scrutinize, categorize, or classify it. You’re offering something, not because you have to, or because you want something in return. note: I want to read more about giving in Braiding Sweetgrass.

Found this poem on twitter from one of the poetry people:

To the Person Who Marked Up This Book of Poetry/ Amy Miller

I had forgotten about you
until this morning at Denny’s
when I didn’t have enough quarters
for a newspaper and pulled,
instead, this book from my purse,
laid in for such emergencies.

And there you were,
asserting your opinions in black ballpoint,
two stars next to the titles
you obviously liked,
crossed-out lines
you seemed to think superfluous—
scratched-off Wasatch,
penned-in mountains.

And then the waitress frowned
when I told her no hashbrowns.
She asked again—no potatoes?
No grits?—as if to correct
this error in the book
of my morning. She scrawled a note
in her own book, lips tight.

But she brought me the eggs
and you finally left the poet alone
as he went on to talk
of farmers, as his horse changed leads
on command, and sometimes not.
And it’s hard to tell
whether you simply tired
of the old, old game—
this singular shaping, this lonely work
for the betterment of us all—
or whether the poet won you over,
maybe with those lines on page 40
about chickens and the little
swaybacked shed he can’t
bring himself to knock down,
beautiful it its disrepair.


bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis and back
75 degrees
5:00 / 7:00 pm

Biked to Lake Nokomis for the last open swim of the season. Hooray for being able to see enough to bike safely! Hooray for having a trail for the whole way, and never having to ride in the road! Saw at least one surrey, a roller skier, some high school cross country runners, a little girl biking on her own (I thought about asking if she was okay, but she looked fine and I’m sure she was), a person on a blanket — or were they wrapped in a blanket? I couldn’t tell as I biked past — napping at the corner where you turn away from Hiawatha and towards the creek. This seemed like a strange place to stop and hang out. When I returned 2 hours later, they were still there. I mentioned this to Scott and he said he has seen a person at that spot too. He mentioned they were possible unhoused (which I learned from Scott is the term used now instead of homeless).

swim: 4 loops
lake nokomis open swim
75 degrees
5:30 pm

The final open swim of the year. I thought there would be one tomorrow — the calendar says there is — but the lifeguards announced that tonight was it. Glad I was able to make it. All season (and in seasons past, too), I’ve wanted to swim later, until the sun was lower on the water. Usually, I swim for an hour than I’m done. Tonight I stayed later (and the sun dropped sooner). I imagined the beautiful glow of a softening sun on the water as I neared the big beach. Instead, it was a harsh, overwhelmingly bright sun concealing all my sighting landmarks. I still knew where to go, but this time I was completely blind. When I looked up, all I saw was shine. No worries. I still made it with no problem (and no panic).

I tried to absorb as much of the swim as I could for the long winter and the spring, especially the image I’ve chosen to haunt me: rounding the second green buoy, swimming parallel to the beach, reaching for the small orange dot of a buoy far off in the distance. Tonight I noticed how the lake was empty in front of me until I reached a certain point, then the orange dot appeared, disappeared, then appeared again. So far, until suddenly it wasn’t.

10 Things to Remember When the Water is Iced Over

  1. finishing a loop, swimming parallel to the big beach: a row of giant swans (boats) stretching across the lake
  2. how the water darkens right under the buoy as I round it
  3. the silver flashes below
  4. a vee of geese just above the water
  5. before entering the water: standing on the shore, lining up the orange buoys — 1 2 3 in a row
  6. starting my workout out, waiting a few seconds, then diving down into the water as I start my strokes
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left
  8. the confidence (and complete lack of doubt) over where the buoy is — knowing even when I can’t see it, I’m swimming straight to it
  9. the gentle rocking of the choppy water
  10. on the rare day without wind when the water is still and quiet and I feel like I’m out there almost alone — just me, the fish, and the water

9 months until I get to do this again. As I stood in the shallow water at the end of my swim, I overheard one swimmer say to another: “I’m thinking of joining a pool for the off-season, but it’s not the same.” It isn’t the same, but I’m thinking of doing that too. I feel this urge to swim all winter. It’s harder. More expensive, difficult to get to a pool (especially when you can’t drive, like me), too many flip turns, harsh chlorine, crowded lanes.

Anything else I noticed? A swimming duck, a roaring military plane, 2 paddle boarders crossing right in front of me, the (too) straight arms of a stroking swimmer as they neared the first orange buoy, the completely opaque water — almost yellow. I tried to see my hand in front of me as it entered the water, but I couldn’t, how the far white buoy kept getting farther and farther away as I swam towards it.

It was a great season. Lots of loops. Felt strong and confident and happy. Was able to share some of it with my son. Could still see well enough to bike. Only missed a few days. Reached my goal of 100 loops. Only lost one nose plug (and a swim cap).

about buoys

 buoys are liminal. Both immersed in the water and bobbing in air. They are both warning and protection. Buoys indicate boundaries which are dynamic rather than fixed—boundaries comprised of light and imagination and mutual agreement. No hard lines, no barriers, no fence of barbwire and concrete…

Bright Buoy, Dark Sea/ Lauren K. Carlson

august 16/BIKESWIM

bike: 9 miles
halfway to fort snelling
77 degrees
11:00 am

FWA and I decided to take a bike ride this morning. I got to choose where we went. I chose the paved trail to Fort Snelling, which I haven’t biked in 10 years. I chose wrong. It was bumpy 10 years ago, and they haven’t repaired it since then. We made it a few miles, then decided to turn around. Bummer. Glad we turned around because the trail was terrible, but disappointed that that meant the end of the bike ride. Will FWA be willing to take any more bike rides with me before he leaves for college in 3 weeks? Stay tuned.

Found this poem on twitter today. Makes me think about the end of open swim next week, and the end of swimming until next May or June.

Living Here/ Cleopatra Mathis

In the absence of ocean, I have the field,
and I walk there with the dogs
on a chain. One who won’t shut up,
the other large and grave
with his patient look–we all survey
gray sky, gray woods, absence
turning the season. The field
is married to silence, a cloud
lying across it, and when it lifts
no horizon takes my eye. No glory of night
falling at sea, light’s limitless plane.
In the field, containment
is everything, locked as it is by evergreen shade.
The scrimshaw of ice
is water’s only possibility, handiwork
the cold creek make in its secret
turning. Why not accept the bounds,
love the confined self?
In the world of appearances, teach me
to believe in the unseen.
The ground darkens to a threat.
I watch where I put my foot–no sound
in this universe but that reassuring thud.

swim: 4 loops
lake nokomis open swim
75 degrees
5:30 pm

Another wonderful swim! I felt strong and fast. Thought about myself more as a boat then a fish. Not fins but oars, shoulders as a broad bow cutting through the water, only partly submerged and partly above the water. Always moving with intent, trying to get to the other side. There’s something about how serious I am with my swimming, always working hard, rarely stopping. I like to push myself, not to get faster or be more fit, but because I like to work hard? Still trying to figure that one out. Imagining myself as a boat reminds me of a poem I posted a few years ago:

SWIMMER (FEMALE)/ Concha Méndez

My arms:
the oars.

The keel: 
my body.

my thought.

I found this poem on the site, Swimming at Dawn. In the entry in which this was posted, Dawn Swimmer describes how they try to return to the “elementals” to center themselves and to clear their mind.

Blue. Green. Tree. Breath. Arm. Hand. Bubbles. Sun. Moon. 

Sometimes when I’m open water swimming, with my mind full of thoughts and I want to clear it, I turn to elementals like primary colors. Single words for single moments. I turn my head to breathe, life giving agent, and there is the Sky. Cloud. Pink. Sun. Sensation. Joy. Cold. Water. 

Simplicity emerges. Each breath, a word. And, yes, Water. Water. Water. Always water, everywhere. Me inside the water. The water inside of me. 

Slicing through the waves, the currents, the liquid aqua. I’m flowing and moving somewhere and nowhere. Rock, Buoy, Colored house. Or perhaps, there’s a long section with nothing to distract me. The mind wanders. I turn my head to breathe. Mountain. Pine. Boat. Moored. 

Swimming My Verses: Poetry & Open Water Swimmming

I really like this idea. I’d like to experiment with some swimming poems made up of these elements. What were the elements of my swim?

Clouds. Sky. Plane. Vine. Wave. Buoy. Kayak. Swan. Strokes. Five. Breath. Roof. Treetops. Elbow. Cap. Blue. Green. White. Yellow. Orange. Pink. Shoulders. Hand. Hips. Foot. Slosh. Duck. Kick. Splash.

As we were waiting at the beach for open swim to start, a woman came up to me and asked, Do you ever think the buoys are staring at you? The handles look like eyes. When I’m rounding the buoy, I always see it watching me. I admitted that I’d never thought about that, but once she mentioned it, I could see it — the handles as eyes, the edge of the triangular buoy a long nose.

Tonight, the green buoy closest to shore seemed to grow farther away as I swam toward (towards?) it. Mid-lake, this green buoy also looked like a tiny glowing dot, more white than green.

A crowded lake with lots of open water swimmers and boats. During the third loop, I noticed a line of giant swans off to my left. Tonight, they didn’t seem menancing, just strange. Out of scale — were they too big, or was the lake too small?

Gave some attention to my stroke, noticing (again) how breathing to my left was a little harder. I don’t get my head out of the water as much on that side. Is it my rotation? I tried stretching out my right arm and rolling over on my right side more. I think it helped.

Here’s another bit of a poem that I’d like to play around with:

from “swims“/ Elizabeth Jane Burnett

The river is something that happens,
like exercise or illness, to the body
on any given day
I am rivering.

Not that the river is like the body
or the river is the body
but both have gone
and what is left is something else.

I wonder, is there such a thing as lake-ing? How does it differ from rivering? Also: what is the something else that is left? I like the idea of the water being a verb and not a noun.


run: 3.1 miles
turkey hollow loop
70 degrees
9:00 am

Overcast this morning. Listened to an old playlist and ran a route I did a lot during the early days of the pandemic. No turkey sightings. Bummer. Don’t remember much about the run, except for that it felt pretty good. No need to stop and walk.

Read more of Alice Oswald’s Nobody yesterday and decided that I need to reread The Odyssey to get her references. So I picked up FWA’s copy from his first year of college. I recall reading it my freshman year too. It’s great, especially this recent-ish translation by Emily Wilson. Very cool. How long will it take my slow eyes to finish? Unsure.

Found a great poem by Linda Pastan on twitter yesterday:

Imaginary Conversation/ Linda Pastan

You tell me to live each day
as if it were my last. This is in the kitchen
where before coffee I complain
of the day ahead—that obstacle race
of minutes and hours,
grocery stores and doctors.

But why the last? I ask. Why not
live each day as if it were the first—
all raw astonishment, Eve rubbing
her eyes awake that first morning,
the sun coming up
like an ingénue in the east?

You grind the coffee
with the small roar of a mind
trying to clear itself. I set
the table, glance out the window
where dew has baptized every
living surface.

Speaking of the sun coming up, this morning I woke up too early, around 5:45. I was going to try to fall back asleep then suddenly I thought: if I get up now, I’ll get to see the sunrise. Wow! What a sunrise. One half of the sky the color of a neon pink crayola with edges of bright blue. It lasted less than 5 minute. I sat out on the deck, wrapped in a blanket with my coffee and marveled at it. I remember thinking how ridiculously simple it seems to make a day worth it, and how difficult it is to remember to do it.

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis and back
82 degrees
4:45 pm / 6:45 pm

Biked with Scott over to the lake. Perfect weather for biking and being outside!

swim: 3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
82 degrees
5:15 pm

Another wonderful swim! Why does open swim have to end in 2 weeks? Oh well, then it’s time for fabulous fall and winter running, and listening to crunching snow and breathing in the crisp, cold air.

Tonight it was crowded — at Sandcastle, on the beach, in the water. Lots of menancing sail boats and swan boats and kayaks. I kept seeing them at the edge of my vision and feeling wary.

Scott asked how the water was. I said there were waves, but they were gentle like a cradle, not rough like a spin cycle.

I felt strong and fast and amazing, cutting through the water. What a great feeling!

Looked down: opaque, almost greenish-yellow.

The water was warm. No pockets of cold, just warm.

Rounding the far orange buoy, a sudden shadow and coldness. Strange.


bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
68 degrees / steady drizzle
9:10 am / 11:00 am

Cloudy. Then a few minutes into the bike ride, a steady, soft drizzle. Anything memorable on the ride? Not really.

One thing I’m wondering about: often on Sundays — is it just Sundays? — I notice a clapboard sign on the edge of the small stretch of bike path after you cross the road at Dairy Queen and before you cross the road to the falls parking lot. Usually at least one person is standing beside it. What is it? Is it for a church service at the falls? Some other religious thing? Something else? I’ve never stopped to ask or look at it closely. Will I ever? Probably not.

swim: 4 loops
lake nokomis open swim
68 degrees / cloudy, then drizzle
9:45 am

These 4 loops took me about 60 minutes to swim, no stopping. A loop this year is less than it has been in the past. Partly because I’m looping around the far buoys instead of swimming almost to shore. Maybe I should start trying to swim to shore again, to make these loops longer? I’ll try it on Tuesday. I started out breathing every 3, then as I warmed up, every 5. I spent a lot of the first loops trying to not worry too much about an ailing parent. The other thing I had trouble getting out of my head: the line from a Mary Poppins’ song: Anything can happen if you let it. What kind of bad magic is in that line that makes me unable to get it out of my head?

10 Things I Remember

  1. a few planes flying above me
  2. the opaque water below me — looking down at the nothingness between breaths
  3. thinking about the other world being underwater and holding my breath creates
  4. having some difficulty breathing to my left — I might be breathing too soon, tried working on waiting a little longer in my stroke to breathe
  5. the lifeguard kayaks were closer into the buoys, the buoys were farther from my favorite landmark: the silver bottom of an overturned rowboat
  6. the green buoy getting lost (at least for me) amongst the while sailboats
  7. one annoying swimmer who was swimming faster than me but managed to time it so they ended up at the buoys at the same time as me and would route me again and again and again (at least 3 times)
  8. feeling warmed up and on auto-pilot by the end of the 3rd loop
  9. thinking my goggles had fogged up for the 4th lap, then realizing when I stopped that it was raining. I hadn’t felt the rain at all in the water
  10. barely underwater, trying to see the raindrops as they broke through the surface. I couldn’t; the water was too cloudy

Speaking of rain, found this wonderful poem yesterday:

The Rain Stick/ Seamus Heaney

Up-end the stick and what happens next
is a music that you never would have known
to listen for. In a cactus stalk

Downpour, sluice-rush, spillage and backwash
come flowing through. You stand there like a pipe
being played by water, you shake it again lightly

and diminuendo runs through all its scales
like a gutter stopping trickling. And now here comes
a sprinkle of drops out of the freshened leaves,

Then subtle little wets off grass and daisies;
the glitter-drizzle, almost-breaths of air.
up-end the stick again. What happens next

is undiminished for having happened once,
twice, ten, and thousand times before.
who cares if all the music that transpires

is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus?
You are like a rich man entering heaven
through the ear of a raindrop. Listen now again.

I’m sure I’ve heard a rain stick before, but it’s been a long time. These descriptions of the sound of water helped me to remember something from the end of the swim: after exiting the water, walking through the soft drizzle (was it a glitter drizzle?), I heard the rain falling off of the roof of the building. At the edges of the building, just past the overhang the water would collect momentarily then fall louder and harder and bigger than when it came straight from the sky. Out in the open the water was silent, gentle. Near the building, it was hard and loud.

run: 3.1 miles
trestle turn around
75 degrees / dew point: 65
4:30 pm

Decided to run so I could reach my weekly goal of 20 miles. It’s been harder to reach it in the summer, with all the swimming. The first mile was fine. After that, I felt warm. Listened to a playlist because I’m still trying to get Mary Poppins out of my head. Ended with Beyoncé. I don’t remember looking at the river even once while I ran. The sky was a white-ish gray. Rain’s coming back in a few hours.

an image: near the trestle, a black bike hoisted up off the ground, kept in a place by a bike lock attached to the railing. A strange way to lock up a bike! Joined by a bunch of other bikes all along the fence, near the stone steps that lead down to the Winchell Trail. What’s going on down there?


bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back

The biker in front of me was far enough ahead that it would be difficult to speed up to pass him. He would peddle a few strokes then coast, then I would get closer — not too close, but close enough to think I might have to pass him which was stressing me out. Everytime he coasted, the bike chain moving over the teeth would buzz (am I describing that correctly?). I managed to not let it bother me too much.

Other enounters: more bikers, alone and in groups; a roller skier; walkers; runners; a surrey

swim: 2 very choppy loops
lake nokomis open swim
75 degrees and windy
9:30 am

Much windier and choppier than I expected at the lake! Uncomfortable swells, making each stroke feel awkard, and lots of waves. Difficult to see anything in front of me. Even so, no problems staying on course. I was definitely ready to be done by the end of my second loop.

Sometimes the waves are fun. Having them rock you and wash over you. Or punching into them. Today, they were difficult and made me feel weaker not stronger. Still, I’m glad I came for open swim.


bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
66 degrees (there) / 71 (back)
9:00 am / 11:15 am

A little crazy on the trail today. So many reckless bikers going too fast and not warning me they were coming. A mini peloton of male bikers — all decked out in their kits — zoomed past me on a curve at the top of the hill and I yelled out, Thanks for letting me know you were coming! Ah, so passive agressive of me. I stewed about it for a few minutes, thinking about how I wish I would have said something more direct, or how I wished people didn’t act like aggressive jerks so often, but then decided I wanted to enjoy this ride. So I started reciting Emily Dickinson — out loud! It’s all I have to bring today –/This, and my heart beside Over and over again. It worked! As I rounded the curve and neared the big beach at Lake Nokomis 10 minutes later, I thought about how grateful I am for every single bike ride I can still do. Maybe my brain and I will figure out how to keep me biking even when my central vision is gone, and maybe not. But this morning, I could bike by myself and I didn’t feel scared or (too) disoriented. And that ride took me to the lake. What a gift!

swim: 4 loops!
lake nokomis open swim
67 degrees
9:30 am

A little chilly. Lots of sun. A great swim. The first time this season that I’ve swam 4 loops. And I didn’t stop — well, I treaded water for a few seconds as I adjusted my too-tight goggles, but I never went back to stand near the shore. 4 straight loops in 75 minutes. Amazing. During the final loop, I felt warmed up and in that flow state. Tired, too. I’d like to get up to 5 or 6 loops, but I’m glad I didn’t do that today.

Image of the swim: Swimming towards the big beach, into the sun, I noticed spots of shimmering water ahead of me. I followed them towards the opposite shore. Then I realized: the shimmer was where there was a swimmer! Their disruption of the water with their strokes was causing the light to dance on the ripples. So cool! It was beautiful to see, and to think about each of us, out there on the lake, shimmering and shining and emitting a guiding light for each other. Even as I get irritated with some swimmers or bikers, I want to remember this image of each of us as a shimmering light dancing on the surface.

And here’s an interview I found the other day that I wanted to remember for the future:

from Short Conversation with Poets: Linda Gregerson

For the most part, I try to hold off on the “about” part for as long as I can. Attending to syntax and stanza form is one of the ways I try to do that. No one needs to hear me ruminate (or worse, hold forth) on something I already think I know. In one of her very early poems, Brenda Hillman wrote something like “the jetty of my ignorance” (I’m sure I’m getting that wrong: I seem to remember a walkway of some sort and a large body of water). Jetty, or footbridge, or causeway, the point is this: a certain kind of ignorance is good, even necessary, for the making of a poem. I’m not talking about willful mystification or atmospherics, God forbid, but rather about the momentum of good-faith wanting-to-discover-something. Deferring the “about” part is rather like deferring the main clause of a sentence: it stores up energy.

All of us carry around enormous repositories of grief and longing and wonder and memory, and these will always make their way into poems. Frontal attack, I’ve found, is rarely the way to unlock them.

“the momentum of good faith wanting-to-discover-something”
“Deferring the “about” part is rather like deferring the main clause of a sentence: it stores up energy.”
“Frontal attack is rarely the way to unlock them [grief,longing,wonder, memory].”

…the most profound and durable source of wonder for me is my “thrownness” into the biological world. I am perpetually astonished by the mystery of living in a body that, whatever its limitations, is so much smarter than I am. A body that handles more things, is infinitely more complex than what I think of as my “self,” a body that does things I could not possibly do on purpose, and which I inhabit as a kind of guest. 

“the mystery of living in a body that is so much smarter than I am.”
“infinitely more complex than what I think of as my ‘self’…”

I don’t think poetry is antithetical to reasoned thought. But I do think the experience of standing before the world in wonder and wanting to come to what mindfulness we can is a very important stance. In my experience, it’s our common stance, common to poets and scientists alike. 

I have been the beneficiary of instruction, or let’s just call it patient explanation, from people who are exquisitely trained in neurophysiological research, my late sister chief among them. The magic of that research is the combination of aptitudes it requires: capacities for abstract inquiry, tolerance of provisional thinking, and a daunting array of practical skills. The scientist needs to posit a hypothesis in order to formulate her question, and then to design an experiment that might help her refine the question, and she has to be prepared to jettison that hypothesis if her experimental results tell her it’s insufficient. You have to be invested in order to pursue the question, in other words, but you also have to be prepared to be corrected. I think that’s also a moral stance. You can’t be not-committed, you must be strongly committed and yet prepared to be corrected.

“you must be strongly committed and yet prepared to be corrected.”

Finally, here’s a great poem I found yesterday. Check out the note under the title. Poetry was an Olympic event? Nice.

Taking Your Olympic Measure/ Alberto Rios

Poetry was an Olympic event from 1912-1948.

Think of the records you have held:
For one second, you were the world’s youngest person.

It was a long time ago, but still.
At this moment, you are living 

In the farthest thousandth-of-a-second in the history of time.
You have beaten yesterday’s record, again.

You were perhaps the only participant,
But in the race to get from your bedroom to the bathroom, 

You won.
You win so much, all the time in all things.

Your heart simply beats and beats and beats—
It does not lose, although perhaps one day.

Nevertheless, the lists of firsts for you is endless—
Doing what you have not done before,

Tasting sake and mole, smelling bergamot, hearing
Less well than you used to—

Not all records are for the scrapbook, of course—
Sometimes you are the best at being the worst.

Some records are secret—you know which ones.
Some records you’re not even aware of.

In general, however, at the end of a long day, you are—
Unlikely as it may seem—the record holder of note.  


run: 3.30 miles
2 trails + extra
73 degrees / dew point: 62
8:45 am

Stickier this morning. Rain is coming later today. I’m hoping the weather is wrong about the thunderstorms expected around the time of open swim. A good, relaxed run. Started it off by reciting “Auto-lullaby.” Think of a sheep/knitting a sweater;/think of your life/getting better and better. Greeted Mr. Morning! and had a thought as I heard his regular sounding morning and compared it to my, Good Morning! What if I’m the enthusiastic greeter and not him? What if I’m Mrs. Good Morning!?

Running south on the river road trail, I could feel the intense energy of the morning. So many cars on the road! So many runners and bikers and walkers on the trail! It helped when I entered the lower trail at the 44th street parking lot. Much quieter. The river was a calm gray blue. The trickling water from the sewer pipe was calming too. Only one bad smell: sewer gas near 42nd street. Yuck!

surfaces I ran on

  • road
  • sidewalk
  • paved trail
  • very dry dirt
  • grass
  • asphalt — smooth, cracked, rubbled, in slanted slabs
  • mulched leaves
  • gravel
  • a slick, metal grate
  • rocks jutting out of the dirt

I ran through the oak savanna and noticed that finally, after about 6 months, someone cut the big, forked branch that had been spread out over the trail and that I had to look out for and jump over as I ran. I could see the pieces of it stacked and off to the side. I suppose I should be glad, but I already miss having it as a landmark. And I miss how it made me feel pleased that I could still see it and that it didn’t trip me up.

I really like the form of this flash fiction (serious question: how is this different from a prose poem? But, do we need to distinguish it?) Bonus: they mention hating the word “moist,” which is the theme and title of the poem I posted yesterday.

Things I Should’ve Outgrown By Now/ Megan Williams

Crown braids, nightmares, Barbie dolls, mispronouncing library, soft spot for Austin Powers, talking to old men on Omegle, inability to tell North from South, hating the word ‘moist,’ crying during sex, <3 emoticon, embarrassment when I buy tampons, saying cheese & rice instead of Jesus Christ, nightmares about that boyfriend (you know the one), reading fanfiction, telling pedophiles on Omegle Your IP Address is being sent to the Child Pornography Victim Assistance Branch of the FBI, finding Heathcliff and Catherine romantic, the comeback ‘Whatever, Major Loser,’ stomping my foot when I’m mad, stolen liberry copy of The Body Book for Younger Girls, inability to tell East from West, quicksand phobia, wearing sports bras instead of real bras, snow-globe collection, crying when the princesses at Disney World call me a princess too, biting my nails, writing fanfiction, the color pink, sticks-stones-waterfall-girl-you-think-you got-it-all, hatred of sushi, asking pedophiles on Omegle who beg for mercy Have you ever met a girl who got raped?, </3 emoticon, tinted Chapstick, the bunny ears method, nightmares about that boyfriend, you know the fucking one, who said I was very mature for my age.

One more thing: I’m noticing that I have so many more typos in my writing. Okay, I’ve been noticing it for a while now. It’s because of my eroding eyes. I used to be very careful and so good about spelling things correctly and not missing words, or typing the wrong word. I guess it doesn’t help that I turned auto-correct/spell check off, but it kept auto-correcting to the wrong word and I hardly ever noticed. I don’t think I have the energy to proof read my work closely enough — and, with my bad central vision, I probably couldn’t spot the mistakes anyway. I should try working on changing how I write: a lot less words, I think. Or, speaking/dictating instead of typing. Maybe I’ll try both? A new experiment in shifting how I write as I lose my central vision?

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
71 degrees
5:00 pm (there) / 6:45 (back)

Lots of puddles from the light rain that stopped a few minutes before I started. Half the sky was a medium gray, half was blue with some white clouds. Didn’t have any trouble seeing the trail and didn’t have to try and pass anyone. Most memorable thing: they’ve trimmed back all of the bushes at the dangerous curve near nokomis avenue. I always worried that there would be crash in the spot. So glad it’s clear now.

swim: 3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
71 degrees
5:30 pm

At the beginning, the lake was so clear and calm. A beautiful sight! I overhead someone say, “it’s no calm. Not even a ripple. No excuse for getting off course tonight.” Later, as I was swimming I wondered, when it’s this clear, can people with normal vision see all the buoys all the time? I can’t. The lake was still a blank blue for me. I stayed on course, but only because I trust my strokes and have landmarks that help me.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a plane moving across the sky, not looking silver but black. At least one more, a few minutes later
  2. some vegetation wrapping around my arm
  3. more vegetation almost making it into my mouth
  4. having more trouble breathing to my left. I wondered what was wrong with my stroke, then I thought it might be that the lake was a bit choppier. Still not sure what it was
  5. feeling tired in the middle of loop 3
  6. at the start, a menacing swan peddle boat crossing the swimming area, blocking my view of the first orange buoy
  7. the last green buoy seeming so far off, never getting closer, always in the distance
  8. I think they’ve adjusted the small orange buoys that mark off the swim area on the right side. They used to be in line with the last buoy, now they’re closer in. Am I imagining that?
  9. the water was opaque — a cloudy light greenish brown*
  10. a lone duck waddling on the beach, looking for food…not from me! I know how bad it is to feed the ducks!

*I was curious, so I looked up what the water clarity is: 2.5 feet versus 11.5 feet at cedar lake. And also, uh-oh: there’s an advisory at lake nokomis for blue-green algae. please don’t have to close the lake. please don’t have to close the lake.


bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis and back
80 degrees
9:15 am

Biked with FWA over to the lake for a training session. He’s planning to swim across during open swim this week, most likely on Friday morning. Very exciting! We talked a lot about the walking dead and human nature and power struggles. Very interesting. We encountered a few very slow bikers. We were biking slow too, so I wondered, as I looked at the steady pedaling of the biker in front of me, how she could be moving so slowly. FWA, who usually doesn’t notice or comment about these things, mentioned it later, when we were in the water. Anything else about the bike? We passed a runner moving fairly quickly. The dull slap of their foot strikes seemed to echo as we all passed under the 28th avenue bridge.

swim: 5 little loops (1 big loop)
lake nokomis big beach
80 degrees
9:45 am

Wow, what a perfect morning for a swim. The water was warmer, the sun was out, the wind was gone. The water felt smooth and easy, like a hot knife through butter. Maybe that’s a strange metaphor for swimming, but I kept thinking as smooth as butter as I swam the first loop. I swam 5 loops of freestyle, FWA swam 4 loops of breaststroke. We talked about the temperature of the water — mostly warm, with weird pockets of warmer then cooler water — and he mentioned how once, when the sun went behind the clouds and the water was suddenly dark, he imagined that there was a big creature below him. Yes! I said, I’ve thought that before too! It’s fun to share these thoughts with someone else. I know, I’m 48 and should know better than to imagine scary lake monsters, but I still sometimes think about what scary things might be below me, even as I know it’s (almost) impossible that it could be anything bigger than a medium-sized fish.

We both saw some seagulls resting on the white buoys as we approached them. FWA said, The seagulls and I have an agreement. I asked what the agreement was and he said, We won’t mess with each other, or something like that. I like passing the seagulls, wondering how long they’ll wait to fly away as I approach.

The clouds were fluffly and still and occasionally glowing when the sun was stuck behind them.

After we were done swimming, as we stood (I bounced) in the water, I noticed 2 swan pedal boats approaching the big beach. Very menancing! One of them was barely on the other side of the white buoys. Good thing we were done swimming!

This morning, before we left, I encountered a poem about the sound of locusts:

The Locust/ Leonara Speyer

Its hot voice sizzles from some cool tree
It seems to burn its way through the air
Like a small, pointed flame of sound
Sharpened on the ecstatic edge of sunbeams.

I like this description for the sound of cicadas. Speyer titles her poem with a single locust, but I always think of this sound (and of locusts or cicadas) in groups, making a collective sound not a singular one.


bike, round 1: 8 miles
lake nokomis and back
66 degrees
9:00 am

Biked to the lake with FWA for our swim training. I can tell he’s getting more fit on the bike, which is great. As we biked on the side streets he told me all about the walking dead episode he just watched. All I remember it that it was a beautiful day and that I felt so happy to watch as the lake come into view. Such a wonderful lake!

swim: 3 white buoy loops (= .5 loops)
lake nokomis big beach
68 degrees
9:30 am

Told FWA he had to push himself a little more. He did 3 loops with almost no stops. For the last 1/2 loop, we raced. As he said, “I really went for it.” I think he’s almost ready to try swimming across. How wonderful it is to be able to share this with him, and to spend this time with him!

bike, round 2: 17 miles
river road/hidden falls/crosby farm/st. paul riverfront/summit/river road
78 degrees
2:00 pm

It was such a nice day, that I asked Scott if we wanted to go for a bike ride. We biked to our favorite tap room, City House, right on the river in St. Paul. Very cool. The biking was definitely harder in terms of seeing, but I did it. Biking through Crosby Farm was bumpy and hard to see potholes, but it was beautiful. I heard so many wonderful birds! We biked around a lake on a wooden boardwalk that was overgrown — so strange and cool.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. big, fluffy clouds
  2. chirping, trilling, singing birds!
  3. the smell of pot
  4. rowers on the river, 1 or 2 at a time. One pair was taking it very slow. I watched (and heard) their paddles double-slap the water
  5. protestors on the lake street bridge — no war with Russia
  6. the huge houses on summit ave — thinking about how my grandpa would drive my mom down summit every sunday and dream about having one of these houses
  7. going the wrong way on an overgrown, crater-filled path in Crosby Farm
  8. a plane, very high in the sky, white. With my vision, I first thought it might be the moon. For a few glances, I could see it in my peripheral, but not my central vision. Finally, it appeared.
  9. lots of speedy, e-bikes in the bike lane as we biked back on Summit
  10. a tall, crooked, flagless flagpole at the University Club