june 21/RUN

3.5 miles
47th ave to 32nd st to river road to edmund to river road
66 degrees/ humidity: 83%

A beautiful morning for a run. Calm, sunny, cooler. Lots of birds, a nice breeze. Did some triple berry chants–strawberry, blueberry, raspberry–for a few minutes, then some 3/2–mystery/is solved, running on/the road. For a stretch, I listened to all of the sounds–black capped chickadees, cardinals, crows, a woodpecker. Wind gently shaking the leaves in the trees, a rock song blasting from a bike radio. Saw one stray bit of white fuzz from a cottonwood tree and a few aspen eyes. Didn’t see the river or hear any rowers down below. No roller skiers. Also, no troops of synchronized roller-bladers this year. For the past 2 or 3 summers, I’ve noticed a group of 4 men roller-blading on the bike path, sometimes accompanied by a coach on a bike. So fast and graceful and in sync–swinging their arms in unison. Not this year. Maybe I’m not running early enough this summer?

I’m still thinking about You (second person) in poems. Here’s one of my favorite You poems by Mary Oliver. I love this poem so much, I wrote a poem about it–a poem I’m not quite happy with but might be someday. Anyway, here’s Oliver’s poem:

Invitation/ Mary Oliver

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
melodiously
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude—
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in this broken world.
I beg of you

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant when he wrote,
You much change your life.

april 25/RUN

5.45 miles
ford loop
60 degrees

Spring running! Overcast, so no hot sun. Hardly any wind. Low humidity. Decided to run the Ford loop for the first time in months. Reached the river, turned right instead of left, climbed up the hill just past Locks and Dam #1, ran over the Ford bridge, up the east side of the river road, up the hill just past Summit, down the other side, over the Lake Street bridge, then south on the west river road. Stopped at the Lake Street bridge and noticed the water again. A dark olive green this time instead of brown. Still cloudy–looks like the river has cataracts?–moving very slowly. I watched a big log drift down towards the falls. No birds or boats or other debris on the river. A nice, steady run. Managed to hold onto a few thoughts about the poem I’m working on but only for a minute. Lost again. Noticed my shadow. Heard some birds. Avoided a lot of cracks on the St. Paul side. Greeted at least one runner with a “good morning,” others with a smile. Became annoyed by the buzz of a leaf blower. No bugs flew into my eyes. Saw some hikers below me. Wondered about a lone bike propped up against a bench. Counted 2 runners with bright yellow, glowing shirts.

I have decided I am tired of writing “birds chirp” or trill or sing. I want to know more about bird calls, have more specific words for describing their various songs and calls. So I looked it up and found a great series on the Audubon Society’s site. Will this interest in bird calls last past this post? Not sure, but I would like to try to listen more carefully to them. Here’s a passage that was particularly enticing in part one of the series:

Are there American Robins in your yard or local park? In addition to their rich, caroling song, robins have a surprising number of different calls. Spend some time with them and study their repertoire; the knowledge will be useful practically anywhere you go in North America. Plus, it’s a method you can repeat with other familiar species.

To speed up the learning process, don’t just listen passively: Focus and analyze what you’re hearing. Describe the sound to yourself, draw a diagram, or write it down. If it’s a complicated song, figure out how many notes it has. Do all the notes have the same tone and vibe? Does the tune rise or fall? Can you adapt the “syllables” into words and make a mnemonic? The Barred Owl, for instance, hoots Who cooks for you, and the Common Yellowthroat sings Wichity-wichity-wichity. But you don’t have to just settle for published mnemonics; listen carefully and then invent your own. Little memory hooks like these will make birding easier the next time around. And as always, repetition helps.

How to Identify Birds by Sounds