bike 30 min/shovel 30 min bike stand/driveway, sidewalk, deck 5 or 6 inches, I think
No running today. It’s been snowing since early this morning. Waking up before sunrise, I looked out the window and it was a beautiful blueish white. Now this is the kind of snow that I love! It snowed last night too, but then stopped overnight. Leaning my head outside around 7 pm, I smelled it–fresh, quiet, pure cold. I love that smell and the feel of the cold on my face. This morning, the snow was falling in big fluffy flakes and I was happy to be inside watching it. Although I did enjoy shoveling it too. A nice, light snow. Not heavy at all.
Here are 2 poems I wrote last winter that seem to fit my thoughts about the snow today:
This morning’s view
a white so white it’s almost blue or the slight feeling of blue. Is that what happens when snow is new pure still perfect? No sun yet or ever today but the hint of blue blinds
almost Franklin hill turn around
Took several days off from running because my kneecap seemed liked it had displaced on Friday night, while I was sleeping. I was certain that I would be out for another month but suddenly, it felt better. Still sore, but much better. Very grateful. Whenever I injure my knee, I don’t worry as much about running as I do walking. Running is great, but walking is necessary.
Today’s run was wonderful. Cold and windy, but I didn’t care. I got to run without pain or uncertainty. Listened to my running playlist and blocked out the noise of the wind rushing past my ears. Didn’t encounter too many runners or walkers. What do I remember? I noticed the runner with the bright yellow shirt and thought about how my orange shirt was just as bright. I smiled a lot and almost spread my arms wide in a big hug. Encountered several runners going fast. Thought about running all the way to the bottom of the Franklin hill but decided to stop just under the bridge and turn around. Noticed that my right knee was a little sore and wondered if it would be a problem when I finished (it wasn’t). Was able to mostly run on the walking path instead of only on the bike path. Didn’t see any bikers or roller skiers or big packs of runners. Twisted my foot a little on a patch of ice.
A few days ago, I discovered a new poetic form: contrapuntal. I decided to write one about 2 sounds that crunching snow makes when I walk on it.
Here are my notes:
First, I noticed the noise: a crisp, sharp, snap. Delightfully dissonant, cutting through the quiet and the soft settling of my foot on the snow-covered path. Did I like it partly for its grating, grinding quality?
Then, I noticed its counterpoint: a soft, steady crush of crystals that never ceased. Sometimes creaking, occasionally squeaking. Always there, buzzing, humming under the other noises—birds chirping, planes rumbling, a car door slamming.
Before I had only made note of the noise and how it shattered my idea of snow as silent. Now I wondered how the different noises fit together. Why two? What was causing the multiple melodies? The crack crack crack with the crushcrushcrushcrushcrush?
Then, I understood. The two sounds traveled, trading off between my feet. As one foot cracked, the other crushed. Right crack left crushcrushcrush left crack right crushcrushcruch. The biomechanics of a step amplified! My body singing through snow!
mississippi river road path, north/south
I ran today!
I ran outside today!
I ran outside today without my knee hurting!
I ran outside today without my right knee or my left thigh hurting!
I ran outside today without my right knee or my left thigh hurting in the sun!
I ran outside today without my right knee or my left thigh hurting in the sun and it felt good!
Well, mostly good. Not fantastic. But not like I was doing anything bad to my knee. Listened to my headphones, so I didn’t hear much on the run. Near the Lake Street bridge, I was wishing I didn’t have my headphones on. I thought I heard some birds–maybe some geese–making a lot of noise. The river was open. I wonder when the rowers will be out there?
I recorded myself walking home at the end of the run. A very different crunching of my feet, coming from the grit–the salt or sand or whatever they use to treat the road and the path to make them less slippery–was rubbing on the bare, slightly wet ground. Occasionally I walked over some crusty snow. Not sure the recording picks it all up but there were lots of sounds today: a wind chime, wind, a car driving by, birds, water dripping off the roof, a car starting.
mississippi river road, north/stone arch bridge
Thursday night we got 5 inches of snow. By Friday the path was already plowed. Minneapolis Parks are awesome! It’s supposed to snow another 5-8 inches this afternoon so I ran this morning while the path was still clear. Another great run. Steady and not too fast. I managed to run the entire steep hill near downtown without stopping to walk! In about a month, I’ll be running it again in a race.
The river was flowing–no ice or snow left. Will it freeze again or will I be seeing rowers on it soon?
Yesterday I finished a draft of a poem I’ve been working on for a few weeks. It’s an homage poem based on Alice Oswald’s beautiful “A Short Story of Falling Water.” Mine is about snow and my current fascination with the crunching noises it makes as I walk and run by the river.
A Short Story of Fallen Snow, audio
A Short Story of Fallen Snow
after Alice Oswald
It is the story of the fallen snow
to turn sharp and slick and force us to slow
it is the wonder of a winter storm
to start out as snowflakes but soon change form
from tiny puffed up pillows that cover the path
to crystals compressed, their size reduced by half
or to a smooth shining surface polished like glass
hidden in plain sight near the edge by the grass
if only you while heading to the river could make
the moment go numb and freeze like a snowflake
to absorb every sound in a blanket of air
releasing when pressed a kind of noisy prayer
then you might learn like snow how to balance
the light of attention against the weight of silence
snow which when cold is so brittle so strong
cracking and crunching a sharp steady song
compacted by cold, yielding to moving feet
compelling you to pause and listen to it creak
which is the story of the fallen snow
whose changing forms makes us slow.
8 degrees/feels like -3
mississippi river road path, north/south
Bright blue sky. Blinding sun. Cold air. Slippery path. Fogged-up glasses. Crunchy path. I was struck by how the 2 crunching sounds of my feet highlighted the differences between walking and running. When I was walking, the slower, steadier crunch lasted longer, as my foot went from the initial heel strike to the final toe-off. How many bones came into contact with the crunchy snow? When I was running, that second crunch was quicker, with less grinding. I’d like to capture some sound of me running on crunching snow, but that seems hard.
Reading The Snow Poems by AR Amons which is, disappointingly, not all about snow. But, there are some snow poems, like this one:
here a month of snow,
mere January than
nothing. it is
the winter-deep, the
leave it unwritten,
as snow unwrites
mississippi river road path, north/south
We got about an inch of wet snow yesterday/last night so the path was covered…and crunchy. Mostly fine to run on, although a few spots were softer, causing my foot to sink down. A beautiful morning. Grayish-white. Calm. Quiet. Not much wind, not much noise. Tried to catch up to the runner ahead of me after I turned around but couldn’t. Was she going fast, or was I going slow–or were we going the same pace so I couldn’t gain any distance on her? Saw the Daily Walker twice! Both times, from behind, so I didn’t get to say “good morning” to him.
Recorded the sound of my crunching feet on the sidewalk, after I finished my run:
2 distinct sounds. One, a steady grinding, like gears with small teeth turning rhythmically, constantly, The Other, one quick thrust, like a small shovel being thrust into sand or small pebbles. I think that the sounds trade off between my moving feet. But how? I need to go out and walk in the snow some more to figure it out!
Discovered a few great lines in Snow in America:
‘In prose,’ the Mexican poet Octavio Paz writes, ‘the word tends to be identified with one of its possible meanings at the expense of others…the poet, on the other hand, never assaults the ambiguity of the word.’ Poetry is to snow what prose is to rain, says Howard Nemerov, because ‘it flew instead of fell.’
mississippi river road path, south/north
After biking in the front room on the stand for 25 minutes, I decided to go out an do a quick run. What a beautiful morning! It’s amazing how 25 degrees can feel warm and spring-like. Ran south, towards the falls and looked across the gorge to St. Paul. Because they don’t plow the walking path in the winter, I usually only run on the biking path, but I noticed that the walking path had a few bare patches so on my way back, I took the snow-covered trail. A few treacherous ice patches, but not too bad. What’s happening to me? I’m choosing to run on snow instead of bare pavement?!
Walking back home, after finishing my run, I stopped to record the noisy birds. I had noticed them earlier, when I was running, chirping and cooing and trilling. Spring won’t be here for another month or two (hopefully not three!), but it’s coming. As much as I love winter running, I’m fine with that.
Sounds Like Spring
In addition to the bird sounds, this audio clip features some delightful (or irritating, depending on your perspective) crunching noises. As I was walking and listening to the sounds, I started thinking about the many different ways a path can crunch: shattering snow crystals, friction from dry snow grains rubbing against each other and/or my foot, salt or sand scratching on the pavement, the treads of my shoes loaded with little pebbles scuffing against the ground.
A few other things to note from this recording:
For most of the audio, I’m walking on a sidewalk that has a lot of bare pavement, mixed with crusty snow and ice. Occasionally, I’m walking on just snow. I can tell that it’s warmer and that the snow will be melting soon because the sound is heavier and more muffled.
There are lots of birds, but underneath them is a constant hum of the city–I think it’s the freeway or a highway a few miles away.
As I continued to walk home, still recording this audio, I noticed my shadow in the snow, joining me. I almost stopped to take a picture.
Sure snow crunches but
it also sizzles and
squeaks on the sidewalk.
It amplifies and muffles
absorbs and reflects
slumbers in silence and
remains awake alert active.
Wrote a pantoum about the path for my poetry class (ah! so many pleasing p’s!)
The Soundtrack for my Run (first draft)
In the winter, above the Mississippi River Gorge
I take up an ongoing conversation
I’m having with the running path.
Mostly I listen.
I absorb with ears and feet
its voices and textures
hearing crystals cracking or feeling soft snow
settling unevenly around my ankles.
These sounds and surfaces
energize and exhaust
speaking steadily into my ear
becoming a soundtrack for my run.
The cracking crystals make me buzz, the soft snow saps my strength.
Cracking, crunching, snapping, sinking, slipping
are the soundtrack for my run
in the winter, above the Mississippi River Gorge.
3 degrees/feels like -10
Cold. Calm. Hardly any wind. The path was mostly clear. My fingers were cold for the first mile, but then felt warm. Heard lots of birds and imagined spring coming soon. Saw only 1 or 2 runners the entire time. In the last mile, saw the daily walker. The gorge was beautiful. The river, which a few days earlier had been open, was now frozen. I wonder how thick the ice is? Not thick enough! Speaking of thin ice, randomly encountered a National Geographic article about Nordic skating–also known as wild ice or Black ice skating. Scary.
A few days ago, I recorded my walk. If you listen closely and can tune out my crunching footsteps,\ there are some birds singing. I heard these birds today during my run.