feb 25/RUN

5K
edmund loop, starting north
31 degrees
5% super-slick ice-patches

A great morning for a run! Sunny and not too windy. So many birds–I couldn’t see them; just heard them clicking and chirping and calling. The sidewalks and roads were almost completely clear except for a few patches of super slick ice. The ice is always slickest when the temperature is right on the edge of freezing and the ice has almost melted. I ran over at least one puddle that was water underneath with a thin layer of crispy ice on top. A few years ago, I recall describing this type of ice as creme brûlée. Very fun to step on, as long as you’re going fast enough to not get your foot wet in the water below, which I was.

A little over a mile into the run, I stopped at the river to record a moment of sound. It’s mostly cars driving by and some wind, but I can hear some birds and a person’s footsteps as they walk north on the trail. Oh–and the loud hum of the city, which almost sounds like static.

feb 25, 2021

Running on Edmund, I looked over at the river near 42nd and noticed a bright reflection on the other side, over in St. Paul. Was it a rooftop? A car? Someone holding up a mirror? Not sure, but it was mesmerizing. Heard some kids playing at Dowling Elementary. Elementary schools are in-person full time now. They’re planning to open up the high schools full time after spring break, in April. One kid, the freshman, wants to stay online; the other, a senior, wants to go back. I don’t see how it’s going to work. The high school is old and has very few windows. It’s crowded, with narrow halls. How can this be safe? They won’t be doing hybrid learning, but full, 5 days a week. Ugh.

When I reached 42nd, I stopped to put in my headphones and listen to a playlist as I ran north on edmund. Smelled the fire at the same spot on Edmund that I always do, the one which always makes me wonder whether it’s coming from the gorge below, or someone’s fireplace. A few weeks ago I decided that the smoke was coming from the gorge, but today I changed my mind. I think it’s coming from a house. Encountered a few runners and walkers, no bikers or cross-country skiers or sledders.

feb 22/RUN

3.2 miles
edmund, heading south/river road trail, heading north
34 degrees
sidewalks: 80% snow-covered/ roads: 10%

Today it feels like spring! It’s too bright, but I’ll take the warm sun. Lots of birds and puddles. Was able to run on the river road trail on the way back north. Encountered 3 or 4 groups of people, but we all kept as much distance as we could. Saw the river. No cracks in the surface yet. Noticed someone walking below on the Winchell Trail. The roads were full of big puddles wile the sidewalks were almost all covered in uneven mushy snow. I wonder how sore my legs will be later today? Smelled some smoke in the same spot I always smell it–on Edmund. Heard a woodpecker. I don’t remember thinking about anything, except, occasionally: this is not easy, running over this uneven snow. Anything else? No fat tires or cross country skiers or black capped chickadees or daily walkers or packs of runners or music blasting from someone’s radio or laughing kids on the playground or overheard conversations. No chainsaws or trucks backing up or honking geese. Oh–I did encounter a group of 4 walkers talking over the whole road, but I didn’t care, because I was on the sidewalk. For most of the run, I listened to the neighborhood. For the last 1/2 mile, a playlist.

a moment of sound

feb 22, 2021

Standing in the backyard right after shoveling the deck and the sidewalks in back and front. Birds, car horns, a steady drip of melting snow.

feb 21/RUN

2.65 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, north/1 loop around Howe
27 degrees
50% sloppy snow-covered

Even though I was concerned that there might be too many people outside, I decided to go for a run. The first mile wasn’t too bad but when I got to Edmund there were more people. Distracted, I forgot to look for the river when I reached the top of the Edmund hill. Noticed a family sledding and several dogs with their humans. When I reached 37th, I stopped to record my moment of sound.

a moment of sound

Listen to those birds! Sounds like spring to me. So glad I went outside.

feb 21, 2021

After that, I turned on a playlist and tried not to slip on the mushy, uneven snow. Yuck! Then I ran around Howe school. Student (3rd-5th graders) are returning tomorrow.

The other day, I found this print, which would be really cool to get for under the glass on my desk, but I’m not sure I want to spend $30 on it.

Found this poem in a wonderful twitter thread about “how to” poems:

Instructions for Opening a Door/ Adriana Cloud

To open a door, you must want to leave.
A here, a there. You must want.
Stuff pink hyacinths in the dictionary
between “lie” and “lightning,”
the wet stem of spring curling the pages
until it is not a flower
but just the word for it. We all die
but the hope is to die of living.
Slam it hard enough
to make the sidewalk hum
the way your blood hummed
the first time you walked into the sea.
A door is just a question you have to ask
even when you are scared of the answer.
In San Sebastián they pour the txakoli
from high up until it foams in the glass.
Sea, grapes, the word for longing.
Use both hands and don’t look back.

Love the lines: “To open a door, you must want to leave./ A here, a there, You must want.” and “A door is just a question you have to ask/ even when you are scared of the answer.”

feb 18/RUN

3 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, north/2 loops around Howe
12 degrees/ feels like 12
100% snow-covered

Now this weather is more like it! I don’t mind 12 degrees at all. No part of me felt cold. No frozen fingers; by the 1/2 mile mark, they were warm and I had to take off my second pair of gloves (the hot pink ones with white stripes). Heard lots of birds. Chickadees, robins, cardinals, crows. I think I heard at least one woodpecker.

The road and the sidewalks were covered with about an inch of snow. Where people had shoveled, the path was firm and easy. Where they had not, it was loose and uneven and slippery–not making me slip, but making my legs work harder to lift my feet off of the ground. I probably should have worn my yaktrax but if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to hear the delightful 2 part creak of my feet striking the snow then lifting off of it. I love those sounds. Still, those sounds could only do so much to counter the difficulty of trudging through uneven snow that slips and shifts, providing no purchase. Was planning to run all the way to 42nd but Edmund had too many slippery, slushy ruts. So I turned early and headed for Howe Elementary. Around the school, the sidewalk was shoveled and nice to run on. So nice, I ran around the school twice.

Heard some adults–teachers? staff?–talking outside of the main entrance to Howe. 3rd-5th graders head back on Monday. Governor Walz announced yesterday that middle and high schools will be opening soon too–probably (hopefully not until) after spring break in mid-April. So sudden. Is it safe? I doubt it; I think people are just too tired of it all and can’t isolate anymore. I worry about the next few months–with so many variants, are we opening too soon? Yes, I think.

a moment of sound

When I came downstairs this morning with Delia the dog for our daily routine–she wakes me up, I feed her, then she goes outside to poop, I heard a black-capped chickadee calling out. Then a faint answer. I decided to make this my moment of sound. At the end, you can hear Delia rush in, then make her favorite sound (the one that almost always unsettles me): a vigorous shaking of her head.

feb 18, 2021

Yesterday, when I told Scott that the Dickinson episode I watched was about the total eclipse, he asked, “Was there an eclipse they could see in Amherst in the 1800s?” After explaining to him that some of what happens in the show is imagined, but most of it is based on some evidence, even if they play fast and loose with when things happened, I looked it up. No eclipse at the time in which the show is set–the 1850s, but Brain Pickings, with the help of data from NASA(!), determined one total eclipse did happen while Emily was alive, on September 29, 1875. Emily would have been a few months shy of 45. This viewing may have prompted this eclipse poem, which she included in a letter to her mentor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson:

It sounded as if the streets were running —
And then — the streets stood still —
Eclipse was all we could see at the Window
And Awe — was all we could feel.

By and by — the boldest stole out of his Covert
To see if Time was there —
Nature was in her Opal Apron —
Mixing fresher Air.

Source

Another interesting thing this quick research unearthed: Emily Dickinson’s first posthumous editor, the one that removed all of Emily’s dashes–wrote a book about eclipses, The Total Eclipse of the Sun. And this book was published the same year as she published the first volume of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. And, she was the long-time lover of Emily’s older brother Austin.

feb 9/RUN

3.15 miles
edmund loop, starting south
5 degrees/ feels like -9
90% snow-covered

Decided to go for it this morning and run outside. Yes! It didn’t feel like it was 9 below to me. My hands were slightly cold for a few minutes, but no frozen toes or legs that feel like concrete or brain freezes from cold air. I know I looked ridiculous with all of my layers. I asked Scott and his answer was not no but “who cares?” I wore 2 pairs of running tights, 1 pair of socks, a green shirt, a thicker orange shirt, a lightweight pullover with a hood, a running jacket, a buff, a hat that almost looks like a swim cap, sunglasses, and yak trax on my shoes. The layers were good; I didn’t feel too warm or too cold.

Because it was so cold, I guessed that the river road trail would be empty. It was. Well, almost. I encountered 1 walker and a dog. Nice! I was able to run right above the gorge and check out how frozen the river was (very frozen). The only other thing I remember noticing was a few walkers (not together) walking below on the Winchell Trail. One of them was wearing a bright red jacket–or it might have been pink or orange. I wondered how deep the snow was down there. I crossed over to Edmund on the way back and heard lots of birds. When I heard a woodpecker drumming on a tree, I knew I needed to stop and record it for my moment of sound:

feb 9, 2021/ feels like -9

Love this sound! A few minutes later I heard at least one black-capped chickadee but I decided not to stop again. With the birds and the sun, it felt almost like spring, even in the cold. Maybe it felt more like the idea of spring. Actual spring hardly ever feels as great as the idea of it does. Here in Minnesota, spring is often wet and sloppy from melting snow–and smelly as the earth unthaws. Speaking of smelly, I smelled some fires at the same spot I usually do on Edmund. I’m still not sure but I think the smoke is coming from the gorge, not a house.

feb 3/RUN

3.2 miles
edmund loop, starting south
20 degrees/ feels like 14 degrees
95% clear sidewalks and streets

Hooray for wonderful winter runs! Today was an especially good one. Sunny, clear, lots of birds. Before I left, I couldn’t decided which way to run: turn right and do the north loop or turn left and do the south one. Asked my son to pick one, left or right. He said left. Excellent choice. Stepping outside of my house, this was what I heard:

Feb 3, 2021

The black-capped chickadees were really chatting this morning. Hard to believe it’s February and 20 degrees, with several inches of snow on the ground. These birds and the sun made it feel like spring.

I thought about sound a lot this morning as I ran. Right before I left, I had been rereading my January experiment, especially the poem by Steve Healey: 2 Mississippi. In it, he writes about recording the sound of the river “in an attempt to represent that sound more accurately” than his previous words could. Then the poem plays around with at least 5 different versions of the sound of the river: 1. the sound as described by his words, “shhh”, 2. the recording he makes of the sound as he stands next to the river, 3. the sound of the river as he hears it, while listening to it and his recording of the sound at the same time, 4. the recording of the sound of the river when he is home and at “a safe distance from the river” and 5. the sound of the river, independent of his hearing of it. Very cool to think about all of these different version of sound and layers of listening, which I did as I ran near the river, but not close enough to hear it. I want to spend some time with this poem, and more time thinking about my recordings and listening and the difference between sounds first heard, sounds never or not yet heard, and sounds heard later in a recording.

So many random thoughts occurred to me as I ran, most of which are lost. I recall thinking it might be cool to compare sounds for different seasons: (how) can you tell the difference between bird sounds in the winter versus the spring? Also thought about how often I’m trying to find the balance between knowing things and not needing to know things, and between attention and distraction–when is it good to be distracted? when is it good to give attention? In terms of the knowing/not knowing balance, I was just thinking: knowing just enough to make it (or keep it?) interesting. I also remember thinking, as I quickly looked down at the river through the trees from high up on the edmund hill, that when the river is completely iced over–and covered with snow–it does not shimmer or sparkle or reflect. It’s flat and matte. And, while it can still be blindingly white, it’s dull, not dazzling.

What else? So many cars at Minnehaha Academy; they were spilling out the parking lot and onto the side streets. Heard 2 runners on the river road talking as they ran, but couldn’t hear any of what they said. A work crew at a big house on edmund with one guy high up in a bucket, just about to trim (or cut down?) a tree. The wind in my face heading south, at my back returning north. Don’t remember seeing any dogs or fat tires or cross country skiers or big groups of walkers or runners. Didn’t hear the river—but I did hear a siren from the other side, the sound traveling across the gorge. Also heard a woodpecker drumming on some dead wood and a few robins, sounding like rusty tin whistles. Ran by Cooper Elementary but forgot to look out at the field–I was distracted because I was slowly passing a runner who was on the other side of the street. Heard a big nail gun clicking away as workers re-roofed a house.

feb 1/RUN

5k
edmund loop, starting north*
26 degrees
5% snow and ice covered

* I’ve been calling this route different things, but I’ll try to stick with this one: edmund loop. Heading north is: 43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/turn around at 42nd st/edmund, north. For the past few runs, I did the reverse; I’ll call that edmund loop, starting south

Only a few patches of ice on the sidewalks and roads. Not too cold, not too windy. A great morning for a run. Turning right onto 32nd st, I heard some wonderful wind chimes. I thought about stopping to record the sound, but I didn’t want to stop running and I thought the people who lived in the wind chime house might find it strange to see me holding my phone up and recording something right outside their house. My concern about what other people think too often seems to deter me from recording–whether it be a moment of sound or myself reciting a poem from memory. I’m working on getting over that.

Noticed several cars turning into Minnehaha Academy as I ran by it. Open for business, I guess. Next week, Minneapolis elementary school kids (preK-2nd) will be going back full time. 2 weeks after that: 3rd-5th. As I understand it, the teachers’ union is strongly opposed to this; the order comes from the governor (which is being pressured by the asshole Republicans in charge) and it completely upends the careful 5 phase plan Minneapolis Public Schools put in place this year. Many of the teachers have yet to receive a first dose of the vaccine. Ugh! How difficult for the teachers, especially now with new, more contagious variants! I thought more about elementary schools going back as I ran by Dowling Elementary on Edmund. How crowded will this road be next week? Also: how will they work out bussing for all of these kids?

At 42nd st, I crossed over to the river, trudged through some snow, and recorded a moment of sound. It’s a new month and I’m thinking about variations on the basic assignment of recording a moment outside. Should I only record moments during my outside runs for February? Maybe. I also thought about this: record a moment in the same spot every day. I’m not sure yet. Anyway, here’s the moment:

feb 1, 2021

I can hear my feet breaking through the crusty snow; cars rushing by on the river road; some wind; a cluster of dead leaves on a tree, rustling. It was windy at this spot, but I managed to shield the phone speaker with my hand for most of it.

The river was all whiteish gray and frozen. Cold. Desolate. Beautiful. I’m glad I stopped to look at it.

Running back on edmund, I put in my headphones and listened to an old playlist. I ran faster, which felt good. Nearing a t-intersection, I noticed a walker rapidly approaching, about to cross. I wondered if they would stop for me and I was irritated when it looked like they wouldn’t. I sped up. Right as I ran past them, but too late to say anything, I realized it was the Daily Walker! Bummer. I didn’t see that it was him. I’m still not totally sure it was him; I can’t recognize people’s faces, but I’m pretty sure I saw the tell-tale swing of his arm. I have a feeling that after so many years of encountering him, he might realize that I have vision problems and won’t think I was being rude.

Poetry twitter did not disappoint this morning! So many great sources and ideas and poems! Here’s one by Heather Christle that I especially like. Writing this, I was thinking about her last name, Christle, which my computer likes to auto-correct to Christie, and wondering if it’s pronounced like gristle. Right after that unfortunate thought, I looked at her twitter profile and saw this: “pronounced ‘Crystal'”. Much better. Anyway, I really like her writing.

Perfect Song/ Heather Christle

I remember walking through the morning
after a night of heavy snow and drink
with headphones on and they played
me the most perfect song: no one
was awake and I was hungover
young as clean as a piano
I thought and at any moment
someone might fall in love with me I was
that woven into the electric
cold bright air and for weeks
after I went through the album
in search of the song but could not
find it and later much later I saw
that what I had taken to be the song
was in fact the joyous concordance of
a moment that would not come again

favorite line today: I was/ that woven into the electric/ cold bright air

jan 29/RUN

3.25 miles
neighborhood in reverse
20 degrees/ feels like 8
15-25% snow and ice covered roads and sidewalks

Not too bad outside, although I had the wind in my face for most of it. A bright, gloomy white this morning. Humid, too–75%. The main road was mostly clear and not crowded. The occasional walker, one biker, a few dogs. The highlight: a cross country skier skiing in the big open stretch between the river road and edmund! I rarely see cross country skiers, so when I do, I’m delighted. Heard several crows cawing, a woodpecker drumming, a saw buzzing. Crossed the river road at 33rd and trudged a few steps through the snow to the split rail fence right above the river. The river! Almost all ice, with a few slashes of open water. The open water wasn’t black like it has been in past winters, but a pale, grayish blue. Tried recording a moment of sound, but the rushing wind and the whooshing cars were all I could hear when I listened back to it. Tried again, after I crossed the road:

Jan 29, 2021

I can hear a black-capped chickadee doing the feebee call and my feet crunching on the crusty snow and cars whizzing by and another bird that makes a two note call that I can’t identify–I looked it up, but I couldn’t find it. I’ll have to keep working on my bird calls.

jan 27/RUN

3.2 miles
neighborhood in reverse*
10 degrees/ feels like 0
25% snow and ice covered sidewalks and roads

*Normally I run north on 43rd ave, then right on 32nd st to the river, then south on edmund until I turn around at 42nd st, then north on edmund until I reach 35th. Today, I reversed it and added a stretch, running north on the river road trail between 42nd and 38th.

Another wonderful winter run! Felt colder today; was it the humidity? I could feel (and see) water turning to ice on my eyelashes. Not too much wind. There was a point, when I was running south on edmund that I thought, “I’m not feeling any wind. Uh oh. Does that mean it will be in my face when I turn around?” Yes, it does and it was, but never blustery, just persistently cold. Encountered a few more people out there today. Some walkers, some runners, a few dogs. Fairly certain I kept my 6+ feet distance the whole time. It was wonderful to run right above the river, all iced over, a grayish white. Still, stuck, silent. Except for the birds. Heard some black capped chickadees and some others chirping–finches, maybe? This year, I need to learn to identify a few of these birds which currently I only hear as chirps or trills.

Speaking of birds, as I was walking out of my house, I heard a black capped chickadee! Of course I had to make it my moment of sound. I knew it was a good omen for my run.

jan 27, 2021

Discovered this wonderful poem, and wonderful poet, the other day on Instagram:

Status Update/ Rebecca Lindenbery

Rebecca Lindenberg is drinking whisky. Feels guilty. Is caught in one of those feedback loops. Is a blankety-blank. Is a trollop, a floozy, a brazen hussy. Would like to add you as a friend. Would like to add you as an informant. Would like to add you as her dark marauder, as her Lord and Savior. Has trouble with boundaries. Rebecca Lindenberg is keeping lonesomeness at bay with frequent status updates designed to elicit a thumbs-up icon from you. Rebecca Lindenberg likes this, dismisses this with a backhanded wave. Rebecca Lindenberg wraps her legs around this. Has a ball of string you can follow out of her labyrinth. Has this labyrinth. Rebecca Lindenberg has high hopes. Has high blood sugars. Rebecca Lindenberg doesn’t want to upset you. Wants to say what you want to hear. Rebecca Lindenberg thinks of poetry as the practice of overhearing yourself. Rebecca Lindenberg thinks about love. About ribbons unspooling. Rebecca Lindenberg would like to add you as a profound influence. Would like to add you as a loyal assassin. Would like to add you as her date to the reckoning. Rebecca Lindenberg remembers a statue of a faceless girls with shapely feet. Rebecca Lindenberg remembers the Italian for “chicken breasts” is petti di pollo and the world for kilogram is kilo and that a kilo is way too much chicken breast for a family of three. Steals sage from strangers’ gardens. Runs for it. Misses Rome. Misses her family of three. Is lost in her own poem. Rebecca Lindenberg has dreams in which you come back. Rebecca Lindenberg lets it go. Rebecca Lindenberg crescendos and decrescendos. Rebecca Lindenberg is: Hey, you, c’mere. Rebecca Lindenberg is: You are not the boss of me. Rebecca Lindenberg is not the boss of you. Rebecca Lindenberg goes to movies. Needs a bigger boat. Gave you her heart and you gave her a pen. Can’t handle the truth. Rebecca Lindenberg loves the truth. Loves the smell of dirt gathered in water and the sleep-smell of your morning body. Loves her rumpled cat, her jimmied window. Loves long letters. Will write soon.

What a poem! I like the energy and her approach to describing herself. I’d like to put it beside my poem, A Bridge of Saras, which was a homage to Wayne Holloway-Smith’s Some Waynes.

jan 26/RUN

3 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/dowling, west/47th ave, nw/loop around Howe Elementary
11 degrees/feels like 0
sidewalks and main roads: clear
side streets: 100% snow-covered, 1/2 plowed

I love running outside in the winter! There was wind running north, but it didn’t bother me. And I wasn’t too cold. No frozen fingers or toes. I wore my yak trax, which was a bad idea. Most of the sidewalks were clear and dry. I ran in the street as much as I could so I wouldn’t damage the coils of my trax, but it would have been much safer on the sidewalk. Oh well.

a moment of sound

Running south on Edmund, when I reached 38th street, I crossed over the river road, walked down the steps to the Winchell Trail and admired the gorgeous river for a moment. Decided to record my moment of sound from that spot. It was so peaceful and icy and wonderful to watch, I had to turn the moment of sound into a video:

jan 26, 2021

Things I Remember

  • The uneven tracks of snow on the road jarring my foot and ankle but not twisting them
  • The sound of a kid laughing or talking or something to an adult on the river road
  • Running in the middle of the road, listening carefully and looking back every so often to make sure no cars were coming
  • Hearing a chain jangling near Minnehaha Academy, thinking it sounded like a dog collar then wondering why there would be a dog so close to the school entrance (I didn’t look to see what it actually was; I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell even if I had).
  • Walking up the steps from the Winchell Trail and hearing the shuffling steps of a runner approaching. Watching them (from a safe distance) run by, then noticing a fat tire off to my left
  • I don’t remember noticing if Minnehaha Academy’s parking lot was full or hearing any woodpeckers or black capped chickadees or seeing any cross country skiers or needing to avoid any irritating squirrels

One of the poetry people I follow on twitter really likes James Schuyler, which is fine with me, I really like him too. Here’s a poem they posted yesterday:

The Snow/ James Schuyler

that fell and iced
the walks and streets
is melted off: it’s
gone. I slipped a
little as I strode.
It’s early winter
yet though, more and
much is yet to come.
This gray day though
is much too warm
for snow. The window’s
up a crack and I shiver
only slightly. I
think of you and then
my thought slides
on, like slipping
on a lightly iced
walk. I have no more
poems for you, chum,
only for the ice and snow.

I love the ending of this poem: the idea of thoughts slipping on a lightly iced walk, which makes me think of Wittgenstein and his line about the need for rough, tractional ground, and referring to the reader as chum. Chum is such a strange, old-fashioned, wonderful word. For me, it conjures, simultaneously, a feeling of nostalgic affection for a friend and the image of bloody guts and Jaws–oh, and also Bart Simpson’s response to Milhouse in an early season of The Simpsons:

“Anytime chummmmmmmmmp”

This clip is from the 4th episode of the 7th season (1995) and is called, “Bart sells his soul.” Speaking of the soul, it came up on poetry people twitter this morning in this thread:

Interestingly, just as chum seems to be an old-fashioned word, so does soul. I don’t like the idea of the eternal, needs-to-be-saved-or-you’re-going-to-hell soul, but I do like Walt Whitman’s use of it in “The Body Electric”:

if the body were not the soul, what is the soul? 

O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul, 
O I say now these are the soul!

Returning to the ice, patches of barely formed ice on slightly warmer days is often the most dangerous type of ice. It’s harder to see and is so slippery! The only time I like ice when it’s warmer is when it forms into a thin, fragile sheet on the surface of a puddle. Such fun to walk over it, hearing it crack.

What a delightfully rambling log entry!

jan 22/RUN

5K
45th ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/edmund, north/36th st, west
7 degrees/ feels like -3

Last week I said I would much rather it be colder with clear sidewalks, than warmer with icy sidewalks. That was proven today. As I was saying to Scott, you can always add layers to be warm, but you can’t do much to make uneven icy paths safer–yak trax work, sort of, but not when the ice is jagged and filled with ruts. Hooray for sun and not too much wind and mostly empty streets and a soundtrack of birds and clear, cold air and new Presidents getting shit done!

Encountered only a few walkers, no runners (I think) and one biker. Heard lots of birds. Smelled some smoke as I ran on Edmund. Noticed a foot wide stripe of faded white on the edge of the street–what’s left of the salt used to treat the road. The stripe stretched for a quarter mile or more. Once I realized it was only salt stains and not a thin sheet of ice, I ran on it. Heard some park workers and their chainsaws, trimming trees above the gorge. Yes, a better view! I should remember to stop during my run and go check out the river. I miss it! If I can’t run right beside the river for long stretches, at least I can admire it for a moment.

a moment of sound

Earlier this morning, sitting at my desk in the front room, I heard a black capped chickadee calling outside. Quickly, I got my phone to record it. It wasn’t until after it stopped that I realized I had forgotten to push the record button. Bummer. Still, I recorded some other birds and a bird or a squirrel or something knocking on wood or an acorn. You can hear the tap tap tapping. Towards the end, you can also hear my 17 year old son, yelling out from his room (behind a closed door) to his friends online as they prepared to raid a base or something like that on whatever online game they were all playing. He was yelling the whole time I was recording, but this was the only bit of it that I can hear on the recording.

Jan 22, 2021

I am almost positive I have posted this poem before, but I would like to memorize it, so I posting it again.

Winter Trees/WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

All the complicated details 
of the attiring and 
the disattiring are completed! 
A liquid moon 
moves gently among 
the long branches. 
Thus having prepared their buds 
against a sure winter 
the wise trees 
stand sleeping in the cold. 

jan 18/RUN

5K
2 school loop
20 degrees/feels like 11
sidewalks: 80% slippery, uneven ice
road: 1 thin strip of pavement

Yes! I ran outside today. It was cold. It was too crowded. It was icy. But I managed to stay warm in my layers, almost always keep a safe distance, and not fall. A great run. Fresh air! Trees and birds to admire! The ability to alter my pace without worrying about falling off the treadmill!

Lots of birds out today. I wanted to stop and record a moment of sound under a tree with a calling (crying?) bird, but it was too crowded. I don’t remember seeing many runners, only lots of walkers. The two women who annoyingly take over the entire road, spread out in a way that it is impossible to not get too close to them, were at it again. Sigh. I know I’m lucky that I can still run outside and almost always avoid other people.

Anything else? Noticed a few people skating at the rink at Hiawatha–the same rink that someone was just making a few weeks ago and that I featured in my moment of sound earlier this month. I didn’t see the river, or the Daily Walker, or any turkeys. But I heard the wind rushing through some dead leaves on a tree, a delivery guy grumbling as he left a house, and my labored breathing as I ran directly into the wind.

Most of the time, when the sidewalk was too treacherous (or tretch, as I like to say), I could find a strip of clear pavement on the road–usually near the edge, but sometimes in the middle. A few times, there was no escape from the very slick, very rutted ice. I’d stutter step and try to slow myself down gradually before carefully walking until it was clear. I bet I looked funny or ridiculous or foolish to someone watching. I don’t care. I didn’t fall and I got to be outside without a coat, moving and breathing and occasionally flying for 30 minutes!

Today I am doing okay. The trick is to avoid thinking about insurrections or more violence to come. And to believe that the inauguration will be a success and we will be able to celebrate it and cry tears of joy and not terror. And to forget that the pandemic is getting much worse. The trick is to remember the river and vaccines and Major and Champ and fresh air and exciting creative projects and how great lemon water tastes and sun (which is shining right now) and the black-capped chickadee that greets me almost every day.

a moment of sound

Today’s sound is from the backyard. Right now, we have 2 or 3 inches of crusty, icy, packed snow, which makes for a delightful crunching sound as you walk through it. This is one of my favorite winter sounds.

jan 18, 2021

jan 13/RUN

5K
43rd ave, north/32nd ave, east/edmund, south/edmund, north
37 degrees
clear roads, slushy sidewalks

So warm! And not too much wind! Tomorrow, snow. Running down 32nd, at the top of a small rise, I could see the gorge ahead. I decided to cross the river road and stop at the edge of the bluff to record my moment of sound. I stood in the snow and looked through the bare branches at the open water. Brown and ice-free. Too warm, I guess. In this moment, you hear an occasional car, some birds down in the gorge, my feet crunching in the snow, the hum of far away freeway traffic. I remember there was a bark from somewhere as I stood there, but I can’t hear it on this recording.

jan 13, 2021

Things I Remember

  • A whole gaggle of kids playing on the snow banks at Cooper School, making lots of noise as I ran by
  • A stupid squirrel, running out in front of me, forcing me to stop
  • Hardly any cars in the parking lot at Minnehaha Academy–are they doing distance learning now?
  • Admiring the beautiful river, thankful that I decided to stop and stare at it for a minute
  • Someone way over on the river road trail, speeding by on an outdoor elliptical bike! At least I think it was–I turned my head to look but it was too hard for me to see. The whirring of the wheels sounded like one, and not a bike, but I’ve misheard things before. I’ll choose to believe it was an ElliptaGO and continue to wonder, how does it handle icy, slushy trails?

Earlier today, I did 30 minutes of Yoga. Right after finishing, when I felt the most relaxed and buzzed from the amazing stretching (it almost always feels so good!), I recorded Snow-flakes:

snow-flakes, jan 13, after yoga

I also recited it a little as I ran. While it was easy to match my feet up with the first line–“Out of the bosom of the air”–the second line was hard–“Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken.” I’ll have to try it again.

jan 11/RUN

5K
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south
29 degrees
sidewalks, some roads: 99% slushy snow-covered

A great day to be outside in the warm sun! Not as great a day for the ankles–so much soft, slightly slippery, slushy snow. I didn’t slip or twist my ankle, but my legs felt sore trudging through the half melted snow. It was worth it to be outside, breathing in the fresh air, noticing the river sparking on the water piercing through the floodplain forest. What a view from up on edmund! What a great opportunity to forget about all of the uncertainty and awfulness happening right now–at least for 30 minutes.

As I started running, I was reciting Longfellow’s “Snow-flakes.” Did I make it to the end? I can’t remember; I was focusing too much on avoiding icy patches and keeping my striking feet soft and my ankles loose.

For my moment of sound, I stopped less than 10 minutes into the run, at the edge of Cooper field, to record some chatting birds and one annoying blue jay (I think. Here are some blue jay calls for comparison–the blue jay call is the worst, overpowering everything else). I also managed to capture a few instances of this rubbing sound–first at 22 seconds in. Not sure what someone was doing to make that noise, but as I approached the corner, a minute earlier, I thought the noise was a dog barking by the church. I almost stopped to try and see what was happening and record it, but decided to keep going. But then the birds were so delightful (except the blue jay) a block later, that I stopped anyway.

jan 11, 2021

Speaking of birds, scrolling through my Safari Reading List, I found this lecture on YouTube that I’d like to watch/listen to sometime soon: Dickinson’s Birds

While I was running, House Democrats announced their intention to impeach Trump for a second time. Yes. Very necessary.

jan 6/RUN

5K
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/edmund, north
29 degrees
50% snow-covered

Still lots of snow on the road and the sidewalk even though it’s been above freezing most afternoons this week. The uneven, sometimes sloppy, trail makes my legs more sore, but I don’t mind it too much. I slipped today on a patch of ice as I ran up from the road to the sidewalk. I didn’t fall–or even feel like I might–just felt that brief loss of control. I couldn’t get that close to the river but I was able to catch a very brief glimpse of it through the trees as I ran on the highest part of Edmund. It looked white and covered–is it, or are there still open spots? No sun to make it sparkle or dance. It looked flat and still. Listened to a black-capped chickadee–it was difficult to hear over the roar of the city. It has been so loud these last few days–is it the air quality? What does humidity (80%) do to sound? I looked it up, and yes, humid air makes sound travel farther. I think I heard some helicopters–does it have to do with any protests? Anything else? Noticed someone over on the river road trail wearing a bright orange shirt–or was it shorts? I can’t remember now. Heard someone (thankfully 20 or 30 feet away) vigorously coughing. Saw a few dogs–identified them more from the clanging of their collars than actually seeing them. Felt strong and fast and happy as I headed back north on Edmund.

a moment of sound

I like the idea of doing a moment of sound everyday, but I don’t always want to run everyday and I only want to post on days when I run (mostly for the calendar so I can quickly glance at it and see which days I ran in a month, and which days I didn’t). So I’m trying to figure out how to post the moments. For now, I’ll post the non-run day moments of sound on the next running day (how boring was that explanation, future Sara?):

For yesterday’s moment of sound, I was sitting on the deck, with only a sweatshirt on, feeling the warm sun on my face, listening to the snow melting off the eaves. Such a nice moment!

jan 5, 2021

For today’s moment of sound, I stopped right after I finished running (listen for my heavy breathing). For the first half, I stood on the sidewalk, holding my phone out, listening to the birds and the roar of a plane. For the second half, I started walking and sniffing and making the delightful sound of crunching snow. If you listen carefully, you can hear the crunch sound change a little as I move from mostly snow to a stretch of ice.

jan 6, 2021

Yesterday, while cleaning out my safari reading list, I found this great poem from last year–or the year before?

notes on winter holidays/ daniel biegelson

Even you are responsible
to more than you. My daughter likes visiting
the pet store. It’s like a zoo she says. She wants
a calico she can walk with a string. On the way
home she says do we sing poems before we light candles.
‘Not to see by but to look at.’ On one level,
the mind doesn’t impose order. The mind
doesn’t impose order. Order presumes
priority. Good credit score. A forwarding address.
My bills accumulate in empty spaces.
My subject position won’t stand still.
On one level, we are not casual acquaintances.
Imagine we are pressed upon one another.
For a while we lived on the second story
above The Leader Store just down the street
from The Woolworth, which still had a griddle
and a soda fountain and smelled of melted butter.
I am not nostalgic. No need. I can still remember
the photographs. I am a frame. Sometimes
a window enclosing and disclosing. We take
the subway to the museum exchanging yous
through the tunnel and into the terminal. Imagine
we are pressed against each other. ‘Mingled breath
and smell so close’ The silver doors. A cell membrane.
You are a witness only to what you admit. Some words
emit so many possibilities they threaten to burst.
What is light. What is rain. Now a metaphor.
Take two and answer in the morning. We look
and do more than look. My daughter says
you talk with your eyes off. Why should everything
we see interact with light. I am counting
clouds destined for Florida. I moved the store here.
This is inescapably common. Where is here. Will you pray
with me. Pray with your feet on the pavement.
When she was born we didn’t know if she would ever
walk. Now my daughter says my whole body is a winter
storm as she leaps across the couch cushions. No digging
out. The self is a reintegration of exponential
apologies—a crowd of people in multi-colored coats
holding handmade signs and choosing to sit or stand
in the same world. After you. No, I insist. After you.

Some favorite lines for today:

I am not nostalgic. No need. I can still remember
the photographs. I am a frame. Sometimes
a window enclosing and disclosing.

My daughter says
you talk with your eyes off. Why should everything
we see interact with light. I am counting
clouds destined for Florida.

Favorite parts of words: the ts in tunnel and terminal, the pleasing rhyme in admit and emit,

jan 4/RUN

5K
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/edmund, north
28 degrees
75% slushy, soft, uneven snow/ 25% bare pavement

More wonderful winter running! Warmer today. The path wasn’t clear–sidewalks, roads, the trail–but I didn’t care. Had to run closer than 6 feet to 2 walkers while I was running on the trail, which bothered me, but I ran by so fast and it was outside so I didn’t care. It’s difficult in the winter because it’s hard to move off of the trail with all the snow piled up on the side. Guess I won’t get too many river views this winter–or at least until it gets colder and keeps more people inside.

Things I Remember

  • Two people by Dowling Elementary, shoveling snow and breaking up the thick slabs of ice on the road, right in front of the school. I wondered, were they volunteers? Were they preparing for kids to come back to school? Are Minneapolis elementary school kids going to return for in-person school soon?
  • Turning around at 42nd, I noticed a few snowflakes. I hadn’t expected it to snow so I thought I was imagining it or there was stuff coming off of a branch above me. Soon, it started to snow a lot, covering the ground with a thin, mushy blanket of wet sludge. Falling, the flakes were hard and small, like little bullets or missiles aimed at my mouth. I choked slightly at least twice when I swallowed them. A few years ago I did some research on snow so I used to know the different types of flakes. I’ll have to find my notes. As I type this entry now, it is sunny and clear and there is no more snow.
  • Several times I heard some interesting sounds and I thought about stopping to record my moment of sound, but I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep running, so I waited until I was done and recorded the moment by my garage. 2 of the places: 1. on edmund, in a sheltered spot, in front of some fancy houses, near my favorite little stand of trees, the cottonwood three, I wanted to stop and record the chirping birds. 2. Again on edmund, close to 42nd, running past a van with its radio on, hearing some rock song mixing with a few power tools, a plane overhead, and the snow hitting the pavement.
  • Caught a glimpse of the river through the trees before turning off the trail to avoid a pack of walkers. I think I saw more big chunks of ice on the surface.

a moment of sound

I recorded this moment of sound after I finished my run. I thought that it might be quieter and more shielded from the city noise and wind back by my garage, behind the house, in the alley. Not sure if it was. The hum of the city is so loud! My main focus for this sound was the little pellets of snow falling on my vest–that’s what the soft crunching noise is–but I also captured some kid losing her shit down the block and some awesomely wet footsteps in the snow at the end.

Jan 4, 2021

In honor of the surprise snow shower this morning, I’d like to memorize some snow poems for the next few days. Here are a few I might consider:

update, a few hours later: I looked back in my notes from February 2018 (also, my log posts from February 2018) and figured out what the little hard pellets are called: graupels.

jan 3/RUN

5K
2 school loop
18/feels like 8
95% snow covered

Winter running is the best! I’m not sure how to express the joy I feel during and after I finish a run when it’s cold–but not arctic hellscape cold–and snowy–but not too snowy or icy–and I get to be outside breathing in fresh air and moving with warm fingers and toes. I love running over the snow, hearing it crunch, feeling it propel me forward–a bit of slide but not a slip. I love the sense of accomplishment I feel for just getting out the door–there’s no pressure to be fast or run for a long time because it’s enough to be there, resisting the urge to stay inside and be warm and protected (from the elements, from too many people, from hidden ice that might make me slip).

Things I Remember

  • As I was tying my laces, just about to go outside, I heard a black capped chickadee calling. I like imagining them singing to me: “Sara. Join us. Be brave, find joy.”
  • Several cawing crows–not a murder of crows because they weren’t flocked together.
  • Smelled smoke at the usual spot, on Edmund Boulevard. Still don’t know, does it come from a house or the gorge?
  • Saw my shadow and felt the warm sun on my face.
  • Running north on 43rd, I smelled the too flowery, too fake scent of dryer sheets. Must be laundry day on this block!
  • Never got close enough to see the river or hear it.
  • Heard a crow and a train having a conversation–first a caw, quickly followed by a “beep beep”–and I think an airplane joined in, roaring from high above.
  • Ran under the bushy fir tree with the limb that arches over the sidewalk on 43rd and thought about how it was covered with snow way back in November.

a moment of sound

While running around Hiawatha School, I got trapped: another pedestrian approaching, a knee-high wall of snow on the curb preventing my quick escape onto the street. I decided to try running in the deeper snow in the baseball field. When that didn’t work, I stopped for a minute to record my moment of sound. The sun was too bright for me to tell when the recording had reached a minute, but that’ okay because this is moment of sound, which is less precise than a minute.

Jan 3, 2021

Listening back to this recording, I’m struck by how loud the planes are. I didn’t even notice that there were planes when I was standing in the field. The next thing: if you listen close and you know what you’re listening for, you can hear the sprinkling of water. That’s someone watering the ice rink at the park. Every year the field, that can fit at least one soccer field and 3 baseball fields, is turned into a huge ice rink, with a large open section from just skating and a closed-in section for hockey. I love this about Minnesota. When I was a kid, I adored ice skating, but living in the South, I rarely skated–only when we went to the big mall in Charlotte with the indoor ice rink. My 8 year old self wouldn’t have imagined that now, at age 46, I live within a mile of 2 big outdoor rinks and 1 indoor one. Last year, I didn’t skate even once. Will I this year?

Was reminded of a poetic form that I tried 4 years ago (yikes, here it is), when I first rediscovered poetry: the triolet. It’s 8 lines with line 1 being repeated as line 4 and line 7, and line 2 being repeated as line 8. Here’s the rhyme scheme (with the capitals representing the repeated lines): ABaAabAB

Here’s the poem that made me think of the form again:

Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther/ A.E. STALLINGS

Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night,
The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?
Does he hum them to while away sad afternoons
And the long, lonesome Sundays? Or sing them for spite?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night?

I love this poem. Right now I especially love it because of its rhythm and how successful it is in inhabiting this form without making it cheesy or awkward or obvious–that is hard to do.

jan 1/RUN

5K
turkey hollow
14 degrees
95% snow covered

Happy New Year! Of course I had to get outside and run on the first day of the year. 14 degrees didn’t seem too cold to me with all of my layers: green shirt, blue hooded shirt, orange sweatshirt, black vest, 2 pairs of running tights, headband covering my ears, baseball cap, hood, 2 pairs of gloves, 1 pair of socks, yak trax. Not too much wind. Ran south on the river road trail. Encountered a few others runners or walkers but we stayed close to our opposite sides, which I think was about 6 or 7 feet apart. Yelled at the one biker I encountered who was biking in the middle of the trail–at least I thought he was. My depth perception is not the greatest. Saw 2 or 3 cross country skiers! One was crossing the river road, their skis scraping on the bare pavement.

birds!

No turkeys in turkey hollow, but as I ran on the river road trail, above the oak savanna, I heard the drumming of a woodpecker on a tree. The noise was deep and metallic. Was the tree dead inside? I read a poem or an essay that described how a tree can be dead and you can’t tell until you cut it down; it could be dying inside for years. Where did I read that? I almost stopped running for a minute to try and locate the woodpecker but I didn’t–I doubt I would have been able to see it anyway. I also heard some male black-capped chickadees and their feebee call. A three note call this time with a 2 note response. Nice! Such a good omen for the year, hearing my favorite bird, running close to the river!

the river!

Running south on the trail above the oak savanna, at first all I could see were trees, a hill, snow. Suddenly, the gorge sloped down near 38th and the river appeared. Wow! Shining in the soft spots that weren’t yet sharpened by cold . I love the visual effect of sparkling, glittering water–sometime soon I want to read this article about glittering patterns. Talking with Scott, I thought I remembered that the effect was called glint, but looking it up again, it’s glitter. Glint is a flash of light, not to be confused with glisk which is a gleam of light through a cloud. As I described the image to Scott, we also discussed whether the river had sheets of ice or, as I delightfully suggested, floes. Scott thought floes were only in the ocean. Looking it up, Wikipedia says that a floe is defined by it’s size–big!

“An ice floe is a large pack of floating ice often defined as a flat piece at least 20 m across at its widest point, and up to more than 10 km across.[1]Drift ice is a floating field of sea ice composed of several ice floes.”

Maybe I like using the term because it’s big and grand and makes the river–which is fairly big, but nothing compared to an ocean or a sea, at least where I see it–seem bigger and grander and my images more magical or fantastical or epic?

Another word encountered: brash ice. “Brash ice is an accumulation of floating ice made up of fragments not more than 2m across. It is the wreckage of other forms of ice.” Cool.

After I finished my run, I could hear so many birds. I decided to stop and record a minute of it–I might try to do this every day this month or this year.

jan 1, 2021

In addition to the feebee call, I hear the “chickadeedeedee” and some other chirping I can’t identify. Some dudes laughing, me still breathing hard after my run (and then adding in a gross sniff), and the delightfully irritating crunching snow! I love hearing the biomechanics of my feet walking–listen to the different types of crunches as one foot lifts off and the other sinks down.

Winter Poem/ Donika Kelly

We climb the stalk of early winter
into the sky. Below: the car, the road,
the gray branch. The sun, a mirage, multiplies
in the earth. The light beetles, makes of our
bodies a mirror. We are fallow
as the land beneath us. We climb, though our
arms tire and our legs burn, a gesture
of absolution–we forget,
are forgotten. We are fire or
the image of fire, the day, or
the breaking of it. We disappear, chaff
of myth, what held the story of a season’s end.

This poem! It’s from her collection, Bestiary. How did I miss it when I read that book this summer? I love beetles as a verb–the light beetles. Does she mean “to scurry” (like a beetle) or “project/jut”?

So many great words in this entry! brash, beetle, glint, glitter, glisk. I want to use some of them in a poem.

dec 23/RUN

5.1 miles
franklin loop
44 degrees

Ran with Scott on the Franklin loop! Warm this morning; snowstorm/blizzard this afternoon. The Weather Channel app predicts 5-8 inches and Dark Sky, 10-15. Yikes. It was great out there today. Not much wind, only a little misty rain, bare pavement. We ran slow and stopped many times. The river was a beautiful gray–no sun today. Noticed the lions in front of a house had Santa hats on. And–almost forgot!–we saw 5 big turkeys crossing the road over in St. Paul. Anything else? I recited the poem (Babel/ Kimberly Johnson) I re-memorized yesterday to Scott as I ran and he mentioned how much it sounded like Captain Beefheart lyrics, especially the line, “while the tesla bees whine loudly at the stunned sky.” I love the idea of tesla bees and a stunned sky.

countdowns

only 28 days/ 672 hours left of Trump!
just 3.25 miles left to run to reach my goal of 1000 miles!

dec 22/RUN

3.15 miles
turkey hollow
25 degrees/ feels like 16

A great day for a run! Cold but not too cold, not too much wind. No snow or ice (that’s coming tomorrow). Not too many people. Ran south on the river road trail right above the river. O, the river! An unobstructed view. I think it was blue. I don’t remember seeing any ice on it, but I do remember admiring the pleasing contrast between the brown branches and the pale blue water. Saw several groups of walkers down below on the Winchell trail, spotted someone in a bright blue jacket. Why is the jacket always blue when I notice people below me? Is it the same person, always walking when I’m running, or am I only noticing when it’s blue, or is it not blue at all–I just always see blue? I didn’t see any turkeys down in turkey hollow–I made sure to look–but I did see a giant wreath on the door of one of the funkiest, late 70s/early 80s modern houses on that stretch of Edmund.

Sounds

  • a nail gun on a roof–running south I wondered where it was coming from, running back north I found out: down Dowling Avenue (or is it street? I’m too lazy to check right now)
  • chainsaws cutting down some trees–sounded like a big tree or many trees
  • a kid talking to an adult below as I ran above on the trail
  • the queen of the block (the cat who often escorts me across the sidewalk when I walk by her house) meowing loudly as I tried to recite a poem after my run

Favorite Spot for Admiring the River

Running on the trail, on the stretch between 42nd and 44th, where the bluff is steeper and higher and the lower trail (below me) hugs the edge. So wide and open and gorgeous!

Tried a (slightly) new experiment today. Memorized a poem. Recorded myself reciting it from memory before heading out for my run. Recited it all through my run. Then, recorded it again on my walk home. I wondered what the difference would be? Would I know the poem better after my run? In the first attempt: no. I knew it better before, but I think that had more to do with being tired at the end of my run. The poem I memorized (or re-memorized) was: Babel/ Kimberly Johnson

Babel, before running
Babel, after running

Biggest mistake I noticed: both times I screwed up the verb tense, reciting could instead of can. I might try this experiment again.

Only 8.35 miles left to run until I reach my goal of 1000 miles. Then, a break! Also, only 696 hours until Trump is down–only 2% of his presidency left!

dec 20/RUN

5k
2 school loop
27 degrees

What a beautiful morning for a run! Frost everywhere, even on the road, sparkling in the bright sun. Not too much wind. Encountered a few patches of ice on the sidewalk, but no snow. Heard a strange bird, with a strident double cry, as I ran. Was it a bluejay? Lots of people on the trail and on the grass between Edmund and the river road.

Decided to recite “What Would Root” from memory. Normally it takes me about 3 minutes to recite it all (it’s a long poem), but while running it took 7 and a half minutes. Many distractions and repeated lines. I stumbled over the line, “The squirrels, I mentioned them already, etc, and the lizards ran down the spines of rocks like a bad feeling.” I kept wanting to recite climbed instead of ran even though I felt like that was wrong, which it was. Also got stuck on the line, “that they were a part of my body I could not doubt; they were living and enervated and jutting out.” In my typed up version, I had alive instead of living. Reciting it in my head, that sounded wrong rhythmically, which it was (again). I love the scolding squirrels and the chill red-crested woodpecker that “was not offended I didn’t know his name” and the land spreading greenly before me and the roots in my skull shifting. Such a magical, strange poem!

dec 17/RUN

2.75 miles
loop around Hiawatha
24 degrees

Gray, damp, chilly but not cold. Some wind, but not too much. Ran the first (almost) 2 miles with no headphones, listening to the gorge and reciting “The Meadow” by Marie Howe in my head. Listened to a playlist for the last three quarters of a mile. Was able to run above the gorge. Heard a kid below me on the Winchell Trail in the Oak Savanna. Hardly anyone else on the trail–I think I passed 2 people. Heard a few voices down on the lower trail, saw someone’s bright blue jacket. Admired the river–a pale blue with a few chunks of ice. I don’t remember hearing any woodpeckers or chickadees or crows or busy squirrels. Noticed a few flurries. Anything else? Felt good, even thought I am tired and ready to take a break. Only 20 miles left until I hit my goal, 1000 miles!

Wondered about some of the words in the poem I was reciting. Is the line, “it knows for certain that two horses walk upon it, weary for hay” or “weary of hay.” [I checked: it’s of hay, which makes more sense] Got distracted somewhere around the line, “Two crows, rising from the hill, fight and caw-cry in mid-flight, then light and fall on the meadow grass” and never returned. Maybe I was thinking about how my son is going to college next year and he just received his financial aid package and he is very smart and I’m so proud of him and he won several big scholarships and it will still be difficult (but not impossible) for us to pay for it because college costs way too much. Or maybe I was just not thinking, letting my body stretch and move and fly and strike the ground in an even rhythm?

Here’s a poem I discovered the other day on twitter:

How It Happens/ W.S. Merwin

The sky said I am watching
to see what you
can make out of nothing
I was looking up and I said
I thought you
were supposed to be doing that
the sky said Many
are clinging to that
I am giving you a chance
I was looking up and I said
I am the only chance I have
then the sky did not answer
and here we are
with our names for the days
the vast days that do not listen to us

dec 15/RUN

3 miles
neighborhood
18 degrees / feels like 9

Colder today. As I said to Scott, “I was the only fool out there.” Strange, though, because it’s really not that cold for Minneapolis. On this day last year, I ran outside when it felt like -3.

It was a good run. I started without headphones, reciting Diane Seuss’ “I Look Up From My Book At the World Through Reading Glasses.” Favorite first line, which I used in one of my mood ring poems, “the world, italicized.” Also love the next line, which really resonates for me and my seeing objects as forms, like Tree or Rock or Person. “Douglas fir blurs into archetype.”

When I got to the Minnehaha Academy parking lot, I decided to put on a playlist and listen to headphones as I ran south. Favorite songs today: Screwed/ Janelle Monae and Midnight Sky/ Miley Cyrus. Ran into the wind; glad to have a hood on. I didn’t get close enough to the river to admire it, or the ravine, or the oak savanna. I do remember hearing, and then seeing, a wedge of honking geese in the sky. Oh– and I heard the “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” as I ran by someone’s garage. Anything else? The sidewalks were stained white from salt, or was it from the dusting of snow we got 2 days ago? No slippery spots. And, a new over-the-top decoration at the already excessive house with Olaf, a minion, Charlie Brown, and Darth Vader: a giant reindeer. I ran past it to fast to notice, but I bet it’s Rudolph from the old holiday special.

sleep

Ever since I had my first kid, way back in 2003, I’ve struggled to sleep through the night more than a few times a month. I usually wake up for a few minutes every couple of hours. For the past few days, my sleep has been extra *fun*: go to sleep around 10:30, wake up at 11:45, then just before 1, then again at 1:30 before finally sleeping for 4 or 5 hours straight. My usual counting by sevens–which I started doing a few years ago–isn’t cutting it, so I’ve started listening to Taylor Swift’s new album, evermore, until I fall asleep again. I love this album. So many good songs with great words to enjoy. “Marjorie” is one of my favorites–such a beautiful song about grief and losing someone you love! Always makes me think of my mom.

Marjorie/ Taylor Swift

Never be so kind, you forget to be clever
Never be so clever, you forget to be kind

And if I didn’t know better
I’d think you were talking to me now
If I didn’t know better
I’d think you were still around
What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, you’re alive in my head
What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, so alive

Never be so polite, you forget your power
Never wield such power, you forget to be polite

And if I didn’t know better
I’d think you were listening to me now
If I didn’t know better
I’d think you were still around
What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, you’re alive in my head
What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, so alive

The autumn chill that wakes me up
You loved the amber skies so much
Long limbs and frozen swims
You’d always go past where our feet could touch
And I complained the whole way there
The car ride back and up the stairs
I should’ve asked you questions
I should’ve asked you how to be
Asked you to write it down for me
Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt
‘Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me
Watched as you signed your name Marjorie
All your closets of backlogged dreams
And how you left them all to me

What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, you’re alive in my head
What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, so alive
And if I didn’t know better
I’d think you were singing to me now
If I didn’t know better
I’d think you were still around
I know better
But I still feel you all around
I know better
But you’re still around

dec 12/RUN

3.15 miles
2 school loop
29 degrees

Gloomy, light gray today. Wind coming from almost every direction. My lower back hurt when I started but was okay by the end. Less than 30 miles to go now, then a break. Nice to be outside, moving, and not thinking. Ran to the river and started on the trail, but there were too many people so I crossed over to the grass between edmund and the river road. No view of the river today. Encountered a few irritating squirrels, a big white dog. I don’t remember hearing any geese or seeing any big birds in the sky. No fat tires or roller skiers.

Running around Hiawatha School, I thought about when my kids went there. FWA started in pre-school in 2006, RJP finished 2nd grade in 2014. It seems so long ago and like it was a different Sara who took her kids to the playground, soccer practice, the wading pool, school concerts. I like the Sara I am now better than the Sara I was then.

This morning I reviewed part of Ed Bok Lee’s wonderful poem, “Halos,” and then recited it in my head as I ran. No recording today because I ran all the way to my front door without a cool-down walk. Here’s my favorite part of what I reviewed:

That visual impairment improves hearing,
taste, smell, touch is is mostly myth.
With it, however, I detect

fuzzy spirits exiting buildings;
halos around bikers’ helmets;
each streetlamp a pink-orange dawn.

So much in this bit that I love and that makes me think.

  1. Visual impairment, in and of itself, has not improved my other senses. Instead, it has made me want to work harder on them: to learn to listen, to notice and make note of what I smell, to find words to describe the textures I encounter.
  2. And, not being able to see normally most often doesn’t mean you can’t see anything. According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), 93% of blind and partially sighted people can see something. I like how Lee describes that something as beautiful and magical and not damaged or partial or less than: fuzzy spirits, halos, streetlights casting pink-orange dawns as light. Pretty cool. Quite often, I like the soft, fuzzy, gentle way I see the world these days. In an earlier part of the poem, Lee describes how he sees people: “any nearing face is surely smiling, gorgeous; each blurry body’s aura numinous.” Yes, I see this too and I like it. So much better than harsh lighting with sharp features and haggard faces.

As I was trying to write out the lines of this poems, I was thinking–and not for the first time–about how difficult it is for me to memorize line breaks and punctuation in poems. I googled “memorizing poems difficult punctuation” and found a discussion of how and why some contemporary poets write poems that deliberately resist memorization. Interesting. Here are some sources I’d like to check out:

The idea of writing poems that are hard to memorize–awkward phrasing and rhythms, for example–made me think about my poems about vision, the Snellen charts and mood rings. How hard are they to memorize? Are they too dependent on vision and reading to be understood? I think I want to do a poem/some poems about vision that are not so visual. I like the idea of experimenting with memorization and speaking/reciting in new ways. I’m also thinking about how I’ve been partly drawn to poetry because it’s easier to read as reading gets harder for me. Easier because there are usually less words to read and they are grouped differently, with lots of white space. Not easier in terms of understanding; I love how chewy and difficult they are in that respect. Yes, I want to think about this some more!

dec 10/RUN

3 miles
edmund + loops around Cooper and Howe
43 degrees

Wound my way through the neighborhood to avoid people. My route makes some interesting shapes, I think:

Screenshot of my running route, marked with yellow lines winding through the neighborhood--
Running Route, 10 December

Very mild this morning with bright sunshine. Not blinding, just warming and reminding me of early spring. From up above on Edmund, the tunnel of trees below glowed. I would have liked to run through it, but I am keeping as much distance as I can from others. Too many cases, too many deaths. Between 33rd and 32nd, encountered an adult running and laughing while a young kid chased them. Their joy made me smile. Just before heading up the 32nd street hill, I saw Dave the Daily Walker way up ahead on the river road trail. Too far away to greet. I don’t remember noticing the parking lot at Minneahaha Academy–was it empty again? Ran around Cooper School. A family was playing in the field. Headed south on 45th and ran around Howe School too. Another family playing in that field.

Celebrated less than 1000 hours of Trump’s presidency last night at 7 PM; woke up this morning to scary tweets about his latest court cases. Time to distract myself until this is over–will it ever be over? Time to focus all of my energy on the small and big joys I can find.

Today’s reason for joy: New Shoes!

Since starting to run in 2011, I’ve been wearing Saucony Grid Cohesions. The pair I’m wearing right now I bought last winter. They’re blueish gray and mind green accents. Very nice. Last week, I decided to upgrade one level to Clarion 2s. They are berry red! with copper accents. So cool! I’ve never had red shoes. I’ve had: white, gray, bright pink, orange, teal, electric blue but never red. And they feel faster. I’m excited to try them out–maybe on the treadmill this winter.

Reciting while Running, Review

Reviewed two more poems this morning: Ted Kooser’s “Turkey Vultures” and Donika Kelly’s “Perhaps You Tire of Birds.” Recited them in my head while I ran, then recorded “Perhaps” right after finishing, and “Turkey Vultures” on my deck a few minutes later. Only minor mistakes, but ones that weakened the power of each poem–forgetting the my in “O, my scouring eye” and “O, my heart” and “O, my bones” in “Perhaps” and making it was instead of is at the end of “Turkey Vultures.”

Perhaps You Tire of Birds/ December 10
Turkey Vultures/ December 10

dec 8/RUN

5k
43rd ave, north/edmund, south/loop around Howe
31 degrees/90% humidity

So humid this morning. The moisture in the air didn’t bother my skin or my breathing, only my eyes. Difficult to see. No problems recognizing objects, but it felt like I was looking at everything through a thin veil. Strange. My lower back on the left side–the usual spot–was sore for the first mile. My body is ready for a break. I just need to make it for a few more weeks. Less than 40 miles to reach my goal. After I warmed up, it was a nice run. Here’s a few things I remember:

  • The upper campus (high schoolers) at Minnehaha Academy seems to be closed for in-person school; the parking to was almost empty
  • Hardly anyone out walking or running or biking
  • Couldn’t see the river–I was too far away, but could see the air above it and the possibility of the river below, if that makes any sense
  • I got to greet Dave, the Daily Walker! “Hey Dave!” “Hi Sara. It’s been a long time.” What a nice surprise. He was dressed in black today.
  • Saw a house with a blown-up Darth Vader with candy canes + a minion + Olaf from Frozen+ Mickey Mouse. Wow

Recited several of the door poems I memorized this summer: “I dwell in possibility” “Praying” and “I Remember.” When I finished, I recorded myself reciting “I Remember” by Anne Sexton.

I Remember by Anne Sexton/ 8 December

I got almost all of the words right. A few errors that made the poem seem clunkier–a was instead of is, an extra that, days instead of times. It is fascinating to listen back to myself and see the mistakes I don’t realize I’m making. Favorite lines: “the grass was as tough as hemp” and “we wore our bare feet bare since the 20th of June” and “while the sun blew out of sight like a red picture hat” and those invisible snoring beetles! I love them.

dec 7/RUN

3.2 miles
turkey hollow
32 degrees/86% humidity

No sun this morning but also not much wind or people. No snow on the ground or on the path. A great morning for a run! No turkey at turkey hollow but plenty of kids yelling joyfully at the school playground–Minnehaha Academy is still having in-person classes. Ran right above the river on the trail but I don’t remember looking down at the river even once. Did I? I remember looking out to the other side, the St. Paul side, and hearing a strange buzzing sound across the gorge. It was not a leaf blower but a saw or something that grinds or chips or cuts. I remember noticing the bare mesa and the leafless trees in the oak savanna and the chain on the 38th street stairs closing them off for the winter. I remember glancing down at the Winchell Trail between 42nd and 44th and briefly considering taking it. I remember thinking the hill on 47th, just past turkey hollow, seemed steeper today.

Delight of the Day: Geese!

Running on Edmund right by Dowling Elementary I heard some honking. Geese! Flying above me, not too high. As I ran, I tipped my baseball cap up and craned my neck to watch them. I imagine they were calling to me, like Mary Oliver’s wild geese, harsh and exciting, announcing my place in the family of things.

This morning, before going out for my run, I re-memorized Rita Dove’s “Voiceover.” Then, while running, I recited it in my head. Finally, within a minute of finishing my run, when my heart rate was probably 160 or 170, I recorded myself reciting it into my phone. Not perfect, but not too many mistakes. Such a fun way to run. I have missed reciting while running!

Voiceover by Rita Dove/ 7 December

Favorite passage today (even though I didn’t get it quite right in the recording):

It likes a dream when a voice whispers
Open wide and you do but it’s not your mouth anymore
because now you’re all throat
a tunnel skewered by air.
And so you rewind and this time
when you open wide, you’re standing
outside your skin, looking down
at the damage, leaning in close…
about to dive back into your body
and then you wake up.

When I was doing this reciting while running project in the spring/summer, I also mentioned this: I memorize the words, but not the punctuation or the line breaks so when I try to write out my memorized poems, I don’t always get those right. Is it just me? Are other people able to memorize everything? Is it important to do so? I’m sure it changes the poem, but is that a problem?

Covid Cases: 350,000 MN/ 14.76 million (US)
Covid Deaths: 4,000 MN/ 282,375 (US)*

*I use my run and being outside and memorizing poems and getting lost in words and making note of daily delights as a way to endure this terrible, unbelievable time. Such shocking numbers and, while there’s hope with the vaccine, there’s also a lot of death and suffering still to come. Mostly, I’m doing okay but I worry about the toll of all this fear and anxiety and stress on my body–on all of our bodies. What new diseases and disorders will we develop from all of this?

dec 1/RUN

3.05 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, west/river road trail, south/42nd st, west/edmund, north
18 degrees/feels like 10

Colder today than yesterday, which was already pretty cold for most–and too cold for Scott. Love it! Less people, fresher air, a feeling of accomplishment from just getting out the door and braving the cold. Beautiful sun. Not warm, but giving the illusion of warmth and making the frost on the field at Cooper School look enchanted, almost like fairy dust or the aftermath of a glitter bomb.

Running down 32nd towards the river, I noticed a lone black glove on the sidewalk. Saw some people across the street and almost called out to them, “excuse me! did you drop a glove?” I didn’t. Why is the lone glove I see on the sidewalk always black? Do I just notice the black ones, or are most gloves that color? Have I ever seen any other color of glove left behind? I don’t think so. When (and if) I do, I will make a ridiculously big deal about it on this log, which makes me happy that I have been able to find delight and joy in such small things. Finding a blue (or red or pink) glove when I usually find a black one is enough for me.

Delight of the Day, or Today’s Reason for Joy

One: the river, again. Glowing, shimmering, flashing. The light didn’t bother me, but I could feel it reflecting off of my face.

Two: A male black-capped chickadee! I heard the feebee call this morning as I ran south. It was almost drowned out by all the crows, but I’m sure I heard it. Normally, I only notice these in the spring. Ever since I read that they sing all winter, I’ve been listening harder for them and today it paid off!

Anything else? Was able to keep plenty of distance between me and the few people out on the trail. Encountered only 1 bike. Again, no roller skiers.

layers

green shirt, pink jacket, gray jacket, 2 pairs of black running tights, 2 pairs of socks, pink headband, black baseball cap, hood, buff, 2 pairs of gloves

layers lost: buff started on my ears and mouth, ended around my neck, hood down, took off one pair of gloves during mile 2

What Things Want/ Robert Bly – 1926-

You have to let things
Occupy their own space.
This room is small,
But the green settee

Likes to be here.
The big marsh reeds,
Crowding out the slough,
Find the world good.

You have to let things
Be as they are.
Who knows which of us
Deserves the world more?

Love this poem by Minnesota poet Robert Bly and completely agree with the idea that “You have to let things/Be as they are.”

Almost forgot. I posted my Mood Rings chapbook on my writing site! Very proud of the work I have done with these poems.

nov 28/RUN

3 miles
neighborhood
36 degrees
COVID cases: 295,001 (MN)/ 13.1 million (US)
COVID deaths: 3,476 (MN)/ 264,977 (US)

More sun today. Very nice after the gloom even if it makes it harder to see other people. Thankfully, I hardly encountered anyone with my meandering sidewalk route. Very nice. Ran with my shadow for at least part of the time. Tried to go slower, but it was hard; I still went much faster in my second and third miles. Don’t remember hearing any roller skiers or seeing any fat tires. No big groups of runners or bikers or walkers. Never got close enough to see the river. No geese or turkeys or squirrels. I do remember hearing a runner calling out to someone about how it was a nice day for a run. Anything else? I smelled the smoke near Edmund and 38th. Is that coming from a chimney or fire pit in someone’s yard or the gorge?

Just heard on the radio that the high today is 54. Nice! I think I’ll sit on the deck or the front steps sometime today. Yesterday I sat on the front steps and heard a black capped chickadee. I’ll take these small delights in the midst of the scary news about uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

Praise Song for the Day/ ELIZABETH ALEXANDER

A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Oh this poem! “What if the mightiest word is love?” “love with no need to pre-empt grievance.” “today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air” “on the brink, on the brim, on the cusp”, and “we walk into that which we cannot yet see”.