june 30/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

2.5 miles
2 trails
73 degrees
9:30 am

Was planning to swim with FWA at the lake, but when that didn’t work out, I went for a quick run. Too warm. I listened to a playlist on the upper, paved path, and the gorge on the lower, dirt trail.

a distinctive sound

When I reached the Winchell Trail, I took my headphones out and stopped to walk for a minute. I could hear the strong buzz or hum of bugs — cicadas? isn’t it too early for them? Whatever the bugs were, I imagined hundreds (thousands?) of tiny wings flapping fast, making this not very pleasing sound. I wondered how long it would last as I kept walking. In a few minutes it faded, replaced by the whooshing of car wheels from above. Hearing this sound reminds me of the poem Babel by Kimberly Johnson:

Babel/ Kimberly Johnson

My God, it’s loud down here, so loud the air
is rattled. Who with the hissing of trees,
the insect chatter, can fix devotion

on holy things, the electrical bugs
so loud the air is stunned, windy the leaves’
applause redoubled by the clapping wings

of magpies? Who with their whispered psalm
can outvoice their huckster cackle, the trees
blustered to howls while the tesla bees

whine loudly to the shocked air? O who
can think of heaven in such squall, shrill wind
of trees, magpie wings, and throats in fracas,

the bluebottle static, the air stupid
with the shrieks of devils,— of angels,—
who in such squall can think of anything

but heaven?

The bluebottle (flies) static. I don’t think I was hearing flies, but it did sound like a sort of static.

bike: 11 miles
lake nokomis and back + extra
90 degrees
5:00 pm (there) / 6:15 pm (back)

Do I remember anything about my bike, other than it was hot and very windy. So windy, and right in my face, both ways! The only other thing I remember is feeling comfortable and not nervous about whether or not I could see. Either my brain has adjusted by tweaking the visual, or it has adjusted by making me feel less anxious about not totally seeing everything. It’s probably a bit of both. Oh, one more thing: the sky looked a bit ominous — some spots of dark gray. At some point, it started raining, barely.

swim: 2 loops
lake nokomis open swim
90 degrees
5:20 pm

It wasn’t too choppy in the water. Hooray! I didn’t have any problem sighting, or any problems keeping swimming when I couldn’t sight the buoys, which was most of the time. It’s getting harder to see color, I think. I rarely saw the orange or lime green until it was right in front of me. The final green buoy was lined up right in front of 3 white sailboats. I saw a few silver flashes below me — fish? Some wetsuit ran into me. I don’t think it was my fault, because I was keep my straight line, but who knows?

june 29/RUN

5k
river road trail, north/south
69 degrees
9:00 am

A birthday run with Scott. Beautiful out by the gorge. Greeted Dave, the daily walker as we ran through the Welcoming Oaks. Too busy talking about something to remember to notice running through the tunnel of trees or past the old stone steps or even under the lake street bridge. Running with Scott was great, but it was hard to notice much. Can I remember 10 things I noticed? I’ll try:

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a roller skier and their poles singing, click click click click
  2. a man talking on a bluetooth phone with his arm extended across the path pointing — at what?
  3. some blue jays whispering their screeches
  4. a few narrow streaks of blue river through the thick thatch of green
  5. faint voices of rowers talking below near the boathouse
  6. a runner on the path, accompanied by a young girl on a bike
  7. no memorial flowers at the trestle today
  8. the sweet rot of the sewer near the ravine
  9. the cracks in the asphalt just past the trestle bridge, remembering the peace sign spraypainted at this spot last summer
  10. the satisfying crunch of the sandy gravel under my feet as I ran on the side of the trail up to the greenway

Whew! I did it. The last 3 took some time to remember.

june 27/RUNSWIM

4.35 miles
minnehaha falls and back
60 degrees
7:30 am

A cooler morning, an earlier start, better conditions for running. Not sure how much that helped, parts of the run still felt hard, but it was nice not to be sweating as much. Ran south on the river road trail to the falls. Stopped at my favorite spot — the overlook near the former fountain with Longfellow’s poem etched on the benches surrounding it — and put in my headphones. Listened to music on the way back. Mostly ran, but stopped a few times to walk.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a recumbant bike
  2. a roller skier
  3. a tall-ish woman in black walking — I think I’ve encountered her in past summers, walking this same route
  4. the dirt trail was tightly packed with very dry earth between Becketwood and 38th
  5. the dirt trail was loose, sandy dust between 38th and 36th
  6. the river was completely hidden behind a veil of green
  7. 2 hikers with backpacks and hiking poles, emerging from the short stretch of trail that dips below the road right after the double bridge
  8. the falls were rushing over the limestone ledge, but were less visible, tucked in behind all of the green leaves
  9. no surreys or bikes-for-rent at the falls yet. When do they put them out?
  10. bikers on the dirt path: first, a young kid with a walking adult, next, a mountain biker

Don’t remember how I found it, but I’m very glad I did: an interview between poets Ross Gay and Tess Taylor discussing the connections between gardens and poetry. Here’s something from it I’d like to remember:

TAYLOR: It’s funny, too, because poems remind us that we live in breath, which also reminds us that we live in bodies. Poems are about breath. Poems are about sharing breaths, sharing little beautiful musical measures of breath.

GAY: That’s exactly right. Like, poems are made of breath. So poems are bodily in themselves. And when we read them to other people, they become part of other people’s bodies. Or when we read other people’s lives, the way they’ve constructed a poem, we’re breathing them.

Here’s What Makes Poetry and Gardens a Perfect Pair

little beautiful musical measures of breath. Nice.

swim: 2 loops (4 little loops)
cedar lake
84 degrees
6:00 pm

First swim at Cedar Lake! Calm, not too cold, water. Blue skies, a few clouds. Barely any problems sighting the buoys and staying on course. A great swim!

june 24/RUN

4 miles
river road trail, north/south
82 degrees / dew point: 63
9:30 am

82 degrees is not fun, and 9:30 is too late to go out in the summer. Even so, I’m glad I went out for a run. A lot of my energy was devoted to enduring the heat, so I’m not sure how much I remember about the run. I will try to make a list of 10 things:

`10 Things I Remember Even Though I Was Hot and Tired and Uncomfortable

  1. Greeting Dave, the Daily Walker
  2. Also greeting Mr. Morning!
  3. the dirt on the trail was loose and sandy and a light tan — so dry!
  4. a man was standing under the lake street bridge looking at his phone
  5. was that his bike on the other side of the porta potty?
  6. chirping chipmunks down in the gorge
  7. several of the benches along the trail were occupied
  8. 2 bikers converging from different directions at the entrance to the greenway bike trail, one much faster than the other — I briefly wondered if they would run into each other
  9. at least twice, I felt sweat dripping off of my elbow. Where was it coming from? My pony tail?
  10. heard near a 3-way stop: funk music from a car stereo

No view of the river, roller skiers, roller bladers, fat tires, big packs of runners training for a race. No eliptigos (I saw one the other day) or rowers.

overheard on the trail

one: one walker, an older man, saying to another: “He doesn’t know about…”. What doesn’t he know about, and (why) is it a problem? This might make a good title for a poem.

two: again, 2 walkers. An older woman to a younger man: “Well, Bob and Anne had heart attacks, but they both seem to be doing okay.” Wow.

Stumbled upon this great poem by the strangley wonderful, CA Conrad.

excerpts from TL;DR/ CA Conrad

*

Find something colorful outside the grocery store. I found bright blue chewing gum smeared on the parking lot.

Get close to it; study the color with a magnifying glass if you have one. Take notes for a poem.

Go in the store, look for the color on a product label. You will find it. Take your time. A perfect match for the blue chewing gum was the blue half-moon marshmallow on a box of cereal.

Take more notes for a poem. What intersections did these two objects with the same color make for you? The gum and half-moon marshmallow were the intersections of temperature and texture for me. Take more notes for a poem.

*

Each evening for a week, go for a walk. Stop 3 times to narrate what you see 360 degrees around you into a recorder on your phone or another device.

Try to list what you see, “A cat crossing a roof, a car playing Lady Gaga parked below, a blue postal box, a LOTTERY sign flashing in gas station window.”

When you see one object on your walk that holds your attention, closely examine it while narrating what it looks like. Where could it have come from?

Go home and sit on the floor inside a dark closet. Listen to your recording. When you reach the part about the object you had carefully scrutinized, do not focus on what you narrated but on why you aimed your attention at the object in the first place. Take notes for a poem.

*

Get a clear drinking glass, a pitcher of water, and a black Magic Marker.

Make a black line on the middle of the drinking glass.

Place your face near the glass on the table. Pour water while carefully listening and watching it hit the mark; do this 3 times.

Pour the water a fourth time with eyes closed, letting your ears remember the mark. You have successfully braided your eyes and ears.

Now sit back, close your eyes, and listen to the most immediate sounds in the building. Let the layers reveal themselves, shifting to what you hear further away, then further.

When you feel you have heard everything, wait. Sit there a little longer, listening for the faintest of traffic in the sky or a faraway rumble. Take notes for a poem.

This poem comes from an entire issue devoted to Attention!

june 22/RUN

5.35 miles
franklin hill
71 degrees
8:30 am

A little cooler today. I opened the windows and let in some fresh air before I went out for my run. Ran north on the river road trail. Was thinking about taking the Franklin loop, but then I saw a roller skier at the top of the hill and decided to go to the bottom of the hill and back up it again. I was imagining that I’d meet the roller skier again on the hill somewhere. Halfway down I realized they weren’t coming. I was a little disappointed because I never got to hear the clicking and the clacking of their poles. Oh well, they got me to run down this hill, closer to the river, so it worked out. When I reached the bottom of the hill, I decided to turn around and walk back up it. Then I pulled out my phone and made note of something I just heard: the voice of a male coxswain! Rowers! A few miles earlier, I had heard the female coxswain instructing some rowers. 2 groups of rowers and a roller skier. So many of my favorite things to encounter!

a new experiment

Speaking into my phone at the bottom of the hill gave me an idea for an experiment that I might want to try again. Run to the bottom of the hill. Turn around and as you walk back up it, pay attention. What do you notice? How many different sounds can you hear? What do you see? Speak some of your observations into your phone. Here’s my recording for today:

june 22nd

transcript, a series of recordings:

one: June 22nd again. Walking up from the bottom of the franklin hill. First interruption was the coxswain’s voice, a female voice, giving instructions, first calmly, and then more enthusiastically, trying to pump them up for a hard effort. And then, later, running down the franklin hill, getting to the I-94 bridge, underneath it, hearing another coxswain, this time a male voice, talking to rowers. I could hear the smooth, soft entering of the oars. Nothing awkward or clunky about this one, but it might have been that I was too far away, and there were too many noises. [this is a reference to a description from a few weeks ago of the awkward sound oars breaking the surface of the water.]

two: 2 sounds mixing together. First, the soft rustling of the wind through the trees, almost a shimmering. And then a bike passing and the whirr of the wheel, sounding just like the wind.

three: Listening to the wind some more, it sounds somewhat like a waterfall or water trickling down gently, or a soft shower.

four: I can hear the grit under my shoes as I walk, especially under the Franklin Bridge where it’s amplified. Also, rustling off to the side in the bushes — a squirrel or a bird or a chipmunk or something else? [the rhythmic footsteps of a runner passing] A runner passing me. I like watching their feet rhythmically moving. It’s mesmerizing to watch, especially when it’s a good steady runner like this one. Just the bottom of their feet, their shoes are black, and to me, as they get farther away it just looks like a black ball, a circle, that’s bouncing from side to side. Maybe with my fuzzy vision I can’t even tell that there’s a shoe or a leg connected to it. It just looks like a black ball bouncing back and forth, steady, which is quite impressive because they’re running up a decent hill.

five: [the sound of chirping birds]

After I almost reached the top of the hill, I put in my headphones and listened to a shuffle of Taylor Swift’s Lover. First up: “ME!”. This song helped me lock into a fast, steady cadence. I ran faster for most of the way back — stopping for a few quick breaks. I remember waving to Mr. Morning! and passing a few runners. Oh — and I heard the female coxswain’s voice again. I pulled out a headphone and listened for a few seconds.

fill in the blank

About a mile and a half into my run, I overheard one woman walker say to another: “I mean, I wasn’t arrogant or anything, I just said ______.” I was past them before I could hear what she said. What did she say? I’ll never know, but I can imagine. This reminds me of a poem I wrote last fall:

vii.

Eavesdrop
on the words
scattered
by wind and
careless
voices. Not
concerned
with manners,
no need
to be nice.
Feel the
disconnect
between
you, the path,
other
people. Free,
off the
hook, unseen,
able
to listen
in, to
overhear
and not
be judged, to
invent
dialogue,
give it
another
ending,
turn it all
into
a better
story.

june 21/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

run: 2.25 miles
river road trail, north/south
73 degrees
humidity: 87% / dew point: 73!
7:45 am

I ran north on the river road to the top of the hill just past the lake street bridge. Stopped for a minute, then turned around and headed back. Sunny, but with lots of shade. Forgot to look at the river.

73 for the dew point? That’s bad, or “extremely uncomfortable,” according to Runner’s World. Yes, it was. Do I remember anything other than being uncomfortably warm?

10 Things I Noticed

  1. rower’s voices from down below!
  2. 3 stones stacked on the boulder
  3. a man fully covered in black sweatpants and a black jacket, with a white towel around his neck. Aren’t you hot, I thought as I passed him
  4. dark in the tunnel of trees, difficult to see if other people were there
  5. the pedestrian part of the double-bridge between 33rd and 32nd streets is overgrown with vines and bushes and leaves. Makes it harder to see if someone’s coming the other way, and narrower, making it harder to pass. Thankfully, no collisions today
  6. the small stretch of dirt trail that I take as the path nears the lake street bridge is wet — I think there was a brief, strong storm last night, or was that a dream?
  7. a group of 3 fast bikers riding on the road, a cautious car following behind
  8. a darting squirrel
  9. a flash of movement of the leaves beside the trail – was the flash from the sun hitting the leaves just right, or a critter — a bird or chipmunk or squirrel?
  10. later in my run, encountered Mr. black sweatsuit with white towel again. He said a soft, “morning,” and I nodded my head as a reply

Wow. Finding 10 things today took some thinking and remembering and getting past my overriding feelings of heat and discomfort. Such a great exercise in noticing!

Oh — I almost completely forgot: I also chanted in triple berries. Lots of strawberry/blueberry/raspberry and gooseberry/blackberry/red berry to keep my feet striking steadily. Added in a few mystery/history/mystery, which didn’t quite work, and butterscotch/chocolate sauce/caramel, and please don’t stop. Now I wish I had done more of them. I love the triple berry chants.

At the end of my walk, I listened to my first lecture for the class I’m teaching. I’m asking the students to listen to it on their first walk or run outside. I’m doing this partly because I’d like to make outside be the classroom space as much as possible, and partly because I think listening while moving can help you hear/process the words differently than when you’re inside, sitting still. One thought about the lecture: will my voice put them to sleep?

Mostly I don’t use headphones, but I do like to listen to podcasts or music sometimes. It’s strange how ideas or stories I’ve heard while running get imprinted on where I was on the trail. Even now, years later, as I run below the lake street bridge, I often think of the first season of Serial. Running from downtown to the Bohemian Flats, I think about an episode of “On Being” with Eula Biss. Listening to music or podcasts while moving might seem like a distraction from giving attention to a place, and it can be. But it can also be a chance to create a map of a place, connecting ideas that matter to you with locations that you move through regularly. Does that make sense?

Many people have strong opinions about whether or not you should be listening to anything while you’re moving. Although I do move much more without headphones, I like wearing them too. In my first year of doing this running project, I wrote a series of four acrostic poems exploring this no headphones/playlist debate: Playlist/No Headphones, some reflections

note: I’m typing this paragraph an hour later. When I was writing about headphones and listening, I thought there was something else I wanted to say, but it had drifted from my mind. It came back, in the midst of thinking about podcasts.

When I listen to podcasts, I always wear headphones, not broadcasting them to anyone else on the trail. For the most part, I prefer that others listen with headphones too. Yet, even as I write this, I’m reminded of how hearing someone’s irritating TEDtalk inspired a poem, and how I find some delight in hearing a song blasting from a bike speaker, especially if it’s accompanied by the Doppler effect.

Found this Ann Carson poem on twitter this morning:

Could I/ Ann Carson

If you are not the free person you want to be, you must find a place to tell the truth about that. To tell how things go for you. Candor is like a skein being produced inside the belly day after day, it has to get itself woven out somewhere. You could whisper down a well. You could write a letter and keep it in a drawer. You could inscribe a curse on a ribbon of lead and bury it in the ground to be unread for thousands of years. The point is not to find a reader, the point is the telling itself. Consider a person standing alone in a room. The house is silent. She is looking down at a piece of paper. Nothing else exists. All her veins go down into this paper. She takes her pen and writes on it some marks no one else will ever see, she bestows on it a kind of surplus, she tops it off with a gesture as private and accurate as her own name.

(added this later in the day):

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
87 degrees
4:30 pm (there) / 6:00 (back)

Biked without any problems. 2 distinctive memories, one of the way to the lake, one on the way back.

to the lake: Coasting down the hill between the double bridge and Locks and Dam No. 1, in the hot sun, I passed someone pushing a canoe on wheels. It looked awkward and like they were struggling. I tried to imagine the scenario where you would be pushing a canoe at this spot.

from the lake: Biking under the echo bridge, I heard 2 flutes playing a duet under the bridge, on the other side. It sounded very nice. I imagined calling out, “that sounds great” or “you’re awesome” but I didn’t.

This is the first time I’ve witnessed a canoe being pushed on the paved path or 2 flutes playing a duet under a bridge.

swim: 2 loops
87 degrees
windy

So much wind again. I’m getting used to it. I stayed on course. There was one point where I oriented myself in relation to another swimmer who was off course, so I got a little too close to the buoy, but otherwise, no problem. Again, I seem to swim straight towards the buoys even when I don’t see them, or think I see them. My googles leaked a little, and when I got out of the water there was a film over my eyes. Everything looked like it was fogged up, even thought I wasn’t wearing glasses.

One memorable thing: Rounding the last green buoy, parallel to the big beach, I suddenly hit something hard with my hand. Huh? A green plastic bucket. As I flinched and lifted my head out of the water in surprise, I heard a woman laugh. Was she laughing at me? I doubt it. How did the bucket make it out this far?

I breathed every 5 strokes and had fun punching the water when it was extra choppy. Noticed a few planes and clouds above. An occasional flash below, and nothing else but brown, opaque water. Oh — a menancing sailboat, off to my left side. The first one this year!

addendum, june 22: I remembered 2 more memorable things that I don’t want to forget. One while I was swimming, the other while biking.

swimming: I kept seeing another swimmer out of the corner of my eye, but when I looked back again, they were gone. It was strange, because it happened more than once and felt very real, like they were there, and then they weren’t. Maybe it was the yellow buoy tethered to my waist?

biking: Biking back home on the river road trail, I passed a runner, running smoothly and quickly, snapping their fingers repeatedly. Why where they snapping? Not sure. In all the times I’ve passed a runner while biking (or while running), I don’t think I’ve ever heard them snapping!

june 18/RUN

3.2 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees
9:30 am

I need to start getting up earlier for these runs. It’s too hot by 9:30. Sunny and windy. Lots of shade, which is one reason to love the green, even if it does block my view of the river. Did one of my most regular routes: the trestle turn around. Saw and greeted Mr. Morning!, then later, on my walk with Delia the dog, Dave the Daily Walker. I remember thinking about something, and wanting to remember it — 2 things actually — but now I can’t remember them. I almost stopped to record them into my phone, but I didn’t. Maybe if I keep typing, I’ll remember them?

10 Things I Noticed

  1. above the tunnel of trees: light green, dark green, green air. Felt like I was flying above the trees
  2. before the tunnel: 3 stones stacked on the ancient boulder. I wonder, are they same stones every time — they fall off and someone picks them up and stacks them again?
  3. 2 runners with a running stroller, a kid in it crying, one of the adults saying, “we’ll be home soon”
  4. voices drifting up from the Winchell Trail right by the railroad trestle
  5. the smell of pot by the ravine
  6. a few others bits of conversation — I think I was able to hear a word or two, but I can’t remember the words now
  7. starting out my run in the neighborhood, hearing some talking, not able to identify any words. I knew they were words, but no idea what the words were. I was reminded of these lines from a Jane Hirshfield poem I encountered a few weeks ago: “An almost readable language./ Like the radio heard while traveling in a foreign country—/You know that something important has happened, but not what.”
  8. the whooshing of car wheels mixing with the wind
  9. yes! I just remembered one thing I’d forgotten! a car blasting “Renegade” by Styx as I neared the double bridge just north of the old stone steps and longfellow flats
  10. surfaces: west dirt, dry dusty dirt, concrete, asphalt, grass

Back to “Renegade.” I started singing along in my head after the car passed:

The jig is up
the news is out
they finally found me

A renegade
who had it made
in ???? county

I couldn’t remember the last line, no matter how hard I tried, I decided I would look it up when I got back from my run. Here’s what I found:

The jig is up, the news is out
They’ve finally found me
The renegade who had it made
Retrieved for a bounty
Nevermore to go astray
This will be the end today of the wanted man

Wow, not sure I ever knew exactly what Dennis DeYoung sang there. Retrieved for a bounty? Nice.

Found these little poems from Charles Simic in a recent New Yorker:

A Tree of Dignified Appearance/ Charles Simic

Fed up with its noisy leaves
And its chirping little birds,
Plus that young woodpecker
Drilling himself a new home.

For Rent/ Charles Simic

A large clean room
With plenty of sunlight
And one cockroach
To tell your troubles to.

june 16/RUNSWIM

4 miles
marshall loop
74 degrees
wind: 20 mph / gusts: 26 mph
9:30 am

Sunny, warm, windy! Very windy. Luckily, I never seemed to be running straight into it. My visor stayed on, even when I crossed the bridge! I used to really dislike the wind, now it doesn’t bother me that much when I’m running. I like the sounds it makes. Today it russshhhed through the gorge, shaking the trees. I was going to write that it roared, but it had more of a shshshsh sound than an oar sound. No rowers on the river (I don’t blame them in this wind). No roller skiers or geese or blue jays.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. river, 1: white sparkles on the surface
  2. river, 2: more brown than blue
  3. river, 3: empty
  4. the crane on the east side is still there. I wondered where they were working. Later, as I reached the turnoff from cretin to the east river road I saw a “road work ahead” sign and thought that the crane might be near summit avenue
  5. the wind was at my back as I crossed over the bridge to the east side of the river
  6. smell: bacon, or pork of some kind, coming from the BBQ place next to Blacks
  7. was able to run mostly in the shade, some full, some dappled
  8. everything is green
  9. a man sitting in the back of a truck, waiting to begin work on the road or the sidewalk or something that they have blocked off at this intersection
  10. people over at the St. Thomas track, running laps

2.5 miles in, I stopped to walk up the steps to the lake street bridge and record a few thoughts I was having about my class and this running/writing project. The recording is not very good, too much wind and traffic, so I’ll only include the transcript of part of it:

In the middle of a windy run, and I was thinking that this project is so many things at once. It’s a compex mess of layers of things I’m trying to achieve, things I’m experimenting with, and the fundamental thing that keeps it all together is to have this little structure, this little bit of discipline: I go out and move for roughly the same amount of time and then I write about it. And in the log I have just a little bit of structure so that it gives, maybe not an anchor but, a tether to the world and to some purpose and intent.

I had a few more thoughts but I’m not including them here. When I spoke them into my phone, they sounded great, but listening back, they don’t quite make sense.

swim: 2 loops / 1.5 miles
lake nokomis
wind: 20 mph
5:30 pm

Windy again. Swimming from the big beach to the little beach wasn’t too bad, although a few of the swells behind me made it difficult to get in a stroke, or to breathe. From the little beach back to the big beach was harder. But, it didn’t bother me, in fact I loved it. The main thing I remember about the swim was how amazed I am in my ability to trust the flash that I see, maybe only once or twice, and that doesn’t look like anything but a smudge — to trust my belief that that flash is the buoy and that that is the right way to swim to stay on course. Even when I didn’t think I could see where the buoys were, I swam straight towards them and stayed on course. Wow. I love open swimming, and I’m so grateful that I can continue to do it. In other good news, my other nose plug stayed on while I swam, and I am not stuffed up at all. Hooray!

june 15/RUN

2 miles
dogwood coffee run
73 degrees
8:30 am

Ran with Scott. North on the river road to the trestle, then left and up to the greenwood trail, through Brackett Park, and over to Dogwood Coffee on lake street for an iced latte. Overcast. It was supposed to rain all day, but something shifted and it’s missing Minneapolis. Nice. Without the sun, everything was a deep, dark green. I remember noticing how green and mysterious and calm it was in the tunnel of trees. I think I heard some rowers down below, or maybe it was a few hikers? I don’t recall ever seeing the river, or much of what Scott and I talked about, other than complaining about some changes to apple pay that make it impossible to transfer money to our 16 year old. Heard some blue jays and thought, again, about how I used to think “crow” everytime I heard their screeching.

Sitting here, trying to remember things that happened, or that I thought about, on the run, I’m…not amazed or suprised…struck by how much I don’t remember, how lost I was for those minutes. I don’t mind getting lost. Sometimes I wish it would happen more.

Things I Don’t Remember

  1. the river
  2. if there were any stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  3. the welcoming oaks
  4. above the rowing club
  5. if anyone was sitting on a bench

Writing the list above, I suddenly remembered something, which might explain why I don’t remember noticing the welcoming oaks because I think it was near them that this happened: a chipmunk darted in front of both of us and we had to jump to avoid stepping on it. Dumb chipmunk! I’m glad that neither of us injured our feet or ankles or knees trying to avoid it. Of course, the chipmunk was fine. I recounted the story to Scott of when RJP and I had been biking to Fort Snelling and a chipmunk darted across the trail and ran right into my wheel. It was stunned or dead, I’m not sure which one.

Thinking about Simone Weil for my class this morning. I like this paraphrasing of her in a lithub article:

To attend means not to seek, but to wait; not to concentrate, but instead to dilate our minds. We do not gain insights, Weil claims, by going in search of them, but instead by waiting for them.

Thinking about being open, patient, willing to wait, letting go, trying to relax.

june 13/RUN

5K
2 trails variation*
73 degrees
humidity: 83% / dew point: 67
10:30 am

*variation = south on paved river road trail/turn around under ford bridge/north on paved trail until I reached the parking lot at 44th and the entrance to the Winchell Trail/up the 38th st steps/north on the river road paved trail/back into the neighborhood at 36th

A run between raindrops. Rain, earlier this morning. Rain expected this afternoon. Everything was green and wet and sticky. By the end of the run, my skin felt like one of those damp pads you use for moistening stamps. Yuck! The dew point didn’t bother too much while I was running because I stopped a few times to speak my thoughts into my phone. Not too many people out on the trails. Quiet, except for the birds, a few kids, an occasional jackhammer.

a noise as a clue

I’ve been thinking a lot about my senses and my brain and how they alert me to what’s around me in the world. Today’s small example: walking up the 38th steps, unable to see what was above me because of all the vegetation. I heard the flash of a distinctive sound: the jingling of a dog collar. The jingling sound was quick, quiet, easy to ignore, but somehow I noticed, and it prepared me for not being surprised when I encountered the dog and their human at the top of the steps.

a new experiment

Still working on my class. Today is about attention, especially passive attention. Before I headed out I listened to a recording of a draft of my lecture so far, then I ran. About 10 minutes in, I started having interesting thoughts about attention and my class and noticing in unexpected and/or passive ways. I decided to stop and record my thoughts. About 4 or 5 minutes later, I stopped again to record more thoughts. Here’s the recording and a transcript:

june 13th

Wow, I had no idea I said this much!

June 13th, a little over a mile and a half into a run in humid, muggy weather. Between raindrops, I’ve stopped to walk and record this. I’m working this morning on how to describe passive attention or soft attention or being available to seeing or attending to. I was thinking about how moving helps that and that it’s really hard to hold onto a thought. Concentration and will are a difficult thing to do, so it can help train you to do better, to be more effective, in that passive absorption. Because you don’t have a choice, you can’t really pay attention to things.

The other thing I was thinking about, just ’cause this is all jumbled, associated thoughts — I was thinking about how one of the problems with attention is the idea that we have a limited amount, and that we need to use it wisely. It’s a commodity that we spend and that we pay and therefore it’s a limited resource. But, if you think about attention differently, as not paying but giving, and you think about not holding onto or hoarding attention, but growing it or having it epand or letting go or letting it pass through you, it is no longer a commodity or limited resource. It’s something that we can expand and give in more ways than we are.

So, another thing I was thinking about was the connection between passive attention and peripheral sight and how you’re looking to the edges of what you can see. If you’re looking straight ahead, you’re thinking or noticing more what’s happening below you or above you or off to the side, even while you’re looking forward. And I was thinking about how one of the first things the opthalmologist said to me was I’d need to learn to see people by looking at their shoulders [note: to see them through my peripheral vision]. So how does that change what we see and what we can do with that sight?

I stopped recording and started running again.

Okay, I’m about 1/2 a mile, 3/4 of a mile further. I’m by the ravine where the water gushes, or does more than trickle. And that’s because..I think it’s by more houses, and also because it has rained an hour ago. Anyway, I wanted to stop so I wouldn’t forget this. So I was thinking, as I started the Winchell Trail, about how I’m talking a lot about moving and how it can help us tap into that passive attention or these different forms of giving attention, but I’m not talking about being outside, what outside does. I was thinking, if nothing else — and there’s much more — if offers more interruptions, potentially more interesting interruptions, to any focused concentration we might be having. There’s more to be distracted by, or be interrupted by, to listen to….Then I was thinking about how these interruptions and these different modes of paying attention and having all of them, also how it can be beneficial to our work to be outside moving. But it’s also good for our health, and it helps us with our lives, being able to pay attention in different ways. This is not multi-tasking in the way that it’s understood, where we’re expected to do more and more things all at once and be responsible. It’s not multi-tasking, it’s some other way, because we’re not holding onto this attention. I had a word for it when I was running and I’ve forgotten it already.

Okay, I just thought of one more thing: It’s the idea of what I’m doing right now where I’ve kind of in some ways spontaneously deciding I will run and walk then stop and talk and record these thoughts. In some ways, that’s experimenting and spontaneous, but it’s built off of all this training and showing up and building up that endurance and the ability to do that. It makes me think of how in running if you’re wanting to run longer distances, you need to have a base layer. You need to do slow, long, steady miles and build up your body so that it’s able to handle that. But that’s an important part of the process, is building up that base layer, and we can try to translate that into what’s happening with attention and these experiments.

It’s funny how some of what I was saying made much more sense when I was saying it then it does now that I’m listening and transcribing it. Regardless, recording these thoughts was helpful — and thinking about passive attention was too!

Spending time reviewing my thoughts, I’m remembering more. I remember running in a bit of a fog, partly because of the thick air, the gray sky, the deep green, and feeling present on the path, then being interrupted by a kid’s cry, or a bird’s chirp, or the rumble of a jackhammer. I’m also thinking about part of the long poem I wrote this past fall (Haunts) and my description of this space of passive attention:

v.

I go to
the gorge

to find the
soft space

between beats,
before

one foot strikes,
after

the other
lifts off.

When I float.
I slip

through time’s tight
ticks to

moments so
brief they’re

like shudders,
but so

generous
they might

fit every-
thing left

behind by
progress.

Here rhythms
suspend.

Held up by
motion,

the air I
pass through.

Now rhythms
loosen,

spread out, slow.
This space —

no dream, a
shift in

perspective,
where what

was edge is
centered

and what was
centered

fades away.