feb 25/RUN

3.3 miles
ford bridge turn around
40 degrees

(Not sure about my dictation project. I don’t like doing the dictation inside and I’m already home. Maybe I should try it when it’s warmer outside?)

Another cycle of melting in the afternoon, re-freezing at night, frozen in the morning, melting in the afternoon. This sort of ice, just barely frozen, is the slickest and most dangerous. So I waited to run until after noon, when it had melted–12:13, to be exact (according to my apple watch). Had the wind at my back heading south, giving me a nice push. Kept thinking about how the wind would be in my face when I turned around. And it was, which made it harder. Noticed several new dips and cracks and holes in the path near 38th street. All the freezing and melting and re-freezing is hard on the asphalt. There was a deep puddle on the double-bridge, right where it bottoms out. Luckily I could climb on some snow to avoid it. Encountered a few walkers on the path. Saw an adult and a kid sitting on a bench, surrounded by snow. Heard, and briefly saw (I think) a runner below me on the Winchell trail. Noticed the river, open and flowing. The path right by the Ford bridge was terrible, almost completely covered in a thin, slick sheet of ice. When I turned around, I put in some headphones and listened to a new playlist. Heard, “Eye of the Tiger,” “Bad Guy,” “Juice,” “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Anything else I remember? I don’t remember hearing water gushing out of the sewer or kids at the school playground or music coming from a car or people talking loudly or geese honking or dogs barking. And I don’t remember having any deep thoughts or revelations. Did I?

Oh my god, this poem!

I want to read this book, and had requested it from the library, but I was unable to pick it up in time. I should request it again. I’m very glad that Our Poetica did a video of the text revealing itself as Diana Khoi Nguyen read it. So powerful!

Here’s another poem I found and copied into my green notebook on May 1st, 2019:

A Skull/ Dana Levin

is like a house
          with a brain inside. Another place
where eating
          and thinking
                     tango and spar—

At night
           you lean out, releasing
thought balloons.
           On the roof
                      someone stands ready

                      with a pin—

I’d like to put this poem and the idea of the skull as a house beside the two other poems with houses that I posted on feb 22.

feb 23/RUN

3.1 miles
locks and dam #1 turn around
45 degrees
50% ice and puddle covered

note: no dictation today. Just as I started, Delia the dog ran in, barking and making lots of noise, which was fine because I wasn’t really feeling it anyway.

Today it was sunny and warm and sloppy and not as much fun. I do not regret going out for this run–well maybe my wet socks and shoes do!–but I would rank these conditions as some of the worst. Overcrowded paths, narrow strips of dry pavement in-between little lakes of cold, sometimes icy water. Very slick. Instead of feeling open and joyful and generous to everyone I encountered, I felt hostile and threatened–would they push me off into a puddle or a slick spot? I do not like feeling this way and I do not want to give too much space to my grumpy thoughts. So I won’t. Instead, here’s something very cool that I saw on my run today:

The river was still mostly white but at one spot, I think it was between 38th and 42nd somewhere, I noticed a path of open water winding across from the minneapolis to the st. paul side. It reminded me of a slithering snake. I love the strange patterns that open water makes when the ice cracks open. And I love the contrast between the frozen white and the darker water–black on cloudy days, brown on sunny ones.

Another thing I saw today that I liked: my shadow! She ran in front of me on my way back from the locks and dam.

I liked wearing less layers: only one pair of running tights, one neon yellow shirt, one vest.

I liked the squish squish squish my shoes made after I ran straight through the deep puddle on the double bridge.

I liked talking to the couple after my run who asked me how I could run on the ice. I’ve been asked this several times and I always say: “It’s easier to run on it then to walk on it. It’s when I stop running that I slip!”


Yesterday, I posted May Parton’s poem, The Work of Happiness. In her first stanza, she writes:

But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.

Here are a few things that her tree ring/circle made me think about:

1

Reflecting on how she always feels like she’s 11, even though she’s 64, Sandra Cisneros tells Krista Tippett:

You know how you look at a tree, and there are some rings that had a lot of rain, and it gets really bigger, and they shrink? Well, we can think about our own years and what defined us or what happened to us in those years.

2

In her poem, “Can You Imagine?”, Mary Oliver imagines a tree’s irritation with the slow, soundless, boring passing of time represented in the thickening of the rings:

Can You Imagine?/ Mary Oliver

For example, what the trees do
Not only in lightening storms
or in the watery dark of a summer night
or the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now–whenever
we’re not looking. Surely you can’t imagine
they just stand there, looking like they look
when we’re looking; surely you can’t imagine
they don’t dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade—surely you can’t imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind,
and then only in it’s own mood, comes
to visit, surely you can’t imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.

3

Did you know the modern science of tree-ring study is called dendrochronology? I didn’t, until I read this essay, Shared Dendrochronologies: Andrew Schelling on poetry, translation, & the aliveness of wor(l)ds.

4

And that the original dendrochronologist, William E. Douglass, created it to track how trees record climate change through their rings?

What a wonderful log entry this is! Through the process of writing it, I feel better–joyful and delighted with my run today.

feb 22/RUN

5 miles
franklin hill turn around
32 degrees
20% snow and ice covered

Recorded my self on the voice memo app today a few hours after my run.

Log, 2/22/20

Here is the transcript:

Today I ran 5 miles. It was sunny and above freezing. It felt warm and there were puddles and barely ice patches on the path. I saw my shadow in front of me as I was running towards Franklin. I ran down the Franklin hill and then turned around and ran up until I got to the bridge. Then I stopped and walked for a couple of minutes. I encountered a lot of runners. I was able to greet Dave the Daily Walker. He was in short sleeves and no coat–of course. I saw some fat tires and a vee of geese at some point. The sky was blue. I didn’t notice any clouds. Around the time I started, the river all looked white to me but by the time I got to the Franklin bridge it was brown and open. I heard some kids down by the ravine, probably playing in the ice cave. I slipped several times on the ice but didn’t fall. I heard some crunching. I saw some salt stains on the path. I didn’t think about much. I remember counting to four. I remember feeling strong and relaxed and thinking I wasn’t going that fast, which was good, I was trying to go slow. And I don’t remember that much else about the run. I sprinted up the final hill and it was hard. But I thought that if I sprinted up this hill and I could do this and keep going when it was hard, that when I’m in a race, when I’m getting to the very end, if I can keep going and even pick it up and know that I will survive. Did I think about anything else? I don’t remember smelling much. I think there were a lot of cars. There were groups of walkers, usually in pairs, and sometimes that was frustrating to try and navigate that. I didn’t hear a train. I didn’t do any triple berry chants. I think I heard a woodpecker and I think I saw a bird up in the sky but I’m not sure. I don’t remember looking down to my favorite part of the path, looking down to the floodplain forest. I think that’s all I remember. It was a good run.

It is definitely harder to speak than to write. It feels like my details are a bit boring and I’m having trouble remembering quickly as I try to speak without out umms or ands. Will this get better, or is this a bad approach to remembering the details of my run? I’ll try it a few more times before I decide.

One other think I forgot to mention in my recording was all the runners I encountered running the Franklin hill. At least 5 or 6 seemed to doing hill work–running up it until reaching the bridge, then turning around and running back down it again. I would like to try this sometime. Maybe a slow, easy run to the hill, then a few times running up and down it–a goal for spring.

The Work of Happiness/ May Sarton

I thought of happiness, how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.

So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours
And strikes its roots deep in the house alone:
The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
As the free air moves quietly about the room;
A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall—
These are the dear familiar gods of home,
And here the work of faith can best be done,
The growing tree is green and musical.

For what is happiness but growth in peace,
The timeless sense of time when furniture
Has stood a life’s span in a single place,
And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir
The shining leaves of present happiness?
No one has heard thought or listened to a mind,
But where people have lived in inwardness
The air is charged with blessing and does bless;
Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.

Something about the idea of inwardness and the stable, single place of the thinking/deepening self as a house reminded me of another poem (Ash/ Tracy K. Smith) I heard last year on a podcast. These are very different poems, but I’d like to put them beside each other and think about them for a while.

Ash/ Tracy K. Smith

Strange house we must keep and fill.

House that eats and pleads and kills.

House on legs. House on fire. House infested

With desire. Haunted house. Lonely house.

House of trick and suck and shrug.

Give-it-to-me house. I-need-you-baby house.

House whose rooms are pooled with blood.

House with hands. House of guilt. House

That other houses built. House of lies

And pride and bone. House afraid to be alone.

House like an engine that churns and stalls.

House with skin and hair for walls.

House the seasons singe and douse.

House that believes it is not a house.

I found the podcast with Smith’s poem–On Being with Krista Tippett–and read the transcript where Smith talks about the poem and how her understanding of it has been transformed by how others have read it:

I wrote that poem thinking about the body, thinking about what it means to be alive in this human form and how strange it is that it’s temporary, that we are not just the body, but something else. That’s the way I’ve read it the first many times that I read it, or, at least, what I heard myself saying. But there’s a lot of ambiguity in the poem, and so people have questions about it. Someone has told me it feels like a poem that, more than just being in the body, is about being a woman and that sense of vulnerability and also sheltering something. Then, because a lot of these poems in this book are thinking about nationhood and American history, I was really excited to hear it described as a poem that is about the country as a house, and taking us back even to Abraham Lincoln in the sense of “a house divided against itself.” I love that active readers can give you a good enough argument to re-hear and see what you’ve made yourself.

So many ways to think about the inner, inwardness, the self, the body.

feb 19/RUN

4.2 miles
trestle turn around plus extra
5° feels like 4 below
50% snow and ice covered

A only slightly edited transcript of my notes about the run, dictated into my notes app on my phone.

A lot of slippery spots. Very sunny this morning. It felt really cold. About a mile in greeted Dave the daily walker. Almost yelled out to him, “it’s cold today!” He is hard-core–no coat again but some gloves. Running right before I got to the trestle I heard a beep beep beep beep beep beep beep sound. I wondered if it was the train and then after I crossed under the trestle and was still heading towards downtown, I heard the rumbling of a train. It lasted a long time. I thought about turning around and running back so I could see the train but I decided against it because I wanted to keep going north. I listened to the rumble and I couldn’t quite tell if it was coming from Saint Paul over to Minneapolis or from Minneapolis over to Saint Paul. I experimented with chanting in threes when I turned around and headed south again. Uppercut/ bowling ball/ sweaty brow Then I started chanting in triple berries: raspberry/ blueberry/ red berry/ green berry pink berry/ orange berry/ blueberry/ raspberry/ gooseberry/ mulberry I chanted them over and over again to try and keep a steady rhythm. I saw a couple other runners, a few walkers. I thought I heard some kids yelling in the gorge but then I realized it was geese honking.

thoughts about dictating running notes

  • Not sure if I like the notes app for this. It was a bit awkward and I think (at least I hope) it added in some random words.
  • I write much better than I speak.
  • I need to stop feeling so self conscious doing this. I also need to be more deliberate and thoughtful in what I say.
  • I still have to add in periods and capitals, which is irritating.
  • This is a good exercise for me. I need to get used to doing something that someday might be necessary.

The Blink Reflex/ Rick Barot

I have this notion that if you live long enough,
there are three or four great stories that you will have in your life.

A story of a journey or a transformation.
A story of love, which will likely mean the loss of love, a story

of loss. And a story of spiritual illumination,
which, for many, will probably be the moment of death itself,

the story untellable, its beginning and middle
and end collapsing with its teller into a disappearing conclusion.

I have believed long enough in my notion
to know that it is a romantic notion, that it erodes each time

I realize that the shard and not the whole
comprises a life, the image and not the narrative. Otherwise,

there’s no reason why all I remember of the airplane
I took as a child from one country to another

is the moist towelette packet we were given with our meal,
the wonder and absurdity of it. Or that, in love,

high in a tree in the dark, and high, he and I sat in the rain-damp
branches and ate 7-Eleven donuts. Or this, this piece

of a story that isn’t even mine, that isn’t even a story
but a glance of an experience, of the friend who held the stray

dog after it was struck by a car. Not knowing whether the dog
was dead, my friend called a friend

who worked for a vet. Poke the dog in the eye, this friend said.
Because if the animal no longer has a blink reflex,

it probably means the animal is dead. Decades after
college, when you could do such a thing, I typed his name

into a search engine to find out what became of the 18-year-old
boy from the tree. Like dozens of old keys

in a drawer, so many of the wrong people with the right name.
The child dead from leukemia, with a school gym

named for him. The wrestler who had a perfectly square jaw,
like a cartoon police detective in a fedora.

When I arrived at a page that was certainly
about him, I no longer knew the face, but I recognized the life

that he had had. He had transferred to
another college, gone to film school, and become a producer

of TV documentaries. A film about fishermen, the harsh fishing
season in Alaska. A film about Abraham Lincoln

and a film about the last days of Adolf Hitler.
A film about the Sherpas who go up and down the Himalayas.

What a beautiful poem. I love the title and the way the stories/fragments are woven together and the sweet, soft rhyme of “and high, he and I” and the playing with the romantic notion that we each only have 3 or 4 great stories.

feb 17/RUN

4 miles
trestle turn around
33°
85% clear 15% ice covered

Note: Today, I’m trying something new. Usually I type up these log entries directly into wordpress. Today I tried dictating the entry into my notes app, then editing it slightly. It was difficult to speak my thoughts, partly because I felt self-conscious with other people in the house and partly because I find it easier to write my thoughts. But I need to learn how to do this because looking at a computer screen is getting more difficult and more tiring on my eyes. Maybe I’ll always be able to use the computer and see the letters, but I’d like to experiment with different ways to speak and write and think that don’t rely on vision. I was thinking of trying this dictation method for a month–maybe even trying to dictate the notes directly after my run, at the gorge.

This entry was slightly edited, with extra words and redundant phrases taken out.

The wind was coming from the south which meant that as I was running north it was at my back. Much easier running towards the trestle. I knew that it would be hard on the way back and it was. It was slightly sunny but not super sunny and at one point I saw my shadow. Not clear like it usually was; it looked more like a ghost, faint. I heard some kids down in the gorge. Probably by the ravine, maybe hiking around the exposed sewer pipe or the ice cave that is created in the winter by the seeps and the dripping water. Felt fast running north. I didn’t feel the wind at my back but knew that it was easier. Encountered a few runners, some walkers. One walker, an older white man, wore a fluorescent yellow vest. I saw him twice. I heard the grit under my feet. I don’t think I heard any geese but I did hear some crows cawing as I started. The river was partly frozen over but mostly open and it looked beautiful and still and desolate. The run back was difficult, the wind right in my face. I sprinted up the final hill and felt very tired and hot and sweaty. Overdressed. I chanted triplets. I started with Sycamore Cottonwood one lone Oak but that didn’t do it for me so then I chanted Gooseberry Mulberry raspberry raspberry mulberry goose berry raspberry blueberry blackberry raspberry blueberry blackberry and that helped me keep a steady pace.

lateral malleolus = all a sell out realm

On Saturday, I slightly rolled my ankle as I was moving down from the walking to the biking path. It is a little sore, but not painful. I am pretty sure it will be fine but I’ve been reading up on the ankle and foot to prepare myself. New fact/word: the bony knob on the outside of your ankle is called the medial malleolus. The knob on the inside is called the lateral malleolus. Tried turning lateral malleolus into an anagram. The first phrase that I could come up with that sort of made sense: All a sell out realm

feb 16/RUN

3.35 miles
river road, south/north
19 degrees/feels like 11
15% ice-covered

Ahhhhhh!! Winter running! Not too cold but cold enough to be able to breathe in fresh, cold, crisp air. A mostly clear path. Not too much wind. Not too many people. Everything quiet, still. Saw at least three people walking their dogs down on the Winchell trail. Encountered a fat tire biking alongside a runner. A few pairs of walkers. One or two other runners. Don’t remember hearing any birds cawing or chirping or honking. Not much traffic noise. Thought I heard some sloshing or dripping water at one point. Marveled at my new favorite view just past the oak savanna. One problem: I don’t remember there being so many bare trunks here between me and the river. Am I remembering the wrong spot? I love how the flat hill at the savanna–we call it the mesa–curves down to reveal the river.

triple berry chants

Did some triplet chants again: all berries. Without thinking, briefly chanted blueberry/ blackberry/ red berry. Then wondered why a raspberry is called a raspberry and not a red berry and why blueberries are called blueberries and not something else. Found a buzzfeed article that was a little helpful: The Delicious Origins of Summer Fruit Names

Here’s what is written about raspberries:

Like the strawberry, the raspberry isn’t a true berry in the biological sense of the word. And also like the word strawberry, we don’t know what its rasp- is about.

The word raspberry is found relatively late in English, attested in the early 1600s. An earlier form, raspis-berry, might give clues to its origins. In Middle English, raspise was a sweet, pink wine, possibly from the Anglo-Latin vinum raspeys. But this raspeys remains unexplained. Suggestions include the French rasper, “to scrape,” referring to the fruit’s rough appearance, and an Old Walloon word for “thicket.”

The listicle also mentions gooseberries and mulberries. And further down, it happens to mention the tree, sycamore. Another satisfying triplet. Maybe I’ll chant: gooseberry/raspberry/mulberry and then some trees: sycamore/cottonwood/? Need to think more about a third triplet tree.

to float, to haunt

At some point, thought about the article I read earlier this morning about the biomechanics of the run and the “double float” phase, which is when both feet are off of the ground. I usually think of this as flying but is also cool to think of it as a floating. What else floats: clouds, hot air balloons, ghosts, bodies in water, buoys, bubbles. I like the idea of being a ghost, floating and haunting the trail that I’ve traveled so many times in the last five years. Haunt is such a wonderfully rich word: to frequent, visit often; to continually seek the company of; to trouble; to reappear continually in; to visit or inhabit as a ghost; to stay around or persist, to linger; a place habitually frequented

feb 15/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/south
32 degrees
99% clear path

I forgot to save my log entry before clicking out of it and lost it. Bummer. Here’s the abbreviated version: Greeted Dave the Daily Walker on the run and he called out, “What a beautiful day!” Yes, it is. Warmer. Some sun. Clear path. Strong legs. A mostly frozen river. Wind in my face heading north, wind at my back returning south. Final sprint up the hill. Encountered dogs, walkers, runners, fat tires. Don’t remember any smells or sharp sounds. Felt very warm with a flushed cheeks and a sweaty forehead.

feb 12/RUN

3.2 miles
ford bridge turn around
32 degrees
10% snow-covered

A gray day. A little wind. Warmer weather. Decided to turn right at the river instead of left. Wanting to see my new favorite view: the spot at the edge of the oak savanna when the river is revealed. This view is not possible in the spring and summer, when the leaves are back on the trees. Today, I barely saw it because of the 3 or 4 walkers passing by right at the same time I was approaching it. Boo. The run felt hard on sore legs. Did my triplet chant again: raspberry/ blueberry/ blackberry. Passed a hiker climbing out of the gorge near 42nd street. Heard another one still down on the lower trail. Saw a dog or two. At least one other runner. No fat tires.

I have been thinking about erosion for the past few days as I’ve been wondering about openness and openings and the gorge and its many seeps and leaks and fissures and cracks. Yesterday I wrote in my notes: erosion creates more room/ wearing down faulty foundations/ carving out new spaces I’m trying to figure out what to do with the idea of erosion and its positive and negative connections with unlearning/ becoming undone. Scrolling through my twitter feed, I found out about Terry Tempest Williams’ new book, Erosion: Essays of Undoing. Yes! I must check this out.

While reading an interview with Williams, I encountered this quotation by David Orr from his commencement speech, “What is an Education For?“:

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful” people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.

feb 11/RUN

5 miles
stone arch bridge, one way
25 degrees
50% snow-covered

After noticing how pretty it looked in the (bohemian) flats yesterday afternoon, decided to run north on the river road to stone arch bridge today. Scott had a meeting downtown, so he could drive me home. One way runs are great. Yesterday afternoon the path looked clear and dry but it must have snowed a little last night because a lot of it was covered in soft, slippery, energy sapping snow. And, there was a blustery wind too. Still a great run. Still very glad to have done it.

Greeted Dave the Daily Walker as I ran up from under the lake street bridge. Admired the curved wall and fence on the Winchell Trail between the trestle and franklin bridge. Noticed the river flowing quickly. Not looking slush slow today. Reaching the bottom of the hill, running past Annie Young Meadow, I heard water gushing through the limestone cliff, close to where a mudslide had closed the road for almost 2 years. At the top of the hill near the turn off to Wilson Library at the U, the sun came out and so did my shadow. Hello friend! Then I noticed the river was no longer brown but blue. Not steel blue but blustery blue. Beautiful. Attempted to run up the steep hill with the I-35 bridge. Made it about halfway, then walked a few minutes. Ran again all the way to the stone arch bridge and watched the roaring, choppy, churning water of St. Anthony Falls.

Had some thoughts about my How to Be project and the ways running fits into it but cannot remember them now. Right before heading outside for the run, I thought about the importance of surrender. Paying attention by letting go. Not trying to control but to breathe.

Speaking of breathing, I just remembered something about my run. To regulate my pace and breathing, I chanted. Strawberry/ Blueberry/ Raspberry. Over and over again. One foot strike for every syllable. As I ran down the franklin hill I decided that blackberry fit better than strawberry and chanted that: Raspberry/ Blueberry/ Blackberry. I chanted this mostly in my head. A few times, I mouthed it and at least once, I whispered it. Very helpful in keeping me steady and in a dream-like state. Considered switching in other 3 syllable words but never did.

Triplet Words/Rhythms/Dactyl Meter

  • Beautiful
  • Terrible
  • Wonderful
  • Mystery
  • Decadent
  • Diffident
  • Dental Care
  • Vision Quest
  • Telephone
  • Underwear
  • Prototype
  • Punching bag
  • Summer time
  • Radical
  • Reticent
  • Waterfall
  • Avalanche
  • Certainly
  • Understood
  • Icy cold
  • Ignorant
  • Buttercream
  • Factual

Interesting note found in my research about dactyls: “Strawberry (as the word is pronounced in East Tennessee—elsewhere it’s two longs and a short).” So East Tennesseans say it the British way, I think. Speaking of East Tennessee, I was just listening to an episode of Dolly Parton’s America and learned that East Tennessee was originally a part of the Union during the Civil War. Maybe I knew that at one point, but I had forgot.

feb 10/RUN

5.5 miles
Annie Young Meadow and back
17 degrees/ feels like 7
99% snow-covered

It snowed 5 or 6 inches yesterday so that path was covered in mostly packed snow. A beautiful morning for a run. Bright sun. Not too much wind. Blue sky. White everywhere. Saw someone walking down near my favorite part of the path, just above the forest on the rim of the gorge. Heading towards the franklin bridge I took deep breaths of the cold, pure air and tried to stay open and relaxed. Heading down the hill, I marveled at the clouds high in the light blue sky. I’m not good at identifying clouds. Possibly cirrus because they were so feathery but also maybe cirrostratus because they were thin and covered the whole sky. Regardless of what you would call them, they were beautiful. Faint, barely white. It looked like someone had raked their fingers through fluff. The river was slush thick and moving. Cold. After climbing back up the hill, and stopping for a short walk break, I looked up and saw the beautiful wingspan of a big bird, circling high in the sky. An eagle? A hawk? A turkey vulture?

So this Jane Fonda Workout for beginners from the 1980s popped up on my youtube feed this morning. Wow.

So much bouncing. Thinking of trying to get my 13 year old daughter to try it out with me. If this is beginning level, I’m scared to see intermediate.

Speaking of Jane Fonda, she was featured in the most recent podcast of Dolly Parton’s America that I listened to: Dollitics. Wow, I am loving listening to these episodes.