august 19/RUNSWIM

3 miles
two trails +
59 degrees
humidity: 85%

Ran up above listening to another audio book, down below listening to a bird, my breathing and water gurgling out of the sewer–not gushing or rushing, falling? When I got to the leaning tree trunk and the 38th street steps I didn’t go up but stayed on the lower trail. No mud, only dirt, an occasional stone and wildflowers. Not too overgrown. Think I could see my breath as it hit the sunlight streaking through the trees–was this because of steamy humidity? Ran past the railing where the keys with social justice messages painted on them used to hang and up the gravel hill to the paved path, near the overlook, the welcoming oaks and the two old boulders. No stacked stones on the taller one. Saw the dark-haired woman I usually pass and the old lady in the straw hat. She wasn’t listening to any TED talks today.

From Blossoms
BY LI-YOUNG LEE

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

O, what a poem! I want to spend some time memorizing these lines so I can remember them when I need them. I want to carry within me an orchard and live from joy to joy to joy!

swim: 1 miles
cedar lake

A great evening for a swim. The water was choppy, which I liked. The sun was blinding, which I didn’t. Again, couldn’t see anything on the way back to the start except for an opening in the trees which I determined was where the beach was. So I swam straight towards it and was right. When I was done, I swam through the swimming area. Suddenly it got much darker below me–is it deeper? The attitude at the lake is more laid back than at Nokomis. Kayaks in the swimming area, a dog swimming out to greet the swimmers as they made their way to the first buoy, lifeguards sitting in camp chairs. Surprisingly, it didn’t bother me. Next year I will try to make it to more of these cedar lake swims. Almost forgot: too many scratchy, pesky vines floating in the water, getting tangled on my shoulders, in my fingers as they entered the water.

august 17/RUNBIKE

run: 2.6 miles
lake harriet

Ran around Lake Harriet with Scott while our son was having his first behind-the-wheel driver’s ed lesson. Crowded. Lots of dogs and walkers and runners and cracks in the paved path.

bike: 14 miles
hidden falls/crosby farm/river road

Biked to Hidden Falls in St. Paul. So cool! Walked by the river first. Watched a kayak leisurely paddling until a motorboat roared by. Saw the dogs at the dog park across the river. Got bit by at least 4 mosquitos. Finally found the trail to the falls. A beautiful, small waterfall, lined with rocks. We timed it right so we were alone. Reminded me of Emerald Pools in Zion–one of my favorite places. Walked up the stone steps–definitely a WPA project. Thought about my grandfather who lived in West St. Paul and worked for the WPA. Did he help stack these stones? 110 steps up–Scott counted. I wonder if any of the men making these steps thought about how long they would still be here and who might be walking over them in the future?

august 15/RUN

3 miles
two trails
63 degrees

A nice and easy run. Cooler. Not too much sun. Not that crowded. Didn’t see the little old lady shuffling by that I’ve been writing about but I did encounter a woman I’ve seen at least 2 or 3 times before who walks the opposite way I run. While I start by running south on the upper trail, north on the lower trail, she starts north on the upper trail and south on the lower. I get to greet her twice. Don’t remember much about the upper path run, but I remember noticing how bright and glowing the river was below me on the lower trail. Heard some roller ski poles clicking-clacking. A car horn aggressively honking–at least 5 or 6 times. Some bikers talking. The leaning tree trunk is still leaning near the 38th street steps. After taking them up and running north, I noticed 3 rocks stacked on the ancient boulder near the tunnel of trees.

On the Dirt Path Near Folwell Avenue Haibun
Sara Puotinen

Even if you try to time it just right when you climb the steep, short hill up to the dirt packed path, you cannot avoid the swarming swath of sex-crazed gnats or the little old lady slowly shuffling by, swinging her hiking poles, a voice TED-talking out of her phone’s speaker reminding you that this is why we are all here. Do not bother the bench resting on the rim of the gorge to ask what this is. If looking through the thickly thatched oak leaves to gather glimpses of the silvery river sparkling in the morning sun doesn’t already answer everything, the bench certainly won’t be able to help.

Bugs and old ladies
wake up early in June but
so does the river.

august 14/BIKERUN

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

A great ride early in the morning before it was too crowded. Thing I remember most: not once but twice some dumb squirrel darted out right in front of my bike, forcing me to use my brakes. I hate squirrels.

run: 2.7 miles
two trails

Such a beautiful morning! Not too hot or windy or humid. Decided to do a quick run even though I’d already biked to the lake and walked around it. Up above, encountered at least one roller skier, some bikers, a dog and their human, a few other runners. Down below, an unleashed dog running ahead of its owners, a few solitary walkers. Watched the river out of the corner of my eye. Avoided muddy, mucky leaves. Ran cautiously under the leaning, yarn-bombed tree trunk.

swim: 1 mile
cedar lake

Finally decided to try out open swim at Cedar Lake. I’ve never been because it’s a lot farther from my house. Really wonderful. Not too many people there, which was great. Smaller loops–not sure, but I think a loop was 400-500 yards? (instead of 1200 at Lake Nokomis). I liked mixing it up with smaller loops. Easier to not get off track even when you couldn’t see, which I couldn’t on the way back because of the sun. Why are so many of the beaches east/west, with one way always being in the sun? No big, crazy beach filled with too many people. Found out after I finished swimming that the rest of lake nokomis open swims will be at cedar. It’s very sad to be done for the season at nokomis without being able to say goodbye to the lake but I’m glad I can still swim–if I can make it over to Cedar. It’s about a 16-18 mile bike ride round trip. Breathed every five strokes. Felt strong and fast and free.

Lake Water
By David Ferry July 16, 2007/ The New Yorker


It is a summer afternoon in October.
I am sitting on a wooden bench, looking out
At the lake through a tall screen of evergreens,
Or rather, looking out across the plane of the lake,
Seeing the light shaking upon the water
As if it were a shimmering of heat.
Yesterday, when I sat here, it was the same,
The same displaced out-of-season effect.
Seen twice it seemed a truth was being told.
Some of the trees I can see across the lake
Have begun to change, but it is as if the air
Had entirely given itself over to summer,
With the intention of denying its own proper nature.
There is a breeze perfectly steady and persistent
Blowing in toward shore from the other side
Or from the world beyond the other side.
The mild sound of the little tapping waves
The breeze has caused—there’s something infantile
About it, a baby at the breast. The light
Is moving and not moving upon the water.
The breeze picks up slightly but still steadily,
The increase in the breeze becomes the mild
Dominant event, compelling with sweet oblivious
Authority alterations in light and shadow,
Alterations in the light of the sun on the water,
Which becomes at once denser and more quietly
Excited, like a concentration of emotions
That had been dispersed and scattered and now were not.
Then there’s the mitigation of the shadow of a cloud,
Phrases and even sentences are written,
But because of the breeze, and the turning of the year,
And the sense that this lake water, as it is being
Experienced on a particular day, comes from
Some source somewhere, beneath, within, itself,
Or from somewhere else, nearby, a spring, a brook,
Its pure origination somewhere else,
It is like an idea for a poem not yet written
And maybe never to be completed, because
The surface of the page is like lake water,
That takes back what is written on its surface,
And all my language about the lake and its
Emotions or its sweet obliviousness,
Or even its being like an origination,
Is all erased with the changing of the breeze
Or because of the heedless passing of a cloud. When, moments after she died, I looked into
Her face, it was as untelling as something natural,
A lake, say, the surface of it unreadable,
Its sources of meaning un”ndable anymore.
Her mouth was open as if she had something to say;
But maybe my saying so is a figure of speech.

I’d like to read this poem several more times. Wow, that ending!

august 11/RUN

1.3 miles
longfellow neighborhood

Still keeping my filling all 3 rings streak going. Now at 76 (or is it 77?) days. Went out for a quick run with Scott to earn the last 11 exercise minutes. I rarely ever run this late in the day (6:30 pm). It’s later in the summer so the light isn’t lingering as long in the evening. Soft, beautiful.

Encountered this poem in a book about line breaks, discussing the effect of breaking the line “they taste good to her” in 3 different ways.

To a Poor Old Woman
William Carlos Williams – 1883-1963

munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand

They taste good to her
They taste good
to her. They taste
good to her

You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand

Comforted
a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
They taste good to her

august 10/RUN

2.6 miles
two trails

A quick run before the rain starts. All day drizzle then showers. I like how the greens look–so dark and soothing and mysterious!–when it’s just starting to rain. Encountered a few runner’s groups and a peloton on the road. Heard the rowers–the coxswain calming giving instructions through the bullhorn. Also heard the trees shaking off the water from an earlier rain. Running through the dark green I wondered if I might meet up with a coyote or a fox. (I didn’t). Very humid, but cooler. Lots of liquid everywhere–in the air, up in the trees, dripping through the drain pipes, soaking my back and my neck and my head.

Speaking of liquid, I found this poem while searching on the poetry foundation’s site for “dark green”. Emily Hunt’s collection of poems is titled Dark Green.

Property
Emily Hunt

There are these flowers
with centers like liquid

hollows up close
and the outline

melts like a trick.
An illusion is usually

dark by the end.
An illusion is thin

curving for some
spark, along it to trace

a straight
shot to the rigged

bones of the plot,
to drink the quiet, like dirt.

august 8/RUN

2 miles
austin, mn
61 degrees

Did a quick run with Scott in his hometown. Felt humid but not too hot. Ran on the slanted city sidewalks. Lots of shade. Not too hard, but not too easy either. My left leg felt tight again at the end. Encountered one walker, no bikers, and one runner when we were almost back to the house. Not too many people out here on this beautiful morning.

Writing a Poem
by Shirley Geok-lin Lim

The air is buzzing. Some one near by
is operating a giant machine. He’s scrubbing
a just sold building with a high-
powered hose. None of us are listening,

although we are each hopeless before
the dizz-dizz-dizz. If it was a monstrous
radiated beetle, we couldn’t be more
helpless. It’s eating up the hours

as if they were the sweet nectar of day,
which they are. It is impossible
to think or write. Its buzz takes away
feelings, takes over ears, is drilling a hole

in a loose tooth as you sit in history’s
dental chair, frantic and still, the drill
hammering the gums until only
spit oozes, dribbles, spills over, fills

cavities you didn’t know you had,
only the drill lives in your head
only the dull sharp dizz-dizz-dizz.
This is how the poem ends, dizz-dizz….

This poem captures the annoyance and frustration I feel when I hear leaf blowers. So overwhelming and insistent in their buzzing! (And so pointless in their efforts to clear out every single speck of leaf or debris.) I despise leaf blowers.

swim: 1.4 miles
lake nokomis

3 1/2 little loops + a big loop. Loved how choppy it was today, like swimming into a wall of water. Again, couldn’t see the buoys at all on the way back. Still swam straight. Even though it was 77 degrees, the air felt cold. The buoys were weirdly off, with the one closest to the little beach too far to the right. Don’t remember seeing any fish or hearing any airplanes or being stalked by any sailboats.

august 6/RUNSWIM

run: 2.5 miles
two trails

Writing this a few days late, so I don’t remember much. Listened to my audio book up above, nothing down below. Was hoping to encounter the woman with the radio for another writing prompt. I did, but I passed her from behind and couldn’t hear anything. Bummer. Looked a little closer and saw that the yarn hanging off the leaning tree trunk is yellow and pink.

swim: 1.5 miles
lake nokomis

Swam a few little loops, then one big loop. A great swim. Absolutely couldn’t see the buoys until they were right next to me on the way back, but I could occasionally see a lifeguard on their kayak and the sparkling roof of the changing room building so I managed to stay on course the whole time. Felt strong and relaxed and happy to be swimming.

august 5/RUN

2.5 miles
two trails
72 degrees
humidity: 87%
dew point: 69

Last night my weather app told me there would be scattered thunderstorms this morning but when I woke up they had been pushed back to noon. Cloudy this morning and feeling like stepping into a sauna or the bathroom after someone has taken a too long hot shower. Listened to my audio book (another Agatha Christie) up above, everything else down below. Heard trickling and some rowers, car wheels whooshing and ski poles clickity-clacking up above. For the third time, encountered the little old lady walking with her hiking poles listening to a radio show or an audio book or something. Today I heard, “which reminds us of why we are all here.” Decided that I should create a poem or some piece of writing around this phrase. This phrase could be the title or the ending line of the whole poem or a sentence or a refrain. A week or so ago I posted a cliffhanger about the tree trunk leaning over the path near the 38th street steps. It’s still there and still continuing to lean lower. Someone has yarn-bombed it–yarn in colors I can’t remember are dangling down as decoration or warning. Will anyone ever take this trunk away?

Had a thought about my vision problems and their impact on how I see the gorge. My deteriorating vision has helped me to pay more attention to everything–to hear more, smell more, see more. It has also twisted/warped/made strange what I see which can make it more interesting or fantastical.

august 3/RUN

2 miles
to dogwood coffee
76 degrees

Hot and humid again. Ran with Scott north on the river road, west on the greenway, through Brackett Park, then to Dogwood Coffee. Felt fine. On the way, we talked about the trail and road surfaces. They put red gravel on the road just past the lake street bridge after patching it. Where did they quarry it, I wonder? Where do the materials for the asphalt trail come from? Are they local?

august 1/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

2.2 miles
two trails
69 degrees
dew point: 62

It’s hot again. Ran the two trails. Listened to an audio book (Agatha Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage) on the upper trail. Nothing on the lower–excerpt for an older woman’s radio (the same woman I passed last week). Instead of taking the steps up at 38th, I kept running on the dirt trail to the savana. Sometimes this trail is muddy, today it was not. I think I quickly glanced at the river only once or twice. Mostly, I don’t remember what I saw or heard. No interesting smells or sounds.

Let us for a moment call this pain by other words/Dominik Parisien

Ask, How many roses does the hammer weigh

when it bears down on your skull?

Does the sword seem toothed like a toddler’s smile

or sharp as your first ice skates?

On a scale of anglerfish to northern lights

how bright are the flashes in your head?

When I touch this, here, which constellations

light the sky behind your eyes?

Would you say that pulsing is the flicker of a satellite

or the stubborn heartbeat of a newborn chick?

Ask, Can we for a moment make of beauty

the measure of our pain? and I will answer.

This poem is so great. Immediately reminds me of Eula Biss’s The Pain Scale essay. I don’t think I have a favorite line, they’re all beautiful. Maybe, “which constellations light the sky behind your eyes?”

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

Great weather for a bike ride. Especially fun after the swim, on the way home, when it was almost twilight. The final stretch up the river road is always tricky at this time–so crowded. Bikers/runners/walkers spreading out over the path, disregarding the lines or the rules of which path to stay on. It makes it so much more dangerous for me. I’m fine biking in my lane, following the lines, but I can’t always see darting people or judge the amount of space I need to get around someone. Very frustrating.

swim: 1.5 miles
lake nokomis

Did a little loop before open swim started, then 2 big loops. Might have been able to do more, but my brain got tired of not being able to see much. Still, a great swim. The water felt nice–not too warm or cold–and the waves weren’t bad. For the first time, I ran into someone. Not hard, just a tap on their leg before I veered off. The buoys were too far off the main beach but in a straight line. Easy to follow. The sun was blinding heading back from the little beach. I wonder, does it get better or worse the longer you stay in the water? I can’t remember because I usually stop swimming by 6:30. Next time, I should stay until 7:30. Heard some clangs underwater, roaring planes in the sky. Several sailboats. Breathed every five strokes for the first loop. Second loop: every five to the little beach, every 6 to the right on the way back to the main beach. After I finished, met Scott at Sandcastle for a beer and watched a sailboat, with a brightly colored sail, slowly drift closer to us. What a great night! What a great lake!

july 30/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

run: 3 miles
trestle turn around
59! degrees

Ran much earlier this morning–at 6:45. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to be out so early. I love summer mornings. I’d like to try and get up early more often in August. Ran without headphones. Made sure I noticed the river, slivers of sparkle in the sun. Difficult to see through all of the trees. Running past the Welcoming Oaks noticed a new stump, almost level with the ground. Oh no! Which one of my friends has been chopped down? I fear it might be my favorite: the tree that leans, arching its back, almost as if to say, “Heyyyyyyy” or “Watch out!” I hope not. I’ll have to go back and take a closer look. A motorcycle rumbled by, blasting the news on their radio. Saw other runners, walkers, roller skiers, bikers and 3 in-sync rollerbladers. Noticed in the tunnel of trees that, in addition to the clearing I’ve been writing about, there’s another one, created by the stone wall that Delia the dog likes to jump up on. Could really smell the sewer this morning, especially above the rowing club. Yuck! Heard some birds. Whooshing cars. Ran the 3 miles straight without stopping, even though my left leg felt tight. Wish it wasn’t so difficult.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

Mostly, biking isn’t too bad, except for when someone is going really slow and I need to pass them. It’s so hard to pass with my vision. I can’t trust that I’m actually seeing if a bike is coming. Today I didn’t see the bike coming, tried to pass, and almost got in the way of another biker. He was so mean about it, his yell still echoing in my head. At first, I was devastated, feeling so bad about my vision and my mistake. But then I remembered how many bikers I had encountered who did the same thing I did and I didn’t scream at them. My conclusion: this guy was a big asshole.

swim: 1.2 miles
lake nokomis

Made it to the lake early and did three little loops. They were late setting up the buoys so it was a wetsuit rebellion. People just started swimming, not waiting for the lifeguards to announce the start. I joined them and did only one loop. So many swimmers! So many swimmers unable to swim straight, almost routing me! But who cares? The water was wonderful. Warmish and calm. Clear. Smooth. I felt strong and powerful and relaxed. Did a lot of breathing every 5 and sometimes 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right. There is something special about swimming loops outside at a lake. One of my top 5 all-time favorite things to do.

MORNING SWIM
(from Where I Live – New & Selected Poems 1990-2010, W.W. Norton, 2010)

Into my empty head there come
a cotton beach, a dock wherefrom

I set out, oily and nude
through mist, in chilly solitude.

There was no line, no roof or floor
to tell the water from the air.

Night fog thick as terry cloth
closed me in its fuzzy growth.

I hung my bathrobe on two pegs.
I took the lake between my legs.

Invaded and invader, I
went overhand on that flat sky.

Fish twitched beneath me, quick and tame.
In their green zone they sang my name

and in the rhythm of the swim
I hummed a two-four- time slow hymn.

I hummed “Abide With Me.” The beat
rose in the fine thrash of my feet,

rose in the bubbles I put out
slantwise, trailing through my mouth.

My bones drank water; water fell
through all my doors. I was the well

that fed the lake that met my sea
in which I sang “Abide With Me.”

Love the line in this poem about there being no line or roof or floor to tell the water from the air. And the fish! I almost forgot about the tiny little minnows I saw at the big beach. Swimming in the shallow water. Pretty cool.

july 27/RUN

3.1 miles
two trails
80 degrees
dew point: 61

Another hot one. Listened to my audio book as I ran, partly because I’m enjoying it and partly because I need to finish it so I can move onto the next one. It’s hard to keep up with books these days. Audio books are great but I can’t skim them like I could a regular book. And regular books make me tired so quickly. Lots of traffic out on the upper trail: bikers, walkers, other runners, strollers, dogs. Was happy to turn at the 44th street parking lot and run back on the lower path. So much cooler and quieter and calmer! Turned off my audio book. Glanced down at the river, through the trees, a few times. Think I heard–but didn’t see–some rowers. Encountered a few walkers but no other runners. Startled a squirrel–at least I think it was a squirrel. Marveled at the green and the occasional breeze.

Summer Breeze/Seals and Croft

See the curtains hangin’ in the window
In the evening on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin’ through the window
Lets me know everything’s all right

[Chorus]
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ though the jasmine in my mind

[Verse 2]
See the paper layin’ on the sidewalk
A little music from the house next door
So I walk on up to the doorstep
Through the screen and across the floor

[Chorus]
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ though the jasmine in my mind

[Bridge]
Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day’s work
And you’re waiting there
Not a care in the world

[Verse 3]
See the smile awaitin’ in the kitchen
Through cookin’ and the plates for two
Feel the arms that reach out to hold me
In the evening when the day is through

[Chorus]
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ though the jasmine in my mind

july 23/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

3.1 miles
two trails
66 degrees

Cooler this morning. Listened to a playlist running above, some rowers running below. Noticed that the dirt path at the beginning of the lower trail is more old asphalt than I realized. How long ago did they stop paving this trail? Could see the river sparkling serenely beneath me. Heard the rowers. Encountered some walkers who had no idea I was there. When I called out, “excuse me,” one of them dramatically flinched. Never know how to handle these situations. Sometimes I find it funny, their frantic gestures. Other times, it’s annoying that they’re blocking the whole path and I can’t get past them without startling them. Encountered another walker, an older woman with hiking poles, listening loudly to a speech. The women speaking was calling out, “we’re not the problem, we’re the solution!” What is she referring to? Who is the we? What is the problem and what is the solution?

Cliffhanger update: the leaning tree trunk near the 38th street steps seems to be leaning more. I almost had to duck as I ran under it. Is it lower, or am I just forgetting how lean-y it already was? Will it lean even more or fall or be removed soon?

Ended my run right past the small clearing in the tunnel of trees. I’m stuck in my writing about it. Is it because it’s more magical in the early spring before the trees have filled in? When I look at it now, it’s still a clearing but it doesn’t make me feel dizzy or like I’m floating as I run past it. Maybe I should look at earlier entries about it?

A Kind of Meadow
BY CARL PHILLIPS

—shored
by trees at its far ending,
as is the way in moral tales:

whether trees as trees actually,
for their shadow and what
inside of it

hides, threatens, calls to;
or as ever-wavering conscience,
cloaked now, and called Chorus;

or, between these, whatever
falls upon the rippling and measurable,
but none to measure it, thin

fabric of this stands for.
A kind of meadow, and then
trees—many, assembled, a wood

therefore. Through the wood
the worn
path, emblematic of Much

Trespass: Halt. Who goes there?
A kind of meadow, where it ends
begin trees, from whose twinning

of late light and the already underway
darkness you were expecting perhaps
the stag to step forward, to make

of its twelve-pointed antlers
the branching foreground to a backdrop
all branches;

or you wanted the usual
bird to break cover at that angle
at which wings catch entirely

what light’s left,
so that for once the bird isn’t miracle
at all, but the simplicity of patience

and a good hand assembling: first
the thin bones, now in careful
rows the feathers, like fretwork,

now the brush, for the laying-on
of sheen…. As is always the way,
you tell yourself, in

poems—Yes, always,
until you have gone there,
and gone there, “into the

field,” vowing Only until
there’s nothing more
I want—thinking it, wrongly,

a thing attainable, any real end
to wanting, and that it is close, and that
it is likely, how will you not

this time catch hold of it: flashing,
flesh at once

lit and lightless, a way
out, the one dappled way, back—

I like how this poem demands many readings, some of them out loud, for me to begin to understand it. I have not yet read it enough. So far, here’s what I’m drawn to: trees and moral tales; trees as hiding/threatening/calling to; trees as Chorus; the double-meaning of stands (represents + a group of trees); the worn path as emblem; trees whose twinning of late light and the already underway darkness.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 1.5 miles
lake nokomis

Today’s open swim was so crowded! Hundreds of swimmers. Too hard to see them all in the sun. So I only swam 2 loops and an extra mini loop off the big beach. The water was choppy but I didn’t care. Couldn’t see much but I kept swimming. I felt strong for most of the swim until suddenly my right shoulder hurt. Now, a few hours later, I am very tired. Swimming in the lake is the best. What joy to still be able to see enough to swim and bike!

july 18/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

2.5 miles
two trails
77 degrees
dew point: 70

Hot! Thick air. Sluggish legs. Listened to an Agatha Christie audiobook on the upper trail, the gorge on the lower trail. Also heard some kids up above somewhere. The lower trail was a little muddy from the recent rain, especially the mulch-y leaves. Writing this a day later so I don’t remember much. Ran for two miles before stopping to take a quick walk break up the stairs. Pretty soon I’ll have all the ups and downs and turns of this short trail memorized.

Cliffhanger: a fallen tree leans across the path, near the steps up to 38th street, held up by the trunk of another tree. Will it fall soon and hit someone walking under? Will the parks department remove it? Will it stay here all summer?

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

On the way to the lake muttered “jerk” under my breath at one idiot driver. On the way back muttered to another clueless driver, “ass.” Aside from that, was hot and happy to be able to see well enough to bike. At one point I wondered, has my brain just memorized the path? I’ve biked it 100s of times and have carefully noticed all the curves and curbs and craters. At the last scan of my central vision, it was almost gone. How can I see anything? Brains are fascinating.

Cliffhanger: There’s a short stretch of trail, right before and after 28th, that’s “officially” closed for construction. Even though signs are blocking the trail, you can still get by them and the trail/road are still bike-able. When will they start construction? How many more times can I bike on this part of the trail? Will it take the rest of the summer? What path/trail/road/sidewalk will I bike on instead?

swim: 2 miles
lake nokomis

Another wonderful open swim. The water was too warm, almost like bath water. At times it felt heavy and slow, like swimming in place or through simple syrup. Other times, it felt fast and smooth. I stayed on course the whole time. Swimming to the little beach, I could see the buoys enough to know I was swimming straight. On the way back, I could only see them when they were right next to me. Instead of sighting with buoys, I used the kayaks to line up the path. The third time I was swimming back, my goggles fogged up and I really couldn’t see anything. I didn’t panic but I still don’t like swimming without being able to see something–the roof of the building, the light pole, other swimmers, buoys. Glad I only swam 3 loops. After biking home, I was exhausted!

Achingly Beautiful How the Sky Blooms Umber at the End of the Day, Through the Canopy
Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Summers spent practicing in the apartment
stairwell: hand on the bannister, one foot after
another. Did I ever tell you I couldn’t walk

until I was three and then sort of dragged
myself up and downstairs until I was seven
or eight? That burgundy carpet.

I’d stop to breathe and look out the window,
over brick tenements, toward the Capitol
building. Oak leaves so full of late summer

sun even I thought, “Obscene” and stood stunned
for a moment. My God. The urge to rest like the birds
on the phone wires, chatting like barristers

at the end of the day. Myself the useless
Ambassador from the third floor. I was the last one
up so the door was left open. I can still see it gaping

from two stories down. Sometimes music played.
Sometimes I’d smell supper. Neighbors stopped
to say hello. Achingly beautiful how the sky

looked as I stood after they left. Nicer somehow
in the middle. All the trees tucking blackbirds
into their darkness. It really did take this long.

What a beautiful poem! I love the oak leaves so full of summer that they were obscene–so true!–and birds chatting like barristers and blackbirds being tucked into the darkness by trees.

july 15/RUN

2.85 miles
two trails
79 degrees
humidity: 81%
dew point: 71!

I think 71 is one of the highest dew points I’ve ever run in. It felt hot, but it was cloudy, so that helped. It also helped that I ran less than 3 miles and that I ran the second half on the lower trail. I’m really beginning to enjoy this trail. I wish it was longer–only a mile and a half. When it’s not so warm I should try running the dirt trail down by the falls. As I’m writing this entry, a few hours after my run, I’m thinking about surfaces.

surfaces

sidewalk: smooth and cracked, partly covered with dead leaves, weeds, berries, containing seams between slabs, sloping down to the street

street: rough, hard, uneven, freckled with manhole covers

grass: soft, thick, concealing uneven ground

paved path: asphalt, mostly smooth and wide, separated from the road and the bike path, hiding a big dip between the 36th street parking lot and 38th street, hard to see until you remember it’s there

stone steps: awkwardly spaced, avoided if possible

dirt: soft, packed, soothing, slippery oozing squishy after rain, riddled with rubble, pockmarked with past pavement–abandoned, recycled by the gorge, angled leaning to the right, dropping off steeply

more paved path: half rotting leaves, hardly ever flat, up up up then down down up down up down up then over the small bridge with the tiny cave that Rosie and I walked by years ago and imagined was a troll cave where they fed you sprinkled donuts and gave you a bright yellow raft to float down the ravine to the river

more dirt: mostly dry under the canopy, held in place by thigh high retaining walls that double as obstacle courses for daring dogs who delight in appearing taller, flanked by black wrought iron and chainlink fences with tree trunks for posts, slowly sloping down to the savana where wildflowers stretch as high as my shoulders and (almost) smother the narrow trail

more stone steps, a slick iron grate, gravel, dirt, grass, then paved path again

Song of the Open Road, 3
Walt Whitman – 1819-1892

You air that serves me with breath to speak!
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!
I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.

You flagg’d walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides! you distant ships!
You rows of houses! you window-pierc’d façades! you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!
From all that has touch’d you I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me,
From the living and the dead you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me.

Such unbridled enthusiasm! Oh, to be willing to embrace joy like Whitman! To be unashamed to relentlessly use exclamation points! I think I’d like to use his form here and write a poem to the gorge.

july 13/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/south
76 degrees
dew point: 62

Hot! As usual, the first mile felt fine, but then I warmed up and it was hot. Still, a nice morning run. Started just before the elite triathletes in the Lifetime Tri race biked by. Got to see the leader zoom past. Heading north, he was only a few seconds ahead of the next racer, but by the time he passed me again, 15 or so minutes later (I think), he was way ahead. Pretty cool to see. I didn’t hear any helicopters so I’m pretty sure they no longer show this live on NBC. I remember watching it 15 years ago up in the UP at my parent’s house, when my mom was still alive. The first triathlon, other than Kona, that I ever watched.

No deep thoughts that I can remember. Spent a lot of time wondering when the racers would come by and then, when they did, when they would come back after looping around at Franklin. Also was distracted by a few runners up ahead of me. I think my second mile was a lot faster as I unwittingly tried to catch them.

Later, after the run, took Delia the dog on a walk by the gorge. Noticed that the 4 rocks usually stacked on top of the big boulder at the top of the tunnel of trees weren’t there. I think I’ve seen them missing another time too. Will someone stack some more before I run by the boulder again? And, if so, who? Walking down through the tunnel, I noticed the few times the sun filtered through and the gentle noise of cars and bikes whooshing above. Also, payed attention to the spot, right before the bottom and the 4 fences, when the path seems to float above the forest and where the trees open up into a wide, airy amphitheater-like space. Too layered with leaves to see sky. Up above is green, down below is too. Running by this spot, I feel like I’m flying or floating in green. Walking, I’m slow enough to notice the layers of green and brown, the lack of blue and the openness of it all.

Love how green works in this poem. Bright green sins, the tree still green.

Summer
BY CARLO BETOCCHI
TRANSLATED BY GEOFFREY BROCK

And it grows, the vain
summer,
even for us with our
bright green sins:

behold the dry guest,
the wind,
as it stirs up quarrels
among magnolia boughs

and plays its serene
tune on
the prows of all the leaves—
and then is gone,

leaving the leaves
still there,
the tree still green, but breaking
the heart of the air.

july 11/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

3 miles
two trails
67 degrees

Just a few degrees cooler and an hour earlier makes a difference. An easier run. No walking. No headphones either. Lots of cars on the road, lots of bikers on the path. Heard the rowers but didn’t see them. Greeted some runners and walkers. Listened to water dripping out of the sewer pipe. Don’t remember thinking about anything except how, even with all the sun, the tunnel of trees seemed dark and thick and beautiful today.

Our Valley
by Philip Levine

We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis and back

swim: 1.7 miles
lake nokomis
water: 80 degrees

A great night for a swim! Mostly breathed every six to my right, but switched it up a little with some 5s on right and left. I need to write some more poetry inspired by these breathing patterns. The buoys were lined up very oddly–too far off the big beach, angled too sharply near the little beach–which made it difficult to sight, but I didn’t panic and swam without seeing. Well, I could see the first two buoys but not the third one closest to the little beach. Don’t remember hearing any planes or seeing any fish. Noticed a sailboat in my peripheral vision most of the time. Felt strong and a little sore in my right calf. Was really tired at the end of today. So much exercise!

Almost forgot about the water temperature. So strange: pockets of freezing cold water mixed with warmer water. The water was extra cold just off the little beach. I like swimming through this really cold water–a sudden surprise, very brief, then warmish water again. The water is 80 degrees, which is more than warm enough for me. I still hear people complaining about how cold it is. I can’t help myself from thinking, wimps!

Breathing
BY MARK O’BRIEN

Grasping for straws is easier;
You can see the straws.
“This most excellent canopy, the air, look you,”
Presses down upon me
At fifteen pounds per square inch,
A dense, heavy, blue-glowing ocean,
Supporting the weight of condors
That swim its churning currents.
All I get is a thin stream of it,
A finger’s width of the rope that ties me to life
As I labor like a stevedore to keep the connection.
Water wouldn’t be so circumspect;
Water would crash in like a drunken sailor,
But air is prissy and genteel,
Teasing me with its nearness and pervading immensity.
The vast, circumambient atmosphere
Allows me but ninety cubic centimeters
Of its billions of gallons and miles of sky.
I inhale it anyway,
Knowing that it will hurt
In the weary ends of my crumpled paper bag lungs.

                                                                                                                    July, 1988

Mark O’Brien, “Breathing” from The Man in the Iron Lung.

I like the connections drawn between air and water here. I often think about that while I’m swimming, imagining worlds reversed, where the air is water, water air. Writing this, I’m wondering: how much oxygen is in the lake? I looked it up and found an article about dissolved oxygen and how fish need it for breathing. Air typically has an oxygen concentration of around 21%, while water has less than 1%.

july 10/RUN

3.1 miles
the 2 trails
70 degrees

I think this is my new favorite running route, especially since my body doesn’t want to run more than a 5K. Listened to headphones as I ran south, up above the river, next to the road, and then took them out when I ran north, down below the road, still above the river. Overcast and windy. Felt cooler than 70. Heard some trickling water but no rowers. Encountered some dogs and their humans. Appreciated how willing the dogs were to stay on their side of the path and sit when their owners asked them to. Walked a little around 1.5 miles. Don’t remember much except for how different the tunnel of trees looks when it’s overcast. Darker and deeper. When it’s sunny, the light filters through the leaves and dances on the asphalt. But when it’s cloudy the greens are heavier and the air seems weighed down with water.

I listened to the poetry off the shelf podcast this morning with the delightful poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil (ne zoo koo ma tat hill). I love her poetry and what she has to say about the importance of wonderment and being jubilant:

I think there’s almost like a responsibility in some ways when the world and the news is so disgusting and so heartbreaking. I think that’s all the more reason to turn to—I ask my students, when is the last time you were in wonderment of something, when was the last time you had awe over something. And at first, the silence is deafening, you know? And they actually have to think about that and then they realize oh my gosh, it shouldn’t be taking me this long. And I keep asking them that, I keep asking them through the semester, until, you know, maybe by the fourth or fifth week they’re able to say it like right away. Or sometimes they can’t wait till class and they just email it to me like, you know, Professor Nezhukumatathil, on the sunset, I saw something called the green flash. Have you heard of it?

So I think it’s a practice. I think we forget how to be in wonderment. And I think it’s a great, I don’t know, responsibility. But also, it’s contagious. When you hear someone say, oh my gosh, I love how the silver on a silver oak is winking at me, that kind of thing, it’s hard to not notice something yourself. And then someone else will notice something and someone else will notice something.

july 9/RUNSWIM

run: 3.1 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees
dew point: 62

I’m pretty sure I wrote this entry already, earlier today, but now I can’t find it and it’s almost 9 PM and I don’t have a lot of energy to write anything else. But I’ll try. It was hot this morning but it didn’t bother me in the first mile. There was a nice breeze and it was overcast. Everything seemed fuzzy and dreamlike, out of focus. I remembered to notice the river–I saw it through the trees shimmering silver. Started feeling the heat in mile 2 but managed to keep running until 2.5 miles. There were so many cars on the river road. Must have been heading to work.

swim: 1.35 miles
lake nokomis

The forecast said rain and thunderstorms at 5:30, when open swim was supposed to begin, but it was clear with the sun promising to peek through the gray clouds. The first loop was a real challenge. My googles were fogged up and I absolutely couldn’t see any of the buoys. Not even a quick glance. Was it because the sun was gone and it was gray? Not sure, but I decided that I had to swim another loop to push through. The sun came out and suddenly I could see the buoys. Not all the time but enough of a glimpse to keep me on track. I felt strong today. No aching shoulder or sore legs. Breathing: 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right. Didn’t see any fish, hear any planes, run into any other swimmers. Didn’t see any white sails or airplane sharks in the sky. Just me and the water. Wonderful.

Preface

Swimming is continuous, only the rivers are intermittent.

The river is something that happens,
like exercise or illness, to the body
on any given day
I am rivering.

Not that the river is like the body
or the river is the body
but ooooooooooo both have gone
and what is left is something else.

To not end where you thought you did,
not with skin but water
not with arms but meadow
of watercress, dropwort, floating pennywort,
against all odds to be buoyant.

To feel there is an upward force
greater than the weight of the heart
the knuckles the head to feel as in to feel
it physically push up the ribs which are bones now

everything remembering what it is
becoming is remembering
sinking in the silt is the sand
of the shell of the bone singing
in the reeds in the rushes
hordes of heartbeats not my own:

mollusc onto stone,
milfoil onto moss,
mayfly onto trout,

metal onto clay,
acid onto wire,
electrified chicken wire to keep the salmon in
the summer we’ll make a day of it,
fill the car up, make a day of it,
fill the river, make like mayflies

in the summer, swim
in traffic, swim in the car
in the river in the summer in the city
in the chicken in the acid in the salmon in the rain
in the silt in the sulphur in the algae in the day we’ll come
and part as friends

in the day in the river in the moss in the rushes we’ll come and part

in the river in the heather in the rushes in the rain we’ll stay and the day and the day
and the days dart over and summer is over
us salmon leap over
us all come apart
in the end
of the day
and the river.

july 6/RUN

3.1 miles
river road, north/lake street bridge/river road, south
70 degrees
humidity: 79%/dew point: 72

Turned left when I reached the river road. Ran past the welcoming oaks, down through the tunnel of trees, up past the old stone steps, then over the lake street bridge. Down the steps on one side of the bridge then up the other side. Back over the bridge and back towards home. Encountered many runners. Some alone, some in groups. Was passed by three rollerbladers and their coach biking behind them. In formation, arms swinging in unison. Did a lot of chanting: strawberry/strawberry/strawberry, raspberry/raspberry/raspberry, 123/456, 654/321, 12345/12345/12345. Made sure to look at the river. Saw some rowers just leaving the rowing club. Don’t remember thinking about much, except my breathing and whether or not I’d see any rowers, and when I was going to be done.

july 5/RUN

2.8 miles
two trails*
79 degrees
humidity: 79%/dew point: 69

* two trails = upper trail, near the road, paved; lower trail, below the road, above the river, dirt then crumbling asphalt then paved

Maybe because the sun wasn’t out, it didn’t seem too hot at first. But when I stopped for a quick text at the end of mile 1, I realized I was dripping with sweat. Running below for the second half was cool until the trail emerged from the trees. Then, it was hot and I was losing energy. I really need to start running earlier. Today I ran at 10 am. Encountered a few runners, walkers and roller skiers. Listened to a playlist on the upper trail, the water trickling on the lower. Also heard some kids playing way down in the gorge near the sewer pipe. No rowers or paddle boats on the river.

july 4/BIKERUNBIKE

bike: 9 miles
to downtown race and back

run: 3.1 miles
red, white and boom 5K: 27:30

For the first time, Scott and I biked over to the race instead of driving. 5 miles on the river road. It would have been less but one road was closed and we had to backtrack. Not too bad. Much less stressful than driving. The race was hot and humid. I wimped out and walked a few times but finished strong, so that was okay. Gradually, I’m working to stop caring about time and not feeling bad about how much slower I am these days. Don’t remember much about the race. Started at the back so I did a lot of passing people. Weaving through the crowd doesn’t bother me most of the time. It’s a good distraction. Anything else I remember? No interesting conversations even though I wasn’t listening to headphones. Had a popsicle and a beer after the race and then slowly walked back to my bike. I’d like to try biking to a race again. Oh–saw some rowers down in the flats–that was cool. And, biked up several hills without ever changing my gear. Marveled at the beauty of the city on the 3rd Ave/Central Ave Bridge as I walked across with Scott after the race.

View this post on Instagram

My city.

A post shared by Scott Anderson 📎 (@room34) on

Here’s a poem I’ve tried to write about (so far, not quite successfully) for a couple of years now. So much I love about it. Today, I noticed the line, “…Raise your/heads, pals, look high,/you may see more than/you ever thought possible,” I love her use of pals here. I read it as an almost exasperated, “look pal” which I appreciate. Much better than friend.

Woman Waving to Trees
Dorothea Tanning – 1910-2012

Not that anyone would
notice it at first.
I have taken to marveling
at the trees in our park.
One thing I can tell you:
they are beautiful
and they know it.
They are also tired,
hundreds of years
stuck in one spot—
beautiful paralytics.
When I am under them,
they feel my gaze,
watch me wave my foolish
hand, and envy the joy
of being a moving target.

Loungers on the benches
begin to notice.
One to another,
“Well, you see all kinds…”
Most of them sit looking
down at nothing as if there
was truly nothing else to
look at until there is
that woman waving up
to the branching boughs
of these old trees. Raise your
heads, pals, look high,
you may see more than
you ever thought possible,
up where something might
be waving back, to tell her
she has seen the marvelous.

june 28/RUN

3 miles
austin, mn
70 degrees
76% humidity

Ran with Scott in his hometown this morning. Ran an easy mile to the high school track, then ran 3/4 of a mile around it, then kept running to the coffee place. My legs felt tired and not that fast but it was still fun. I’m thinking about heading there again tomorrow and trying to run a little faster. I think I’ve run around an outdoor track maybe 3 or 4 times in my whole life.

No Apology: A Poemifesto
by Carmen Smith Giménez

Isn’t there a line by Yusef Komunyakaa, “I apologize for the eyes in my head.” Maybe what I am trying to say is that I apologize for the sight in my eyes.
—Susan Briante

I would love to make a proposal, and it is out of love,
not patronizing love but true revolutionary love, and it won’t
upset the orbit tomorrow. So here’s where I’d like
to begin, and this might be the hardest thing you’ve tried to do,
or maybe you already do it and I’m grateful for you
because you’ve inspired me. I know it’s the hardest thing
for me because I haven’t done it consistently (not at all, sorry),
but I want to recommend that we stop apologizing.
Today I counted and I said I’m sorry approximately 22 times.
I apologized for my setting my stuff down on the counter at the Krogers.
I apologized for being behind someone at a copy machine.
I apologized for someone else bumping into a stranger.
I apologized for taking longer than a minute to explain an idea.
Suffice it to say I am sorry all the time.
I won’t tell you what to do because that makes me
an implicit solicitor of sorry. Personally,
when the word comes into my mouth, I’m going to shape it into
a seed to plant in another woman’s aura as love. I only ask
that we get started. This will be our first step in world domination.

june 25/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

3 miles
river road, south/lower path, north
68 degrees

Sun! Breeze! Low humidity! Strong legs and a good attitude. A nice run. Listened to my playlist for the first half, running on the river road path next to the road and another split rail fence. Next time I run this, I should count how many times the walking and biking paths diverge. Ran to the 44th street parking lot, just before the double bridge, and then turned down to the lower path. Took off my headphones and heard some trickling water and the rowers. I tried to look quickly at the river but I couldn’t see the rowers. I only heard the coxswain calmly directing them. Don’t remember much else about the run except encountering a bunch of dogs and their humans in the tunnel of trees. Oh–and so many cars on the road this morning! Was there a road closure? Was it the time that I was running? Something else?

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis and back

swim: .5 miles
lake nokomis

Open Swim was cancelled tonight because of high wind, which was very strange. They’ve never cancelled due to high wind before. I am trying not to worry too much about it all, but this is the third session in a row that has had problems–last Tuesday it was cancelled because of the threat of rain even though their policy has always been that you can swim in the rain, just not thunder, and Sunday started 30 minutes late. Open Swim is one of my favorite things and I would very upset if it stopped happening.

june 24/RUNSWIM

4.1 miles
river road path, north/south
66 degrees
humidity: 78%

What a great run! Partly because I felt good, but mostly because I was able to hold onto some thoughts about my poetry and then, 2 miles in, had a breakthrough about my larger goals in writing and how they connect with my earlier intellectual work. I had planned to run 4 miles without stopping but when the idea came to me I decided I should stop at 3 miles and record my thoughts on my phone. I did and then ran another mile. When I stopped the second time, I recorded a few more thoughts into my phone.

Here’s the transcript:

My poetry comes out of decades of work on an ethics of care and curiosity…a pedagogy and poetics of care…fundamental to the care is both the disrupting of knowing and vision and the posing of alternatives, other senses, other motivations for caring and curiosity. Not to know and to dominate but to feel and experience and that connects in with my vision problems and my earnest efforts to both explore the alternatives and to play and trouble the idea of knowing anything with my vision which often leaves me ignorant or produces fantastical or unreal images. That is what this project is all about, it is undergirded by this poetics and pedagogy and ethics of care as paying attention, being aware, being curious.

I’m interested in how our senses get disrupted and this ability to know becomes impossible or distorted through cone dystrophy or through running or swimming of walking or moving. How this impacts what we feel and know and what we can know, how we know it. And some of this exposes the inability to ever really know or the undesirability of striving to know, but it also opens up new ways of knowing and thinking and being that breathe and move.

Cool. I need to work on this stuff some more, but it’s a good start!

This morning it’s overcast. Rain is coming. Thunderstorms this afternoon. Everything is dark and green and out of focus. Soft, not sharp. Fuzzy. Saw several people parking under the lake street bridge and walking down the road to the rowing club. Will I get to hear some rowers on the river? (No.) Caught glimpses of the river through the trees. With all the green up above, you could run miles on this trail and forget that the river was below. Was able to greet the Daily Walker. Encountered a few dogs and their humans. No man in black–does he walk earlier in the summer? Or is he on vacation? Encountered several runners, one flashed a big smile as a greeting. Running by the construction site for Minnehaha Academy, upper campus, I thought about when the old building exploded 2, or was it 3?, years ago.

The Rules
Leila Chatti

There will be no stars—the poem has had enough of them. I think we can agree
we no longer believe there is anyone in any poem who is just now realizing

they are dead, so let’s stop talking about it. The skies of this poem
are teeming with winged things, and not a single innominate bird.

You’re welcome. Here, no monarchs, no moths, no cicadas doing whatever
they do in the trees. If this poem is in summer, punctuating the blue—forgive me,

I forgot, there is no blue in this poem—you’ll find the occasional
pelecinid wasp, proposals vaporized and exorbitant, angels looking

as they should. If winter, unsentimental sleet. This poem does not take place
at dawn or dusk or noon or the witching hour or the crescendoing moment

of our own remarkable birth, it is 2:53 in this poem, a Tuesday, and everyone in it is still
at work. This poem has no children; it is trying

to be taken seriously. This poem has no shards, no kittens, no myths or fairy tales,
no pomegranates or rainbows, no ex-boyfriends or manifest lovers, no mothers—God,

no mothers—no God, about which the poem must admit
it’s relieved, there is no heart in this poem, no bodily secretions, no body

referred to as the body, no one
dies or is dead in this poem, everyone in this poem is alive and pretty

okay with it. This poem will not use the word beautiful for it resists
calling a thing what it is. So what

if I’d like to tell you how I walked last night, glad, truly glad, for the first time
in a year, to be breathing, in the cold dark, to see them. The stars, I mean. Oh hell, before

something stops me—I nearly wept on the sidewalk at the sight of them all.

I love this poem. Unsentimental sleet? So great.

swim: .68 miles
1200 yards/4 small loops
big beach, lake nokomis

Went swimming at the big beach this afternoon while Scott ran around the lake. Cold(er) and windy but still great. I love swimming gin the lake. As always, a little unsettled, wondering what fish are swimming below me. It was only 70 degrees with a few random showers, so I had the lake to myself, except for a few kayakers and paddle boarders.

june 22/RUN

3.1 miles
river road path above, south/below, north
65 degrees

What a beautiful morning! Not too hot or humid or windy or sunny. Didn’t listen to music or an audio book or the gorge–except I did hear the coxswain’s bullhorn, a man’s voice today. Ran on the path next to the road on the way to the falls then turned at the double bridge parking lot (44th) and ran below, on the path that starts as dirt then mulched leaves then uneven, barely intact asphalt then newer asphalt. This path undulates, climbing up by 42nd, then down, up by Folwell, then down, then mostly flat until the steps at 38th street. You can take these up and run by the road again or take your chances running down on the dirt path of the Winchell Trail–usually there’s a muddy, mucky spot halfway to the bottom of the Oak Savanna and then too many wildflowers crowding out the already narrow path. Sometimes I take my chances, today I climbed the steps and then kept going past the turn-off and down through the tunnel of trees. Felt pretty good and was happy to run 3 miles without stopping to walk. I like trail running. Sometime this summer I’ll have to convince Scott to run the limestone trail at Pike Island near Fort Snelling.

Tried to think about my writing goals and what I want to do with my vision poetry, but couldn’t hold on to any thoughts.

I really like the storytelling in this poem and the light, easy way it packs so much into a story about sitting around in doughnut pajamas on your 39th birthday.

Lounging on the Couch on my 39th Birthday in Pink Flannel Donut Pajamas/Julie Danho

Surely birds would love to peck
at the dozens of donuts adorning
my arms and legs: the glazed, the jellied,
the vanilla frosted scalloped at the edges
like the worn lace tablecloth in Sito’s
tenement apartment where my mother
father sister aunts uncles cousins
would cram in Sundays, post church,
and I’d eat the frosting off two, return
the bottoms to the box while Sito frowned
and Gido insisted I should disfigure
as many donuts as made me happy. After
he died, she pulled the walls around her
like an afghan and didn’t leave. Sundays,
when I delivered the church bulletin
to her recliner, she’d clasp my face
in both hands, grateful. It’s been decades
since I sat in a pew, but I brought my mother
to the last church hafla, where she won
these pajamas instead of what she wanted
(the platter of walnut baklawa). And maybe
I’ve lived too long to be lounging in pink
flannel donut pajamas, but I love how they
rub against my legs like a cat’s head,
love that someone spent time dreaming up
improbable donuts, like this one here
frosted blue-green, then crosshatched
with piped white stripes, topped with pink
and red sprinkles, a sugared inner tube
floating the middle. How can’t I be hungry?
In the next room, my birthday cake sits
on Sito’s old table, mine since the day
we emptied her apartment and I opened
dresser drawer after dresser drawer to find
hundreds of crocheted dishcloths, stacked
as neatly as cash for a ransom. We knew
she must have made them in her recliner
by the window on those days none of us
were there. It’s almost noon and I’m still
in pajamas, waiting for my daughter
and husband to march into the room
and play me the birthday song they wrote,
her on toy guitar, him on mandolin. I hear
them practicing and it’s so sweet my teeth
ache. Sito, was it once like this for you?

june 19/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
70 degrees

Another beautiful morning. Not too hot or humid or windy. Ran towards downtown, past the welcoming oaks, the two ancient boulders left behind from the last ice age 10,000 years ago, the path above the floodplain forest. Under lake street bridge, up above the minneapolis rowing club, under the railroad bridge, along the split rail fence for 2 miles until I reached a dirt path that cut down through some trees to another dirt path. Walked for 1/2 a mile back towards the railroad bridge, climbed some steep wooden stairs that reminded me that my right knee was sore, then ran back on the paved path to the 36th street parking lot and home.

Nearing the railroad bridge I heard a honk. A truck on the other side? A big boat on the river? No, a train! I wondered if it was coming or going and if I’d be able to see it when I reached the bridge. With all the trees, it’s hard to see the top of the bridge until you’re almost right under it. When I got there, a train engine! Only the engine so my timing was lucky. Any sooner or later and I would have missed it. I think this is the first time I’ve ever encountered a train on the trestle. Will I ever see one again? Mundane I guess, but really cool to me.

The dirt path below the split rail fence was mud free and mostly bug free. Much steeper than some of the paths further south. In a few stretches, there was a chain link fence, leaning out. Another stretch had a plastic, make-shift fence. One small section, right above a sewer pipe, had a wrought iron fence. As I reached it, I could hear voices up above and water trickling below. Next time I’d like to run this stretch. I had planned to walk the short part that passes under the trestle and then take the steep stone steps up but didn’t. I was nervous that someone might be down there. Maybe next time? I always struggle to find a balance between being too scared and being safe.

In 2002, Alice Oswald published a book-length poem about the River Dart in south west England–in Devon. She took a tape recorder and interviewed people she encountered on the river. Here’s an excerpt of an excerpt:

Dart/Alice Oswald

The Dart, lying low in darkness calls out Who is it?
trying to summon itself by speaking…

the walker replies

An old man, fifty years a mountaineer, until my heart gave out, so now I’ve taken to the moors.
I’ve done all the walks, the Two Moors Way, the Tors, this long winding line the Dart

this secret buried in reeds at the beginning of sound I
won’t let go of man, under
his soakaway ears and his eye ledges working
into the drift of his thinking, wanting his heart

I keep you folded in my mack pocket and I’ve marked in red where the peat passes are and the
good sheep tracks

cow-bones, tin-stones, turf-cuts
listen to the horrible keep-time of a man walking,
rustling and jingling his keys
at the centre of his own noise,
clomping the silence in pieces and I,
in the pit of his throat, I
summon him just out of earshot

I don’t know, all I know is walking. Get dropped off the military track from Oakehampton and
head down into Cranmere pool. It’s dawn, it’s a huge sphagnum kind of wilderness, and an hour
in the morning is worth three in the evening. You can hear plovers whistling, your feet sink right
in, it’s like walking on the bottom of a lake.

What I love is one foot in front of another. South south west and down the contours. I go slipping
between Black Ridge and White Horse Hill into a bowl of the moor where echoes can’t get out.

Listen,
a
lark
spinning
around
one
note
splitting
and
mending
it

and I find you in the reeds, a trickle coming out of a bank, a foal of a river

one step-width water
of linked stones
trills in the stones
glides in the trills
eels in the glides
in each eel a fingerwidth of sea

in walking boots, with twenty pounds on my back: spare socks, compass, map, water purifier so I
can drink from streams, seeing the cold floating spread out above the morning,

tent, torch, chocolate not much else.

Which’ll make it longish, almost unbearable between my evening meal and sleeping, when I’ve
got as far as stopping, sitting in the tent door with no book, no saucepan, not so much as a stick
to support the loneliness

he sits clasping his knees, holding his face low down between them,
he watches black slugs,
he makes a little den of his smells and small thoughts
he thinks up a figure far away on the tors
waving, so if something does happen,
if night comes down and he has to leave the path
then we’ve seen each other, somebody knows where we are.

june 17/RUN

3 miles
austin, mn
65 degrees
humidity: 76%

Ran with Scott in Austin. My legs felt weird at the beginning, heavy at the end. No hot sun or humidity. Nice. Don’t remember much except feeling really tired around 2.6 miles and wanting to stop and walk (we didn’t). Later in the day, we decided to walk some more. An extra 5+ miles. We were both sore by the end.

june 15/RUN

3.5 miles
river road path, north/south
63 degrees
87% humidity/dew point: 61

Even though the humidity and dew point were high, this run wasn’t miserable. It helped that it was only 63 degrees. Ran a little faster than I realized. Spent a lot of time trying to slow down my breathing with chanting: “strawberry/yogurt” in 2 3/out 2. Couldn’t see the river or hear any rowers. Greeted other runners. Didn’t see any roller skiers or rollerbladers or many bikers. No dogs. No squirrels. Only one large-ish group of runners. Thought a lot about the stretch of the trail (my favorite part, which dips below the road) that I’m writing at least 2 haibuns about. I’ve written one about descending into it already. The second one is about ascending. After stopping to study it, I’ve realized that the season for the haibun is late August, when the trees are thick with leaves and heavy with trapped humidity/insects. When you can’t see the river or the road or the forest because of all of the green.

Almost forgot–a bug flew on my face and then into my mouth mid-run. I was able to spit it out, which was gross. At least I didn’t gag on it, like I have in the past. Yuck!

Summer/Ronald Johnson (1967)
excerpt

2
What the Earth Told Me

No surface is allowed to be bare,

& nothing to stand still. A man could forever study a pebble

& at last see dilations & expansions of the hills—

to pull the most slender stalk, is to jostle the stars,

& between the bearded grass

& man ‘looking in the vegatable glass

of Nature’, is a network of roots & suckers

fine as hairs.

I threw a stone upon a pond

& it bounded the surface, its circles interlacing

& radiating out to the most ephemeral edge.

Flint & Mica, Lichened Limestone, Shale & Sarcens, Sandstone, Soil.

I saw the wind moving on a meadow

& the meadows moving under wind—

lifting, settling & accumulating.

Flint & Mica, Lichened Limestone,

Shale & Sarcens, Sandstone, Soil.

3
What the Air Told Me

It is breathed into Orpheus’ lyre & as rocks & trees & beasts

is divided there. Its origins strain

precedes the sound, by as much as echoes follow after:

the quivering of ‘cow-quake’, a ‘loud audible

humming of bees on the down’, stresses within the sustaining earth,

clouds of fleece & mare’s tail.

I saw with single eye, the facet of the fly—

the infinitesimal mechanics & all the metallic sheens

of a blue-bottle. In a land where the sun grows fat on cloud

& summer hasn’t come

till your foot can cover twenty daisies,

she came to the dark, open beak

& laid a myriad of eggs. And in two day’s time the dead

bird’s body simulated life: maggots in eye-socket &

under feather, in a subtle movement.

The White & The Glistening.

4
What the Leaf Told Me

Today I saw the word written on the poplar leaves.

It was ‘dazzle’. The dazzle of the poplars.

As a leaf startles out

from an undifferentiated mass of foliage,

so the word did from a leaf—

A Mirage Of The Delicate Polyglot

inventing itself as cipher. But this, in shifts & gyrations,

grew in brightness, so bright

the massy poplars soon outshone the sun . . .

‘My light—my dews—my breezes—my bloom’. Reflections

In A Wren’s Eye.

june 13/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 2.25 miles
river road up above, south/down below, north
63 degrees

So beautiful this morning! Sunny, calm, cool, low humidity. Decided to do a quick, easy run. Stayed up above, next to the road running south and took the lower, rougher trail on the way back, running north. Noticed the boulders and the split trail fence that stretched alongside the walking path up above. Heard some yelling, laughing kids at a school. Running back, on the lower path, I payed attention to the wrought iron fence and how bushes and vines and wildflowers were reaching through the bars. Will this be trimmed back anytime soon and who will do it, volunteers or the parks department?

bike: 4.3 miles
lake nokomis

Biking by Minnehaha Falls park the parkway was so crowded. Very happy to be on a bike and not in a car! Also, noticed as I turned onto the lake biking path that the flooding is over and the walking path is open again. All that’s left is a mucky mess.

swim: 1.5 miles
lake nokomis
70 degrees (air and water)

A great second open swim at lake nokomis. Decided that 2 loops with one extra trip around the first buoy (an extra 200 yards) was enough. Cold in the water without a wetsuit. The water felt very thick and slow at the beginning–extra dense, which is strange because I think that’s supposed to happen when the water is warmer. Couldn’t really see the buoys at all on the way back because of the sun but it didn’t matter because I could see the tops of the building at the big beach. Saw several swimmers swimming way off course and realized that I swim straighter than a lot of people who can see much better than me. Coolest thing I remember: watching the bubbles from my hand slicing into the water make funky shapes and lines.

Looking for a poem about lakes, I found this one. I like the idea of wind and the sound of wind being two separate things and the soft, simple way this poem reveals itself–oh and the line: “these creatures robed/in your parents’ skins.”

At the Lake House
BY JON LOOMIS

Wind and the sound of wind—
across the bay a chainsaw revs
and stalls. I’ve come here to write,

but instead I’ve been thinking
about my father, who, in his last year,
after his surgery, told my mother

he wasn’t sorry—that he’d cried
when the other woman left him,
that his time with her

had made him happier than anything
he’d ever done. And my mother,
who’d cooked and cleaned for him

all those years, cared for him
after his heart attack, could not
understand why he liked the other

woman more than her,
but he did. And she told me
that after he died she never went

to visit his grave—not once.
You think you know them,
these creatures robed

in your parents’ skins. Well,
you don’t. Any more than you know
what the pines want from the wind,

if the lake’s content with this pale
smear of sunset, if the loon calls
for its mate, or for another.

june 12/RUN

3 miles
downtown loop
65 degrees

Ran with Scott downtown this afternoon. With the wind, it was cold enough that I had goosebumps before we started. My legs felt heavy and strange. Plodding along. I remember it being hot at Boom Island with no shade and loud on Plymouth–music coming from some sort of festival. They’re setting up for an art festival this weekend. Extra porta potties were everywhere and scaffolding too. Lots of tourists and segways and motorized scooters. Some other runners. A huge log jammed in the river near Nicollet island. Scott and I wondered how far it had traveled from up river? Running over the Stone Arch Bridge, I looked down at Mill Ruins Park and saw emerald green grass. Felt the spray from the falls, carried by the wind.

Here’s a poem about the Missississippi River from Bao Phi, a poet from Minneapolis.

A poem from Bao Phi


M I S S I SS I PP I
M I SS I SS I PP I
M I SS I SS I –
OKAY, BAO
the elementary teacher roared, and my delight at the staccato flow of the letters
evaporated.
This was over thirty years ago – I don’t hold her ghost to grudge.
How many times have I sat above that water, walked beside it
and wondered about its history all
the while taking for granted
I could spell its name.
The first time I saw its tail was after Katrina,
the wide water in New Orleans,
the houses drowned, and yet Vietnamese ate trays of boiled crawdad
tipping skinny neck bottles of Tabasco,
squeezed lemon slices until they bled out.
Somewhere some river is always running
and who chooses to run beside what river in what country,
and who gets sent down them.
Me and my teenage friends, we found a rotted railroad bridge,
climbing over its barriers, the no trespassing sign,
sat with our legs dangling over but hugging the round cylinder iron guardrails
laughing with one another as the brown and white foam curled far beneath us.
For many years I thought if I ever had a child I would
name them Song, river, but in my language
which makes the word sound like
a song.
So I did.
And she does.
Just this past year I learned of Bdote,
the concentration camps now a green field.
In a canoe, my daughter and a teacher
slowly sliced our way across its green gray skin
we three floating in history
water to some, blood to others
a part of everything
belonging to no one

june 10/RUN

4.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
68 degrees

Slightly cooler this morning. A better run. Still struggled to keep going but I made it over 3 miles without stopping to walk for a minute. Then I ran again for the rest of the way. Didn’t see the Man in Black or the Daily Walker but I did encounter some roller skiers, walkers, bikers, and a person I met early in the spring who identified as trans but wasn’t yet ready to be out–pretty sure they didn’t remember me but I remember them because of their two dogs and the stories they told (then and again today) about 2 sisters who had run marathons in Amsterdam and were now training for an Ironman. Payed close attention to the part of the path I’m writing about right now and noticed the streaks of sun on the asphalt, making leaf shadows–I had imagined most of the light to be lost in this extra green-y tunnel of trees. Maybe in August it will be darker?

Felt like I was in a daze, running in the soft green light. Everything was slightly out of focus. Listened to the road and the river and the trees instead of an audio book or a playlist. Heard lots of cars gently rushing by. Might have also heard some rowers at one point, but didn’t see them. The river is mostly hidden behind layers of green now. Chanted in triplets to myself to keep my rhythm: raspberry/blueberry/strawberry, 4 way stop, split rail fence, railroad bridge, 2 oak trees, garbage can (I turned everything I saw into triplets). Then I thought about how the new trash and recycling cans Minneapolis Parks got for the path look a lot like early Star Wars droids–the ones from 1978. Can I work that into a poem? And am I the only way that thinks this?

Perhaps the most memorable thing I heard was a version of “ain’t misbehaving” coming from a bike radio that passed me from behind. I could hear the music clearly until he was too far away. Why no doppler distortion? Was it because of the wind? The speed of his biking?

Lakes Rivers Streams/Michael Dickman

This poem! Too long to include it all. So long and fabulous and strange! Here are a few lines I especially like:

At the same time spring pushes up against the windows
a green screen

And sleep

Pooled at the top of the stairs

Just upstream from a cell tower and a box of  Huggies

Just upstream from a can of  Red Bull and a pollen allergy

The cool floors of grocery stores

Just upstream from a pair of headphones and a Weight Watchers

Chirrup-chirrup my tree makes syrup
syrup so sweet

Upstream from a can of Aqua Net and a Pepsi

Bees in the lilac tree have something to say and say it without giving
away the ending

Just upstream from a gallon of  2% and a yellow pack of American
Spirits

Just upstream from a buffet-style weekend special and some notable
losses

june 9/RUN

3.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
68 degrees
70% humidity

Felt warm this morning. Decided to listen to the gorge instead of an audio book. Nice. I should do this more often. Greeted every welcoming oak with a “good morning!” or “hello friend!” Glimpsed the sun sparkling on the river through the trees above the floodplain forest. Passed a few rowers walking down to the rowing club–will I get to see (or hear) them rowing later in my run? (no) Made it to the railroad trestle and stopped to walk for a minute. So hot! So tired! Felt wiped out–I think I need to eat a big breakfast before my runs (I didn’t eat anything this morning). The highlight of the run–probably the month so far–was not just greeting but talking to the Daily Walker! I was walking at the time and he said, “you’re walking?” When I said it was so hot he agreed and we talked for a few seconds more. I think this is the first time I have actually talked to him. Pretty cool. Everyone of my runs was tough this week but I don’t care that much. Still great to be outside and be beside the mississippi.

Almost forgot to mention something I noticed yesterday and today: The cotton from the cottonwood tree is not white, at least not once it hits the ground. It looks green to me–a pale green–willow perhaps? Is it green or is it my vision or a trick of the light or its close proximity to the grass and so many green leaves?

So much green. I’m always looking for green poems and I’ve found a few. Here’s another one to add to the list:

Green/Maggie Nelson

Screams from an Italian family up the street
That stupid kid hitting rock after rock with his metal bat.

I’d be a shitty boyfriend, you said, as if
making a promise. I said, It’s not the content

I’m in love with, it’s the form. And that
was tenderness. All last year

I planned to write a book about
the color blue. Now I’m suddenly surrounded

by green, green gagging me
pleasurably, green holding onto my hips

from behind, digging into
the cleft, the cleft

that can be made. You have no idea
what kind of light you’ll let in

when you drop the bowl, no idea
what will make you full

Also found this useful article about green in poetry.

may 30/RUN

3 miles
downtown loop
82 degrees

Hot! Ran 2.5 miles, walked 1/2 mile with Scott on the downtown loop. Not too bad–probably because we stopped to walk at the hottest, sunniest, hilliest part. Focused a lot on avoiding clueless pedestrians, big cracks in the pavement and lunging dogs. Discussed wilderness, the gorge, climate change, Margaret Atwood, our inability to ever successfully tame wild green spaces.

The river was moving fast. Running over it, on the stone arch bridge it was swirling and foaming, creating these cool white waves. In Boom island it was grayish blueish brown and smooth, swiftly traveling the opposite direction we were running.

Other things I remember? A toddler losing their shit at a playground on the west side of the river road. A few people going fast on lime scooters. 3 Segways going even faster around a corner–I think I hard someone yell out, “hey, that’s too fast!”

Since I’m writing a haibun about fog right now, here’s a fog poem to consider:

The Trees Delete Themselves Inside a Fog-Sphere
BY FRANCIS PONGE
TRANSLATED BY KAREN VOLKMAN

In the fog which surrounds the trees, the leaves are stripped—leaves defaced already by slow oxidation, deadened by the sap’s out-seeping for flowers’ and fruits’ gain, since the harsh heats of August made of them a less.

In the bark, vertical furrows crease and slit where dampness drains to the earth’s base, indifferent to the living citizens of the trunk.

Flowers scattered, fruit conferred. Since youth, this relinquishing of breathing attributes and body parts has become for the trees a standard practice.

Such detail! Now I want to return to my poem and be much more specific.

may 28/RUN

3.5 miles
end of the split rail fence and back
63 degrees

Right now I’m writing about fog and the split rail fence just past the railroad bridge heading north on the mississippi river road path, so I decided to run to it and check it out. Reaching the welcoming oaks, about 3 minutes into my run, noticing the green leaves crawling up the trunk like hungry relentless ants, I thought about how green everything is. Green consumes the view, the gorge, all the trees. Different, yet similar, to the fog I’m trying to write about it. An idea: maybe my prose poem should link gray fog and green vegetation?

Still running towards the railroad trestle and the split rail fence. Wasn’t sure when to stop and study it so I kept going until a small dirt trail opened up, leading down to unpaved path behind and below the fence. Started running again, made it about 50 feet, then encountered mud. Yuck! Gloppy muck, standing water, slimy path. Was able to avoid getting stuck or slipping but did squish down a few times. Noticed how steep the gorge is here. A few trees, an old chain link fence barely hanging on. Not much to brace your fall. I wonder which tree caught the car that crashed through the fence a year or so ago? I think I spotted it but I’m not sure.

So Many/John Pluecker

so many this mornings so many movement so many breezes
so many cypress so many doorways demolished so many brush
so many vines crawl up the front of that house and so many
spaces so many wide open between one structure and another
so many ditches so many cars parked in the grass in front of a home
supposedly abandoned where people live so many branches
piles at the curb so many beat-downs so many row houses
gone and so many porches so many cut-throughs so many feeling
still in the wood so many highways invade so many train horns
blow softly so many autumn morning so many springtime dusk
so many pink afternoon as the sun peeks through the blinds so many
pick-up trucks so many suvs so many milk factories and so many
18 wheelers so many tiny plastic bottles of milk and so many oaks
and so many farms and so many concrete and so many cracked
and so many peeling paint so many thickness so many depression
so many joy so many angry pinpricks so many back-ups so many
give me a hug so many late night drunken driving so many early
morning so many mourning doves so many cooing so many police
sirens so many listening so many humans walk the middle of the road
so many cars wait to pass so many anger and so many smile so many
apprehension so many thistles so many concrete slabs so many gape
so many lost and so many nights so many grandmas so many grandkids
so many people just trying to remember what used to be there
so many new people who just got here so many things to misremember
so many escape memory so many brains so many bodies so many
bodies gone and so many cemeteries marked and unmarked so
many ditches so many huevo con papa and cake so many deep
deep breaths so many sighs so many pauses so many moments of
silence so many marches so many meetings god so many meetings
so many attempts so many failures so many new townhomes so many
dispossessed so many carwashes so many cowboy hats so many persons
forced out so many barbecues so many coolers so many bags of ice so
many country ballads so many accordions so many quiet so many loud
so many noisy so many silent so many germans so many telephone road
so many lasagna so many pupusa so many gordita so many jaywalkers
and so many dance moves at the bus stop so many jiggling and so many
cars pass by so many stares and so many awkwardness so many
good mornings so many fuck you’s so many fights and so many love-
making so many graffitied so many murals so many old doors so many
lintels so many country people come to the city so many bulldozers
and so many work crews so many dusty lifts into air so many hardhats
and so many pallets so many pine and so many sheet of metal
so many buses so many stray dogs so many mean-mugging
and so many evictions so many eminent domain so many minimizing
and so many excuses so many money so many reasons so many justify
so many sadness so many let it go and so many so-called misunder-
standings so many moldy and wet so many floodlines so many hurricanes
so many attitudes so many perspectives so many sung and un-sung so
many panaderías demolished so many pushing and so many pulling
so many mechanics so many broken down cars so many lay in the sun so
many wait so many trees blow in the early morning wind so many
speed up and so many people go home so many people go to work so
many undone so many bulldozers so many hoses spray water on wreckage
so many shovelfuls of metal and lumber so many precious objects discard so
many lost in the tumble so many feelings so many yellow and red so many
silver and gold so many blue and green so many green things so many grass
so many suns beat down so many heatstrokes so many city moves on
so many layers so many accumulations so many things a street a street remember

may 26/RUN

3.1 miles
austin, mn
55 degrees

Not too humid or too hot or too stinky from the Hormel plant. A great morning for a run in Austin. Ran past the high school track, the high school, downtown, Paramount theater, and the creek with Scott. Don’t remember much except for feeling strong and steady and that it wasn’t too hard.

Looking through diagram, I found this piece about the dew point. It’s in the schematics section. I don’t quite understand it (yet), but I’m interested in the dew point and have written about it before so I thought I’d include it here.

A DEW POINT HYGROMETER USING A SYSTEM OF PRIMARY MEASUREMENT

Franklin W. Kirk and Nicholas R. Rimboi, Instrumentation, Third Edition, American Technical Society, 1975

The typical instrument for measuring dew point is shown [at right]. It uses a gold-plated mirror surface which is bonded to a copper themistor holder. This assembly is chilled by a Peltier effect thermoelectric cooler. (The Peltier effect is discussed in Chapter 10.) The air or other gas being measured for dew point is passed by the mirror. A neon lamp is beamed on the mirror which reflects the beam toward a photoelectric resistor. As dew forms on the mirror and clouds it, there is a change in the amount of light reflected. This change is dected by an optical sensing bridge.

may 24/RUN

3.1 miles
downtown loop
71 degrees

Writing this log entry several days later so I’m not sure I remember much. Warm. With my lingering cold, it was hard to breathe. Ran with Scott up the river road, over the plymouth bridge, through boom island park–the paved path, recently restored wooden bridge, the dirt trail–on nicollet island. Took a walk break under the third avenue bridge in st. anthony main, started running again through father hennepin park and ended on stone arch bridge. Lots of people, mostly walkers. A few runners and bikers. At least one rollerblader. Everything was green and looked like spring. No bugs yet. The thing I remember most is: running over the plymouth bridge. The railing was just at the right height to be constantly in my peripheral vision. It was a bit disorienting as my right eye noticed each pole (or slat or whatever you want to call it) as it flew by.

may 20/RUN

5.2 miles
franklin loop
54 degrees

Nice to see the sun after the gloom on Saturday and the rain on Sunday. It got down to 36 degrees yesterday. Boo. That lake water is going to be cold in a few weeks when open water swimming starts. Today it felt like early spring. Mid April not late May. A gentle breeze. Lots of green. So many green layers by my favorite part of the path. Running through it is disorienting. Can’t tell where the ground is or the river, sometimes even the sky. Just floating in green and brown air. Greeted the Daily Walker. Noticed a plaque on the big boulder by the bench almost under the lake street bridge–asked Scott about it, it says “1938, WPA.” Did my Grandpa work on this project? I know he worked for the WPA, but I’m not sure where or when.

The run was a little difficult with my lingering cold and the crap trapped in my chest. Crossing the Franklin bridge I stared at the sparkling water and the shadows near the railroad bridge. Later, running on the rim of the east side, heard water gushing down the rocks. Crossing back over to the west side, had to run on the other side of the bridge because the side I usually run on was closed. A little longer but a different view: downtown instead of the Ford Bridge.

Emily and Walt/Campbell McGrath

may 15/RUN

2.75 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
68 degrees

I caught the cold that’s been lingering in my house for a few weeks. Decided that a run might help and it did. Counted the number of biggish boulders on the way to the falls: 5–3 bigger, 2 smaller. Ran above, by the road, on the way there, then down below on the way back. Heard some trickling water coming out of the sewer pipes. Well, the first time was more drip drop drizzling while the second was more streaming. Not quite gushing or rushing but more forceful than seeping or trickling.

What else do I remember?

  • Hearing one woman say to her biking partner, “I’m good at running…” and then anticipating her answer: “a marathon.” Her actual answer? “a small business.” Thought about the different uses of run.
  • The bright orange (or were they pink?) running tights on a woman who passed me near the end of my run.
  • Feeling my blood pounding in my ears after I stopped because of my cold.

I Don’t Know What You’re Called, I’ll Call You by Your Sounds
Susan Landers

dew grass a fire shine
mountain a lung
pine cone the bone
tsunami rock hawk jaw
gravity a fall all consuming
a song chirp for sunlight
spine daggers cracking
the sky an ocean paused in its crashing
creature shake trip whistle
rustle nut squirrel swish
stump thunder or thump
thump a swallowing
you beautiful urchin
you rot mound of moss.

may 14/RUN

3.25 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
66 degrees

A nice morning for a run. Hardly any wind. Clear paths. Today, running south, I noticed the big boulders lining the path. How many? 5 or 6 spread out on the way to the falls. Ran the first half with headphones up above. The second, without down below, on the old path. Didn’t really look at the river much because I was tired and too focused on avoiding potholes and cracks. Heard the water falling (not trickling or gushing) down through the sewer pipe near 42nd street. Stopped at the drinking fountain at 35th street parking lot.

Birds Punctuate the Days
Joyce Clement

apostrophe
the nuthatch inserts itself
between feeder and pole

semicolon
two mallards drifting
one dunks for a snail

ellipses
a mourning dove
lifts off

asterisk
a red-eyed vireo catches
the crane fly midair

comma
a down feather
bobs between waves

exclamation point
wren on the railing
takes notice

colon
mergansers paddle toward
morning trout swirl

em dash
at dusk a wild goose
heading east

question mark
the length of silence
after a loon’s call

period
one blue egg all summer long
now gone

I love these haikus. My favorite? exclamation point/wren on the railing/takes notice

may 13/RUN

5.2 miles
franklin loop
59 degrees

A beautiful morning. Sunny, calm, warm. A difficult run. My legs felt very tired and my nose was stuffed up from allergies. Walked several times. Told myself not to feel bad about it so I didn’t. Hard to feel bad when it’s so nice outside. Stopped at the overlook on the Lake Street Bridge again to watch the water. Calm, smooth. Maybe this is my new thing for the spring/summer? Check out how the river is doing from the bridge?

Some other things I remember from the run:

  • So many big boulders. This morning, while reading up on the history of the Mississippi River Gorge, I encountered this sentence about the 36th street parking lot: “Boulders deposited as glacial ice retreated.” Thought about this as I ran by many big rocks, which were mostly not too big–only 2 or 3 feet high. Amazing to try to think about how old these rocks are. And how heavy. And how much they’ve witnessed.
  • The dude I passed on the St. Paul side, right by the railroad trestle is tall! I passed him almost at the same spot on Friday and thought about how tall he was then too. Such long legs which looked a little strange combined with his shorter torso. I wonder, will I see him again at this spot?

I forgot to chant. Maybe that was my problem? No raspberry/strawberry/blueberry rhythm?

Joy
BY MILLER OBERMAN

Like the time I dreamt about a loon family,
just some common loons—not metaphors
in any way, just real loons in a lake swimming
near each other so it was clear they were a set,
preferring each other’s company in the cold
still lake with its depth of reflected pines.
The curve of their black heads and sleek
necks, black and white stripes then checks
on their folded wings, floating so low
atop their reflections they almost seem
inside them. Their wails like wolves, their
calls like an echo without origin, their
calls like an echo of lake, or what makes lake
lake. How nice to think the male and female
loons cannot be told apart by their plumage
and that they build a nest and sit on eggs
together. One of their calls is called “tremolo.”

This poem is in the May 2019 issue of Poetry. So many lines I love: “just some common loons–not metaphors” “just real loons in a lake swimming” “floating so low/atop their reflections they almost seem/
inside them” “wails like wolves, their/calls like an echo without origin” “an echo of a lake, or what makes lake/lake.”

may 11/RUN

4.8 miles
to stone arch bridge
62 degrees

Decided to run to Stone Arch Bridge and meet up with Scott and FWA after his clarinet lesson. Side note: I almost didn’t because I had a big breakfast (eggs, fake sausage, hash brown, english muffin) less than 2 hours earlier. But I went for it and surprisingly all the food didn’t give me cramps or make me feel sick. Another nice day for a run. Sunny. The wind off to the side. The path wasn’t too crowded. I heard some rowers on the river! Saw some roller skiers–one was going so slow up a hill that I almost passed them walking. Encountered lots of bikes going fast down the Franklin Hill–25 or 30 mph or more? One bug didn’t quite make it into my eye but got stuck in my eyelash. Another died on my nose. I could see some small black thing out of the corner of my eye. Everything is green. A nice yellowish green. Took a walk break at the bottom of Franklin hill right by the river. It’s so high this spring and moving fast. Took another walk break halfway up the 35W bridge hill. Then ran the rest of the way, finishing right after passing lots of people sitting on the steps outside the Guthrie for the Mill City Market.

For the past few days, I’ve been writing some haibuns (prose poem + haiku). Here are a few haikus I encountered while trying to get some inspiration:

from Haiku Journey/Kimberly Blaeser

may’s errant mustard
spreads wild across paved road
look both ways

from Blue Octavo Haiku/Rachel Wetzsteon

In fat armchairs sat
indolence and impatience,
plotting my downfall

  *

A wicked cage flew
across the long horizon
searching for a bird.

  *

may 10/RUN

5.2 miles
franklin loop
52 degrees

Sunny. Calm. Hardly any wind. Noisy birds. Showy green grass. Modest trees, covering their bare branches with so many leaves. A great morning for a run. It felt pretty good at first, but harder as it went on. When I reached the river road, 1/4 mile in, I greeted every single oak lining the path. “Good morning!” “Good morning!” “Good morning!” “Good morning!” and a few, “hello friend!” “hello friend!” Tried continuing to good morning all the vegetation lining the rim of the gorge (in my head, not out loud). This helped to steady my running and was a nice way to warm up during the first mile. By the time I reached the Franklin Bridge 2 1/2 miles in, my left leg was feeling tight and a bit sore. I kept running, distracting myself by looking at the river and noticing a strange net near the railroad bridge. I planned to stop when I got closer to see what it was but I didn’t. Wanted to stop and walk just before mile 3 but didn’t. Noticed that the Meeker Dog Park was closed “due to high water.” Walked up the steep hill, listening to water trickling, then gushing out of the gorge. Took the steps up the Marshall/Lake St Bridge and thought about the eagle that used to perch on the dead branch of the tree next to the stairs. Where did it go? Also noticed on the stairs how the lamp posts have sharp looking spikes at the top. Is this to keep eagles and other birds off? Ran past the old stone steps in the final mile and chanted, old stone steps old stone steps–even though those steps aren’t that old. In the limited research I’ve done, I think they were put in around 2002. Were there other steps there before?

I liked my line above about the modest trees and their desire to cover up. Reminds me of a winter poem describing the unclothing of trees:

Winter Trees
William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963

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.

Now I’m thinking about layers and how, just as I start stripping down, taking off layers, wearing less clothing, the trees are doing the opposite by covering up. I think there’s a poem there–maybe a haibun!

may 7/RUN

4 miles
one way to lake nokomis
61 degrees
28% humidity!

Wow. Nice weather. Loved being outside on this sunny, warm, just a slight breeze day. In certain moments, the run felt great. But only in moments. This week, the runs are much harder.

I came up with some more chants which I’m not sure I remember. Lots of raspberry strawberry blueberry creme brûlée vanilla butterscotch chocolate. Here are some more–some I composed mid-run, some right now:

I run down
river road
to the falls
then the lake
beautiful
gorge below
blue and green
magical
mystery
water’s high
path is low
creek is clear
echo bridge
walk the hill
ugly tree
thick black pods
locust tree?
startled mom
round about
little beach
missed my turn
double back
lift the knees
wipe the sweat
water please!
a slight breeze
leafing trees
a lone duck
Sea Salt smells
Dairy Queen
rushing cars
iced out lake
mucky shore
on your left
zooming bike

Here’s a great poem I found from the poet who changed my life (it was her “please add this to the list” book that re-ignited my love of poetry):

Leg of Lamb / Bernadette Meyer

A line
Break could reflect
The way the sun breaks
Through the clouds or breakfast
Or, this rainbow begins here
And then’s over
There
The aurora borealis can be
All over the sky
Wherever you look
Not in one place
Like north
Up and down
East and west, southwest
Sid-saddle, acrobatic as a squirrel
Is an e-mail directional?
I guess I’ll just think
And be as smart as in dreams
So they won’t come to get me
And take me away to
Zanzibar, the mental asylum, the hospital
The jail, turn the line’n you wind up in
Antarctica Australia Mesoamerica mesothelioma
The middle of nowhere somewhere
Where somehow you’ve left all the slush
Behind back there where the line begins, ends
Do we notice? Yes
Are we sorry? No, maybe, always
Sometimes never we will never come to an end because
Starting over’s our addiction, a dead
End and where does that leave
Us?
  

may 6/RUN

3.75 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
53 degrees

Another beautiful spring day. Windier but not too warm. Greeted the welcoming oaks at the beginning of my run, the Daily Walker at the end. It felt difficult–my legs were sore, my nose was stuffed up. Don’t remember much about the run except for that it was hard to be inspired and enjoy it when it felt difficult. Many more leaves on the trees. Bright, light green. Turning around, heading back, I took off my sweatshirt. As I ran I tried to remember what I noticed when I ran through one particular stretch of the path. I couldn’t remember anything. That minute or two lost forever. Saw the silver roof of the maintenance building on the St. Paul side–at least, I think that’s what it is. I noticed it a few times this year, so bright and blinding. Chanted my usual a few times: raspberry strawberry blueberry creme brûlée.

After finishing and walking back, I came up with a 3 beat chant:

I run through
the oak grove
and call out
to each oak
good morning
good morning
good morning
good morning
they call back
hello friend

experiment

Create 3 beat phrases, mostly based on the run. Write them on slips of paper, put them face down on the desk, pick twelve. Make a poem, using them in the order they were picked. Rearrange the phrases to make another poem.

too much green
difficult
mystery
take the steps
aching legs
in the gorge
climate change
up so high
be right back
old stone steps
good morning
stop and walk

good morning
too much green
in the gorge
difficult
mystery
take the steps
old stone steps
up so high
aching legs
stop and walk
be right back
climate change

hmmm…I’ll have to work on this experiment. Not great so far. Thinking about the old stone steps, this afternoon I took Delia for a walk down them to the river. First, we waited for a woman to come up. She paused about three steps down and gazed at the river, the forest, the deep gorge. As she left I remarked, “It’s beautiful.” She said, “like another world.” So true. Taking those steps down to the forest floor is magical. And that view–gorg(e)ous (groan).

Here’s a cool map poem I found this morning in an article about concrete poetry and poems as maps.

I’m thinking it might be fun to try one of these for a running route poem.

may 3/RUN

6 miles
franklin hill turnaround
54 degrees

Almost an hour long run–my goal amount of time. An hour is not too long to be worn out but long enough to really sink into a run. I’d love to run an hour almost every day. Will my body ever let me?

I don’t really remember what I thought about but I do remember:

  • small, light purple (lilac?) flowers blooming in some bushes at the side of the path…I noticed them through my peripheral vision
  • the smell of warming earth, slightly fragrant (not too much or too little, just right)
  • a bald eagle perched on the branch of a tree in the flats…it stayed motionless the whole time I ran by it, almost as if it was doing it just to make sure I could positively identify it, even with my bad vision…once I had, I lost track of it either because it flew away or because it got lost in the dead zones in my central vision that my chaotic cones create
  • 2 different runners, one near the beginning of my run the other at the end, passing me, running effortlessly, inspiring me to pick up my knees more and try to spend more time flying, less time shuffling
  • unlayering: removing my orange sweatshirt mid run and tying it around my waist as I ran down the franklin hill
  • a group of school kids biking south on the river road…encountered them first in the flats, later past franklin, then again under the lake street bridge…one kid called out, “greetings pedestrian!”
  • so much green in the gorge!
  • a biker calling out to me as I ran up the steep, long franklin hill, “you’re doing a great job on a tough hill!”
  • a walker calling out to me as I walked at the top…not sure what he said, something about my legs?
  • chanting raspberry/strawberry/blueberry/creme brule to steady my tempo
  • chanting there’s a bridge/there’s a bridge/at the top/at the top/look at it/look at it/never stop/never stop to keep me running up the hill
  • trickling, gurgling water in the flats near the limestone hill where the mudslide occurred a few years ago
  • glancing at the beautiful blue river
  • running with my shadow, first at my side, then leading me

Speaking of chanting, I have a new exercise I want to try. First, I want to think up a bunch of 3 syllable phrases (down the hill, walk to work, eat down town, out the door, sunday best, monday worst, turnip greens, climate change, just say please, in and out…). Then I’ll write these on small slips of paper and put them in a hat or a bowl or a bag. I’ll randomly pick out 8-10 and turn them into a poem (either in the order I select them or in an order of my choosing). Maybe the phrases should be a mixture of things from the run and popular or whimsical expressions? So much fun!

Oh, this poem! “We are engorged, gorging, and gorgeous”

Life is Beautiful
BY DORIANNE LAUX

                             and remote, and useful,
if only to itself. Take the fly, angel
of the ordinary house, laying its bright
eggs on the trash, pressing each jewel out
delicately along a crust of buttered toast.
Bagged, the whole mess travels to the nearest
dump where other flies have gathered, singing
over stained newsprint and reeking
fruit. Rapt on air they execute an intricate
ballet above the clashing pirouettes
of heavy machinery. They hum with life.
While inside rumpled sacks pure white
maggots writhe and spiral from a rip,
a tear-shaped hole that drools and drips
a living froth onto the buried earth.
The warm days pass, gulls scree and pitch,
rats manage the crevices, feral cats abandon
their litters for a morsel of torn fur, stranded
dogs roam open fields, sniff the fragrant edges,
a tossed lacework of bones and shredded flesh.
And the maggots tumble at the center, ripening,
husks membrane-thin, embryos darkening
and shifting within, wings curled and wet,
the open air pungent and ready to receive them
in their fecund iridescence. And so, of our homely hosts,
a bag of jewels is born again into the world. Come, lost
children of the sun-drenched kitchen, your parents
soundly sleep along the windowsill, content,
wings at rest, nestled in against the warm glass.
Everywhere the good life oozes from the useless
waste we make when we create—our streets teem
with human young, rafts of pigeons streaming
over the squirrel-burdened trees. If there is
a purpose, maybe there are too many of us
to see it, though we can, from a distance,
hear the dull thrum of generation’s industry,
feel its fleshly wheel churn the fire inside us, pushing
the world forward toward its ragged edge, rushing
like a swollen river into multitude and rank disorder.
Such abundance. We are gorged, engorging, and gorgeous.

may 2/RUN

3.4 miles
mississippi river road path, south/mississippi river trail, north
46 degrees

About half of this run was on the paved path above the Mississippi River. I ran faster, listening to my latest running playlist, looking down at the river, leaning into the wind. The other half, after I turned around and made my way back up the hill and over the double bridge, was on a (mostly) abandoned trail midway above the gorge. First it was dirt, then broken chunks of asphalt mixed with mulching leaves, then slightly cracked asphalt sloping to one side. I put away my headphones and listened to water trickling. I watched the river flowing down to the falls. Studied the trail, trying not to twist my ankle or slip on some wet leaves. The first half was flat and faster, the second undulating mini hills winding around the gorge. I encountered runners and walkers and dogs and their owners. My most memorable interaction was with a chipmunk that darted out in front of me. A first–usually only squirrels cross my path. I can recall one other time a chipmunk darted in front of me. Biking with my daughter on the 5 mile wooded trail to Fort Snelling, a chipmunk scurried across the path and right into my wheel. Did it make it through the spokes or was it hit and then flung to the side? Just talked to my daughter about this story and she says that the chipmunk definitely made it through the spokes.I’m not sure, but it was knocked out or dead, lying on the side of the trail. Sad and strange.

Why are they called chipmunks? Here’s what Merriam Webster has to say: alteration of earlier chitmunk, probably from Ojibwa ačitamo·nʔ red squirrel

I call them chippies and, like squirrels and other rodents, find them to be irritating. They used to live in the garage of our old house and now, at our new one, they like to get trapped in the gutter on the side of the house, chirping and chipping and freaking out the dog.

I love this poem I found on The Rumpus for many reasons, including: the repetition and expansion and the flipping (and critique) of the nature poem about a mountain,

ANOTHER POEM ABOUT A MOUNTAIN/joseph rios

Another poem about a mountain
that wants to be about a Mexican
fertilizing the lawn at a ski resort
at the foot of a mountain.

Another poem about a mountain
that wants to be about a Chicano
attending a holistic retreat
at a ski resort looking out a window
at a Mexican fertilizing the lawn
at the foot of a mountain.

Another poem about a mountain
that wants to be about a boy
who mows lawns with his father
then grows up to be a poet
looking out a window
at a Mexican fertilizing the lawn
at the foot of a mountain.

Another poem about a mountain
that wants to be about a gardener
mowing the lawn outside a hospital
in Fresno, which, like this, sits
between two rows of mountain,
where the boy cried for his father
and his brother, the convicted felon
with dog paws tattooed to his neck,
hugged him for the first time, long before
the boy came to the ski resort to write about
the man fertilizing the foot of the mountain.

april 30/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
40 degrees
light rain

I love running when it’s lightly raining. I could hear the drops falling on the bill of my cap but didn’t really feel them. The wind was barely blowing so the drops fell straight down and not into my face. Passed the Daily Walker early on. Encountered a few other runners and walkers. Heard some geese high above. Some voices down below me–were they rowers on the river? Not sure. Felt relaxed and strong. Chanted some triplet rhythms: strawberry/raspberry/blueberry. Thought about the summer and other things that I can’t remember. Noticed that the turnoff to a street that I’d like to run up is 2.6 miles from my house. Marveled at the beautiful green down in the gorge and the slivers of river that I can still see. Listened to the shuffling of the sand under my feet. Almost forgot–I could really smell the rain: chemicals, earth, warmth.

Wanted to find a poem about spring rain. Love the imagery in this one:

Two Sewing
Hazel Hall

The Wind is sewing with needles of rain.
With shining needles of rain
It stitches into the thin
Cloth of earth. In,
In, in, in.
Oh, the wind has often sewed with me.
One, two, three.

Spring must have fine things
To wear like other springs.
Of silken green the grass must be
Embroidered. One and two and three.
Then every crocus must be made
So subtly as to seem afraid
Of lifting colour from the ground;
And after crocuses the round
Heads of tulips, and all the fair
Intricate garb that Spring will wear.
The wind must sew with needles of rain,
With shining needles of rain,
Stitching into the thin
Cloth of earth, in,
In, in, in,
For all the springs of futurity.
One, two, three.

april 29/RUN

3.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
56 degrees

An early evening run (or late afternoon, depending on when you think the afternoon ends and the evening begins). Really helped my mood and energy level. Wonderful to get some fresh air and move around. I’ve always been restless, needing to move, starting to pace if I stayed in the same spot too long, but now my body is revolting even more. Sitting in a chair for an hour or more, I get stiff and sore and my kneecap shifts slightly out of place. Boo. An aging body is no fun….Ran without headphones. Didn’t hear much, even though the river road was busy. Lots of cars commuting home. Runners, bikers, dogs and their humans. I felt overdressed in shorts and a jacket, but many walkers were wearing winter coats–one lady had on ear muffs. Ear muffs?! It was 56 degrees. By the end of my run, I had unzipped my jacket and had stripped down to a tank top. I noticed a lot of green, but not much of the river. Saw a bunch of people heading down to the road to the rowing club. A rowing class? I’ve been thinking that that might be fun to do. When I reached the turn around point at the greenway, I heard some loud bellowing just below the railroad trestle. What was going on? I didn’t stick around to find out.

What a poem:

Anti-Elegy/cameron awkward-rich

She was:

33, bullet.
35, bullet.
20, bullet.
25, stabbed to death & run over by a car.
66 blade.
22 bullet.
17 fist.
36 blade.
blade.
blade.
bullet.
bullet.
bullet
stone
found dead in a field
overdose
bullet
unknown
rope
stone
stone
bullet
oncoming traffic
his own good hands…

& it becomes a kind of music, doesn’t it?
Senseless litany, field of roses, blood red
upturned skirts. I open my mouth & here,
the pith of me. Here, a flock of names, a girl
spilling out onto the street.

The trouble with elegy
is that it asks the dead

to live, it calls them back.
& who am I to say rise?

Walk again among those
who could not bear

the sight of you? Your body.
Your one good dress.

Today, someone will walk into the night
& then become it. Someone’s heart

will crowd with beloved ghosts
& who am I to say, dance

with me here a little longer? Never mind
the bloodshed darling, never mind.

Never mind.

Once, a man said mine
& a woman became an empty room.

Once, a man said mine
& the ocean split & the endless passage.

Once, a man said mine
& there’s a genocide –

how strange. To make the world
with language. To wield desire

as a weapon. To watch one nation burn
& another rise up at your feet.

Once, a girl looked in the mirror
& called herself, said my name is

said I am / I am & a man said
mine / mine / mine

I have so many questions:

Who are

What does

Why

How does it feel to

I’m sorry, I just think

I

And, define

I’m sorry

Your anger

You’re afraid of

Can fear be

Define

knife

Define

Fear is

Please

Forgive

me

Wow. This whole poem, and especially these lines: he trouble with elegy/is that it asks the dead/to live, it calls them back./who am I to say rise?

april 28/RUN

3.5 miles
mississippi river road path, south/mississippi river trail, north
41 degrees

What a wonderful run! Sunny. Hardly any wind. Cool. No headphones. Ran south towards the falls but turned around before I got there then decided to take the lower trail on the way back. The first part of it wasn’t paved. The second part, barely paved. The third, paved but hilly. More interesting and distracting. Couldn’t think too much about how far I had left to run because I was concentrating on avoiding cracks or holes or unexpected dips. I liked it. I should try more trail running. More green today. A few geese. Lots of walkers and bikers.

Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?
BY TRACY K. SMITH

1.

After dark, stars glisten like ice, and the distance they span
Hides something elemental. Not God, exactly. More like
Some thin-hipped glittering Bowie-being—a Starman
Or cosmic ace hovering, swaying, aching to make us see.
And what would we do, you and I, if we could know for sure

That someone was there squinting through the dust,
Saying nothing is lost, that everything lives on waiting only
To be wanted back badly enough? Would you go then,
Even for a few nights, into that other life where you
And that first she loved, blind to the future once, and happy?

Would I put on my coat and return to the kitchen where my
Mother and father sit waiting, dinner keeping warm on the stove?
Bowie will never die. Nothing will come for him in his sleep
Or charging through his veins. And he’ll never grow old,
Just like the woman you lost, who will always be dark-haired

And flush-faced, running toward an electronic screen
That clocks the minutes, the miles left to go. Just like the life
In which I’m forever a child looking out my window at the night sky
Thinking one day I’ll touch the world with bare hands
Even if it burns.

      2.

He leaves no tracks. Slips past, quick as a cat. That’s Bowie
For you: the Pope of Pop, coy as Christ. Like a play
Within a play, he’s trademarked twice. The hours

Plink past like water from a window A/C. We sweat it out,
Teach ourselves to wait. Silently, lazily, collapse happens.
But not for Bowie. He cocks his head, grins that wicked grin.

Time never stops, but does it end? And how many lives
Before take-off, before we find ourselves
Beyond ourselves, all glam-glow, all twinkle and gold?

The future isn’t what it used to be. Even Bowie thirsts
For something good and cold. Jets blink across the sky
Like migratory souls.

      3.

Bowie is among us. Right here
In New York City. In a baseball cap
And expensive jeans. Ducking into
A deli. Flashing all those teeth
At the doorman on his way back up.
Or he’s hailing a taxi on Lafayette
As the sky clouds over at dusk.
He’s in no rush. Doesn’t feel
The way you’d think he feels.
Doesn’t strut or gloat. Tells jokes.

I’ve lived here all these years
And never seen him. Like not knowing
A comet from a shooting star.
But I’ll bet he burns bright,
Dragging a tail of white-hot matter
The way some of us track tissue
Back from the toilet stall. He’s got
The whole world under his foot,
And we are small alongside,
Though there are occasions

When a man his size can meet
Your eyes for just a blip of time
And send a thought like SHINE
SHINE SHINE SHINE SHINE
Straight to your mind. Bowie,
I want to believe you. Want to feel
Your will like the wind before rain.
The kind everything simply obeys,
Swept up in that hypnotic dance
As if something with the power to do so
Had looked its way and said:
Go ahead.

april 25/RUN

5.45 miles
ford loop
60 degrees

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

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

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

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

How to Identify Birds by Sounds

april 21/RUNHIKE

2 mile run/.5 mile hike
mississippi river gorge above and below, north/south
72 degrees

Ran a mile with Scott to the Lake Street bridge then hiked below to the river for 1/2 mile, climbed up some stone steps by the greenway, then ran 1 mile back. Beautiful. Everything was brown–almost looked like fall but felt like summer. I’d like to do more run/hikes like this. This side of the gorge is similar to the east side, except the east side has paved paths, an abandoned parking lot and benches/picnic tables. Scott and I encountered some dirt mounds, halfway up the gorge, and wondered if they were burial mounds.

Spent some time looking through the archives of Boaat and found this cool poem: DRIFTING/aya satoh

april 20/RUN

3 miles
stone arch/pink bridge/river road/stone arch
62! degrees

Ran with Scott while FWA was in his clarinet lesson. Warm. Sunny. Windy. Crowded. Instead of our regular room through Boom Island, we decided to take the service road to the U and run across the pink bridge. That loop is only 2.2 miles so we added one more trip across Stone Arch bridge.

This week in my poetry class we talked about the caesura (a stop of pause in the metrical line). Here’s a great poem, by a wonderful person, about the caesura. Love it!

WEIGHT
by Carolina Ebeid

(hush listen)

Is a caesura a quiet hallway

in a church? Is it a silence

with commandments to hush,

listen? Was it composed for

two voices? Is that silence

like the time you said stop it

wait to the boys, how you

should have said stop, but

you said nothing behind

la carnicería that sold live

chickens? When a boy picked

up the brick throwing it at

the hen—wait— from a near

distance? Is the caesura that

near distance a brick travels

from hand to head? Is white

space like piano keys playing

softer & softer until zero

decibels? Is it the cleared

sweep after a missile falls

no more green? Does it share

the pull of gravity? Is it the living

body of Ana Mendieta? Dropped

—stop—out of a window?

Is she in a kind of white now?

Is it composed of no & no?

Wouldn’t you say the white

is like the space of an envelope?

Where the postage must go?

Dear person who won’t write

back, Most esteemed ghost

matter, My darling inventory

of nature? The white lie

white whisper hearsay flickering

all reaching the moment of

a candle blown out? Is the white

break like a hospital door

swinging open & there your father

delivered back to you? Linen

white muzzle across the face?

Does the break assemble into

a waiting room? One woman asks

for the housekeeper’s name

while her friend replies:

aren’t they all named Maria?

Is the white space clean

with the smell of ammonia?

Is there dizzying laughter? Say

stop it, wait. Is it like a hurricane

with the same name? Has it become

marble-quite like a wall

for interning ashes? Is it the sound

of rubble? Isn’t the empty white

more like moons growing brightest

from right to left? Right to left

like a message in the Arab

side of town, spray-painted

on a curfew night? Won’t you say

it’s composed for more than two

voices? Like a chorus that speaks

in unison there? Aren’t they all

named Maria? Do they make

the sound of rubble? The nothing

you say, is it dressed in white

like the guy in your group punching

the girl from the rival group who

talks trash at us & he hits her

because a woman is liberated just

like a man? Liberation?

Is it blurred & blank with flight?

Wasn’t it composed for a pyro-

technic finale? Whites of eyes

like the white of a room you walk into

& no one seems to be grieving?

Isn’t the white, the whites of human

teeth glossed with blood

on the concrete?

april 19/RUN

5.25 miles
franklin bridge loop
52 degrees!

Spring! Shorts, sun, Shadow, sparkling water, slight soft breeze. A wonderful run, even though it felt hard at times. Saw the Daily Walker but couldn’t greet him because we were running the same way. Encountered 2 separate groups of kids on bikes–one on the east side, one on the west. Heard some birds. Saw lots of brown. Noticed the white beach in the gorge, midway between the lake street bridge and the greenway. Watched my shadow for awhile. Mostly she was friendly but she irritated me on the franklin bridge right before I turned and she fell behind. Did a lot of counting: 1 2 3 45 1 2 345 then 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8…thought about how 7 is the only number with 2 syllables. Why is that? Convinced my self to not stop to walk until at least mile 4 and managed to do it. I think I saw the man in black in shorts and not all black! Looked for the eagle on the dead tree under the marshall side of the bridge.

Above all else, tried to stay focused on the river. Glad I could still see it–the leaves haven’t returned yet. At first it seemed still, not moving. But by the Franklin bridge I noticed its slow descent to the falls. I stopped on the lake street bridge to watch it more closely. Decided to talk into my smart phone. Maybe I can shape some of this into a poem? I’d like to try recording more of these moments this spring. A good way to force myself to slow down my runs.

looking at the mississippi/lake street bridge

transcript from recording:

standing here
on the lake street bridge
watching the river water
as it slowly moves
at certain spots it’s shimmering
at other spots
it almost looks like a pale ghost
ghostly ice just under the surface
or muddy swirls near the bottom
the dirt just being loosened
and brought up to the surface
the river is mostly brown and then blue
and everything’s brown
and the water just slowly moves
earlier it seemed
almost dead lifeless so still
and now I can see it’s just slowly
moving closer to the falls

With practice, I’m hoping to get better at these brief recordings. It was hard to capture with words the strange beauty of the river’s slow movement in many different forms. Part of the surface was sparkling, shimmering, undulating. Some was smooth, flat. A few vees were visible–was something in the water disrupting it? And then, the ghostly swirls. Speaking of vees, right after I finished recording, a skein of geese flew overhead, not too far above the bridge.

Here’s a poem I just found about the river (and Heraclitus!):

SAME SUN, SAME MOON, SAME RIVER
BY NEIL CARPATHIOS

It is easy to imagine Heraclitus
walking stone streets witnessing
life in Athens with no permanence,
stopping strangers to explain about the river,
being laughed at as they moved
from point A to point B fearing Apollo
and Hades then at dusk drinking wine,
waiting for the happy obliteration alcohol brings,
not realizing how lucky they were
to be stupid and so deep
in their bodies even the sun
and moon trading places over and over
meant nothing.

april 16/RUN

3.5 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
51 degrees

What a day! Sunny. Light breeze. Warm. So long snow. Passed a woman early on, breathing heavily. Her loud gasps, almost echoing above the gorge, followed me for a few minutes. Celebrated with my shadow, both of us so happy to be outside this morning. Wondered what the workers in yellow vests were waiting for near the lake street bridge. Heard that same barking dog–the one I heard a couple of times a few months ago–pass by me in that same white truck. Weird. Stopped at the railroad trestle and took the steps down, below the trestle, still above the river. Hiked for a few minutes, climbing a few small hills–more like mounds. Heard a few woodpeckers. Turned around and had a wonderful view of the underbelly of the railroad bridge. Then started running again. When I was almost done, a squirrel decided to race me, not darting out in front of me but running beside me through the dead leaves. Was able to say good morning to the Daily Walker.

Here’s one other poem that I marked to remember from The Collected Works of James Laughlin:

THE LONGEST YEAR/james laughlin

Began with snowstorms, one after another.
In March a frantic night of wind took down
The huge sugar maple that showed a hundred
Rings when it was cut up for firewood.
Spring was dubious and too short, a hot
Summer too long. A child drowned in Tobey
Pond, it was horrible. Only in October
Were there a few perfect days with the leaves
Ablaze. Again before its time, baleful winter
Set in. Cars skidded on the icy roads.
At Christmas a false thaw deceived us
For a week before a deadly ice storm had
The branches of the trees cracking like
Rifle shots as they broke off all night.
It was a battlefield in the woodlot
Next morning. I didn’t count the days
Of that malevolent year, I only wished
Never to see such another. . . until,
Blessed miracles, it was true spring,
the lilacs blooming, the daffodils
Nodding, and you, Persephone, came up
From the world below to seek me out.

april 15/RUN

2.15 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
52 degrees

Watched the Boston Marathon this morning. Last year, when I was watching it, we were getting 17 inches of snow. This year, sun and above freezing temperatures. Did a short run with Scott this afternoon. Windy and overcast but warmer with a clear path. Felt pretty easy, like I was bouncing on the path.

Found a draft of a poem that I wrote a few years ago. It’s inspired by what I’d recently read on how different writers remember their thoughts when they’re walking or running.

How do you keep

an idea from running away? Grab a stick
and etch it in your arm? Pin a piece
of paper to your clothes? Jot it down
in a pocket-sized notebook? Speak it
into your smart phone? Why
not let it run away
instead of immobilizing it with words.
You might be able to follow it
into the woods or
over the creek or
down by the river or
under the bridge.
Words may not be fast enough to follow
but you might
with your flying feet.

And here’s a poem I read (and heard) this morning on the Poetry Foundation site. What a poem! I love the title and so many of the images–especially describing the field after harvest as a man’s unruly face. Even better than describing it as stubble (which I’ve often thought and read before).

Thinking of Frost
Major Jackson, 1968

I thought by now my reverence would have waned,
matured to the tempered silence of the bookish or revealed
how blasé I’ve grown with age, but the unrestrained
joy I feel when a black skein of geese voyages like a dropped
string from God, slowly shifting and soaring, when the decayed
apples of an orchard amass beneath its trees like Eve’s
first party, when driving and the road Vanna-Whites its crops
of corn whose stalks will soon give way to a harvester’s blade
and turn the land to a man’s unruly face, makes me believe
I will never soothe the pagan in me, nor exhibit the propriety
of the polite. After a few moons, I’m loud this time of year,
unseemly as a chevron of honking. I’m fire in the leaves,
obstreperous as a New England farmer. I see fear
in the eyes of his children. They walk home from school,
as evening falls like an advancing trickle of bats, the sky
pungent as bounty in chimney smoke. I read the scowl
below the smiles of parents at my son’s soccer game, their agitation,
the figure of wind yellow leaves make of quaking aspens.

april 14/RUN

4.75 miles
to top of franklin bridge and back
32 degrees
5% snow-covered

The snow is melting. The birds are chirping. The path is almost all clear. So quiet and calm today. Mostly cloudy, making the river look gray. The floodplain forest was all white. Occasionally the sun sat on the surface of the river leaving a bright circle of shimmering light. Saw a few squirrels. Heard some geese. Any crows? I don’t think so. A few voices below–a family hiking through the snow on the gorge. I wonder when the rowers will return?

Yesterday morning I started reading through The Collected Poems of James Laughlin. What a big book! 1214 pages. I’m reading through them quickly, marking the ones I especially like. In general, I like his simple, clear style. Brief lines. A quirky voice. Here are a few that I marked:

THE POET TO THE READER/james laughlin

These poems are not I
hope what anyone ex-

pets and yet reader
I hope that when you

read them you will say
I’ve felt that too but

it was such a natural
think it was too plain

to see until you saw
it for me in your poem.

IN THE SNOW/james laughlin

The track of the ermine
the track of the mouse

tracks of a deer in the
snow and my track that

wanders and hesitates
doubling and crossing

itself stops to burrow
and circles trees this

track I made twists like
the veins in a leaf of a

crack in a mirror and it
cries seems to cry cries

to the sun cries sun sun
touch and burn cries sun

touch and save cries to
the snow–and then snow

falls covering everything
new snow covers my track

covers the track of the
ermine mouse and deer.

LITTLE BITS OF PAPER: AN ARS POETIC/james laughlin

Most of them began with a few words
read in some book or a phrase over-

heard scratched on a bit of paper
these chits go into the side pocket

of my jacket usually they stay there
until the coat is so spotted it must

be sent to the cleaners when I empty
the pocket most of the slips go into

the wastebasket but a few are pasted
with Scotch tape on the bathroom mir-

ro where I see them when I’m shaving
some stay there a long time but with

some there is an urgency they come
into my head when I wake to pee in

the middle of the night more words
come with them almost faster than I

can scribble on the yellow pad on the
bedtable the words beget other words

(it’s like spilled milk spreading on
the kitchen floor) words making other

words I don’t make them they make
themselves into the poem but some-

times in the morning I can’t read
what I’ve written (because I wrote

in the dark) so that’s the end of
that one it’s had its say and it

won’t come back I write in darkness.

I picked this last one because it made me think of Susan Howe and her story about Jonathan Edwards and how he would pin ideas he had on scraps of paper to his clothes as he was riding around on his horse. A couple of years ago, I was thinking a lot about how runners hold onto the ideas that they have as their running–scribble it on pieces of paper, carry a small notebook, scratch it in their arm with a stick, talk into their smart phone. Maybe I should experiment with this some more? As I was trying to recall who Howe had been talking about (I had forgotten), I discovered that she wrote a book about Emily Dickinson, My Emily Dickinson. I might have to check it out of the library. Apparently, Dickinson wrote many of her poems on scraps of paper.

april 9/RUN

3.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
52 degrees

Decided to run again this morning because tomorrow winter returns: ice, snow, blizzard conditions. Hopefully it will melt quickly but if not, at least I was able to run just above the gorge today. It’s sunny and windy. My legs felt sore–not injured sore, just sore sore–and it was hard to just be in the run, not thinking. I tried chanting a little and that helped. Strawberry blueberry raspberry. Haven’t seen the Daily Walker in a while. Enjoyed listening to the grit scratch scratch scratch. Noticed a few stray patches of snow down below the lake street bridge. Marveled at the beauty of the floodplain forest, bare and brown. Didn’t really look at the river. Encountered a few dogs and their owners.

The daily poem over at poems.org is amazing:

Holdfast
Robin Beth Schaer

The dead are for morticians & butchers
to touch. Only a gloved hand. Even my son
will leave a grounded wren or bat alone
like a hot stove. When he spots a monarch
in the driveway he stares. It’s dead,
I say, you can touch it. The opposite rule:
butterflies are too fragile to hold
alive, just the brush of skin could rip
a wing. He skims the orange & black whorls
with only two fingers, the way he learned
to feel the backs of starfish & horseshoe crabs
at the zoo, the way he thinks we touch
all strangers. I was sad to be born, he tells me,
because it means I will die. I once loved someone
I never touched. We played records & drank
coffee from chipped bowls, but didn’t speak
of the days pierced by radiation. A friend
said: Let her pretend. She needs one person
who doesn’t know. If I held her, I would
have left bruises, if I undressed her, I would
have seen scars, so we never touched
& she never had to say she was dying.
We should hold each other more
while we are still alive, even if it hurts.
People really die of loneliness, skin hunger
the doctors call it. In a study on love,
baby monkeys were given a choice
between a wire mother with milk
& a wool mother with none. Like them,
I would choose to starve & hold the soft body.

I think I was that one friend to my mom. We would sit in the two matching chairs in her bedroom, watching bad tv–mostly The Real Housewives of New York–and good tv–the barefoot contessa–and laugh and talk, forgetting about how she was dying from stage four pancreatic cancer.

april 8/RUN

4.6 miles
to downtown
69 degrees
wind: 6 mph, gusts up to 30 mph

Not sure how much wind there was but I was running into all of it the whole way. It made it much harder. I stopped to walk several times but I still made it to downtown. Do I remember anything other than feeling sore and tired? The river was beautiful. I was able to make a satisfying shshshsh sound on the grit at the edge of the path. My back felt fine. I saw my shadow, running beside me. What a fabulous late afternoon. It is hard to believe that we are supposed to get over a foot of snow on Thursday.

Sitting by the open window writing this, I hear birds chirping and cooing and trilling. So I decided to look for a poem about birds and this is what I found:

Words are Birds
BY FRANCISCO X. ALARCÓN

words
are birds
that arrive
with books
and spring

they
love
clouds
the wind
and trees

some words
are messengers
that come
from far away
from distant lands

for them
there are
no borders
only stars
moon and sun

some words
are familiar
like canaries
others are exotic
like the quetzal bird

some can stand
the cold
others migrate
with the sun
to the south

some words
die
caged—
they’re difficult
to translate

and others
build nests
have chicks
warm them
feed them

teach them
how to fly
and one day
they go away
in flocks

the letters
on this page
are the prints
they leave
by the sea

april 7/RUN

3.25 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
53 degrees/84% humidity
shorts again! too warm!

A beautiful morning. Sunny. Warm. Not too windy. Ran towards the falls instead of downtown. Tried to hang onto some thoughts about my vision diagnosis from 2016. What did I feel when the doctor told me I was losing my central vision? Relief, mostly. Finally I knew what was wrong with me. It wasn’t something I was making up and it wasn’t neurological (my big fear). Now that I knew I could deal with it. This relief lasted for a few months and then the doubt crept in as I wondered if my vision was really as bad as the doctor said it was or if my easy acceptance of the diagnosis was too easy. Then, I discovered that what I had been diagnosed with (Best’s disease) was not actually what I had. Instead, I had a rarer, more vague form of cone dystrophy–pinpointing the exact disease might not be possible, wouldn’t change anything and would involve annoying, costly test. I had a great thought about this just as I was starting my run, but then forgot it. I should have stopped to speak it into my phone. Something about knowing and not knowing, embracing the uncertainty of never really knowing and accepting that knowing exactly what my vision problem is won’t make a difference in my treatment (there is none) or the speed at which my central vision deteriorates. And, in fact, knowing is not possible. This not knowing is not ignorance–more like never knowing enough, having perpetually incomplete knowledge, the impossibility of KNOWING.

As I was trying to think about what word to use for this phenomenon, I remembered “bewilderment”–first read in Fanny Howe’s great essay of the same name. Here are a few other sources that I bookmarked way back in August about bewilderment (confusion, uncertain, unknowing, wonder):

And here’s a source I found today: Unknowing Lyric

While looking through my old journal, I found this beautiful poem:

march 28/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
41 degrees

Today I tried to listen. Some sounds I heard: the scratching of a metal rake on the bare pavement; a buzzing plane up above; birds chirping and cooing–any cawing? I can’t remember; the crunch crunch crunch of my striking feet on the gritty path; another plane roaring; dead leaves shuffling in the wind; car wheels whooshing. Then I forgot to listen and marveled at the earthy brown gorge. Why do I find this color so appealing? Looked through the floodplain forest all the way to the sliver of river. Greeted the Welcoming Oaks. Noticed a number of branches gone–must have been what the Minneapolis parks crew was doing in January with their chainsaws. Said good morning to the Daily Walker towards the end of my run. Chanted triplets. Wanted to stop and take a break at the 2 mile mark but didn’t. Decided that 40 degrees and slightly overcast are some of my favorite conditions for running.

I’m reading Craig Morgan Teicher’s lovely book, We Begin In Gladness: How Poetry Progresses and I just found this line:

It’s my puzzle to work out, and yours, and Szybist’s too, and where those bubbles overlap, where one interior meets another, and where inner meets outer, is poetry (29).

Again, the inner and outer. Where inner meets outer. Inside outside. Inner weather outer weather.

Lately I’ve been briefly waking up at 5:30 and then going back to sleep until 6:15 when the alarm goes off. This up too early then back to sleep again produces some vivid dreams. This morning, I dreamed about my mom, before she was sick. She was healthy and happy and wearing just the right shade of bright orange pants and red lipstick. We looked at each other and smiled. I woke up happy, thinking about how wonderful it was to see her again, especially in bright orange pants.

Are you sewing, Mom?
Angeline Schellenberg

my mother asks as
Grandma twines
her fingers through hospital sheets.
I’m planting marigolds,
she answers with a childish
grin. And tomorrow
you and I will bake
meat buns for Christmas.

I love this little poem that I discovered the other day.

march 26/RUN

5.1 miles
franklin loop
39 degrees
clear path!

Finally, after more than 2 months I was able to run the franklin loop! I checked and the last time I ran it was on January 7th. A wonderful morning for a run. It felt much warmer than 39 degrees. Sunny. I watched my shadow in front of me. Checked out the floodplain forest below me. Listened to the satisfying sounds of gritty sand crunching under my feet and the cars slowly approaching on the road from behind. Noticed several squirrels, too busy to dart out in front of me. Recited a few triplet melodies (raspberry/strawberry/chocolate) and a line or two from “Sick” by Shel Silverstein (I cannot go to school today/said little Peggy Ann McKay). Crossed the Franklin bridge and ran on a sidewalk stained white from salt. Glanced down at the East River Flats and a giant rock, almost taller than me, lodged in the grass between the walking and biking path. Made note of the terrible condition of the road between the Franklin bridge and the railroad trestle. So many potholes! Wondered if the eagle that used to perch on a branch near the marshall/lake street bridge was back (they weren’t). Decided to walk up the steps instead of running up the hill and crossing the road at the spot where a runner was hit by a car and killed two years ago.

Since it’s Robert Frost’s 145th birthday, I thought I’d post my favorite Frost poem. I read it in high school and I think it was one of the first poems I ever memorized. It helped me through my injury two summers ago.

Out, Out–
Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside them in her apron
To tell them “Supper.” At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all spoiled. “Don’t let him cut my hand off—
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!”
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

march 25/RUN

4.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
99% clear walking path

Colder, causing an occasional slippery spot. Still felt like spring. Again, bright sun. Bare, brown ground. Open paths. Was able to mostly run on the walking path for the first time in months. I enjoyed the run but was always worried about my back. It didn’t hurt while I was running, but it’s been sore off and on for a few months. I don’t remember hearing the grit on the path or any rustling leaves. Too cold for dripping water. I think the most memorable thing about my run was the river. Dozens of ice floes slowly moving down the river. Beautiful and calming. At the halfway point, I stopped to watch their graceful progression towards Minnehaha Falls. As I ran back I wondered about our relative speeds–mine and the ice.

Layers: too many! 2 shirts, a vest, gloves, a buff, running tights, visor. The gloves came off after mile 1. My orange shirt, after mile 2. Pretty soon, I’ll be wearing shorts.

Shedding Skin
Harryette Mullen, 1953

Pulling out of the old scarred skin
(old rough thing I don’t need now
I strip off
slip out of
leave behind)

I slough off deadscales
flick skinflakes to the ground

Shedding toughness
peeling layers down
to vulnerable stuff

And I’m blinking off old eyelids
for a new way of seeing

By the rock I rub against
I’m going to be tender again



march 23/RACE

Hot Dash 5K
26:10
river front Minneapolis
30 degrees

Most of the races I run these days are on this route. St. Anthony Main to the Plymouth bridge, south on the West River Road, Stone Arch Bridge. A nice route, even if the cobblestones at St. Anthony Main are terrible. Avoided the many potholes and missing cobblestones, but ran into a big orange cone. Orange is one of the colors I struggle to see. Just happy I didn’t fall or injure myself. Perfect weather for a race–sunny, hardly any wind, cool but not too cold. Didn’t even consider running with headphones, which is funny because for the first few years of running I couldn’t imagine running without them. Don’t remember hearing any conversations or exuberant cheering. There were some drums banging near the Stone Arch Bridge. About 2.5 miles in there was a hill that I hated. Then another hill. Then, thankfully, the finish. I never wanted to stop and walk, but I was glad to be done.

march 22/RUN

3.2 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
41 degrees
feels like spring!

We are more than midway through the Great Melt of ’19 and everything is starting to feel springy. Sunshine. Warm air. Brown ground. Even though it’s only 41 degrees it still felt warm enough to be in short sleeves for the second half of my run. It’s been a long time since my arms have had direct contact with the sun. Slowly, I’m losing layers. The river was completely open. The path, clear. I went to the right instead of the left today so I didn’t see the Daily Walker or the Man in Black. Encountered a few dogs and their humans. Some bikers. A runner in shorts and a tank top. At least, I think he was wearing a tank top–it was the color of his flesh, so it was hard to tell. I don’t remember hearing much as I ran–a few voices, approaching me from behind. I wondered if they were running or biking (they were biking). And some kids having fun at the playground. I don’t remember dripping or airplanes overhead or the hum of traffic on the other side of the river or grit crunching under my feet or my heavy breathing or crows cawing. Forgot to think about anything else but how beautiful it was and how my back was a little sore. Someday soon, I should record myself talking as I run or give myself something to try and think about.

addendum: I almost forgot about the black glove I saw lying on the edge of the path looking forgotten. Why is it always black? How long has it been there–was it buried under the snow or lost today? Is it missed? Was it dropped right on the spot where I saw it or had it traveled from somewhere else, carried by the snow? Did a runner lose it? A walker? At night? In the morning? During a snowstorm? So many questions!

I’ve started checking out Poetry Daily every day. Last week, I discovered the poem, Hearing Loss by Noah Balding. They cannot hear the human voice, but only other, peripheral sounds. This reminds me of my vision problems and my inability to see faces.

march 19/RUN

4.25 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
39 balmy degrees
1% super slick barely frozen slippery spots, 5% puddles

Officially, spring starts this week. And, unlike many past Minnesota Marches, it feels like spring is starting too. Still barely reaching the 40s. Still snow on the ground. But birds and bright sun, more melting snow and a vague sense of warmth/warmish air is all around. A good run but one tinged with some worry. Scott has arthritis and unless he’s able to change the way he runs, he might have to stop running altogether. Most likely he won’t be able to run the marathon. I am sad for him and for the possibility of not running with him. And worried, wondering if the marathon might be too much for my body too. Before my run, I felt every ache–in my lower back, my right calf and knee, my left foot–more acutely.

What do I remember from the run? Slip-sliding over barely visibly shiny slick spots. Hearing the birds. Marveling at the river’s surface shimmering in the sun. Watching my shadow run ahead of me. Getting passed by someone running much faster than me and watching their graceful gait. Thinking about my form, trying to keep my feet straight and my arms even. Listening to the dripping and melting. Feeling too warm. Encountering a runner in shorts. Tried to think about what I had been pondering pre-run after finding a fun poem by Sharon Bryan: the body and the soul. What is their relationship and what is a soul? Walt Whitman says the body is the soul and Michel Foucault claims the soul is the prison of the body. And here’s how Bryan imagines it:

Body and Soul
BY SHARON BRYAN

They grow up together
but they aren’t even fraternal

twins, they quarrel a lot
about where to go and what

to do, the body complains
about having to carry

the soul everywhere as if
it were some helpless cripple,

and the soul snipes that it can go
places the body never dreamed of,

then they quarrel over which one of them
does the dreaming, but the truth is,

they can’t live without each other and
they both know it, anima, animosity,

the diaphragm pumps like a bellows
and the soul pulls out all the stops—

sings at the top of its lungs, laughs
at its little jokes, it would like

to think it has the upper hand
and can leave whenever it wants—

but only as long as it knows
the door will be unlocked

when it sneaks back home before
the sun comes up, and when the body

says where have you been, the soul
says, with a smirk, I was at the end

of my tether, and it was, like a diver
on the ocean floor or an astronaut

admiring the view from outside
the mother ship, and like them

it would be lost without its air
supply and protective clothing,

the body knows that and begins
to hum, I get along without you

very well, and the soul says, Listen
to that, you can’t sing worth a lick

without me, they’ll go on bickering
like this until death do them part—

and then, even if the soul seems to float
above the body for a moment,

like a flame above a candle, pinch
the wick and it disappears.

Love these lines: the diaphragm pumps like a bellows/
and the soul pulls out all the stops—
/sings at the top of its lungs, laughs/at its little jokes

I tried to think about the body and the soul while I ran, but I mostly thought about my body only: my knees, back, shoulders, toes, feet. Were they sore? Was I landing on my foot correctly? How’s my right knee? Are my shoulders too tense?

The other day, I wrote about running in the fog. Here’s a poem someone posted on twitter this morning. It’s from The New Yorker, May 2012.

Confessions of a Nature Lover
By Bob Hicok

Back then I was going steady
with fog, who could dance
like no one’s business, I threw her over
for a leaf that one day fluttered
first her shadow then her whole life
into my hand, that’s a lot
of responsibility and a lot
of relatives, this leaf
and that leaf and all the other leaves
hung around, I told her
I needed space, which was true,
without it I’d only be a soul,
and no one’s sure that wisp
is real, that’s why we say
of real estate, location, location,
location, and of speech,
locution, locution, locution,
and of live, yes, yes, yes,
I am on my knees, will you have me,
world?

So much to think about in this poem. For now, I’m just thinking about his reference to fog. After running in the fog last Thursday, I did some free writing around fog and my log entry. Here’s a draft of a poem:

march 14/4 miles/heavy fog/43 degrees

Liquid-y layers
drip drop drape

the Forest’s floor. Fog
reaches Road’s ribbon,

the river’s edge.
Everything is enveloped.

Shrouded. Cocooned. Consumed.
Light, devoured.

Only a single bike lamp carves out
a bright circle in the thick air

while several sirens sing
an invisible song.


march 16/RUN

3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
25 degrees
20% super slick thin ice covered

Birds! Sun! Almost clear path! 50 degree weather next week! Finally. This last month of winter has been rough. Too much snow. Too much cold. Too much ice. It’s still cold. And there’s still snow and ice. But spring is coming someday soon. My run today felt good. Hardly any wind. Long stretches of clear path. Heard some trickling water and lots of disembodied voices. Behind me on the path. Below me in the gorge. The river was completely open, sparkling in the sunlight. Do I remember anything from the run? Taking my gloves off around mile 2. Pushing up my sleeves too. Feeling my ponytail flapping as I picked up the pace. Running/gliding/sliding over a short stretch of sheer ice between the lake street bridge and the greenway. Passing lots of pedestrians.

My poem for today is WS Merwin’s Sight. He died yesterday. A wonderful poet. I love the form of this poem. 5 quatrains. Each one starting with a one syllable word.

SIGHT
W. S. Merwin


Once
a single cell
found that it was full of light
and for the first time there was seeing

when
I was a bird
I could see where the stars had turned
and I set out on my journey

high
in the head of a mountain goat
I could see across a valley
under the shining trees something moving

deep
in the green sea
I saw two sides of the water
and swam between them

I
look at you
in the first light of the morning
for as long as I can

march 14/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
43! degrees
100% soaked socks 25% deep puddles

Decided I was done running in the basement. I needed to get outside and be by the gorge and I didn’t care that everything was saturated with snow or ice or cold water. I’m very glad I went even if my socks got soaked before I left my block. My right shoe made this really cool squishing sound every time I took a step. Too bad I didn’t get a recording of the noise. Everything everywhere was so wet. Dripping. Gushing. Trickling. Seeping. Even the air. Almost 100% humidity. And the fog–wow. Thick. The river looked so beautiful with the fog hovering above the water that I actually gasped as I ran above it. Got to say good morning to the Man in Black. Encountered only one biker, their bike light cutting through the thick air. Heard some sirens but couldn’t see the flashing lights until they were almost right beside me. It started raining around the 2 mile point. A light rain that I hardly noticed. What I remember most about the run: the haunting, hovering fog

Fog
BY CARL SANDBURG

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

I do also remember encountering 2 dogs with their human, walking in the rain.

The Rainwalkers
Denise Levertov

An old man whose black face
shines golden-brown as wet pebbles
under the streetlamp, is walking two mongrel dogs of dis-
proportionate size, in the rain,
in the relaxed early-evening avenue.

The small sleek one wants to stop,
docile to the imploring soul of the trashbasket,
but the young tall curly one
wants to walk on; the glistening sidewalk
entices him to arcane happenings.

Increasing rain. The old bareheaded man
smiles and grumbles to himself.
The lights change: the avenue’s
endless nave echoes notes of
liturgical red. He drifts

between his dogs’ desires.
The three of them are enveloped –
turning now to go crosstown – in their
sense of each other, of pleasure,
of weather, of corners,
of leisurely tensions between them
and private silence.

Love the last sentence: “The three of them are enveloped–turning now to go crosstown–in their sense of each other, of pleasure, of weather, of corners, or leisurely tensions between them and private silence.” Enveloped. Such a better word than surrounded or consumed or covered or layered. In what was I enveloped today above the gorge?

march 11/RUN

3.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
24 degrees
65% snow-covered
25% rough, ice shard covered

Oh beautiful sun! It seemed much warmer than 24 degrees. Too bad it snowed a heavy, wet snow this weekend that melted and then refroze in sharp, jagged ruts or almost refroze in glassy, slippery surfaces on the path. So treacherous! I slipped a lot, but never fell. The hardest part was navigating the sidewalks for the 4 blocks to the river. Once on the river road path, it was easier. Some bare pavement and only a few stretches of jagged ice. It is very difficult to notice anything or think about anything or sink into a deeper layer of connection with the world when you have to focus so much attention on avoiding ice shards or mini ice rinks or deceptive puddles that are deeper than you think or slicker than you think. I did hear the geese honking. Smelled some almost burnt toast. Saw that the river was open along the east shore. No Daily Walker or Man in Black. Did see the older woman who walks with ski poles and a few speedy runners. A dog and its human. A bike–can’t remember if it was a fat tire.

The Chairs That No One Sits In
BY BILLY COLLINS

You see them on porches and on lawns
down by the lakeside,
usually arranged in pairs implying a couple

who might sit there and look out
at the water or the big shade trees.
The trouble is you never see anyone

sitting in these forlorn chairs
though at one time it must have seemed   
a good place to stop and do nothing for a while.

Sometimes there is a little table
between the chairs where no one   
is resting a glass or placing a book facedown.

It might be none of my business,
but it might be a good idea one day
for everyone who placed those vacant chairs

on a veranda or a dock to sit down in them
for the sake of remembering
whatever it was they thought deserved

to be viewed from two chairs   
side by side with a table in between.
The clouds are high and massive that day.

The woman looks up from her book.
The man takes a sip of his drink.
Then there is nothing but the sound of their looking,

the lapping of lake water, and a call of one bird
then another, cries of joy or warning—
it passes the time to wonder which.

I want to place my deck chairs on my deck and look out at the tree down the alley and try to hear the sound of me looking. What does that sound like? Also, I wonder, are the chairs forlorn? Maybe they are relieved to not have the burden of some human’s butt sitting heavily on them?

march 8/RUN

3.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
24 degrees
75% snow-covered

Sun! Sun! Sun! Birds. Warmer air. Melting ice. Impending snowstorms. Soft, shifting, slick snow. A gaggle of gabbing geese. Good mornings exchanged with the man in black. 5 seconds of bare pavement–a jagged strip in the middle of the path. Ran without headphones. What did I hear? The geese, my ponytail gently hitting my jacket. What did I think about? How draining it was to run on the path, slipping in the snow. How much nicer it will be once the path is clear. Don’t remember smelling anything–no burnt toast drifting down from the grill on lake street.

Thinking again about layers. After a winter of double shirts and double running tights, I’m ready to have less of them. What freedom! But what layers can we never lose?

march 6/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin hill turn around
95% snow-covered
16 degrees/feels like 5

More sun. Blue sky. Birds chirping. But no snow melting. No bare pavement. No running on the walking path, dipping below the road, above the floodplain forest. Only running on the bike path right by the road. Wasn’t able to greet the Daily Walker because we were both running the same direction. Did get to say “good morning” to the man in black. Wow, he’s tall and lean and friendly. Heard the geese by the railroad trestle. Saw a spazzy squirrel dart across the road and the path. Listened to my vest rustling as I moved. Sounded like a soft brush on a snare drum. Wore my yaktrax again. The path was slick and slushy, making it harder to fly, especially as I ran up the franklin hill. The river was mostly covered with snow but as I neared the franklin bridge, it opened up and I could see gaping black holes. Encountered 2 fat tires and a walker–a woman bundled up with a mask over her mouth. No dogs. No snow blowers or trucks backing up. No cars revving their engines or disembodied voices traveling up from the gorge. I don’t remember thinking about anything as I ran–did I?

layers: green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket, black vest, hood, buff, gloves–which came off around mile 2.

Almost forgot–at some point, it started snowing big fluffy flakes. In my face as I ran south. Running under the interstate bridge I looked up and thought I saw them swirling like static–was it too much sun in my eyes or did they actually look like that? Watched a truck barrel across the interstate and wondered: do they see this staticky snow too? I liked the snow–looking at it, but not when it landed on my eyelashes. By the time I was done running, I think the sun was out again. Can you believe we might get another foot of snow this weekend?

I recently discovered Linda Hogan. She is amazing. Here are two poems from her collection, Rounding the Human Corners:

from Eucalyptus

Some of the religious say the five senses are thieves
so let’s say I am stolen
and like the tree I can lose myself
layer after layer
all the way down to infinity
and that’s when the world has eyes and sees.
The whole world
loves this unlayered human.

The Way In

Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, wounding,
and beauty.
To enter stone, be water.
To rise through hard earth, be plant
desiring sunlight, believing in water.
To enter fire, be dry.
To enter life, be food.

march 5/RUN

3.35 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
10 degrees/feels like -3
100% snow-covered

Cold. Windy. Wonderful! It was tough running straight into the wind on the way out, but it felt great being outside above the gorge. The river is frozen over. The path is still completely covered. Wore my yaktrax today. Imagined that I was tall, strong. Wanted to think about how the cold felt but it was difficult because I had so many layers on.

layers: green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket, gray jacket, 2 pairs of running tights, 2 pairs of socks, buff, hood, visor, mittens, gloves

Didn’t feel the cold. Not even in my fingertips. Just warm. And encumbered by layers. Too many sleeves. Bulky, heavy gloves. A jacket zipped up too high. What will it feel like without the layers? Bare legs? Hopefully in a month or two I’ll get to remember.

Before heading outside, I read the article, Counting Feet: On Running and Poetic Meter. Love the ending line:

both running and poetry are ways of feeling, inside ourselves, that steady beat of being human—the marker that, yes, we are alive, and living, and carrying ourselves forward on ever-moving feet.

I can’t stop thinking about inside/outside and their complicated relationship.

Last night, I read a new poem that I don’t quite understand yet but with which I am enchanted. It’s about salt–which, by the way, is something I can feel right now on my face, caked post run. I am a salty sweater.

Salt
BY HUANG FAN
TRANSLATED BY HUANG FAN AND MARGARET ROSS

Grain by grain, salt’s frozen tears
Help me count history’s disasters
I can’t blame salt for telling food
You’re full of wounds

Salt misses the freedom of the ocean
Remembering waves, salt jumps into a soup
But it finds there only my reflected face
It hides by making itself too soft to chew

Sometimes, salt follows a cold sweat
Waking me from a nightmare
Dreamed blood tastes like salt
As if in human failure lay the silence of God

Having swum in the ocean
Salt considers soup a shallow pond
For salt, every meal is a jail

One day, an extra salty flavor
Makes me cough and cough
It feels like cold fish bones scraping my throat
Maybe it’s salt telling me
I’m going to prison in your body
Don’t ever forget who I am!

Translated from the Chinese

I almost forgot to mention that it was my mom’s birthday. If she were alive, she’d be 77. I imagine she wouldn’t have wanted to run today in this cold and wind, but she might have gone cross country skiing. Oh to be out in the wintery world with her, talking and laughing and admiring the snow decorating the trees!

march 4/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
6 degrees/feels like -3
100% snow-covered

Totally snow-covered path. According to my log, the last time the path was half covered was feb 2 and 0% covered, jan 25. That’s a long time (for me at least) to be running on snow. There’s a possibility of another 7 inches on Saturday. Wow. The run started slow and I felt cold. Right around the time I reached the railroad trestle, when I was planning to run around, I suddenly felt really good. So I kept going for 1/2 mile longer. Heard some geese–and saw them in a flash–somewhere between the lake street bridge and the railroad trestle. Also heard my feet crunching on the path. Watched my shadow. Didn’t see another runner or the Daily Walker. Did see one walker. No fat tires or skiers. Just me and the ice chunks scattered on the side of the path. The other day, when Scott and I were running, we saw a brown mouse unsuccessfully try to scale a mountain–probably 4 feet high–of snow. I wondered what happened to it. It scampered up the side but then fell backwards onto the path.

march 2/RUN

1 mile
mississippi river path, south/north
20 degrees
100% snow-covered

Was planning to run 3 miles with Scott but the path was terrible. Mushy, uneven, slick. Yuck!

From a Window
BY CHRISTIAN WIMAN

Incurable and unbelieving
in any truth but the truth of grieving,

I saw a tree inside a tree
rise kaleidoscopically

as if the leaves had livelier ghosts.
I pressed my face as close

to the pane as I could get
to watch that fitful, fluent spirit

that seemed a single being undefined
or countless beings of one mind

haul its strange cohesion
beyond the limits of my vision

over the house heavenwards.
Of course I knew those leaves were birds.

Of course that old tree stood
exactly as it had and would

(but why should it seem fuller now?)
and though a man’s mind might endow

even a tree with some excess
of life to which a man seems witness,

that life is not the life of men.
And that is where the joy came in.

march 1/RUN

3.35 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
12 degrees/feels like 12 degrees
99% snow-covered

It’s March. Finally. The month of many birthdays.

Dear March – Come in – (1320)
Emily Dickinson, 1830 – 1886

Dear March – Come in –
How glad I am –
I hoped for you before –
Put down your Hat –
You must have walked –
How out of Breath you are –
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest –
Did you leave Nature well –
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me –
I have so much to tell –

I got your Letter, and the Birds –
The Maples never knew that you were coming –
I declare – how Red their Faces grew –
But March, forgive me –
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue –
There was no Purple suitable –
You took it all with you –

Who knocks? That April –
Lock the Door –
I will not be pursued –
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied –
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame –

A wonderful run that helped my mood tremendously. Very gray–one of those pewter mornings that Margaret Atwood mentions in “February.” You could tell snow was coming. It started when I reached the turn around. Big flakes. No sharp daggers. Wore my yaktrax today and it helped. I hardly slipped at all. Still difficult to run in certain stretches where the snow was sloppy. Felt strong and free and grateful to be outside moving. Greeted the Daily Walker and a few other runners. No fat tires. Heard some geese honking near the lake street bridge. They like to congregate there.

from The Black Maria
Aracelis Girmay

Body of sight. Body of
breaths. Body of trying.

Beloved, to
day you eat,
today you bathe, today
you laugh

Today you walk,
today you read,
today you paint, my love,

Today you study stars,
today you write,
today you climb the stairs,

Today you run,
today you see,
today you talk,

You cut the basil
You sweep the floor

& as you chore, touch
the ankles & hairs of your befores
who look up from their work
in the field or at the chisel
to tell you in their ways: You Live!

What a poem! Here’s a blurb about Girmay’s book:

Taking its name from the moon’s dark plains, misidentified as seas by early astronomers, the black maria investigates African diasporic histories, the consequences of racism within American culture, and the question of human identity. Central to this project is a desire to recognize the lives of Eritrean refugees who have been made invisible by years of immigration crisis, refugee status, exile, and resulting statelessness. The recipient of a 2015 Whiting Award for Poetry, Girmay’s newest collection elegizes and celebrates life, while wrestling with the notion of seeing beyond: seeing violence, seeing grace, and seeing each other better.

feb 28/RUN

5.1 miles
Franklin hill turn around
10 degrees/feels like -1
100% snow-covered

feels like: an ice rink then loose sand on the beach then too hard concrete; spring if you close your eyes so you can’t see the snow and you just feel the bright sun, hear all the birds warbling and cooing and chirping

Scott and I signed up this morning for the Twin Cities Marathon next October. It’s happening!

Even though the path was difficult–slippery, loose, hard–I had a good run. Ran 5 miles. I haven’t done that much since Jan 12th, when I ran a 10k. Very bright. Saw my shadow, her tassels fluttering in the wind. Looked down at the river: open water. Listened to my feet snapping on the path. Greeted the Daily Walker. Ran up the Franklin hill for the first time in a few weeks. Noticed how blue the sky was. So bright! Wore my sunglasses the entire time, wondering how much bluer the sky and the snow looked through these lenses. Was passed by a runner after the turn around. Such a beautiful gait. So relaxed and rhythmic. Gracefully bobbing up and down. I love watching a good runner’s feet as they rise and fall, up down, up down, up down. Started chanting my numbers again. First, 123/45 then 123/45 It’s interesting how much easier it was to get the rhythm straight when I was moving. Sitting here now at my computer, I’m struggling. After chanting numbers I added some words: mystery is solved/suspects are captured/Shaggy & Scooby/Velma too

On the final day of February, here are 2 poems entitled February:

February
BY JACK COLLOM

It is all kind of lovely that I know
what I attend here now the maturity of snow
has settled around forming a sort of time
pushing that other over either horizon and all is mine

in any colors to be chosen and
everything is cold and nothing is totally frozen

soon enough
the primary rough
erosion of what white fat it will occur
     stiff yellows O
beautiful beautifully austere
     be gotten down to, that much rash and achievement that
             would promote to, but

now I know my own red
network electrifying this welcome annual hush.

I must admit, after reading this poem–both out loud and in my head–many times, I still don’t understand these lines: “what white fat it will occur/stiff yellows O/beautiful beautifully austere/be gotten down to/that much each and achievement that would promote to” Guess I’ll have to read it a couple dozen more times–I like that he’s making me work for it. The confusion is a nice contrast to the pleasing/easy/comfortable/welcoming rhymes: know/snow, chosen/frozen/erosion

February
BY BILL CHRISTOPHERSEN

The cold grows colder, even as the days
grow longer, February’s mercury vapor light
buffing but not defrosting the bone-white
ground, crusty and treacherous underfoot.
This is the time of year that’s apt to put
a hammerlock on a healthy appetite,
old anxieties back into the night,
insomnia and nightmares into play;
when things in need of doing go undone
and things that can’t be undone come to call,
muttering recriminations at the door,
and buried ambitions rise up through the floor
and pin your wriggling shoulders to the wall;
and hope’s a reptile waiting for the sun.

Many February poems focused on signs of spring. I read one that featured the green tips (or leaves or something) of a crocus on Feb 28! Where is this magical land of flowers in February? Certainly not in Minnesota. I like my February poems bleak, bemoaning the endless winter, with barely any hope of spring ever coming.

feb 25/RUN

3.3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
0 degrees/feels like -11
100% snow-covered, 40% ice-covered

Cold today. Not much wind, but lots of ice on the sidewalk and the trail. Reached the river road and encountered something strange: the path, right at the entrance, was covered in black, smoky snow and jagged black ice–like something had made the snow quickly melt then reform. Must have been some sort of fire–what happened? Heard lots of birds while walking to the river. Greeted the Daily Walker and a few other runners. Tried not to worry about my right knee which grumbled with short, sharp pains a few times. Didn’t look at the river even once. Did I look at the floodplain forest? (at least once, I remember now). I did look down at the Minneapolis Rowing club building. Spent most of my time watching the path, making sure I wasn’t running on extra slick spots or over chunks of snow. With less than a mile left to run, I started chanting a rhythm in my head: 123/45, 123/45, 123/45, 321 then 54/321, 54/321, 54/321, 321. How would these beats work in a poem? I’ll have to play around with them…

It is almost the end of February–the snowiest February in recorded snowfall history and the 6th snowiest month since they started keeping track in 1872. We started the day with a feels like temp of -23 and are facing a week of cold cold cold. Another snow emergency has been declared and then, after that, cars will only be able to park on the right side of any street until April. In light of this bleakness, I want some darkly hopeful poems. Here are two:

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude
BY ROSS GAY
an excerpt

Friends, will you bear with me today,
for I have awakened
from a dream in which a robin
made with its shabby wings a kind of veil
behind which it shimmied and stomped something from the south
of Spain, its breast aflare,
looking me dead in the eye
from the branch that grew into my window,
coochie-cooing my chin,
the bird shuffling its little talons left, then right,
while the leaves bristled
against the plaster wall, two of them drifting
onto my blanket while the bird
opened and closed its wings like a matador
giving up on murder,
jutting its beak, turning a circle,
and flashing, again,
the ruddy bombast of its breast
by which I knew upon waking
it was telling me
in no uncertain terms
to bellow forth the tubas and sousaphones,
the whole rusty brass band of gratitude
not quite dormant in my belly—
it said so in a human voice,
“Bellow forth”—
and who among us could ignore such odd
and precise counsel?

I want to have this dream, although I imagine my bellowing would be more woodwinds than brass–deep throat-toned clarinets, trilling piccolos, a jaunty bassoon.

Instructions on Not Giving Up
Ada Limón, 1976

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

I love how she reads it on the poets.org site. Click on the link in the title to hear it. Spring isn’t here for awhile. But, it’s coming. The greening of the trees and the green skin growing–so much green soon!–will come in a few months.

feb 22/RUN

4.3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
19 degrees/feels like 19 degrees
100% snow-covered

feels like: this snow is here to stay forever, the white is too bright, a strange dream, slick, soft, sibilant

layers: (too much) green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket, black vest, buff, hood, visor, 2 pairs of tights, 1 pair of socks. gloves. 2 miles in, the gloves came off.

Not much sun but the snow was very bright. So white. White path, white walls, white sky. No snow on the river though. Walking, right before I started running, I heard the birds. Determined to make spring come soon. They started chirping a few weeks ago. The run was fun. I like running on snow, even if it is uneven in spots. Encountered a few other runners, the Daily Walker!, the man in black (the one I mentioned yesterday)–we greeted each other and he seems very nice so I’m not freaked out by how tall he is now, 2 fat tires, a few dogs. Thought about the marathon again as I neared the franklin bridge. Also thought about a poem I read this morning: Robert Duncan’s “Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow.” I was trying to think about the made place in my mind that I return to. I struggled to hold onto any thought about the poem or places I imagine. I kept thinking about my breathing and not slipping on a slick spot or twisting my ankle on an ice chunk.

Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow
Robert Duncan

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place,

that is mine, it is so near to the heart,
an eternal pasture folded in all thought
so that there is a hall therein

that is a made place, created by light
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.

Wherefrom fall all architectures I am
I say are likenesses of the First Beloved
whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady.

She it is Queen Under The Hill
whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words
that is a field folded.

It is only a dream of the grass blowing
east against the source of the sun
in an hour before the sun’s going down

whose secret we see in a children’s game
of ring a round of roses told.

Often I am permitted to return to a meadow
as if it were a given property of the mind
that certain bounds hold against chaos,

that is a place of first permission,
everlasting omen of what is.

This poem is the first poem in Duncan’s 1960 book, The Opening of the Field. He was part of the Black Mountain Poets. Charles Olson was another member of the Black Mountain Poets. In doing some research on Duncan and this poem, I encountered Olson’s idea of projective verse: poetry shaped by rhythms of poet’s breath. So cool–I want to explore this more, thinking about breathing when I run vs. walk vs. sit.

Olson argues that the breath should be a poet’s central concern, rather than rhyme, meter, and sense. To listen closely to the breath, Olson states, “is to engage speech where it is least careless—and least logical.” The syllable and the line are the two units led by, respectively, the ear and the breath:

“the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLE
the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE”

poetry foundation introduction to “Projective Verse”

feb 21/RUN

4.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
13 degrees/feels like 5
100% snow-covered

feels like: freedom, solitude, quiet, I could run for another hour

Of course the amazing Minneapolis parks cleared the path already. It was difficult making my way to the river–several neighbors had not shoveled yet–but once I got there, it was fine. Better than it’s been for the last week, although there were still spots where the path was rough and uneven. Running above the river, I felt separated from everything. The plowed snow provided a hip high wall that divided me from the cars. And not many other people were outside. I only encountered 2 walkers, 1 runner and 1 biker (biking with thin tires on the road). One of the walkers was dressed all in black and was so tall–tall people unsettle me. Maybe it’s because I’m short? As I ran under the lake street bridge, on the way back, something strange happened: suddenly the sky turned lighter, from gray to brownish. After thinking about it for a moment I realized, it looked sepia toned. Weird. The wind picked up a little too. Maybe my eyes were seeing things after spending so much time staring at the bright white snow? The sepia tone made me feel like I was stuck inside a vintage photo of old Minneapolis. What did the river gorge look like 100 years ago? After a quick google search, I didn’t find any images of the west side of the gorge, but I did find a cool article about Bridal Veil Falls on the east side.

It was quiet today. There were cars, but they drove slower on the snow. No roaring or rumbling rushing. Not much wind. I did hear birds chirping as I walked to the river and a few geese honking deep in the gorge but mostly, everything was quiet, calm, slow–not in a thick way, just relaxed.

Keeping Quiet
Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about…

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
death.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

I discovered this poem last year. This morning, while looking through my running journal, I found it and my response. I like this poem but I feel like the advice is not universal.

Keep Quiet?
Sara Puotinen

Keep quiet
be still
stop moving
this impulse to still ourselves
to not move or do or be anything more
than a body with other bodies
does not feel liberating
it feels confining
maybe some of us keep too quiet
maybe some us stand too still
maybe some of us need movement—
need to be moving—to find the calm
to breathe
to feel less trapped

feb 19/RUN

3.5 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
8 degrees/feels like 8
99% uneven, sharp, crusty snow-covered

Checked the weather before leaving and noticed that the actual temperature was the same as the feels like temp so no metaphors or similes or approximations today. Just the Is or the It or the This or whatever you want to call it. Is this possible? Hard to find meaning without metaphor.

Observations:

  • Running south, everything was sharp and crisp and brittle. Sounds were louder and harder and traveled farther. The crunch of my foot was a quick snap. I could hear the kids yelling and laughing at the school from several blocks away. The cars were rushing loudly.
  • Running north, it was much quieter. Muted. Soft. I didn’t hear the kids until I was right on the other side of the road from them. I hardly heard the cars.
  • Was there something about the quality of the air–how cold it was, how humid–that made the sound travel the way it did?
  • The sun was very bright. I could see my shadow.
  • The path was covered with crusty, uneven snow which was difficult to run on.
  • At first, it was very cold. Slowly I warmed up. The last part of me to not be cold were my fingers. By mile 3, I had folded my gloves over so they were only on my knuckles and the tips of my fingers.
  • I didn’t encounter any walkers or bikers and only 2 runners.
  • The river was completely covered over with snow. No open water.
  • I looked for the lone glove left by the side of the path. It’s gone. I wonder what happened to it?

Moment:

Running back north, I realized I was on the marathon route. Next October, I will be running this stretch around mile 16. I thought about that and how I wanted to remember what it looked like now in the middle of the winter, with the snow piled up on the side of the path, on the trees, on the trashcans. The river, covered. The path emptied of people. Will I be able to remember? Also gave future Sara a pep talk.

This was a wonderful run. It was cold and the path was too icy and uneven, but I loved being out there today. Tomorrow it is supposed to snow, maybe as much as 6 inches. Then more this weekend. Thinking about snow, I found a snippet of a poem in my notebook from last year:

Kinds of Snow/Su Smallen

There is snow that falls separate from the sky, and snow
that is the sky itself falling, the sky itself reaching down to us…

feb 18/RUN

3.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
15 degrees
100% snow-covered

feels like: a path for snowshoes not running shoes, it’s much warmer than it is, spring is in the next room

Decided to wear my yaktrax because the path is still covered with snow and ice and I thought they might help. They did but my feet aren’t used to wearing them so I think I got some blisters. Blinding sun. Bright blue sky. Hard, crusty path. Saw my shadow running ahead of me for awhile. Felt strong and sore and ready for the path to be clear again.

layers: green shirt, orange shirt, gray jacket, 2 pairs of running tights, 1 pair of socks, 1 pair of gloves, a buff and my mom’s teal hat with the hassles–the one she wore when she skied. After turning around and heading south, the gloves came off. So did the buff and the sunglasses, which had fogged up. How do people run with sunglasses on without having their sunglasses fog up?

My interest in inside and outside has me thinking about locating myself–what does it mean to be inside? outside? Inside of what? Outside of what? What does it mean when I’m running above the gorge? What does it mean when I can’t see the faces of the people I’m trying to talk with? Can “I” be outside, while I’m inside? So many ways to approach these fundamental questions–I’ve been posing and exploring them for 25 years, first as a student, then a teacher, now a writer/poet.

Speculations about “I”/Toi Derricotte

A certain doubleness, by which I can stand as remote from myself as from another.
— Henry David Thoreau

i

I didn’t choose the word — 
it came pouring out of my throat
like the water inside a drowned man.
I didn’t even push on my stomach.
I just lay there, dead (like he told me)

& “I” came out.
(I’m sorry, Father.
“I” wasn’t my fault.)

ii

(How did “I” feel?)

Felt almost alive
when I’d get in, like the Trojan horse.

I’d sit on the bench
(I didn’t look out of the eyeholes
so I wouldn’t see the carnage).

iii

(Is “I” speaking another language?)

I said, “I” is dangerous.
But at the time I couldn’t tell
which one of us was speaking.

iv

(Why “I”?)

“I” was the closest I could get to the
one I loved (who I believe was
smothered in her playpen).

Perhaps she gave birth
to “I” before she died.

v

I deny “I,”
& the closer
I get, the more
“I” keeps receding.

vi

I found “I”
in the bulrushes
raised by a dirtiness
beyond imagination.

I loved “I” like a stinky bed.

While I hid in a sentence
with a bunch of other words.

vii

(What is “I”?)

A transmission through space?
A dismemberment of the spirit?

More like opening the chest &
throwing the heart out with the gizzards.

viii

(Translation)

Years later “I” came back
wanting to be known.

Like the unspeakable
name of God, I tried

my 2 letters, leaving
the “O” for breath,

like in the Bible,
missing.

ix

I am not the “I”
in my poems. “I”
is the net I try to pull me in with.

x

I try to talk
with “I,” but “I” doesn’t trust
me. “I” says I am
slippery by nature.

xi

I made “I” do
what I wasn’t supposed to do,
what I didn’t want to do — 
defend me,
stand as an example,
stand in for what I was hiding.

I treated “I” as if
“I” wasn’t human.

xii

They say that what I write
belongs to me, that it is my true
experience. They think it validates
my endurance.
But why pretend?
“I” is a kind of terminal survival.

xiii

I didn’t promise
“I” anything & in that way
“I” is the one I was most
true to.

feb 17/RUN

3.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
26 degrees
50% loose snow, 35% packed snow, 15% ice

feels like: I might fall or my legs might give out or I might twist my ankle in the loose, uneven snow

The conditions on the path are pretty bad but I still enjoyed being outside, especially having spent my morning in too many stores. Heard tons of crows–probably hanging out in the flats. Saw the sun completely covered by grayish white clouds, making them glow as it tried to break through the gloom. Saw fat tires, several dogs, a few runners and some kids sledding down the hill. The favorite thing I saw happened after I was done running and was walking back. A man and woman were running with their dog. Their gaits were so graceful and rhythmic and effortless. I stopped and watched, mesmerized by how they gently bounced, their feet going up and down on the path. It hardly looked like they were touching the ground at all. So cool.

Here’s my poem for the day:

Spell to Practice Patience

What burns will burn, what’s left

is brick and the soot marring the brick—

what’s left is the rebuilding.

Become small as the seed, which waits

without speaking. Settle as the cicada does,

humming faintly in its dark bed of earth.

Count the pearls in the heirloom necklace,

each a grain of sand gilded by decades,

made in the murks under an ocean’s weight.

Practice moving your fingers through the air

so gently, you can hold a feather

without it touching your hand.

Stare at ice so long, it becomes the same

as water. Stare at water so long, it is gone.

Stare at the mark made after.

Parse apart the slung syllables of every book

until your tongue is nimble iron, then

teach your tongue the strength in silence.

Bridle your desire, halter and harness until

it stands at attention, taut as the rope

that leads to the bell that waits to be struck.

When you ring, ring loud, exactly when you need to,

bright note pitched as the phoenix hatches

and you burn and burn and burn and burn.

Such a lovely poem. I love the idea of poems as spells. If I had more time and energy right now, I’d like to add a stanza about the patience involved in standing and watching the runners and their graceful gaits.

feb 16/RUN

1.75 miles
downtown loop
11 degrees
100% uneven, slippery, awful snow

feels like: misery, uncertainty (will I fall? injure myself on this uneven snow?), no fun

It’s rare to have a bad run in the winter, but today I did. Not because of the company–I got to run with Scott–but because of the path. So uneven and snow-covered. And it felt colder than 11 degrees. Oh well, no more runs on this loop until more snow is cleared.

The other day, I decided to tag all of the log entries on here that have other people’s poems in them. There are 31. Only 31 for 508 posts. I have been reading lots of poetry, I guess i just haven’t been putting it in my log entries. Not cool. So for the next month (at least), I’d like to put in a different poem for each entry. Or, if not an entire poem, a line or stanza or more. Today’s poem is only 2 lines because this poem is very long.

from Hymn to Life/James Schuyler

The world is filled with music, and in between the music, silence   
And varying the silence all sorts of sounds, natural and man made

I think I’d like to use these lines as an epigraph for a poem or a series of poems about sounds. As I mentioned this poem is long. You can listen to the author reading it and it’s over 30 minutes! I would like to spend more time with it, though. Strange and captivating and clever.

Here’s a few more lines:

Change in everything yet none so great as the changes in   
Oneself, which, short of sickness, go unobserved. Why watch   
Yourself? You know you’re here, and where tomorrow you will probably   
Be.

feb 13/RUN

4.4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
9 degrees/feels like 1
100% snow-covered

feels like: chunky, slick, crunchy, hard

I didn’t intend to, but I got to practice some hurdles today. Snow hurdles. I ran before the plows had returned to clear the mini snow walls they made when they plowed the crosswalks. Got to greet the Daily Walker. Saw a few fat tires, some other runners. No dogs or skiers. A few minneapolis parks trucks. My friendly shadow. The sun was too bright. Half the river was open, the other half covered in snow. Spent a lot of time paying attention to the path, trying to avoid ice/snow chunks. At times, the path was difficult to run on–too slick and uneven. Tried to not think about anything. I’m sure I didn’t for much of the run. Spent some time thinking about my form and wondering about my knees. Imagined running the marathon. Thought about my body and how little I noticed it when I was younger and didn’t have any aches or pains or problems. Now I notice it and think about what it is and how it’s me and not me. I wish I didn’t ache or have problems with my knees, but I like having a reason to think about my body–so many interesting questions to explore, so many new things to learn about joints and muscles and chemical processes!

layers: (too many!) green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket with hood, vest, 2 pairs of running tights, 1 pair of socks, a buff, visor, gloves. During the second half of the run, I was dripping sweat.

other layers: dirt, a thin hard sheen of ice, dusting of powdery snow, small clumps of snow, loose 1/2 inch of rough snow (the path); a woodpecker pecking, a truck backing-up, a car with a loose part rattling, a plow approaching, the fabric on my vest and jacket rustling, the quick crunch of my striking feet, a plane rumbling overhead (sound)

feb 11/RUN

4.25 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
22 degrees
100% snow-covered

feels like: a different world, one emptied of others; someone drained the color out of the landscape; running in soft sand

The snow was sloppy and loose. Even so, I smiled a lot and enjoyed my run. Greeted the Daily Walker. Didn’t slip on any of the ice patches, hidden beneath the snow. Felt strong and relaxed and empty of thoughts. After not thinking for awhile, I had a thought: How glorious it is to be running and not thinking about anything! Then of course, I had another thought about time, wondering if I was even noticing it pass at all. I ran for 40 minutes but it felt like 5. Heard some disembodied voices coming from some place I couldn’t see. There was so much snow–and it was so white. Hard to distinguish between the sharp crusty snow, the soft slushy snow, the mini piles of snow or the big hard chunks of icy snow. No contrast. My bad vision needs contrast. Can someone with good vision tell the difference between these snows? The sky was all gray. But not gloomy, at least not to me. Just peaceful and quiet and removed from everything. Noticed the river had some open water. Saw a few walkers and bikers. Again, no skiers. Will I ever see another cross country skier while I’m running by the river? With all the snow on the ground and in the trees, I suddenly remembered cross country skiing with my mom up in the upper peninsula of Michigan–in Houghton–on these amazing groomed trails a mile from her house. I always loved going there with her, when she was in her late 50s and I was in my mid 20s. So much snow everywhere. And so many beautiful trees–aspens (I think) and firs. There was one stretch that I especially liked where you skied through a forest. I called it the cathedral of trees. Today I didn’t run through a forest, but I felt that same sort of delight and reverence as I ran by the welcoming oaks, their branches loaded with snow. What a wonderful gift to be able to conjure up that memory and think about a time before my mom was sick.

layers: less layers today. Green shirt, orange shirt, black vest, 2 pairs of running tights, a buff, a visor, 1 pair of socks, 1 pair of gloves. Felt fine. The gloves didn’t come off, but I folded them over. Maybe if I had run for another mile I would have removed them?

feb 9/RUN

1 mile
mississippi river road path, south/north
8 degrees/feels like -5
100% snow-covered

feels like: my face is burning off, the wind is coming from every direction, more snow might be coming, colder than it is

Ran a mile with Scott this afternoon. It felt colder out there this afternoon than it did yesterday. Was it because it was later in the day? No sun? More wind? I’m glad we did it. It felt easy, like we could have run a few more miles. Noticed the river. Running south, I see more of the river than running north. Scott suggested that it’s because further north, there’s more land between the top of the gorge and the riverbank. I agree. Everything was white and gray and cold-looking. A little winter wonderland. Nice to be in it instead of just watching it through the window. Windows I watched it through today/what I watched: the writing desk in my bedroom/the snow-covered branch of the tree in my front yard; living room/snowy back yard; car window/river road, minnehaha parkway, south Minneapolis; the 3 story huge picture windows at Minneapolis Institute of Arts/Stevens Square Park.

feb 8/RUN

3.4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
0/feels like -15
100% snow-covered

feels like: victory, the inside of an ice cube

Wow, that sky. The brightest blue. Noticed it when I saw a bird flying in my peripheral vision and tried to track it in my central vision. So sunny and white. Thick slabs of snow on the side of the path. The trees coming up from the floodplain forest had snow slabs too. Bare brown branches, outlined in white, holding up the sky. Amazing. It was cold, I guess. Didn’t really bother me. My fingers were warm because I wore a pair of gloves and mittens. My toes were cold for the first mile. I think my butt was cold at some point too. Everything else was warm. Saw one other runner, a few walkers, no bikers, no skiers. Ran under the lake street bridge at the same time as the plows. The first plow hit a bump–such a loud noise. I flinched. Listened to my feet striking the snow. A constant, sharp crunch. Much quicker than when I walk.

layers: 2 pairs of running tights, a green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket, gray jacket, buff, balaclava, hood, sunglasses, 2 pairs of socks, 1 pair of mittens, 1 pair of gloves

Why do I like running in this weather? I like being (almost) the only one on the path. I like testing the limits of how cold is too cold. Mostly, though, I like running in the cold. Being out in the snow. Hearing it crunch. Admiring how it decorates the trees and the forest floor. Breathing in the winter air. I think I also like how there’s no pressure to run fast when it feels like 15 below. Just being outside is an accomplishment.

feb 6/RUN

3.4 miles
mississippi river road, north/south
15 degrees/feels like 8
100% snow-covered

Also feels like: too warm for double gloves, an ice rink, a winter wonderland, I’m the only one not in a car, yaktrax

I ran today! It snowed 4 inches last night. The path had been plowed, which was helpful, but the ice was still there. I think this is the most slippery path I’ve ever run on. Wore my yaktrax and that helped, but only a little. I wasn’t worried about falling, just about twisting an ankle or a knee. Harder to run. My legs will be sore soon. Still, it was beautiful and there was hardly any wind and I had the path almost all to myself. One or two walkers, a runner, and an actual cross country skier! Not a roller skier, but a skier with skis! I think this is the first time I have ever encountered a skier on the river road. I loved listening to the sharp crackling of their skis on the crusty path. Glanced quickly at the river and noticed it was covered with snow. Everything is white today, the river, the roads, the path, even the sky.

layers: 2 pairs of running tights, a green base shirt, orange thicker shirt, thin black jacket with hood, gray jacket, 1 pair of gloves, 1 pair of mittens, a running belt with my phone and key in it, a buff, a visor, no headphones. Slightly too warm. Mittens came off after a mile, sleeves rolled up/hood off by the turn around at the railroad trestle, the buff turned into a headband by mile 2.

I don’t remember thinking about anything except for: this is slippery, ouch! (when my right knee shot out a quick flash of pain), I am running slow, how far should I run?, this is slippery, is that the Daily Walker? (no it wasn’t), I like the crusty snow the best because my yaktrax can grip it, I wonder what people driving by think of me running in this?, I hope no car slides off the road and hits me. No big insights or nagging worries. All wonderfully mundane.

feb 2/RUN

4.75 miles
stone arch bridge to home
28 degrees
50% snow-covered
feels like: spring, sun, dripping eaves

One way runs are the best. No loops or turn arounds or thoughts about how I’ll have to run back up the hill I just ran down. Ran from downtown, right by the Stone Arch bridge, through the flats, up Franklin, under Lake Street, above the gorge, to the 36th street parking lot on the river road.

things I remember noticing:

  • my striking feet sinking into soft mushy snow
  • very bright, warm sun but no shadow
  • running into the sun, I was blinded. All I could see were the sparkling spots of bare pavement on the path that the sun was illuminating
  • spots of slick but not slippery snow in the shade
  • passing under the light rail on the washington ave bridge, hearing it rumble then honk
  • water trickling off of eaves, bridges, down rocks in the flats
  • a dog’s collar clanging off to the side, turning and seeing it walking with its human right above the gorge
  • river was covered with snow and ice, no black holes today
  • heard voices coming from the hill up the U of M’s Wilson Library. Were they biking? Running? Walking? Not sure.

layers

two pairs of tights, green base shirt, orange warmer shirt, black vest, buff, hat, gloves, sunglasses. Today, the gloves came off, around mile 3, probably right after running up the franklin hill.

chants while breathing

I can’t remember when it happened but sometime in the 3rd or 4th mile, I started rhythmic breathing (in 3 out 2) and creating chants to match. I tried to remember them, but now I can’t. Except: raspberry/custard. mystery/is solved. who could it/be now? it could be/nothing. why is it/ something? These chants really helped by distracting me. I’ll have to remember to do these again.

Sadly, I spent a lot of mental energy paying attention to the path and thinking about which side I should run on. In the middle with the bare pavement but in the way of others? On the soft snow but out of the way of approaching bikers? Right next to the walking path? Close to the cars, on the edge?

feb 1/RUN

4.15 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
8 degrees/feels like -3
100% snow-covered

Finally I get to run outside again. A balmy 8 degrees. Ran without headphones and listened. My feet on the crunching snow in quick, sharp snaps. A woodpecker rapidly pecking a tree. Some other random birds chirping. A dog barking in a truck driving by under the lake street bridge (is this the same truck, the same dog as last week?). Park workers starting up their chainsaws, clearing out dead branches. Brittle branches breaking–such creaking and cracking!

Layers: two pairs of running tights, a black tech shirt, orange thick cotton shirt, thin black jacket with hood, gray outer jacket, a buff, a visor, 1 pair of gloves, 2 pairs of socks. Again, almost too warm, except for my fingers which were cold for a mile. Unzipped my jackets a little at the end of mile 1, took off my hood at the end of mile 2, put it back on I turned around and faced the wind at mile 2.5, zipped up jackets to my chin at mile 3. Kept my gloves on the entire time.

Wind: Running north it felt easy which meant, of course, that the wind was tricking me. Hiding behind my back, slightly nudging me along without me noticing. Encountered a runner running south, bundled up with their face covered and I knew I was in for it in the second half. Yep. Turned around into a cold wind. Just read yesterday that you should always run into the wind at the beginning of your run before you get too warm and sweaty. Running into wind with a sweaty face makes you get colder faster. Oh well. It wasn’t too bad. Wind doesn’t bother me anymore.

The Path: Totally covered with snow. Not icy or slippery but slick enough that I was sliding slightly. Now, an hour later, my legs are more sore than usual….A few times I noticed how the path suddenly felt different–more absorbent, soft, gentle on my striking foot. Then I realized the Minneapolis parks crew had dropped dirt on the edges of the path. Mostly it was already covered in snow but in a few spots the dirt was still exposed. What a relief it was to run on those few, fleeting stretches!

jan 25/RUN

4.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
-5 degrees
5% snow-covered

The other day I wondered how cold was too cold for me. I’ve decided to take this as a challenge and an experiment, part of my focus for this winter on layers. Last year, I paid careful attention to the crunching snow. This year, I’m curious about layers, literal (as in layers of clothing, layers of sound, layers of ice) and metaphorical (layers of anxiety, doubt, joy, ideas, meanings). What will this project look like? Not totally sure, but for now, I’m interested in layers in terms of clothing I wore today as I ran outside in -5 weather. There was hardly any wind so the feels like temp was -5 too. I’ve run in feels like 20 below so today wasn’t the coldest I’ve been. What is the difference between actual and feels like temp? I’ll have to research that some more. Today I was almost too warm. I wore 2 pairs of running tights, one green shirt, an orange sweatshirt, a black jacket with a hood, a gray jacket with big pockets, 2 pairs of socks, a buff, a stocking cap, sunglasses, gloves and mittens. Too much. Great for the first mile but after that, I unzipped the jackets a little, moved the buff from my head to my neck, took off the sunglasses and put the mittens in my pocket. Ice kept forming on my cheeks, just below my eyes, caused my water on my lashes. Ice also formed on the surface of my gloves. Pretty cool looking and feeling. I think it came from the ice on my cheeks that I kept wiping off. The sun was too bright. Blinding. Ran with my shadow for awhile. Greeted the Daily Walker. That dude is hard core. No coat, just double shirts. Holding his gloves while he walked. How can you get warm while walking? I can only do it when I’m running. Heard some geese so I looked up and saw them flying above me in a V. Also heard the noise of my feet crunching on snow, then thwacking the frozen, compacted path. And a dog barking in a truck as it drove by. Saw steam coming from the boat house below the lake street bridge and wondered who was there in the winter. Turned around and headed back south right as I approached a parks crew cutting down more trees. Remember looking down at the river once and noticing one small hole of cold black water and expanded into a gaping hole. How can there be more open water as it gets colder?

jan 23/RUN

3.5 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
17 degrees/feels like 10
50% snow-covered

Usually I don’t run 3 days in a row but it’s going to get very cold tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that—maybe even too cold for me!–so I decided to get one more run before the river road became an arctic hellscape (a phrase I read in a running article about winter). Sunny. Bright. Beautiful. Heard some geese honking. Smelled breakfast. Saw the path turn to sparkles in the sun. Good morning-ed the Daily Walker. Encountered some park workers chainsawing some trees near the Welcoming Oaks. Tried to look closely to make sure it wasn’t one of my favorites. I think they’re safe, but it was hard to tell. I was too far away and couldn’t focus fast enough. And I didn’t want to look like I was staring. Hardly encountered anyone on the path. Running north, my shadow was leading me. I guess she was tired today because it felt sluggish and difficult even though I wasn’t running that fast. On the way back, running south, I led her and we picked up the pace. Also on the way back, the sun was in my eyes. The path sparkled. Hard to tell when it was snow, wet pavement or ice.

I suppose 17, feels like 10 is cold but I was warm. Sweating. Less than a mile in, most of me was almost too warm. Except for my fingers, which always take the longest. Pushed my sleeves up after the lake street bridge. Then shifted my buff from my head to my neck. By mile 2, I wished I had worn a different hat–maybe a baseball cap instead of the thick teal stocking cap I had on. At the end of the run, I unzipped my jacket and took off my gloves. How cold does it need to be before I’m not hot at the end of a run? Not sure I want to find out, but I probably will if I try running outside later this week or early next week.

Writing that last paragraph makes me want to experiment with ways to describe the unlayering process that occurs as I run–both literally, as I shed gloves and buff, but also metaphorically as I remove layers of doubt, anxiety, restlessness. 

jan 22/RUN

4.15 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
18 degrees
100% snow-covered

Warmer. Snowing, slightly. Sometimes I felt the flakes as hard crystals, but mostly as wet drops. My feet crunched on the path, not crisply but sloppily. Because it was warmer, everything felt sounded smelled wet. The path was soft and muffled. Hardly any wind. So quiet. If this snow sticks and gets colder, like it’s supposed to on Thursday, it will become sharp and loud. Heard lots of birds. First crows cawing then other birds chirping. Wheels gently whooshing as they approached. No bikes or Daily Walkers or dogs. A few runners. Today I looked down at the river. So cool. Almost all covered in white with an occasional big gaping black hole of deep, cold water. As I ran, I followed a thin track made by other runners or bikers. Had intended to think about poetry and rhythms and chants but I forgot. I did pay attention to my feet though, noticing how and where they touched the ground. And then, after I was done running, I recorded the sound of my crunching feet. I held the phone down at my side and really captured the delightfully irritating crunching, grinding noise.

Crunching Snow/ Jan 22, 2019

jan 17/RUN

4.3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
20 degrees/feels like 10
50% light snow covered

Snowed last night. Barely even a dusting, but still snow. It’s been a strange, bare January. The biking path was mostly clear, with streaks and stripes of light snow. Tried running on the walking path for a bit but kept stumbling over small chunks that I couldn’t see. Always wondering, is it my bad vision or does everyone have trouble spotting these chunks. Looked down at the river. Clear. Grayish-brown. Open with no ice floes. Also looked down at the gorge. Brown trees with a white sliver of trail winding through the woods. Heard chirping birds. Music from a bike’s radio. Some voices. A few squirrels scurrying around. Greeted the Daily Walker near the beginning of my run. Encountered a few fat tires. Any other runners? I can’t remember, but I don’t think so. A few walkers, some with dogs, some without. Most of my thinking was about my form and whether or not my legs were up for running again less than 24 hours after I had run at the stadium. At one point I thought: I should stop thinking about my body and running form and get distracted. And, I did. I think that’s when I focused on the snow in the gorge and noticed that the sky was mostly gray with a hint of blue. Almost forgot about the smells–walking out of the house, I got a whiff of fried something. Must have been coming from the bar a block and a half from our house. Later, a mile into the run, running under the lake street bridge, I smelled breakfast–toast, eggs, bacon–coming from longfellow grill. Found it strange that the smells were so strong when it was so cold. Usually, when it feels like 10 degrees all I smell is cold. At different points in the run, I felt smooth. Sleek. More machine than gangly human.

jan 16/RUN

4 miles
us bank stadium

Ran again with Scott indoors. It was great. Did an abbreviated version of my warm-up before we started, which helped, I think. Usually they play bad pop music very loudly. Today, it was quieter and they had turned it off in certain sections of the loop, which was nice. We could clearly hear our feet striking the concrete. In unison. What do I remember from the run? The bright orange shoes one runner was wearing. The loping gait of another. Three runners: 2 burly, loud guys and 1 very petite, quiet woman, running effortlessly on her toes. Two women running in matching bright pink shorts. A young kid running with their mom. Voices far behind us, some attached to runners slowly creeping up on us, some to runners who were staying far back but were just loud.

jan 14/RUN

4.25 miles (40 minutes)
minnehaha falls loop
31 degrees

Felt strong and relaxed. Slipped a few times on ice patches as I shifted from the running to walking path. Ran past a woman calling out, “there’s a bald eagle sitting in this tree!” Didn’t stop because I probably wouldn’t have seen it anyway and because I wanted to keep running. For about a minute I wondered what she thought of me for not stopping. The sky was light gray. Gloomy, I guess, but I liked it. Made the river seem even more vast, majestic, other-worldly. The falls were almost roaring. Minnehaha creek was flowing. There are some disappointed cross country skiers out there, missing the chance to ski on the iced over creek. I wonder if there’s any open water at Lake Nokomis? So strange. Saw the Daily Walker just starting on the path as I was ending. Too far away to greet.

This morning, just before sunrise, I took my dog for a walk. The sky was a smudged gray. Such a pleasing contrast to the bare branches of the towering trees.

jan 12/RUN

6.2 miles
the flats and back
23 degrees/feels like 16

Another good run. My second time trying a 7 minute stretching warm-up before sheading out. I think it helps. Heard lots of crows cawing–no ducks or geese honking or chickadees chirping. Overcast. No wind. Humid. Not too cold. Didn’t encounter that many runners. No Daily Walker. Several fat tires. Ran down the Franklin hill to the flats. The river was mostly open with an occasional chunk of ice. Beautiful. Desolate. Recited “sick” my Shel Silverstein again. Peggy Ann McKay had the measles and the mumps at least 10 times. It was helpful, but I think it’s time for a new poem. I need another one I can chant–nothing too deep just rhythmic and rhyme-y. Scott and I are thinking about trying to do the marathon again this year. Slowly the idea is creeping in and taking hold.

Anything else I remember? My zipper hitting my jacket. The faint sound of a key (or keys?) jangling somewhere. The stinky stench of the sewer near the lake street bridge. Almost slipping on a hidden patch of ice right as I was turning around to head back. Wanting to walk the entire franklin hill but keeping running by chanting, “there’s a bridge, there’s a bridge, at the top, at the top, look at it, look at it, never stop, never stop.” Feeling strong. My eyes watering from the cold. Dodging ice chunks on the walking path and trying to time my foot falls so I wouldn’t land on a slippery patch. No snow, dead, crunchy leaves. Thinking it was late November and not mid January. Stopping to stare down at the floodplain forest at the end of my run. Hearing some voices somewhere down below–maybe at the beach?

jan 10/RUN

4 miles
almost the franklin bridge turn around
15 degrees/feels like 6

What a day for a run! Sunny and clear and cold. Hardly any wind. Only small chunks of ice left on the side of the path. So calm and filled with noises. Everywhere. Chirping birds. Honking geese. Whooshing wheels. The low hum of traffic rumbling from across the river. Decided to listen today. My zipper pull made a small rhythmic thud as it hit my chest. My striking feet thwacked. Was able to run on the lower path, above the gorge. Looked down at the floodplain forest and enjoyed the cool visual effect of sun flashing through tall, thin tree trunks as I ran by. Said “hello” to a walker about 3 miles in. Encountered a fat tire just past the lake street bridge.

Stopped and took a minute video of the view from the end of my run. Had difficulty standing still and holding the camera straight. The camera rises and falls as I breathe.

mississippi river run jan 10

jan 7/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
38 degrees/98% humidity

Wet. Warm, but not warm enough. Lots of slick spots, more on the sidewalk than on the path. A gray day. Humid. Felt pretty good during my run, although I found myself worrying constantly about my back or my IT band or my knee. At one point I wondered, what would it feel like to not notice my body? To simply run? Of course, this did happen many times during the run, but I remember more the times when I was too aware of my body. Speaking of the body, when I crossed over the franklin bridge and was running on the St. Paul side, I started reciting Sick by Shel Silverstein in my head. All sorts of ailments: measles, mumps, wrench’d backs, crooked spines, chicken pox, cold nose, numb toes. This winter, I’d like to think more about my body (and the body) and my sometimes strained relationship with it as I’ve gotten older and it doesn’t work as effortlessly as it used to.

I looked at the river a lot this morning. Mostly frozen over, it looked like a weird wasteland. So gray and vast and empty.

Starting my run, everything was wet. Felt wet. Sounded wet. Whooshes and drips and gushing water out of drain pipes. Splashes. It was so humid I thought it was drizzling. Was it?

jan 5/RUN

3 miles
downtown loop
41 degrees

Ran with Scott downtown again. This must be our new Saturday morning ritual. We ran up the river road, over the Plymouth Bridge, through Boom Island and Nicollet Island, beside the cobblestones on St. Anthony Main and then stopped at the Stone Arch Bridge. The path was slick on the edges, wet in the middle. Hard to believe, but a lot of the snow has melted. I don’t remember much from the run except that it felt difficult. I also remember:

  • Feeling the bright sun on my face as we ran across the Plymouth bridge.
  • Being slightly annoyed by the flashing light from the sun as I ran by the railing on the bridge.
  • Watching our shadows ahead of us as we entered Boom Island park.
  • The shshsh sound of soft snow as we shuffled across it on the dirt path in the park. (As I learned last week, this shshsh sound is a sibilant sound. I like sibilant sounds.)

For the past 3 mornings, I’ve been starting the day with some yoga stretches–I’m using a 30 minute video on youtube. I took one yoga class in college but it was mostly meditation and sitting and breathing, not much stretching. Yoga is no joke. I thought I was flexible but I’m not that flexible…yet. I’m hoping that these stretches will help prevent injuries this year.

jan 3/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
25 degrees
5% snow-covered

Much warmer today. Bright sun. Beautiful! But running was hard. Since my cold has settled in my chest I can’t take in enough oxygen. Oh well. Even with the difficulty breathing, I enjoyed the run. Glanced down at the river and noticed it was almost all frozen. Heard a dog barking in the gorge. Let my shadow lead me–she loves the sun. Heard a train horn blaring for at least 10 seconds. Saw the shadow of a bird flying overhead. Wondered whether the noise I was hearing by the Lake Street bridge was water trickling, wind blowing or a car driving by. Wiped out my fogged up sunglasses several times. Blew my nose, cleared my throat. Stopped at the halfway point to catch my breath. Tried to keep my shoulders relaxed and my hips high. Encountered a few fat tires, a stroller, some walkers and runners. No Daily Walker. No running groups. Couldn’t smell anything. Felt the warm sun on my face running north, a cold wind on my wrists running south. Can’t remember thinking about much else but breathing. Inhale deeply, slowly, through my nose and mouth.

jan 1/RUN

3.2 miles
greenway bridge turn around
2 degrees, feels like -10
95% snow-covered

Cold! Wouldn’t have minded it except that I have a cold and a bunch of junk in my chest. It was hard to breathe. So I stopped and walked a few times. Still glad I got out there. A beautiful morning without much wind. Listened to the snow crunching under my feet. Right before starting my run, as I was walking, I heard the 2 distinct sounds of crunching snow: the quick snap of the one foot striking and the perpetual grinding of the other foot leaving the ground. I heard these two sounds less when I was running. Much more snapping, less grinding. Noticed the river today–almost frozen. Greeted the Daily Walker-a great omen for 2019.

Learned a new word today: spoonerism. Named after Minister William Archibald Spooner, spoonerism is a term for of wordplay in which a speaker switches the first letters/sounds of words. Like a blushing crow instead of crushing blow or truck fump (or tuck frump) instead of…well, you know. Anyway, I’d like to play around with some spoonerisms in relation to running. Here’s one I just came up with: instead of long run, wrong lung.

Here I am in all of my layers:

dec 30/RUN

3.25 miles
greenway bridge turn around
30 degrees
15% snow covered

Much warmer today. The feels like temperature is 25 degrees warmer. The path was clear but wet. Lots of runners out there. What do I remember about my run? The sidewalks were slippery but the path by the river was not. Encountered 2 fat tires. Didn’t notice any birds or squirrels or the river–did I look down at it even once?

dec 29/RUN

3.15 miles
greenway bridge turn around
10 degrees/feels like -2
100% snow and ice covered

I think this is the coldest run of the season. Feels like -2! It didn’t seem too cold to me. But it was super slick. Decided to run in my yaktrax for the first time ever. Not too bad. With their spikes, they made a much louder crunch on the snow. I barely slipped at all. Encountered a handful of runners out on the trail. Not too many walkers and no bikers. Was this the last run on 2018?

dec 21/RUN

5.2 miles
franklin loop
23 degrees
0% snow-covered

Decided to run the franklin loop because the weather was nice and almost all the snow had melted. Was able to run on the walking path for about half of the run. A nice gray day. Easy on the eyes–not too bright. I thought that we wouldn’t be seeing green grass again until spring, but the warmish weather (above freezing) has melted most of it. When will it snow again? Are we not going to have a white christmas this year? The run felt easy, which was good. I stayed slow and steady and somewhere on the st. paul side, I got the idea to repeatedly chant a poem I had just re-memorized: Shel Silverstein’s “Sick.” It was a little challenging because the poem has 218 words and 32 lines, but it was fun and made the run go by faster. Not sure how it would work with other poems that are less rhyme-y and rhythmic. I’ll have to try it next week!

dec 17/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
28 degrees
0% snow-covered

Ran the Franklin loop today. Noticed the river. Clear, moving. No ice. Not quite above freezing. Warm, well warm compared to last week when it was in the teens. The path was clear with only a few slick spots. The last time I ran this loop was on October 29th. And because they don’t clear the path as well over on the St. Paul side, I might not have too many chances to run it before spring. In addition to paying attention to the river, I looked at the Franklin flats, below me, and over to the Minneapolis Rowing Club. I heard a single goose honking, flying high above me. Also heard some music in the distance. Where was it coming from? A bike approaching me from behind. I played chicken with a few walkers who were supposed to move over for me but didn’t seem to want to until I made them. Anything else? Oh–I smelled toast up above, on lake street. Decided I didn’t like the smell but also decided that the toast wasn’t burnt, but just on the edge of being over-toasted.

dec 12/RUN

3.2 miles
ford bridge turn around
27 degrees
less than 1% snow covered

A nice, easy run. Turned right instead of left today, running towards the falls. No headphones. No music. What sounds did I hear?

  • elementary school kids playing outside–lots of laughter and joyful yelling
  • the wheels of a fat tire approaching me from behind, not whirring but clunking or clanking, almost sounding like the wheels were studded
  • a snow blower and a truck pushing what sounded like pipes across the lot of a new house

What I don’t remember hearing: rushing water, birds, the grit on the path crunching, dogs barking, people talking, cars approaching

Took advantage of the lack of leaves to inspect the gorge as I ran above it. The river looked cold and still, more frozen than flowing.

dec 9/RUN

3.35 miles
greenway bridge turn around
30 degrees
10% snow-covered

Ran again today, since I felt so good yesterday and because it’s so nice and warm–almost above freezing! Sunny skies. Clear path. Saw a few fat tires biking on the path. Several runners. Lots of walkers. A mom and her son singing holiday songs. No puddles on the path, but no slick spots either. Didn’t wear headphones, but don’t remember hearing anything–except for a runner passing me early on in my run, a biker alerting me to his approach with a always appreciated, “on your left” and the singers singing their holiday songs. Is that really it? I guess. I can’t remember any crunching snow or honking cars or trickling water or rushing wind or cawing birds. Guess I wasn’t paying attention today.

dec 8/RUN

3.5 miles
downtown loop
26 degrees
50% snow-covered

Ran with Scott again while our son was in his clarinet lesson. There were a few slick spots but nothing too bad. Lately my lower back has been sore so I’ve cut back on running. For now, 3 times a week. Seems like I’ve been in a fight with my body–at least my left IT band and lower back. Felt better today. Not sore when I was running. What do I remember about the run? Hearing water trickling down below the Stone Arch Bridge in Mill Ruins park. Being surprised that it wasn’t frozen by now. Mentioning it to Scott–he couldn’t hear it over a noisy truck driving by. Saw a couple squatting down, taking a selfie with a selfie stick. Was so distracted by talking politics that I forgot to notice Boom Island park at all. I don’t even remember running over the beautiful wooden bridge. Saw a group of bikers (peloton) and a pack of runners (a trot–that’s what I like to call a group of runners). Don’t remember hearing or seeing birds or any boats. No roller skiers. No loud, honking cars. No music or trains. Felt wind occasionally and a few wet flakes on my face. Didn’t smell anything that I can recall–no burnt toast or dead leaves or delicious donuts–not even my stale breath from under my buff.

dec 3/RUN

4 miles
greenway bridge turn around
27 degrees
50% snow-covered

Winter is here. It snowed a few more inches this weekend and I’m pretty sure that we won’t be seeing the grass until spring. It’s not too cold, but cold enough to make the snow stick and the path icy. I didn’t slip much but had to be cautious on my walk before I started running. Tried to remember to listen to the sound of feet crunching the snow but I kept forgetting. A distracted morning. I managed to look at the river a few times and greet the Daily Walker.

dec 1/RUN

3.4 miles
27 degrees
25% snow covered
stone arch loop, downtown minneapolis

After taking an extra day off because my hip hurt, I was able to run 3.4 miles this morning with Scott downtown. Hooray! Not too cold, but windy (14 mph with 24 mph gusts) and icy. It was beautiful running over the bridge in Boom island, even if I twisted my foot times on ruts. Ran up the hill to the Plymouth bridge on west river road, through Boom island and Nicollet island, over to St. Anthony Main and finally over the Stone Arch bridge. Almost, but not quite, the reverse of our race a week ago. After starting November with IT band issues, I’m very happy to be feeling better at the beginning of December.

addendum: Just read somebody’s facebook post in which they mentioned hearing lots of birds today. I did too during the run. Such a strange experience to hear so many birds noisily chirping in the cold and snow.

nov 28/RUN

4.2 miles
minnehaha falls
20 degrees

When I got to the river, I turned to the right today. Decided to check out the falls to see if they were frozen yet. Not quite. I could tell as I approached, hearing the rushing water. Half falling, half frozen. Beautiful. Waved at a cute little kid, bundled up in bright orange, as I left minnehaha park. Looked at the river a lot as I ran. Big ice floes. The gorge was burnt orange and brown. My lower back ached a little after I was done. Do I need to stop running for a few days? I hope not. Checked my watch and noticed I had a message from my daughter, “hands down, you are the best.” At first I was confused, then pleased, wondering what I had done to deserve such a sweet message. Then I read it closer and realized that she had gotten the alert for my completed workout and was sending me one of the stock responses. Oh well, I’ll take the compliment anyway. Anything else I remember? Running by some park workers in their bright yellow vests, doing some work around the park. Noticing how cold and lonely the empty playground seemed. Hearing a bus belching as it crossed the 46th street bridge, heading toward ford parkway. Listening to my feet striking the path, trying to make them softer by stepping lighter. Passing only 2 runners (I think), no bikers or roller skiers or daily walkers.

nov 26/RUN

3.3 miles
greenway bridge turn around, mississippi river road
16 degrees, feels like 4

Bundled up in my new favorite winter running outfit: two pairs of running tights, green shirt, orange pull-over, black vest, socks, buff, hat, gloves. Didn’t feel cold at all, except for my fingers around the 1 mile mark. Got to greet the Daily Walker. Forgot to notice the river. Did see steam rising up out of the rowing clubhouse below the lake street bridge. Did I see any other runners? I don’t remember. Saw at least 3 bikers. The ground is bare, except for some dead leaves. No snow. No ice. Just a cold path.

For some reason, I am suddenly into cinquains, a poetic form with 5 lines. I particularly like Adelaide Crapsey’s version (what a name!). 5 lines with the following syllable count: 2/4/6/8/2

Here’s one I found, that I especially like:

Triad

These be
three silent things:
The falling snow . . . the hour
Before the dawn . . . the mouth of one
Just dead.

And one of mine, inspired by this poem and my morning run:

A Late November Run

Running
by the river.
No snow. No ice. No leaves.
Just me and bare ground absorbing
my steps.

nov 24/RUN

6.2 miles
37 degrees
moustache 10K race, riverfront minneapolis

Ran the Moustache 10K run with Scott for the third year in a row. Didn’t take it fast just ran steadily. I feel pretty great considering I took 10 days off for an IT band injury a few weeks ago and experienced a knee subluxation a few days ago. Things I remember from the run:

  • The women who was running (running!) while holding a to go cup of Starbucks coffee and drinking it. I have never seen that before. She was probably running a 8:30/8:45 pace.
  • Twisting my foot on the cobblestones.
  • Overhearing a guy calling out to his friend as we reached the mile 1 marker, “Ugh, we’ve only run a mile” and saying to Scott, “Wow, we’ve already run a mile!”
  • Running up the big hill at mile 5 and listing off the muscles that make up the hamstrings (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris) and the quads (vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, rectus femoris) to Scott because he asked–well, he didn’t ask me to list the specific names, just to clarify whether the quads were in the front or back of your leg, but I couldn’t help myself. Forgetting the vastus intermedius and looking it up later.
  • Feeling good at the end, happy to be finished but not too tired.

nov 18/RUN

3.2 miles
greenway bridge turn around
9 degrees

A great run. Sunny. Clear. Fresh cold air. I love winter running. My second run back since taking 10 days off for a minor IT band injury, my first run of over 3 miles without stopping. It felt fine. No pain in my knee or IT band. Paid attention to the river at my favorite part of the gorge: as you run down the hill, below the road, after the welcoming oaks, the trees open up for a keyhole view of the river, which you can see much better when you’re running back from lake street. Reaching the edge of the gorge, above the floodplain forest, it’s still hard to see the water. Too much brown, all the way to the st. paul side. The river is beginning to freeze over. I saw a few ice floes. My fingers were freezing for the first mile, then they warmed up. I saw some bikers, runners and walkers. No roller skiers or fat tires or fat squirrels. Heard a weird bird or a squirrel–or was it a chipmunk?–in a tree chirping shrilling or maybe squeaking.

nov 13/RUNBIKE

run: .5 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
13 degrees, feels like 1

Was excited to go outside and try running in the cold today. For the first 3 or 4 minutes it felt fine but then my left knee started to hurt a little. So I stopped, walked for a few minutes and then started running again. It felt okay, then not okay, then okay again. Decided not to push it too much so I turned around and headed back home. In front of my house, I felt pretty good, like I wanted to keep running, but I decided to be safe. Am I being too cautious? Not sure. I don’t want to re-injure it or miss my race in 2 weeks or not be able to walk outside for a month. Biked in the basement instead. Bummer.

Picked up Linda Pastan’s Traveling Light from the library the other day. Love this line from her poem “Flight”:

They have examined
our luggage made me
remove my shoes
and then my scarf, as if
I might strangle someone
in its silky purple.
But they let my fear
of flight on board,
though its weight
and turnbulence might
bring down any plane.

nov 5/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
40 degrees

Day five of the November running challenge. Cold, damp and overcast. A gray-smudged sky. Wet leaves covering the sidewalk on the way to the river. Felt like I was in a dream or another world or dazed or something that was almost but not quite real. Beautiful. I like these gray, bare mornings. Near the beginning of my run, as I greeted the welcoming oaks, I stepped on a pile of leaves that wanted a ride–several of them stuck to the bottom of my shoe, squeaking for another minute or two. Gone by the time I started the descent below the road, beside the gorge. I looked down at the forest floor and then tried to get a glimpse of the river. Nothing but brown–not leaves anymore but branches and trunks. Can you ever see the river at this part? I can’t remember. I’ll have to check again next month or the month after that. Focused on trying to swing my right arm as much as my left. Still doesn’t feel natural but it’s getting better. As I neared the railroad trestle, I looked down at the dirt path below me. I think I’ll try to take it before the snow comes–which could be soon. Do I remember much else? I said “good morning” to the Daily Walker. Nodded my head at a few runners and walkers. Reluctantly ran on the grass for a few steps to avoid 2 walkers hogging the path. Didn’t see any roller skiers and only 1 or 2 bikers. Didn’t hear any loud conversations or horns honking. No stupid squirrels got in my way. I didn’t have any magical moments of great insight. But it was a nice run.

nov 1/RUN

6.2 miles
38 degrees
Franklin bridge + extra turn around

A wonderful morning run! A slow, easy pace. The kind of pace that you feel you could maintain indefinitely. For me, today, that pace was a little less than 9:30. A few years ago, that pace would have seemed way too slow, but I’ve been working on not caring about time and speed and trying to remember what’s really important–enjoying the run–so 9:30 is fine with me. What I’ll remember from this run is feeling strong and free and grateful to be outside in the colder air. I successfully tackled the Franklin hill, chanting in my head: “there’s a bridge, at the top, look at it, never stop.” After reaching the bridge, I chanted, “there’s a sign, at the top, look at it, never stop.” Then, after reaching the sign: “There’s a tree…”. It helped. Paid attention to my breathing. Tried rhythmic breathing for a while: In 2 3. Out 2. Didn’t have any run-ins with stupid squirrels or out of control dogs. Got to see a roller skier and greet the Daily Walker. Followed my shadow at the beginning of my run and then led her home at the end. Didn’t really notice the river until I reached the flats and I was right next to it. Had to lower my visor several times to shield my eyes from the bright sun. Thought about: breathing, form, keeping my shoulders relaxed, making sure my right shoulder was going back as far as my left. Anything else? I can’t remember. Heard water trickling down the rock below the U. Noticed how green the grass was at the riverside park. Didn’t see any boats on the river. Not many bikes on the path. No groups of runners or rafters of wild turkeys or eagles or crows. There were lots of dead leaves on the ground but no acorns. I don’t recall how the wind or the cars sounded but I remember hearing an annoying, high-pitched buzz cutting through everything else. Also heard the deep voice of someone descending the stone steps by my favorite part of the gorge.

oct 30/RUN

4.2 miles
minnehaha falls and back
52 degrees

Ran to the falls, stopped. Looked at the falls above, then below. Took the 100+ stone steps down to the lower bridge. Beautiful. Decided to run on the dirt path that follows the creek until I reached another bridge. Ran over it and then walked back up the steep incline. It was fun to run on a dirt path by the river. I was much less concerned about how fast I was going. Started running again and, just after reaching the double bridge (a bridge for bikers, another for pedestrians) at 44th street, I followed the trail that snaked down a hill to another dirt trail, halfway above the river. Well, some of it was dirt, some of it leaves, much of it abandoned asphalt, worn and rutted. I encountered a few walkers, but mostly had the trail to myself. My legs felt sore–maybe because I had run 3 days in a row?–but I liked looking at the river and St. Paul on the other side. Running on this trail reminded me of training with the kids this summer. Both of them preferred running on it over the main trail right by the road because they could be hidden from view. Summer seems so long ago.

oct 29/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin loop
45 degrees

A beautiful morning for a run! Sunny. Hardly any wind.

Favorite views: the reflection of the railroad bridge in the water from the Franklin bridge and the reflection of the Lake Street bridge from the top of the hill on the river road near Marshall.

Most annoying re-occurrence: stupid squirrels stopping right in front of me or darting out in front of me. At least twice, I had to pause my run for them.

Most interesting thing about the squirrels: saw at least 2 black squirrels.

Best noise: sh sh sh shuffling through the dead yellow leaves on the ground.

Worst noise: the wheezing, coughing, gasping of a woman running in front of me just past Meeker Island.

Prettiest leaf color: butterscotch.

Toughest part of the run: After running up 2 hills and crossing the road to the sidewalk just before Marshall.

Easiest part of the run: Running on a gentle downhill for several minutes after reaching the top of the curve on the Franklin bridge.

Best dogs: The pure white dogs I encountered at the end of my run as I walked back, one walking the other proudly perched in a stroller being pushed by a woman. Not sure what kind of dogs they were.

What made me happy to see: glimpses of the blue river through the trees at my favorite part of the trail, right above the gorge. A roller skier in a bright orange shirt speeding up the hill. The forest floor.

What I missed seeing: The Daily Walker. Rowers. Glowing orange leaves. Wild turkeys.

vacation, oct 11-oct 20

estes park, colorado (elevation 7500 feet)
run: 3.8 miles
fish creek road

glenwood springs, colorado (elevation 5700 feet)
run: 4 miles
glenwood canyon hiking biking trail

Didn’t have much time to run for a week and a half. Partly because I was busy doing other things, partly because I had never run in such high altitudes before. Glenwood Springs didn’t bother me but Estes Park’s 7500 foot elevation kicked me in the ass. Wow. This past year I’ve heard so much about the altitude training that pro athletes do so it was cool to (sort of) try it myself. Here are some notes I took after my first 1.5 mile run:

25 degrees/50% humidity, dry/
ran next to some elk, heard their bugle mating calls
snowy mountains, a misty glassy crystal lake
screaming lungs, jagged breaths
poop-covered paths
an unfamiliar land

The 4 mile run with Scott in Glenwood Springs was easier and more interesting. We ran next to the Colorado River on the old highway, which has been converted into a hiking biking trail. Maybe one day will have time to run much farther on it. Didn’t see any elk there, but did have to run by some big horn sheep. Scott estimates that they were about 25 feet away.

oct 10/RUN

5.1 miles
river road/falls/creek path/falls/river road
47 degrees/98% humidity/drizzle

Ran to the river and turned right instead of left today. Wanted to check out the leaves. Beautiful soft yellow, orange and red. Not to peak color yet but getting there. It was drizzly and wet on the path which means more squeaky leaves. The most popular color of fallen leaves, covering the path: bright yellow. Heard water gushing through the sewer and trickling down the gorge. Almost avoided all the puddles. On my way back, ran below the Moustache Bridge and up through Longfellow Gardens. Not sure if I have ever run that bit before. I looked for the statue of Longfellow in the field, but couldn’t see him. He’s probably covered in tall grass.

oct 9/RUNSWIM

5.75 miles
franklin loop
47 degrees/raining

When I started my run, it wasn’t raining. But within minutes I felt some mist and by the time I reached the east side of the river it was raining. At first I didn’t feel the rain. I only heard it gently falling on the leaves. Such a comforting sound. Soon enough it was raining and I felt it on my face. I don’t mind running in the rain, as long as it’s not freezing, which it wasn’t today.

What else do I remember?

  • the squeaking sound the wet leaves made as I ran over them
  • the once yellow now glowing orange leaves near the lake street bridge
  • avoiding the cracks in the path just past the railroad bridge
  • looking down at the river as I crossed the Franklin bridge, remembering run across it in the race 2 days ago
  • hearing the trickling of water below the gorge on the st. paul side
  • hearing a dog’s sharp bark down in the gorge
  • seeing a runner up ahead on the franklin bridge and slowly getting closer, finally passing them before the meeker island sign
  • smiling as I ran back across the lake street bridge
  • seeing the Daily Walker up ahead, dressed only in a short sleeved shirt, passing him
  • running past 2 walkers with big umbrellas at my favorite part of the path near the end of my run
  • seeing red yellow orange leaves
  • encountering only one spazzy squirrel

swim: 1 mile/1800 yards
ywca pool

Until my membership expires at the end of the month, I’m swimming a mile at the y after band rehearsal on Tuesday nights. It felt good. I felt strong. And, amazingly, swimming for 30 minutes straight wasn’t boring or tedious.

oct 7/10MILERACE

10 miles
Twin Cities 10 mile
44 degrees

My slowest 10 mile by 2 minutes but I don’t care. My goal was to finish strong and to not stop and I did both of those: My last mile was my fastest by over 20 seconds and I kept going on Summit even though my left leg wanted me to stop. So many hills! So many potholes! So many beautiful yellow golden red leaves! So helpful to run with Scott!

What else do I remember about the run?

  • Listening to everyone’s feet in sync
  • Trying to not listen to a few annoying conversations
  • Feeling overheated even though it was only 44 degrees outside, sweating a lot
  • Not having too much trouble for most of the Franklin hill but struggling to find room to run once we turned and curved up to the bridge
  • Looking down and paying attention to all the cracks in the road so I wouldn’t stumble, finding out that doing this was a good distraction
  • Hearing Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby,” Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil, “YMCA” the Village People and “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders
  • Not wanting to keep going but knowing that I would
  • Scott complaining because there was a bunch of sand on the last little hill before the finish line

oct 4/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
40! degrees

Love this colder weather. Finally! Decided to take it a little faster today. Another 14 seconds per mile faster than on Tuesday. Ended up keeping up my pace by chanting in my head: strawberry/blueberry/raspberry, occasionally switching one 3 syllable word for choc-o-late or choco-late sauce or butterscotch. Because I was running faster, I don’t remember much other than my chanting or wondering how fast I was going (I wasn’t looking at my watch) or whether or not I should be concerned about the slight ache on the side of my calf.

Anything else I remember?

  • Lots of branches on the path, blown down by last night’s storm
  • Annoying, dumb squirrels darting out in front of me on the St. Paul side
  • The bright yellow trees at the top of the Lake Street bridge
  • Stumbling slightly after misjudging the edge of the path near the Marshall Bridge
  • Studying the west side of the river at my new favorite spot to view the river (up from the bottom of the Marshall bridge), checking out which trees were changing color

oct 2/RUNSWIM

5.5 miles
franklin loop
50 degrees/96% humidity

Misty. Humid. Cool. Fall colors are appearing. Greenish yellows. Reds. Oranges. Greeted the daily walker. Felt good, relaxed. After stopping a few times to deal with a phone call in the first 2 miles, was able to run the rest without walking. Running over the Franklin bridge was beautiful. Admired an inverted image of the railroad bridge in the water. Ran around 20-30 seconds faster per mile than my last run. Saw a rafter of wild turkeys on the St. Paul side. Maybe a dozen of them just hanging out on the lawn of the Shriners Hospital. I love that I can see wild turkeys in the middle of the city. Heard water trickling down the side of the gorge. Felt water trickling off of my face. Wondered how long it would be before all the leaves would be gone and I could see to the other side. Thought about the 10 mile race I’m running this Sunday. My goal: to enjoy it and to not take it out too fast.

Anything else I remember?: cars rushing by on the river road, the gorge looking gorgeous in dark green and rich brown, the grit crunching under my feet by the lake street bridge, the yellow leaves on the trees right by the marshall bridge almost all gone already, squirrels darting frantically, no rowers, no roller skiers, any bikers?, no ducks quacking or geese honking, no bugs buzzing, no sirens wailing, no eagles or hawks soaring, no runners or walkers or bikers or drivers irritating me, my knee hurting only slightly and not too often.

swim: 1 mile/1760 yards
ywca pool

After band rehearsal, walked a few blocks to the y for a quick swim. 8:45 is a great time to go to the pool–no one else is around! There was one other swimmer a few lanes over. Far enough over that I couldn’t really see her for most of my swim. My mile went fast. So fast that I wondered if I had miscounted. But I didn’t. I often miscount, thinking ahead too much. The only way I don’t lose track is by mixing up my stroke count. I break the mile up into 200s with a 50 breathing every 3 strokes, a 50 every 4, a 50 every 5, a 50 every 6. I don’t remember much about the swim except: staring down at the blue line in the middle of the lane and then counting the tile of the other blue line that marks the drop off for the deep end: 3 tiles; looking up every so often, noticing the lifeguard walking around; trying to quickly glance at the clock as I swam by but having trouble; and noticing that there are at least 3 clocks within view as I swim, none of which I could see that well.

sept 30/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
46 degrees/86% humidity

Very quiet this morning as I left for my run. Overcast and cool. So humid. Hard to breathe for the first mile. Easier, after. The quiet stillness amplified my foot strikes and breathing. The river road is still mostly green but color is creeping in. Yellows by the lake street side of the bridge, a few slashes of orange by the Marshall side. It felt really good to be out in the world this morning. I am running well. Today is the 9th anniversary of my mom’s death. At one point during the run I thought about her and how this day doesn’t make me come undone as much as it used to. Then I talked to her in my head, telling her I loved her and missed her and that I was finally feeling happy and hopeful again, after years of struggling with many losses. Heard the rowing couch (was it the coxswain?) on his bullhorn calling out orders about straight arms and faster rates. At one point he said the name Sara–was it “you can do it Sara” or “good job Sara”? I imagined that it was my mom speaking to me, telling me that she knew I was okay. Decided to run up the hill past the bridge instead of taking the stairs so I could avoid the group of runners waiting to climb the stairs–never seen that before, they must have been a cross country team–and so I could view the river from my new favorite spot just above the Marshall bridge at a place on the path where there are no trees and you can see the river clearly.

Anything else I remember from my run? Greeting several runners. Seeing at least 2 roller skiers. Encountering a woman with a stroller, trying to wrangle a dog and almost blocking my way. Her apology was genuine and I was so happy running that I didn’t get mad, which is the way I wish I could always be. Feeling very strong at the end with a great, almost effortless rhythm. Another runner greeting me so enthusiastically as we passed each other that I wondered if she thought she knew me or if I actually did know her but didn’t recognize her.

sept 28/RUN

10 miles!
downtown loop with slight variation
46 degrees/up to 17mph wind

10 miles! 10 miles! Without stopping! I ran up 3 really steep hills without any problems. A perfect morning. My legs felt really strong and I knew that I could run the entire way. No doubts. Ran on the river road path down the Franklin hill, through the Bohemian flats, up the I 35 hill, past the Guthrie, down to Mill Ruins park, up a steep hill back to the river road then home. Occasionally my knee felt a little sore or my shoulder tight or my foot ached, but only briefly. The rest of the time I felt good and joyful and grateful to be having good runs after over a year of struggling with my knee. The last time I ran 10 miles without stopping was April 22 of 2017. 19 months ago.

What do I remember from the run?

  • Being able to almost see the forest floor.
  • Trying to keep a steady pace as another runner slowly passed me.
  • Watching my shadow run ahead of me, then beside me, then ahead of me again.
  • Feeling excited when I realized that they added a solid white line on the biking path in the flats for us runners who don’t want to run on the seriously slanted walking path right by the river’s edge.
  • Hearing some loud cracks over at the U, deciding it was construction work but still wondering if it were gunfire.
  • Hearing a bus rumble by above my head as I ran under the Washington Ave bridge.
  • Admiring the lush green grass under the bridge, finally returning after years of being a construction dump site for the bridge collapse debris.
  • Feel surprisingly okay running up the very long hill right before downtown.
  • Encountering the dude painting the white line that I was so excited about with a weird machine that looked like a lawnmower near the memorial for the people who died when the bridge collapsed.
  • The rough, uneven planks on the river road by the Mill City Museum and the sign that reads, “Caution: planks slippery when wet”
  • Instead of running on the Stone Arch Bridge, taking the path down to the Mill Ruins park, running past an embarrassed woman about the get her picture taken.
  • Hearing a tour guide barking out directions at a group of young kids.
  • Running up the steep path that connects back up to the path, right by the bridge collapse memorial, and passing several people, including two girls who had been running up the hill but gave up.
  • Running down a steep hill and feeling great.
  • The shimmery sparkle of the sun on the river’s edges near the flats.
  • Flashes of white boats through the trees near the rowing club.
  • Spotting at least one roller skier, several other runners, many walkers, a few dogs, some bicycles. No daily walker. No Santa runner (an older runner who is super fast and has a white beard like Santa Claus).
  • Almost being tripped by a stupid squirrel, darting out in front of me.
  • Looking at the spray painted image of a butt with wings and a heart on the left cheek under the Lake Street bridge that Rosie pointed out last weekend.

sept 26/RUN

4.5 miles
franklin bridge turn around
49 degrees/89% humidity

Fall running! Sunny. Brisk. Not too much wind. Beautiful. Glanced down at the gorge while running through the green tunnel and thought about how not being able to see the forest floor makes you feel like you’re high up, in the sky, near the tops of tall trees. I like this feeling. Ran past the Daily Walker. We were both headed in the same direction so I wasn’t able to say “good morning.” Tried to see my shadow but only got glimpses. Still too much shade from the trees. Maybe I’ll see her more in a month? Enjoyed listening to the crunch of my feet on the small patch of dirt right before the lake street turn off. Heard at least one dog barking across the river, probably at the Meeker Island dog park. Ran partly down the hill to just past the Franklin bridge and then turned around. Almost caught up to a roller skier climbing the hill too but she sped up once the path leveled off. Stopped and took the steps down by the railroad bridge. I run by these steps several times a week and I’ve never taken them. A beautiful dirt trail halfway up the gorge. I wish I had followed the trail instead of turning around and heading back up to the paved path by the road but I wanted to keep running. Sometime soon, I’ll run back, maybe with Scott, and we’ll explore the trail. Avoided darting, dumb squirrels. Smiled. Breathed. Pumped my arms. Kept my shoulders relaxed. Lost a few thoughts. Didn’t hear any rowers but I think I saw two under the bridge, either just about to head down to the boathouse or having just finished. Encountered many bikes, walkers, a few dogs. 1 roller skier. Several runners. No birds. No buzzing bugs. No rain drops. No orange or red or yellow leaves.

sept 25/RUN

5 miles
franklin hill turn around
52 degrees/91% humidity

Overcast. Sky, white with gray smudges. A few drizzles. The green down below the road aglow. Cool. A great morning for a run. Decided to tackle the Franklin hill. Managed to run the whole thing without stopping. Victory! Wasn’t too hard running up it today. What do I remember? Saying “good morning” to the daily walker. Catching a glimpse of a big bird–an eagle? a hawk?–between lake and franklin. Marveling at a super fast roller skier zooming by me on the path. Wondering why a car was parked on the sidewalk just in front of the franklin avenue bridge with its headlights on. Running up the hill, almost to the top, and noticing how the tree line carved out the sky, making it almost look like a river, wondering if the world was upside down. Hearing the buzz of a weedwacker down by the rowing club blend into the swirl of the wind and the whoosh of a car. Wanting to stop and take the steps by the railroad bridge down to the river to see what was down there. Feeling strong. Feeling joyful. Feeling hot, my face burning bright red. Noticing the leaves turning yellow on the way up from the bottom of the lake street bridge. Wondering when the leaves by the creek near the duck bridge will be turning golden. Thinking I should run that way sometimes this week.

sept 24/RUN

5 miles
minnehaha falls
70 degrees

Hopefully this is (one of) the last too warm days of the year. I’m ready for cool, crisp air. Decided to do a run that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: run to minnehaha falls, then take the dirt path, following minnehaha creek, to the mississippi river. It was 2.6 miles from the start, a block from my house, to the bluff, at the end of the trail before it turns and crosses to the other side. Pretty although it will be beautiful in a few weeks when all the leaves start changing colors. Most of the path to the river is downhill which made it easier getting there, harder coming back. Stopped briefly at the top of a bluff overlooking the river before heading back. I’ve stopped at this bluff before–last October–sat on one of the many flat rocks studding the hill and took notes about what I saw and heard. I want to go back and do that again. Here’s what I wrote then:

the notes
mississippi river
just south of the ford bridge
a sky that leaves the water as white
then turns gray
then blue
then even bluer
golden leaves that look like gold dust sprinkled on the sky
a small motorboat floats by
its engine off
water laps and then slaps on the rocks
depending on the wind and
whether or not the boat will start its motor
it does and the water starts slapping
then sloshing
until the boat’s wake has passed
then it laps again
brown water
white foam
gold leaf static
a bigger boat approaches
hugging the other shore
a broken branch
not a small limb
but a main branch
taking a drink in the mississippi
the lock at the lock and dam #1
is locked permanently
shut down to an asian carp invasion
so the bigger boat returns
this time it doesn’t hug the shore
but travels down the middle
it’s named Riff Raft
Will I care when I can’t see?
How bad will it get?
In the distance
I can see
the water as it tumbles roars pours rumbles rains rushes
down the rocks
the concrete rocks
the water slides
or does it glide
past me?
the creek that feeds into this river was rushing
then it stopped
Why?
Where?
How?
Every half minute or so
a leaf falls
phfftt to the ground
a gentle pat on the earth
but not gentle enough to be silent
more white foan
an occasional voice
across the river a pear green to gold canopy
a low rumble of traffic and
a plane

sept 23/RUN

6 miles
ford loop
52 degrees

Fall running! Very sunny and bright. Studied the welcoming oaks at the start of my run: the two straight trunks at the beginning,the one leaning in to whisper in my ear, the other leaning back, its limbs spread out almost as if to yell, “watch out!” Also noticed the light piercing through the trees at my favorite part of the run, below the road, above the gorge. Glowing. Radiant. I decided to pay attention to the noises I heard: a siren, the feet of an approaching runner, the bullhorn of the rowing coach, cars driving by, music being blasted from a bike’s radio, the shuffling scratching sound of my feet on the gritty gravel, the dripping of the water from the drain on the st. paul side, the clickity clacking of a roller skier’s poles, the wind in the trees, the quiet steady buzzing hum of bugs in the green tunnel. Crossing the lake street bridge, I watched a shell with 4 or 5 rowers on the river. Sometimes they were blocked by the railing. I craned my neck to catch another glimpse of them. Later, I noticed them as I crossed the Ford bridge. A small blip in the middle of the big river. I didn’t see much fall color–maybe I wasn’t paying attention?–but I smelled fall on the path, traveling down from the Ford Bridge to the locks and dam #1. Musty, earthy leaves decaying in the dirt. Didn’t encounter too many runners and no big groups. Felt strong and decided to run a bit extra so I could reach 6 miles.

sept 21/RUN

8.2 miles
franklin loop + extra
52 degrees/wind: 21 mph with gusts up to 32 mph

8.2 miles without stopping. This is the most I’ve run without stopping since before my knee injury in June of 2017. It felt good. I was originally planning just to run the Franklin loop but I was feeling good and decided to keep going. Running an extra 3 miles is a big mental victory for me. I rarely can get myself to run extra. And I didn’t it in the wind. I used to hate the wind, now I love it. Strange. The only time it was really bad was on the lake street bridge heading back to Minneapolis. I was running straight into it. A couple of times I was worried I would be blown across the path.

What else do I remember?

  • the gray sky, how it made the green glow softly
  • saw a roller skier (west side of river) and a rollerblader (east side)
  • the runner passing me from behind, his long stride looked relaxed but slightly strange
  • the clicking of a gear being changed on a bike
  • Minneapolis parks people out repainting the walking/biking signs on the path
  • hearing one of their vehicles rapidly approaching from behind, then watching it speed by beside me
  • flashes of yellow and orange almost hidden in the green trees
  • the blue gray Mississippi
  • my left shoulder aching every so often
  • feeling warm, then cooling off because of the wind
  • noticing the metal steps on the st. paul side that Scott, Rosie and I walked up last weekend when we checked out Meeker Lock and Dam
  • running above, trying to look down below to see where the dog park path is
  • the beautiful view of the river and the tree line on the path just past the lake street bridge
  • the orange vest of a gardener digging up dirt by the side of the road
  • feeling strong and not bothered by how strong the wind was
  • turning onto the river road path and falling in behind a runner in shorts and a gray sweatshirt. Not sure how fast she was running, but it was faster than me

sept 20/RUN

4.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south/north again
60 degrees/rain

A steady rain. Not torrential but constant and very wet. Today might be one of the first times I went out to run and it was already raining. Usually I try to get a quick run in before it starts but end up getting stuck in it. Today it started to rain before I could leave and I went anyway. And I didn’t mind. I think I might be done ever running inside on a track. I’ll run in heat, snow, rain, wind, below zero temperatures. Lot of conditions…except thunderstorms.

The theme for today’s run: water

List: types of water experienced

  • soft, steady rain falling straight down
  • rain collecting on the bill of my visor, always a single drop sitting in the corner of my peripheral vision
  • a soaked shirt sticking to my stomach
  • soggy shoes and socks
  • huge puddles on the sidewalk on the way to the river, hard to run around, hard to leap over
  • wet, slick leaves on the path, not slippery just saturated
  • drops playing a constant downbeat on the trees grass dirt….I wondered as I ran: is rain always steady, in 4/4 time? Anyone ever heard triplets or a 16th note rest?
  • running too close to the edge of the path and getting a face full of wet branch
  • water dripping on my head, dripping through my visor, mixing with the sweat on my forehead
  • spray from my very wet ponytail
  • tiny drops of rain landing on my watch face
  • cold wet legs shoulders fingers
  •  car wheels whooshing by
  • the river, a contemplative blue
  • only one quick break from the unrelenting rain: running under the Lake Street bridge

I enjoyed running in the rain. Mostly because it was cooler but also because it was different and unusual. I felt a kinship with the 2 or 3 other runners I encountered, we the weirdos willing to wade through the water-soaked path in order to run outside.

sept 16/RUN

4 miles
74 degrees/77% humidity/dew point 66
mississippi river road path, north/south

Running at 7:30, already hot. Humid. Heavy. Thick. I’m ready for fall and over this hot weather. What do I remember? The sound of a runner, gradually approaching from behind. He said “good morning” as he passed. I noticed how one strap of his running belt was askew. Later, passing a group of 4 runners, one of them was talking so loudly that I could hear her for several minutes. I was glad I was going fast enough to get clear of her voice quickly. I heard the rowing coach down by the river, barking into his bullhorn. A biker’s wheel made a thwack thwack noise like something was caught in it. Close to the end of my run, entering the green tunnel below the road, at my favorite part of the path, it smelled like early fall: earthy. I didn’t see any roller skiers or pay attention to the river or dodge large groups of runners or marvel at red or orange or yellow leaves.

 

sept 13/RUN

5.7 miles
the ford loop
70 degrees/15 mph wind with 22 mph gusts

For some reason, I’m liking the wind this month. Who knew? Last year, I hated running when it was really windy. I avoided it, if I could. But this September, two of my best runs have been when it was 15+ mph wind. The only time the wind was really bad was on the Lake Street bridge, a mile into my run. I had to hold onto my visor so it wouldn’t blow off into the river.

What are some memorable things about my run?

  • the windy bridge
  • the moments when I ran in the sun and wasn’t sheltered by the shade
  • peering down at the trees in the ravine as I ran up the river road path towards Summit. So pretty and mysterious and inviting. Looking at a map the other day, I discovered that this place has a name: Shadow Falls Park. I must hike there before the winter!
  • feeling okay as I ran up the hill right before Summit, imagining how I’ll feel when I run it in less than a month at the TC 10 mile race.
  • listening to my feet striking the paved path with a thud, then crunching on the dirt
  • watching the relaxed, strong stride of a runner as she passed me, finally passing another runner who was running on the dirt path
  • speeding up to pass a group of 6 or 7 runners
  • checking out the trees–no color yet–while running across the Ford bridge
  • noticing 3 police cars passing me on the river road, not all at once, but within 5 minutes of each other
  • feeling hot and flushed

I wasn’t listening to music. Even so, I don’t remember many distinctive sounds. No roller skiers. Only a few bikers. Some walkers with dogs or backpacks. Several runners. No unusual whooshing wind sounds or barks. I do remember noticing, as I started, how intense (and intent) the cars seemed to be as they rushed up the road. No rowers or quick snatches of conversation overhead as I passed walkers. One brief song blasting from a radio on a bike. No water sounds. Some water sparkle on the bridge as the sun created a path of light across the river. A few bright orange leaves hidden in the trees just above the Lake St/Marshall bridge.

sept 10/RUN

7 miles
bohemian flats turnaround
59 degrees 71% humidity

Ran down the Franklin hill, feeling good. Later, ran back up the hill too hard. Walked for a few minutes but still finished strong.

What do I remember from my run?
one roller skier holding both of their poles in one hand
two (or was it three?) police cars driving by
noticing how the parks crew was mowing down all the wildflowers on the side of the path
watching my shadow, checking out my form, trying to keep my shoulders even and relaxed
for a second, trying rhythmic breathing
listening to my feet strike the ground

sept 8/RUN

run: 2 miles
dogwood coffee run
65 degrees

A quick run with Scott to Dogwood Coffee. Our Saturday morning tradition. Lots of runners out. Some bikes. A team of rollerbladers, three with matching kits. According to Scott’s apple watch, we ran 2 miles. According to mine, 2.09.

In the afternoon, we took Delia the dog to Meeker Island. Pretty cool. We didn’t have a chance to walk it, but there’s a dog park here that we’ll have to check out some other day.

sept 6/RUNBIKE

run: 2.5 miles
62 degrees
mississippi river road path, north/south

This is my fourth day in a row of running. Feeling good. Woke up to 53 degrees. Fall is here!

bike: 9 miles
lake nokomis and back

Was planning to swim at the lake today but I got there just as a boat was taking out the last buoys. Last year, they kept the buoys in until the beginning of October. I’m sad but slightly relieved to know that it’s over–no more doubts about whether or not I should try biking over the lake to swim. I can’t, it’s closed. See you next summer, beloved Lake Nokomis.

sept 5/RUN

6.5 miles
the franklin loop + extra
63 degrees/72% humidity/dew point 54
wind: 16 mph/gusts up to 25 mph

What a run! The best I’ve done in months. Felt strong and steady, like I could have kept going for another hour. Didn’t look at my pace or my pulse. Didn’t listen to music. Oh, if all runs could be like this one! Spreading open possibility!

Overcast. No shadow today. Instead the wind was my friend, not by pushing me along but by giving me something to listen to and think about. I felt the gusts on the lake street and franklin bridges but it didn’t bother me. The wind sounded like a lot of things today. It blended in with whirring wheels of an approaching bicycle, the sprinkler set up on someone’s lawn across the street. I liked listening to it shake the leaves in the trees, making them sing, “fall is here! winter running coming soon.”

Running up from below the lake street bridge, glanced at a tree and was delighted to see slashes of bright orange peeking through. Soon all the leaves on the river will change and then fall and I’ll be able to see the river and all the way to the other side: the banks, branches, beaches. Right before seeing these leaves, I payed attention to the sign for the Meeker Island Lock and Dam. I want to check it out before winter. It’s so close. Only a mile and a half from my house.

I remember thinking about things, but I can’t remember what those things are
or were or whatever verb tense makes the most sense.

aug 16/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 2.2 miles
mississippi road path, north/south
69 degrees/90% humidity/dew point 66

With my lingering cold and the thick air, it was hard to breathe. Mostly I managed short, jagged breaths. It doesn’t help when the temperature and the dew point are almost the same!

bike: 4.3 miles
to lake nokomis

I only biked to lake nokomis because Scott gave me a ride home. Two things I especially remember: 1. I can “see” the path much better than at the beginning of the summer. Is it the light that makes it better? Am I actually “seeing” it or have I just memorized all the curves? 2. Too many acorns on the path. Sometimes they crunched loudly under my wheels, sometimes they popped and went flying across the path. I was worried my wheel would hit one wrong and I’d crash, or a popping acorn from someone else’s bike would hit me in the face.

swim: 2.72 miles/4 loops/4800 yards
lake nokomis open swim

This is the best open swim season I’ve ever had. I’ve swam 4 loops 5 times this month (so far).  I only swam 4 loops once last summer, on the final night of open swim. The water was warm and calm and buoyant–at least it seemed more buoyant to me. I felt powerful and happy. Swimming back to the big beach, into the sun, I couldn’t see the big orange buoys at all. I swam mostly blind, occasionally glimpsing a stroking arm or the top of the building or a light pole or a lifeguard. I wonder if everyone else had as much trouble as I did or if it was my messed up central vision? I keep planning to stop in the middle of the lake and take a minute to pay attention to the light and the feeling of being immersed in water, but I don’t. It’s hard to stop pushing myself to the other shore. I’ll be happy if I manage to do it just once in the final week. I’m ready for summer to end, but sad that swimming in the lake is almost over too.

aug 14/RUNBIKESWIM

2 miles
dogwood coffee run
75 degrees/77% humidity/dew point 67

Scott and I decided to run together before going to vote in the primaries. So thick outside! Everything felt heavy, especially my lungs and my legs.

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis

It’s amazing how much easier it is to bike when you have your tires pumped up all the way!

swim: 2.72 miles/4 loops/4800 yards
lake nokomis open swim

Open swim is almost over and I will miss it. 4 more regular sessions + the 2.4 mile race on the final morning are all that’s left. What a great summer. Things I remember about my swim:

  • so many weeds and twigs to swim through, some almost like webs or nets
  • something warm touched my foot, before freaking out correctly decided that it was another swimmer’s hand and not a fish
  • lots of planes flying above
  • such opaque water!
  • several swimmers swimming way out, almost past the edge of the course, others swimming straight, from buoy to buoy
  • glimpsing something out of the corner of my eye–a swimmer? a duck?–decided it was just a wave then suddenly a blue-capped swimmer popped up, someone swimming breaststroke, surfacing only for a second before hiding underwater again–good thing I didn’t swim over them!
  • realization: I love choppy water

aug 9/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 6 miles
austin, mn
73 degrees/88% humidity/dew point 70

Hot. Humid. Sunny. Difficult. Ran with Scott through Austin on a loop that was almost entirely nature trails winding through woods and fields. Nice, except for when the path was in the bright sun.

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 1.3 miles/2 loops
lake nokomis open swim

In the early stages of some sort of sickness that involves achy muscles and sore throat so I didn’t want to swim too much. Swam the first loop with goggles that were completely fogged up. I could barely see the little beach. Swimming mostly by memory. Switched to my other pair of goggles and was able to see for the second loop. Halfway through the second loop, my nose plug slipped a little, enabling air to get out on one side. Such a weird feeling.

aug 7/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 4.5 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
71 degrees/87% humidity

Dark green tunnel above the gorge. Leaves blocking out my view to the river and the sky. Later, past the old stone steps, I could see slices of the blue gray water. Lots of roller skiers. Some behind me going slow enough that they never caught up. Some ahead of me, slowing down enough that I could pass them. Why so many skiers this week? Ran to the Franklin bridge and then stopped to watch some rowers passing under the bridge. Felt pretty good, even if I walked a few times. Too many discarded acorns on the path crunching and twisting my foot. Why so early with the acorns? Will fall and winter come too soon this year?

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

A typical bike ride. Not too fast, on the river road. On the way back, looking out through the trees at the river, I felt lucky to live here and be able to bike on this trail so often.

swim: 1 mile
lake nokomis main beach

Looped around the white buoys ringing the big beach. 5 or was it 6 times? The water was gray and calm and cool. My arms felt strong cutting through the water, my legs powerful as I kicked. Several kayaks paddled through the swimming area, too close to me, so I spent much of my swim always looking out for clueless boaters. Swam for a little over 30 minutes. So glad I fired up to bike over. I’m going to miss these long loopy swims when I’m in the pool this winter doing countless flip turns, hoping my knee doesn’t slide out of its groove.

aug 2/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 3.3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
57 degrees!

A cooler morning. No headphones. Lots of bikers, not as many runners. Focused a lot of attention on my arm swing again. Saw some rowers being dropped off under the lake street bridge, above the Minneapolis Rowing Club. Maybe my daughter Ro should try something like that? I bet she’d be great at it. I think rowing on the river would be really cool. Don’t remember much else from my run. No roller skiers. Not too many birds. Only one or two dogs.

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

The bike back was cool but beautiful. The sun starting to sink. The trees on fire. The light, pink. Biked with Ro and Scott.

swim: 2 miles/3 loops/3600 yards
lake nokomis open swim

Open swim is the best! The clouds before I started were puffy streaks, like someone had raked their fingers through them. The water was still. Not many people around. 2 kids swinging, entertained me with their toddler talk and their songs–including Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The air was cool but the water was warm. My feet felt like they might cramp and so did my calf so I was a bit wary of swimming too much or kicking too hard. Decided to only do 3 loops instead of 4. On the final lap, stopped in the middle of the lake, did some breaststroke and then listened to the silence. So amazing! Next time, I’d like to do an extra loop where I just swim out into the middle of the lake and tread water, experiencing the calm and the strange feeling of being out in the middle of the water.

july 31/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
72 degrees/75% humidity/dew point 63

I was going to write that last summer I had no problem getting up at 6 am for a summer run but then I checked my apple watch and saw that almost all of my runs in June and July from last year were at 8, so I guess I’ve been running this late for a few years. It would be easier to run earlier. Cooler. One problem: it’s cooler but much more humid with a higher dew point. Which is worse: high humidity with a lower temperature or lower humidity with a higher temperature. Can I get up early enough to find out? Heard the rowers on the river and my feet striking the ground. Worked on my arm swing and raising my knees. Encountered some fast bikers and a roller skier slowly passing me. Didn’t listen to music. Avoided the direct sun, which was already hot. Glanced at my shadow. Happily ran past the cars stopped at the stop sign, briefly wondering if they noticed me and wished they were out running.

bike: 4.3
to lake nokomis

swim: 2.72 miles/4 loops/4800 yards
lake nokomis open swim

Another 4 loops! This time the water was choppy. So choppy that I had to breathe on one side. And it was crowded. So many swimmers swimming across and so many people hanging out that lake. But, I did it. 4 loops! 1 hour and 16 minutes which probably means it was slightly less than 4800 yards but it was still 4 loops. I felt strong and powerful as I cut through the choppy water and lifted myself up to see the buoys. When I was almost done with the last loop, my foot suddenly started to cramp up. Instantly, I stopped and shook it out until it felt better. Crisis averted. No repeat of the calf cramp from hell that I got 3 years ago. Other random things about the swim: almost ran into several people. Was attacked by weeds that got stuck to my cap and stayed there and by a stick. Was wary of a menacing sailboat that looked like it wanted to cross over, right through the swimmers. The slightly setting sun was blinding on the way back to the big beach. The water felt warm–76 degrees.

july 26/RUN

1 mile with son/3 miles alone
mississippi river road path south, below, above, north
61 degrees

Such a great, grayish glowing greenish morning for a run. Started out with the boy. Much more walking than running. But no complaining and lots of laughing. The weather was so great, the path so inviting that I decided not to stop after we were done with our workout. Ran the other way on the river for a mile and a half and then headed back. Felt good. Heard a roller skier approaching me for several minutes. Click. Clack. Scrape. Click. Clack. Scrape. Click. Clack. Scrape. It always seems to be a good omen, hearing and seeing a roller skier. When they finally passed me, I could hear that they were listening to the Tour de France. I called out, “Are you listening to the tour? Cool.” Was able to greet the Daily Walker when I was almost finished. Another good omen.

july 25/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls loop

A good run. Started with headphones but the shuffle on my playlist was stuck and I kept hearing the same 3 songs over and over again: Lorde’s “Homemade Dynamite”/Rex Orange County’s “Sunflower”/Courtney Barnett’s “Nameless, Faceless”. So I took out my headphones and listened to the chattering birds and the rushing cars and the even rhythm of my feet striking the path. I ran by the falls without really noticing it–I seem to do that a lot. My legs started feeling sore around mile 3 so I walked for a few minutes. Finished with some strong running, even though I had struggled to start running again. Somehow I made it through the moment of doubt and desire to stop and kept going, running until I reached the water fountain.

After my run, I sat on my back deck and listened to the birds:

july 24/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 1 mile
lake nokomis

Attempted a training run with Ro around Lake Nokomis but her resistance to accomplishing goals won out. Her ability to resist is impressive even as it’s disheartening. I will continue to believe that one day she will learn to harness her superpower in ways that make her (and the world) better, more just, more joyful. Some days it’s so hard to be a parent and let your kids be who they need to be. It was a beautiful day at the lake. Sunny. Breezy. Bright blue water. Even as I was angry and frustrated, I was also annoyed at myself for not being able to let go of it and enjoy the beautiful morning. Our plan had been to run around the lake and then swim out to the dock for the first time this summer. We walked around the lake and then left before swimming. Bummer.

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

A beautiful afternoon. A very slow bike ride with Ro and Scott. Right at the river, past the falls, over the moustache bridge, beside the creek, up 2 hills, down to the lake. Then, after the swim, back again.

swim: 1.36 miles/2 loops/2400 yards
lake nokomis
water temp: 73 degrees

Another great swim. Every swim, I feel more confident about not being able to see much and every swim I feel stronger. On the way back from the little beach, the sun was so blinding that I couldn’t see anything and the water was choppy enough that I had to mostly breathe on one side, but I didn’t care. Swimming out to the little beach, I kept seeing the white sail of a boat beside me. Also saw the red of the kayak and (sometimes) the orange of the buoy. The only think I remember hearing were the shouts of the lifeguards as they yelled back and forth to each other. After the swim, I met up with Scott and Rosie at Sandcastle–the restaurant at the lake. I had a beer, listened to the bluegrass musician and watched a few sailboats moving across the lake. The perfect summer evening. Recognized and celebrated. Redemption after a difficult morning.

july 16/RUN

4 miles
64 degrees/85% humidity
mississippi river road path, north/south

Finally. A cooler morning. Still humid but 10 degrees cooler. Ran without headphones and heard lots of birds. Saw lots of green. Briefly glimpsed my shadow on the way to my favorite part of the path. She was running beside me, on the left. I’m feeling stronger, fitter and faster this summer. Could it be the swimming?

Encountered a few haikus that I really liked last week. Part of a larger series of haikus in a piece called Haiku/etheridge knight. Here are 3 of my favorite:

5
A bare pecan tree
slips a pencil shadow down
a moonlit snow slope.

6
The falling snow flakes
Cannot blunt the hard aches nor
Match the steel stillness.

9
Making jazz swing in
Seventeen syllables AIN’T
No square poet’s job.

What would my haiku be for this morning’s run?

Early morning run
in july with my shadow.
We are friends today.

A green tunnel greets
us, blocking out the shrill
sounds and the warm light.

3.1 miles
mostly walking, a little running with kids
mississippi river road path, south/north

Final training session before the kids’ first 5k. It went okay. The boy felt like he was going to throw up about halfway through it so we had to stop and rest for a few minutes. I am choosing to believe that he will be fine for the race. Encountered lots of trail runners on the part of the path that dips below the road. I’m starting to think it would be fine to try a few trail runs.

july 13/RUN

3.5 miles
38th street/minnehaha ave/falls/river road
71 degrees/93% humidity/dew point: 71

Wet. Wettish. Water-logged. Soggy. Sodden. Saturated. Drizzly. Dank. Damp. Misty. Moist. Muggy. Ran 3 miles through intermittent rain. When Scott and I stopped to walk, I thought about the rain and my skin. Touching my leg,  the surface of my skin was slightly wet. In a few spots, I was dripping, but everywhere I felt damp. Like one of those little sponges you might use to moisten a stamp. Very high dew point, which made running uncomfortable. Everything dripping. Everything a dark, deep green. Surprisingly, didn’t notice (m)any bugs. We ran by the falls but–of course–I was too busy yapping about a book I’m reading, The Wonder, so I didn’t notice the rushing gushing falls. At 42nd street, we decided to run below the road on the lower paved path. I described it to Scott as undulating. Up and down and up and down. Partly due to the terrain and partly the result of erosion–so many cracks and bumps and tiny holes in the asphalt.

A few hours later, after getting up from the couch, by bad knee suddenly popped out of place again. It’s been a week since the last one. Slowly and carefully I popped it back into its groove. These subluxations don’t really hurt, although I do feel a slight, sharp pain. Instead, they just shock, taking my breath away. Very upsetting to suddenly, without any warning, have your kneecap slide out of place. Especially for someone who is so physically active and relies so heavily on being able to move–to walk or bike or run or swim or travel up stairs or down stairs or outside. I’m getting better at not panicking and at carefully yet quickly popping it back into place.

I would like to write some more about my knee–how it feels, my fraught relationship to it, my struggle to keep running and loving it. Here’s a wonderful poem I found by Rita Dove about her right knee–my “bad” knee is the right one too. She’s writing about osteoporosis, which is different from my unstable kneecap:

Ode to My Right Knee

Oh, obstreperous one, ornery outside of ordinary

protocols; paramilitary probie par

excellence: Every evidence
you yield yells.

No noise
too tough to tackle, tears

springing such sudden salt
when walking wrenches:

Haranguer, hag, hanger-on—how
much more maddening

insidious imperfection?
Membranes matter-of-factly

corroding, crazed cartilage calmly chipping
away as another arduous ambulation

begins, bone bruising bone.
Leathery Lothario, lone laboring

gladiator grappling, groveling
for favor; fair-weather forecaster, fickle friend,

jive jiggy joint:
Kindly keep kicking.

june 25/RUN

10 miles
72 degrees/84% humidity
lake nokomis loop, long

Tried running 9 minutes then walking 1. It worked until mile 6 when I got tired and my foot started to hurt. Running isn’t as easy this year. Still not fully recovered from my knee injury. What do I remember from my run? So many cars, streaming by on the river road, heading to work or vacation or somewhere fast. Saw some other runners, bikers, a few roller skiers on the creek path. Ran beside 4 bodies of water: the mississippi river, minnehaha creek lake hiawatha and lake nokomis. Halfway around lake nokomis, the path rises up a small hill and offers a beautiful view of the water. There’s a bench there and I always contemplate stopping and sitting and watching the waves. I haven’t yet. Today, as I ran by it, I noticed how splendidly the blue of the sky, the blue of the water and the green of the trees complemented each other. Was it because of the light–was it bright? I can’t remember. After making it to the big beach, I decided to listen to music. It helped motivate me to keep running. Ran down the hill between Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha and the hill after 28th avenue. Did I pay attention to the creek at all? Was it rushing? Were there any big turtles in it, like the one Rosie and I saw a few summers ago? I don’t know. So much of this run was a blur.

2 miles, some running but more walking
training with daughter
mississippi river road path south, north

Did second training run with daughter. Slowly, she’s getting better. Small, subtle positive changes. Running when she’s supposed to run. Not stopping. Not freaking out and refusing. Still complaining but with less anger. Today, she sang as she ran about the bing bong (or sometimes the ding dong) that the running app makes as it alerts you to start running again. Oh, the menacing “bing bong”! Why must it bing and bong at all and once it has, when it will it do it again so we can stop? The voice that tells us to “run!” or “walk” is named Allison. According to my daughter, we don’t like her. In fact, we hate her. She is the cause of our pain and suffering as we struggle to run in the heat. (I wonder, in a few weeks, will Allison become our bff? i doubt it, but maybe we won’t blame her quite so much?)  Soon, the bing bong is no longer the sound that the app makes, it is the pain that Ro feels in her chest or her foot. “oh, I have a bing bong in my chest!” By the end of the run, Ro has figured out what these “bing bongs” look like: bullet bills from the video game, mario kart. I love her imagination.

june 23/RUN

run: 6.1 miles, 4.1 alone, 2 with Scott
70 degrees/86% humidity/dew point: 63
minnehaha falls + dogwood coffee

Ran to the falls by myself and then met up with Scott to do our Saturday morning run to Dogwood Coffee. Hot and sticky this morning. Was very steady with my pace and felt pretty good. The last 2 miles with Scott were tougher. Sunnier. Warmer. Thankfully, he did all the talking, which was a good distraction and allowed me to grunt one-word replies instead of talking in full sentences. Lots of bikers out, alone and in pairs or pelotons. Lots of runners too. Fewer walkers and no roller skiers. Heard the rowers on the river but couldn’t see them through the veil of green. All the surreys were lined up at the falls, waiting to clog up the paths and to irritate Scott. The falls were rushing. 2 separate bikers were listening to talk radio as they rode. One jogger, MPR. Overheard 2 women having an animated conversation about an irritating friend, running slow enough to really emote their frustration. After I passed them, I could hear their complaints for almost 30 seconds. Don’t remember seeing any dogs or hearing any birds. I did get to see my shadow for a few minutes. She led me to the falls then left–maybe she wanted to hike down by the river instead?

june 17/RUN

10 miles
68 degrees/94% humidity
downtown loop

A tough run. How did I run 10 miles so easily last year? Not sure. Enjoyed most of it, especially the first 5, which I did run without stopping. But I was very tired by the end and I took 2 long walk breaks in the middle. I’ll blame it on my nemesis, humidity. The theme for today’s run was water.

water

  • sloshing water in my hand held water bottle
  • water dripping from the dark green trees
  • feeling dreamy and untethered, only connected to the world by the feel of the wind hitting the sweat on the surface of my skin
  • sweat pooling on my face, not drips accumulating, just pools of water soaking my skin
  • my soaking wet pony-tail, hard strands of hair hitting the back of my neck and shoulders
  • the paper towel I keep in the bag attached to my hand held water bottle all wet because my water bottle leaks
  • the messy, sticky, wet skittles clumped together in that same bag
  • the rain falling, mostly from the sky, occasionally from a tree or a bridge
  • lots of puddles
  • the model posing for a photographer first above the mississippi and mill ruins park, then below
  • my wet shirt clinging to my back
  • the mississippi river below while I run above on the stone arch bridge, rushing and gushing and tumbling over itself at st. anthony falls
  • the bright green grass looking like glowing jewels next to the river
  • wondering whether I should stop and fill up my water bottle by the flats because it’s getting low (I don’t)
  • the three bikers stopping to drink water out of their bottles after climbing the BIG hill, blocking the entire path
  • my eyes stinging from the very salty sweat dripping off of my hair
  • running by several people taking shelter under the lake street bridge because of the rain
  • running in the rain, hearing a rumbling near franklin and wondering, is that thunder or a truck? Pretty sure it was a truck
  • finishing by the water fountain and drinking drinking drinking the cold water

Also, two not water related memories that make me happy: the line of roller skiers–maybe 15 or 20 of them!–passing me near the greenway and the tunnel of trees in my favorite part of the path, all green with a small, circular light at the end.

And a few other images: the way the straps of the tank top on the runner in front of me twisted off to the side–were they twisted because of his gait or the sticky humidity or what?; 2 walker and a big dog up ahead, taking over much of the path;the guy on an electric skateboard with bright LED lights on the front, traveling on the stone arch bridge; the biker who kindly warned me, “on your left”; the intense rushing of the cars on the river road as their drivers hurried to get where they were going; the group of kids walking down the road to the rowing club, near the lake street bridge, that same group walking back up it as I returned almost 90 minutes later–did they recognize me?

june 17/RUNSWIM

run: 3.25 miles
77 degrees/80% humidity
lake nokomis

So hot! The heat index was in the upper 80s, at least. Ran 1 loop with Scott and then a little bit extra on my own before open swim. I don’t remember much of the run except that we went slow, it was very hot and I didn’t feel tired just unmotivated. Maybe music could have helped? My entire face was dripping with sweat. The top of my head, my hair, my forehead, my cheeks, right below my nose. I do not like running in this heat but I still did it and I’m glad.

swim: 1.35 miles/2 loops
80 degrees/choppy water
lake nokomis

A great swim! Decided to be much more deliberate at the start, making sure that I could spot the buoys. Also looked for other swimmers and the lifeguards. After a few minutes, the buoy had completely disappeared but I was okay. I just kept swimming and stayed calm. Soon enough it came into view. For me, open water swimming is always unsettling–even as it’s exhilarating too–because I swim most of the time without being able to see where I’m going. I have to trust that I’m swimming straight and that the buoy will eventually appear. Most of the time it does. I’m sure that open water swimming is hard for everyone but it’s especially difficult for me and my messed up central vision. Whole sections of my central vision–especially those in the top quadrants are blacked out. When the buoy first appears in those areas, I can’t see it all. It’s a void, just endless blueish brownish undulating water. Often, I have to turn my head and use my peripheral vision to try and spot the buoy. A bit of a drag, really, but also good practice for learning to function with very limited vision. What else do I remember? Mostly breathed every five strokes except for when the water was too choppy on one side. Then I picked the side that wasn’t choppy, I think it was my right, and breathed every 6 to that side. Don’t remember seeing any planes or birds in the air. Didn’t notice any particular trees. No strange sounds. Just water. A overturned rowboat, its silver bottom exposed and glimmering in the sun at the little beach, and the white top of a building and the yellow paddle boats at the big beach. Had a few run-ins with other swimmers. One swimmer kept unintentionally pushing me off the far side until I abruptly stopped swimming and went around them the other way.

Speaking of breathing every 5 strokes, here’s a poem I started last year and then edited more this spring:

Every 5
Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis

I used to breathe every 3 strokes
Now I breathe every 5
lifting my head out of the water
1 2 3 4 5 breathe right
1 2 3 4 5 breathe left

I breathe every 5
Breathing oddly allows me to alternate sides
1 2 3 4 5 breathe right
1 2 3 4 5 breathe left
When I breathe every 5 I can stay underwater longer

Breathing oddly enables me to swim straighter
I don’t look underwater—
who can see through the dark murkiness?
I stay under longer, feeling the water lapping over my head
And forget that I am not a fish

I hardly look above the water—
all I see are flashes of white sails green trees orange buoys
I count my strokes 1 2 3 4 5
And try to forget that there are probably fish
swimming below me through the brown nothingness.

I count my strokes 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right
1 2 3 4 5 breathe left
and listen to the water lapping over my head
gliding rhythmically through the brown nothingness
as I swim straight across the lake to the other side.

june 14/RUN

3 miles
gitchie-gami trail, north shore
60 degrees

Partly cloudy. Calm. Ran with Scott while we were up at the north shore for a few days. Shared the trail with some noisy crows and lots of hills. Ran next to speeding trucks, impatient cars, the sweet smell of pine trees and the beautifully blue lake superior.

Earlier this week, I discovered a new form: double abcedarians. Love the challenge! Here are 2 I have created so far. The first has the first letter traveling up the alphabet and the last letter traveling down. The second, does the opposite.

Walking in the woods, you hear a noise

A thump. A crash. A bzzzz.
Bugs or birds or something big and hairy?
Counting calmly, deliberately to six
Does not help slow
Elevated heart rates that rev
Fast. You
Grimace and try to reach the magic digit
Hoping it saves.
It doesn’t. Your
Jumping heart races loudly roughly. The biorhythmic eq
Kept out of sync as lungs fail to expand, heart valves don’t pump.
Laboring, a frantic vibrato.
Mouth jaggedly inhales than
Nose reluctantly releases air from
Overworked lungs until
Pulmonary veins do their work.
Quick beats slow soften are quiet. The noise returns. Maybe it’s only a blue j
Rustling in the woods vigorously, loudly, sounding as big as a yeti
Scratches amplified in the dry brush?
Tricked again into contemplating
Uncomfortable thoughts of
Violent demise.
What, you wonder, could
eXtremely large humanish-y bears do to you, alone in the woods? Don’t panic.
You don’t want to startle this type of bear. Running off frantically is dumb.
Zoologists know this. They have done the research. They have all the gruesome data.

the yellow bike

Zoom. a
yellow bike passes by the curb
extra close to me, making the air feel kinetic
wild, unrestrained.
Veering into my path, the
unapologetic rider pedals off
to terrorize someone else who is running.
Silently, I fume and rehash.
Red-faced, a tsunami
quaking with over-blown outrage. I wonder, what would J
P Sartre think
of my reaction? Would he condemn it as bad faith? An existential
no no, giving other ways of being no room?
Maybe the yellow-biked rider had a reason,
like they were riding closer to say hello or to
keep me company as I ran on the path or to offer up
jokes—corny, idiotic ones that don’t require a high IQ?
I suppose these are plausible. Or
how about this:
gnats flew in his ear, down his throat
flustered, he failed to call out, “hey you!”
Edging close, all he could do was a hasty improv—
deftly swerving, just barely avoiding me, our escape from collision, narrow.
Could this be why? Stop with all this theorizing and relax—
bikers will bike by too closely
and it might just be because they’re a spaz.

june 12/RUNSWIM

run: 8 miles
lake nokomis loop, short
70 degrees/80% humidity

Began the morning with a longish run. It was hot and humid. I was sweating before I finished the first mile. Overcast. So many cars on the river road whooshing past. Was it something about the air quality–the humidity?–that made the whooshing noise seem more hurried or was it just because people were rushing to get to work? Ran slow and steady. Decided I would run to the lake without stopping and then, on the return trip, take walk breaks. Enjoyed running beside the creek. I can’t remember running on my favorite part of the path at all–I remember running right before it and right after it, but not in it. Strange. The creek water was subdued. Surprised with all the snow that we got in April that it wasn’t gushing more. Almost to the lake, ran by the Dinosaur park at the rec center and remembered when my kids were younger and would play here. Both kids had their earliest pre-school classes here over 10 years ago. The lake was refreshing. A nice breeze that mixed with my sweat to make me extra cool. While running there, I kept thinking about how the first open swim of the season is tonight! Can’t wait. This year, I’m hoping to swim more and write more about swimming. Walked for .3 miles and then started running again–10 minutes of running, 2 minutes of walking. Nice. Much easier. And I ran much faster. I think these breaks will help my legs recover faster–I hope. Tried very hard to not think about how I will need to run what I ran today plus 5 more miles in a 1/2 marathon race on the fourth of july. I was mostly successful.

Highlight of the run: Almost finished, I saw an older biker up ahead with a red, wide brimmed hat over her helmet. Never seen that before. How wonderful it is to be old and not give a fuck about how ridiculous you look!

swim: 1.37 miles/2 loops/2400 yards
lake nokomis open swim!

Started open swim with a bang: got the farthest off course that I ever have. Way off course. So far off course that I was almost to the other shore. The lifeguard had to come get me. As I swam back to the buoys I wondered, has my vision got that much worse? But, once I finished the loop and switched out my dark googles for the light ones, I realized that it was the googles. Ugh. I hate not being able to see where I’m going, to feel completely blind, just swimming into nothing. That’s how it felt. I’m glad I did another loop and that I could actually see the second time. Hopefully that won’t make me too freaked out next time I get in the water. I will have to chant to myself: it was the googles, not my vision. In good news, I wore my nose plug and I don’t seem stuffed up at all.

june 11/RUN

2.25 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
65 degrees/78% humidity

2 fast miles with a 1/2 mile warm up. A storm coming. Dark sky, dark green trees. Heavy air. Turned right instead of left. A lone rollerblader. A few runners. A walker with a stroller. A walker without a stroller. Birds chirping. Lots of wind but none of it bothering me. Greeted a few runners. Flew over some dips in the pavement. After several years of running this path, I think I’ve memorized all the hidden holes that wait to trip me. Didn’t look down at the river or notice the trees or smell the gorge or hear the noise my foot made as it struck the ground. Also didn’t hear the sound of my belt rubbing my shorts or my jagged breaths. The faster I run the less I remember.

june 10/RUN

6 miles
65 degrees/84% humidity
the flats

A great run! Walking towards the river, before my run, everything was still and quiet–except for the birds, which were chattering. Not too many people out yet even though it was past 7:30. Near the start of my run, greeted the welcoming oaks and a few runners. The part of the trail that dips below the road and above the gorge was dark and green and mysterious.

wheels

Near the old stone steps, saw 2 parents helping a kid ride their bike. Then heard a bike’s brakes squeaking loudly and longly behind me. The wheel of truck made a clicking noise as it traveled–something must be caught in the tread. Behind me, slowing approaching, a bike gear clicked into place. A lone rollerblader bladed by.  Heard, but didn’t see, a roller skier heading for the greenway path. In the flats, running on the bike path because the walking path is in terrible shape, heard a biker call out “bike path!”–or did they say, “biker behind.”  Stewed over it for a minute. Imagined calling out, “you try running on that path!”

Turned around at the top of the hill and headed home. Made it up the Franklin hill without stopping and kept going–a big victory. Took a short walk and then ran the last mile faster, finishing strong.

Thinking about wheels and bicycles, decided to look for a poem on the subject. Found this fun one:

Nun on a Bicycle
by Jonathan Edwards

Now here she comes, rattling over cobbles,
powered by her sandals, the gentle downhill
and the grace of God. Now here she comes, her habit

what it was always waiting to become:
a slipstream. Past stop signs, the pedestrian
traffic at rush hour, the humdrum mopeds,

on a day already thirty in the shade:
with her robe fluttering like solid air,
she makes her own weather. Who could blame her

as the hill sharpens, she picks up speed and smiles
into her future, if she interrupted
the Our Fathers she’s saying in her head,

to say Whee, a gentle Whee, under her breath?
O cycle, Sister! Look at you now, freewheeling
through the air conditioning of the morning –

who’s to say the God who isn’t there
isn’t looking down on you and grinning?

june 9/RUN

2 miles
dogwood coffee

Sticky, thick air. Overcast. A sky more white than gray. Body felt heavy, tethered to the ground. Didn’t see any roller skiers but Scott and I did see the serious rollerbladers. 6 this time. In formation. Swinging their arms. The view from the rim of the floodplain forest was nothing but green. How buggy is it down there, I wonder? Heard the rowers on the river practicing or were they racing?

june 7/RUN

4 miles
top of franklin hill turn around
65 degrees/60% humidity

No headphones. Heard lots of birds and cars rushing by and my feet striking the path and a school group down in the gorge and people I passed, talking. Didn’t see the Daily Walker–maybe my run is too short? Didn’t see any roller skiers. Did see one rollerblader. Admired the welcoming oaks and the pink heart yarn bomb. Wrinkled my nose at the stink coming up from the sewer, near the lake street bridge. Successfully avoided the cracks in the sidewalk, near the greenway. Didn’t see the river, not even once. Also didn’t see my shadow even though she was there somewhere. Thought I saw my dead mom again, running towards near my favorite part of the path. Practiced some rhythmic breathing: in 2 3, out 2. Tried to catch the runners ahead of me. Felt good and strong and happy. Glad I decided to run the 5k instead of the 1/2 marathon next month.

june 5/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 4 miles, top of franklin hill turn around
bike: 8.8 miles, lake nokomis and back
swim: 1/2 mile, lake nokomis

run

65 degrees. Sunny. Only a little wind. Not too much humidity. A great morning for a run. I’m writing this several hours after the run so I don’t remember too much of it. Ran in the shade. Saw some runners and walkers, no Daily Walker or roller skiers. For some reason, I thought about house keys and where you might hide a spare one. Why (and why do I remember this detail and not much else)?

bike

I’m getting used to biking again and that feeling of not quite being able to see the path. The bike path was crowded, especially on the way back, after my swim. Passed a biker near the falls, alerting them with my usual “on your left” and they said “thank you.” I like when other bikers do that. I try to do it too. It seems rare to hear people actually alert you. Lately I’ve been working hard to not let it bother me. Noticed that sky was bright blue and cloudless. Saw lots of birds’ shadows flying overhead. Mostly small birds. Locking up my bike at the beach, I heard an older woman compliment a younger woman on “her bright yellow bike.” She had a bright yellow bike too, but it was stolen out her garage. She misses that bike.

swim

The water was clear, but not nearly as clear as it had been last week. Still, I was a bit unsettled by it, not wanting to run into any big fish or see them swimming below me. Almost ran into a small dead fish, floating a few feet in front of me. Yuck! Noticed the sloshing of the water a few times. Looked around and saw shafts of light, more like slivers of light, cutting through the brown water. Swam just outside the beach area and saw how the lake floor dropped off. Mostly avoided the plants growing up from the bottom–I think it’s the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil–but one strand? leaf? branch? tapped at my ankle and freaked me out. Didn’t think about much except for how nervous I was about what might be swimming with me. For some reason, swimmer just on the edge of the big beach is scarier to me than swimming across the lake. Strange.

june 3/RUN

4 miles
59 degrees/16 mph wind
top of franklin hill turn around

What a great run! Ran much faster today and it felt good. Ran without headphones and listened to the wind swirling and whirling. Admired the green glow of the gorge. Heard the rowers on the river. Spotted a few roller skiers and the 4 rollerbladers. As they passed me, one said to the rest, “you overanalyze things too much.” Croaked out a “good morning” to a runner who greeted me first. Tried to be patient as a runner slowly approached me from behind, his feet constantly rustling in the strip of grass between the path and the road. Hit a wall of wind about a mile in. Didn’t smell anything. Didn’t inhale a bug, although one got stuck in my eye as I ran up from under the lake street bridge. Didn’t encounter any large groups of runners. Didn’t want to stop. Didn’t think about much except for trying to keep my shoulders from tightening up and my left fingers from rubbing together too much. Glanced at the light pink heart yarn bomb. Ran down the hill by the lake street bridge fast, leaning forward, letting gravity do the work. Felt joyful and free and glad to be out early on a Sunday morning.

june 2/RUN

2 miles
to dogwood coffee
62 degrees

My 7th anniversary of running. It was supposed to rain so I didn’t think I’d be running outside today, but the rain held off and Scott and I were able to do our new summer Saturday tradition: run 2 miles to Dogwood Coffee for a latte, either iced or hot. Today, hot. Then walk home.

With rain on the way, the sky was a light gray, making the green glow. Not glowing brightly but darkly and deeply, vividly. Everything felt green. Looked green. Smelled green.

Almost at the end of our run I heard the distinctive clickity-clack of ski poles. A roller skier! Why do I enjoy spotting them on the trail? I guess because it seems so Minnesotan to be skiing with wheels in the summer, just waiting for winter to come back. About a minute later, Scott and I also saw a group of four roller bladers with their coach. As we passed them, I heard the coach say, “Ok, get in formation.” I’ve seen these speedy bladers for a few years now, sometimes on the path, sometimes on the road. Skating in a tight single-filed line, swinging their arms widely and rhythmically. Growing up in North Carolina and Southern Virginia, where it hardly ever snowed and the only ice was at the big indoor rink at the Charlotte mall, spotting these roller skiers and serious bladers will probably always seem strange and exciting.

 

june 1/RUNSWIM

run: 4.5 miles
swim: 680 yards
lake nokomis
67 degrees/80% humidity
water temp: 75.9 degrees

First, I ran around the lake (almost) twice. Slightly cooler today but still humid and very sunny. Ran without headphones, trying to work on rhythmic breathing and staying focused. Encountered lots of walkers with other walkers or strollers or dogs. Crowded. Almost all the way around for the first loop, I noticed a paddleboat hiding behind a tree on the shore. Was it abandoned or tucked away or just waiting for the paddlers to come back? Is this the same paddleboat that I saw on the grass near the fishing pier last week?  Is someone taking paddleboats from the rental place? Did the paddleboat manage to escape–seems like there’s a fun poem just waiting to be written about the bright yellow paddleboat that wanders the lake.

After finishing the run, I decided to swim. The water was warm which is amazing considering the lake still had ice at the end of April! Guess all those 90+ degree days really warmed it up fast. The water was also clear. Freak-me-out clear. I could see the bottom and the algae plants growing up from the bottom and the fish swimming below me. I have decided that it is better to swim without being able to see what I’m swimming with. If I can’t see it, I can pretend it’s not there, which is probably what it would like too. The coolest part of the clear water was seeing all the shafts of light piercing through the lake. 3, 4, maybe more. I also liked being able to look at the bottom in the beach area–I think I counted 5 or 6 hair bands, lost to their owners forever. I might have swam longer but there were a few school groups at the beach and I was concerned that some of the kids would mess with my stuff. I couldn’t tell if they were in elementary or middle school, but they sure knew how to yell out “fuck” at the top of their lungs. A kid that will brazenly yell out “fuck this” or “fuck you” or preface many words with “fucking” on a school trip might find it amusing to throw my towel in the water or take my sweatshirt. But getting back to how clear the water was, part of me wishes I had spent more time exploring underwater and studying the bottom–how deep it gets, what’s really down there. But, another part of me–perhaps a bigger part–likes the idea of keeping it a mystery. Knowing more might make me more anxious or disappointed in how un-mysterious it is.

Next time I swim, I’d like to pay attention to the sounds and sensations of swimming. What exactly do I hear besides sloshing?

may 26/RUN

2 miles
73 degrees/68% humidity/dewpoint: 62
dogwood run

Ran with Scott north on the river road to the greenway, through Brackett Park, over to Lake Street, then walked to Dogwood Coffee for an iced latte. Hot. Humid. But no swarming bugs and lots of shade. We talked most of the time. Scott about why “The Last Jedi” was a bad movie, me about a two different race disasters that I had watched on YouTube–one runner hitting the wall at the end of a 10K, another tripping over a hurdle. Noticed the tree that had blocked Scott’s path yesterday had been moved and cut up. As we ran by it I asked Scott, “I wonder how loud of a crack that tree made as it hit the ground?” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a tree fall to the ground but I bet it’s loud.

may 23/RUN

5.1 miles
67 degrees/81% humidity
the franklin loop

3 miles in, I decided to stop and walk on the franklin bridge. I’m glad I did. Looking out over the Mississippi, I saw one of the biggest birds I’ve ever seen. To me and my questionable vision, it looked almost like a mini-plane floating way up in the sky. Wow, what a wing span! Could it have been a broad-winged hawk or an eagle or a kestrel or a falcon? No idea, but it was cool to see. Tried rhythmic breathing while chanting in my head:

raspberry/coulis
strawberry/custard
mundane is/monday
terrible/tuesday
wonderful/wednesday
terrific/thursday
fabulous/friday
saturday/so so

Not sure how it works for me, but I’ll try it again next time I run. Didn’t see the Daily Walker but was able to greet a few other runners. Didn’t see many bikes or roller-skiers or dogs. Smelled some lilac bushes. Heard the hum of traffic and the shuffle shuffle scratch scratch of my feet on the gritty path. I finished at my favorite part of the path and before the mosquitoes found me, I enjoyed stopping and peering down into the gorge. And I realized: I’ve been writing about the gorge in the summer as having a thick, green veil that blocks your view. That’s not quite right. The trees are thick and you can’t see the river, that’s true, but they don’t totally block your view of what’s down below. Part of what makes it feel so mysterious is how the trees are spaced out, offering quick flashes of more than green. When I look closely, I can see the steep slope and the trunks of the trees reaching above and below me. Even as I can’t see the floor of the floodplain forest, I feel it and how high above it I am. I’d like to spend more time studying this spot and figuring out how to better describe it.

bonus: here’s a great list of the birds found near the Mississippi River Gorge. What’s a mergenser or a tern? I need to find out.

may 19/RUN

2 miles
59 degrees/79% humidity
mississippi river road path, north/brackett park

Overcast. Thick, heavy air. Buggy. Relentlessly green. Cool but clammy. Went on a quick run with Scott. Kept it nice and easy and talked most of the way about the book I’m reading on rhythmic breathing. Earlier today, while I was waiting for Scott to wake up, I did a writing experiment with rhythmic breathing:

For slow, easy runs breathe in for 3, out for 2. 

In 2 3.
Out 2.
Blueberry
crumble
Raspberry
tartlet
Vanilla
custard
Strawberry
ice cream
Beautiful
dreamer
Primary
colors
Mystery
novel
Forbidden
forest
Untimely
death
Let it be
over
Long lost love
refound
Terrible
headache.

For fast runs, breathe in 2, out 1.

Refried
beans
Oven
fries
release
doubt
embrace
me
Sara
smile
Sunshine
bright
Flowers
bloom
Tempers
flare
Striking
feet
Flailing
arms
Yelling
font
Famous
fig
Noisy
bar
Smoky
room
Salty
beer
Bathroom
line
Early
heat
Maple
tree
Thunder
thighs
Coming
storm
Nervous
dog
Gangly
knee
Giving
up
Staring
out.

So much fun!

may 17/RUN

5.15 miles
67 degrees
52% humidity
franklin loop

A good run. Steady and slow. There was cool shade and when there wasn’t, my shadow kept me company. Glanced down at the gorge and all I could see was green and a few slashes of brown. No river. No sandy path. So much green–a sea of it. I kept thinking that it was hard to distinguish between shades of green and that maybe I should think about textures and shapes instead? Soft fuzzy greens. Sharp, spiky greens. Thick, heavy greens. Ran through some swarms of bugs on the way to the franklin bridge. They flew into my eyes and my mouth until I tipped my hat so low that all I could see was the ground. Scott had warned me about them, but I was already committed to my route and decided that experiencing the bugs might make for a good story or a good description. Does it? Not sure what to say about the bugs other than that they seemed determined to drown in the fluid in my eyes. Yuck. On the east side of the river, ended up following (not too closely) a runner ahead of me for a few miles. Would I have run faster if I hadn’t been trying to keep a big distance from her? Maybe. Towards the end of the run, I got to say, “good morning” to the Daily Walker. Always a great way to end my run.

Early on in the run, I remembered a poem I read this morning. It was about cottonwood trees. I wondered, when will the cottonwood trees start snowing cotton? Probably in June.

Cottonwood/Kathy Fagan/from Sycamore

The cottonwood pollen is flying again,
Adrift like snow or ash. It lines
The curbs, it sticks to my lips
Like down to a fox’s muzzle.
I made a poem about it years ago.
We were new then. We’d set fire
To our old lives and made love day
And night, mouths full of each other.
Back then, we were a match
For June: arrogant, promising, feverish.
For as long as we live, summer returns
To us. And snow, ash, they, too, return.

may 16/BIKERUN

bike to lake nokomis and back: 8.5 miles
run around lake nokomis: 2.5 miles
73 degrees

First bike of the season! Sunny. Not much wind. A great day for a ride even with my bad vision. Biking to the lake is fun but mentally exhausting as I struggle to stay on the path. My depth perception is bad and I have trouble distinguishing between the grayish road, the grayish curb and the grayish path. Occasionally, a strip of bright green grass sandwiched between the path and the road helped me to see–another reason to love green–the edge of the path. It was much easier seeing in the bright sunlight. In the shade the light filtered through the trees and created a dappled effect. I used to like this dappling, but now it makes it so much harder to see. Everything swims around even more than usual, especially when the leaves are swaying in the breeze. Most of my thinking was focused on not running into another biker, runner, walker, or car and trying to stay on the path, but I did have a few thoughts: 1. I want to write something–a poem, a line for a poem–about the green strip of grass that helps me to distinguish between the path and road. It will be part of my larger interest in green. Maybe it will turn into a chapbook? 2. I want to document the difficulties of exercising with Best’s disease, especially biking.

Once I arrived at the lake, I ran around it. A loop = 2.5 miles. It was hot and sunny with hardly any shade. I felt a breeze a few times, but mostly hot sun and sweat and a very flushed face. I used to run around lake nokomis all the time. Now that I live 4 miles away, I only do it on long runs or if I bike there, like today. Saw lots of walkers. A few runners. Strollers, Dogs. Ducks. A hissing goose. My shadow, first to the side, then in front leading me over the bridge. Saw the shimmering water and a man precariously perched on a wall on the edge of the lake, fishing. Noticed lots of people sitting on benches, enjoying the day and one woman peering into the marshy, wetlands on the edge of the path, near the bridge. Passed a runner who was running with her phone but no headphones listening to a podcast or the news or a running app? When I started my feet felt heavy and awkward. I wondered if I would be able to run the whole loop without feeling miserable. Soon, I felt better and even though it was hot, I mostly enjoyed it. Ended the run by wading in the water, which up until 2 weeks ago was still covered in ice. Instant ice bath for my knee! No profound thoughts. No runner’s high. No super fast splits. Just a few things remembered and some interesting moments to record. And a sense of joy that summer is coming and I get to spend it at this lake, swimming and biking and running and writing.

may 14/7 MILES

65 degrees
75% humidity
bohemian flats and back

Spring! A great run all the way to the flats and back. Was planning to stop and get water at the drinking fountain at the park, but it wasn’t turned on yet. Heard lots of birds, including a bunch of geese on the other side of the river. Enjoyed running on the sand on the edge of the path, making a great shuffling noise. Also ran in the dirt, right by the river and near a goose who appeared ready to hiss. Saw lots of strollers, a few runners, walkers, bikers. No rowers. Only a few dogs. Dodged some shoes and a jump rope blocking the path at the bottom of the Franklin bridge. Was able to greet the Daily Walker at the end of my run. Chanted “strawberry raspberry blueberry” and “I am flying, I am free. I am where I want to be.” Felt strong at the end of the run. Experienced a pang of doubt when I was almost finished, thinking about how today’s distance is barely half of what I will be running in a month and a half.

I know that running is all too often seen as an introspective activity, but running breaks down the barriers between what we think is inside us and what we see as being outside. Running unites us with places and creates emotional connections with them in ways that are not easily accounted for.

Runners know in their hearts that when thoughts move, we think them differently (Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human, 84-85).

may 8/5.5 MILES

71 degrees
franklin hill turn around

Green. So green! Everywhere I ran, I saw light green. Maybe like the color of the inside of an avocado or the tips of asparagus or the skin of a pear? Running above the floodplain forest, I quickly glanced down. Almost all I could see were green leaves and just the faintest memory of a sandy path winding through the woods to the river. I think it looked even greener because rain was coming. Now, as I write this a few hours later, it is raining and will be for the rest of the day. I like how green looks when the sky is gray. Of course, it’s shimmers in the sunlight, which is beautiful, but the clouds do something special to the green–at least as I see it, with my diseased eyes. It’s more vibrant or deeper or melancholy or? I’m not sure, but I’ve always liked cloudy overcast rainy green best.

I ran down the Franklin hill and kept going for a few more tenths before turning around. Ran back up the hill for a little bit then walked for about 2 minutes. Then ran the rest of the way home. It didn’t feel easy, but I know it wasn’t that hard. But hard enough that I found it difficult to do much more than think about how much I had left to run. Tried chanting “raspberry strawberry blueberry” which helped keep me focused. Did I notice much else? Lots of cars driving on the river road–a steady stream. My pony-tail was dripping a lot of sweat on my shoulder. The wind felt good in my face. Saw the Daily Walker but wasn’t able to greet him. The river in the flats looked brownish-gray. When I got tired of running and wanted to be done, I paid attention to the white line on the path, dividing the bikers from the walkers. Mostly unbroken white with a few worn patches. I think they painted this line last spring. I wonder if they’ll repaint it this year?

In honor of so much green, I found a few green poems on Poetry Foundation that I like:

Green/D.H. Lawrence

The dawn was apple-green,
The sky was green wine held up in the sun,
The moon was a golden petal between.

She opened her eyes, and green
They shone, clear like flowers undone,
For the first time, now for the first time seen.

Answer in Green/Florence Dickinson Sterns

I spoke to the grass that brushed against my knees:
Are you the answer or Empedocles
Who gave to life a scientific core,
And thus proclaimed himself conspirator
With what a man can dedicate to reason?

Does science solve the problem of the season,
That gives a blossom to the bough or ice to the eaves,
Or brings a livelier color to the changing leaves?

We rustle pages of our Aristotle,
And keep the Hylozoists in a bottle.
Unlike the ancient Genji lost to view,
They claimed a philosophic residue
Persisting through a labyrinth of years.

A robin does not argue. It appears.
It lives its day and lets discussion pass.
“Perhaps you’ve solved the problem,” said the grass.

The Green Eye/James Merrill

Come, child, and with your sunbeam gaze assign
Green to the garden as a metaphor
For contemplation, seeking to declare
Whether by green you specify the green
Of orchard sunlight, blossom, bark, or leaf,
Or green of an imaginary life.

A mosaic of all possible greens becomes
A premise in your eye, whereby the limes
Are green as limes faintly by midnight known,
As foliage in a thunderstorm, as dreams
Of fruit in barren countries; claims
The orchard as a metaphor of green.

Aware of change as no barometer
You may determine climates at your will;
Spectrums of feeling are accessible
If orchards in the mind will persevere
On their hillsides original with joy.
Enter the orchard differently today:

When here you bring your earliest tragedy,
Your goldfish, upside-down and rigidly
Floating on weeds in the aquarium,
Green is no panorama for your grief
Whose raindrop smile, dissolving and aloof,
Ordains an unusual brightness as you come:

The brightness of a change outside the eye,
A question on the brim of what may be,
Attended by a new, impersonal green.
The goldfish dead where limes hang yellowing
Is metaphor for more incredible things,
Things you shall love among, things seen, things known.

may 5/7 MILES

58 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/minnehaha falls/minnehaha creek/lake nokomis/minnehaha parkway/falls/mississippi river road path, north

7 miles without stopping. I ran slow, but I still did it. A beautiful morning. Low humidity, slightly cloudy, light breeze. Everything had a hint of green. The lake was open–no more ice. The ice out (which is what they call it when the ice is completely off the lake) happened on April 30th. Last year: March 7th! Saw a rower at the lake. Heard some rowers on the river. Ran on my favorite part of the creek path. Encountered lots of bikers. A few groups of runners. Some serious rollerbladers. Heard lots of birds. People chatting, including a woman who exclaimed, “well, they shouldn’t have the job!”–whatever that means. Around mile 6 started to have that dazed feeling. Not quite a runner’s high, but a feeling of disconnection, like I was in a dream, just me and the path stretching out in front.

3 times I encountered people stopping on the path, slightly blocking it. First time: near my favorite part of the path 2 women stopped to admire some chalk drawings that were covering the entire path–I didn’t stop to read them. Who drew them? Second time: at Lake Hiawatha, right before the bridge. 2 bikers stopped on the edge of the path, right before the bridge, at a blind corner. Lamenting something that wasn’t there this year–not sure what. I was too distracted imagining a bike going 20 mph, rounding the corner and hitting them. Third time: almost to the top of the hill on the river road path between the locks and dam and 44th street. A shirtless runner was stretched out on the ground, blocking part of the path, holding up his phone to take a picture. Strange.

may 3/5.9 MILES

66 degrees
ford loop

Sunny. Low humidity. Low wind. Warm. Too warm. 55-60 would be perfect. Struggled with this run for the last several miles. Had to convince myself to keep going by chanting, “I am flying, I am free. (And) I am where I want to be.” It worked. I didn’t stop, but the run still felt difficult. Mainly, my legs hurt. Still, I did it. I kept running and I pushed through several moments when I really wanted to stop.

Things I remember? So many birds! The bright, light (almost lime) green of new leaves on the trees in the floodplain forest. My view of the river will be blocked too soon! My feet, sometimes shuffling, sometimes sizzling, on the gritty path as I crossed the lake street bridge. Hearing a sound near the Summit ravine and wondering, is that the rush of air or water gushing out of a pipe? After hearing more water gurgling under the path as I ran over a manhole, decided it was water. Looked down in the ravine and noticed only a trickle of water in the creek bed. Is this part of Bridal Falls–the waterfall that I wrote about last fall when I discovered east river flats? Running mostly on the dirt trail next to the path on the St. Paul side. Getting a quick glance at a runner just behind me, then looking again a few minutes later and not seeing them anymore. Where did they go? Running under the ford bridge and up on the other side–much easier, the hill isn’t as steep. Negotiating with myself: keep running until you get to folwell. now keep running until dowling. now keep running until the florescent crosswalk sign. now keep running until..no? okay stop (just short of 6 miles).

Started reading a new book about running, Footnotes: How Running Makes us Human. In the introduction, here’s how the author describes the runner’s high:

The sun warms the earth beneath my feet, everything looks saturated with pigments, and if I can keep going long and steady enough a wave of ecstasy will soon break over me. And when that comes, the burrs, the static and the clamor of the everyday will be washed clean from me. Virginia Woolf called them ‘moments of being’: those few seconds when we are only ourselves, and our senses reverberate with the pleasure of the present (xi-xii).

He uses words like immediate, raw, urgent, overwhelming, calm, invincible, super-sensitive. I have felt all of these things to some degree but also other things: grateful, at peace, removed, joyful, capacious, generous, open, machine-like. I did not feel any of these things today. Today, I was too focused on keeping going to feel much of anything.

may 1/2 MILES

63 degrees
mississippi river road south/north

A quick run in the bright sun. Shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. No jacket. As predicted we’ve jumped straight from winter to summer. Time for my body to get used to warmer temperatures and higher humidity. No more pure cold air to breathe or crunchy, crusty paths to hear. I’m excited for summer–especially open swim, but I will miss the cold, clear air and the distraction of layers and snow-covered paths.

What do I remember from my run? It was warm. Encountered several people pushing strollers. A few bikers. Another runner–just one? No squirrels. No snow. Lots of chirping birds that I tuned out. No rowers on the river. No more fat tires. A few flowers by the side of the path. Can’t remember anything else except keeping an even pace. I think once or twice I tried to steady my breathing, swing my arms, straighten my back.

 

 

 

april 28/RACE

45 degrees
6.2 miles/55:43/get in gear
ford loop

A beautiful morning for a bad, disappointing race. As usual, I ran too fast in the first mile and then fell apart in the second 5k.

What do I remember from the race?
  • the giant American flag and Scott remarking, “not sure where it fits on the ‘perkins/gander mountain spectrum’ but it’s big!”
  • the funky black and white shorts on the runner just in front of me
  • listening to other people sing along with the national anthem and feeling unpatriotic, tired of nationalism
  • feeling like the 15 minutes we were waiting in the start corral was taking forever
  • not seeing or hearing any of the annoying pacers
  • hearing the steady striking of moving feet of all the runners around me
  • a runner who hovered near me smelling like watermelon, which made it hard to breathe.
  • running close to the curb in the grit (mostly soft dirt, some sand), shuffling along–a satisfying, calming noise.
  • feeling like I wanted to stop, feeling like the St. Paul side of the river road was taking forever
  • a runner running by blasting heavy metal music through her headphones, so loud I could hear her approaching from a few seconds back
  • hearing a kid calling out, “mommy, mommy” as we approached the ford bridge and then a runner stopping to get a hug and drop off their hat
  • running on the sidewalk of the ford bridge with most of the runners while only a few ran on the blocked-off road
  • a car horn honking loudly–was it in support of us runners? annoyance for blocking the road? a warning?

april 26/4 MILES

55 degrees
minnehaha falls turn around

Pretty much perfect weather for running. Sunny. Not too windy. Not too warm or cold. A clear path. A sparkling, shimmering river. Ran with my shadow today. She was never ahead of me, always beside or just a little behind. What do I remember from the run? Encountered lots of runners. One roller skier just finishing up. Many walkers, some with dogs, others alone, some in pairs. I greeted one runner with a “good morning.” The falls were rushing fast and loud. The wind was in my face on the way there and then at my back when I turned around. I felt too warm after the first mile. My foot hurt slightly for a few minutes then stopped. I kept thinking that a runner was running at my same pace, but across the river road and on the sidewalk. I would glance over but never see anyone. Did I hear anything? I don’t remember sounds today. Not even the scratching crunching noise of grit on the path or a bird chirping or cawing or trilling. Maybe that was because I often felt like I was in a daze–sometimes floating, sometimes too focused on the movement of my legs and arms. Always trying to keep my shoulders back and raise my chest. Before starting my run I had given myself the task of trying to hold onto thoughts about inner and outer/inside and outside. Perhaps I was too inside the moment of running to think beyond it?

april 24/5.2 MILES

58 degrees
ford loop (almost)

58 degrees! Not used to running in such warm air. Sunny. Wore my favorite 50ish running clothes: black shorts, black tank top, pink hooded jacket, green baseball cap. No headphones. No running tights. No long-sleeved base layer. Yes! Was able to run by the rim of the gorge in my favorite spot, near the old stone steps. Glanced down at the floodplain forest. A sea of brown. Brown floor. Brown branches, trunks, dead leaves. Felt like a late fall afternoon until I encountered a patch of snow not yet melted. Ran up the Summit Hill on the St. Paul side in preparation for Saturday’s race. This hill is at a weird spot where the path curves sharply around and above a big gulch* (or gully? or what? not sure how to describe it).

Running up it, I glanced down below, happy to see so much of the sloping hills of the gully gulch before the leaves return and block my view. The hill wasn’t too hard but it did tire me out. Not too long after reaching the bottom of the other side, I entered into some serious negotiations with my legs. They wanted to stop right away, my brain didn’t. We finally decided we could all take a walk break when we reached the Ford bridge, which was at 4 miles. So windy on the bridge. Looking upstream, the gritty wind irritated my eyes. About 5 minutes after restarting my run, I encountered an older man–late 60s or 70s?–plugging away on the path. Slower than me but steadier too.

* Asked Scott what he would call that area and he offered ravine which is, according the online thesaurus, a synonym for gully or gulch. Ravine does seem like the better choice here although I do like gully gulch

addendum:
Walking Delia the dog around the neighborhood after my run, I kept hearing footsteps from behind. Every time I looked back it was a lone leaf, dragging slowly on the sidewalk or the road, moved by the wind. I wanted to make note of this strange sensation of mistaking leaves for footsteps and of my thoughts about how certain sounds haunt but I forgot. Now, hours later, I remembered as I reread this part of a beautiful poem by Lisa Olstein:

I expect you. I thought one night it was you
at the base of the drive, you at the foot of the stairs,

you in a shiver of light, but each time
leaves in wind revealed themselves,

the retreating shadow of a fox, daybreak.

april 22/3.3 MILES

54 degrees
greenway bridge turn around + extra

Bare legs this morning! And I wasn’t even cold. Decided to run for 30 minutes to earn the apple watch “earth day” achievement. Was able to run almost the entire time on the walking path. Saw the Daily Walker from a distance. Greeted some other runners and walkers. Encountered some annoying runners taking over the path–warmer weather always brings them out. Saw some rollerbladers. No roller skiers. Some bikers. Hardly any dogs. Listened to my breathing. Felt my strong legs moving rhythmically on the un-puddled path.

april 19/4 MILES

45 degrees
5% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

Spring is coming! Spring is coming! High of 50 today. 60 this weekend. So much snow still on the ground and the walking path, but the sidewalk and the bike path above the river were clear. And the sun was burning bright. And the birds were chattering.

Before heading out to run, I reread Jamie Quatro’s wonderful op-ed about Running as prayer. I wanted to think about what happens to the inner and the outer as we run. What is the relationship between the inner (soul? mind? thoughts? imagination?) and the outer (other people, landscapes, the air, the path, trees, the river, the gorge, etc)?

Quatro writes about a deep layer of consciousness that we can access during long runs:

a state of prayerlike consciousness. Past the feel-good vibes, past the delusions, my attention moves outward: I’m intensely aware of the cadence of a bird’s song, cherry blossoms weighted-down after a rain. Things light up and I experience an interior stillness that somehow syncs me more profoundly with the exterior world. It’s a paradox: only when I’m fully present in my body do I begin to experience the absence of myself.

I read the op-ed with the intention of thinking about inner/outer while I ran. In the first mile, I did. I kept thinking about how porous my skin is and how I inhale and exhale the outside air and how my feet strike down on the path and how the inner and outer work with and against each other. And I wondered about what it means to be a self moving through a landscape–when are you just admiring the view, looking down at the river while perched on the edge of the gorge, and when are you a part of that landscape? Am I part of the Mississippi river road path more than the person driving their car next to it because I am moving through the outside air, feeling the path, smelling the melting snow? I want to shout Yes! but why is it the case? Looking down on the river today, I felt connected and removed from it, like I was admiring the scenery. Does my self dissolve in these moments of moving, becoming a part of the path, not feeling anything, just moving and being?

All of these thoughts came to me about 5 minutes in. I tried to hold onto some of them–and maybe I did, fleetingly–but other thoughts about how fast I was running or whether or not my left thigh was working as well as my right one or if I should try to catch up to and pass the runner ahead of me or how to slow down my breathing kept creeping in and taking over. On most of my runs, which last around 36 minutes, I would guess I spend 10% on deep thoughts, 25% on smells/sounds/textures/interesting images and the rest (65%) on mundane running things: form, breathing, pace, possible injuries, how sore my legs are, how to avoid people or debris or other animals on the path. Is that accurate?

Anyway, that was how I started my run. What else do I remember? Mostly the wind was fine, but occasionally, when the path curved slightly, I ran straight into it. Yuck. There was no ice on the path. Few puddles. One or two dogs. Less than 5 other runners. No Daily Walker. I smiled at people, but didn’t greet anyone. Heard some geese down below the Lake Street bridge. Saw lots of bikers. I encountered one biker coming from the other direction who was playing music on a radio. As they passed, the music warped–must have been the Doppler effect–and I couldn’t recognize it. Another biker, this time a fat tire, slowly creeped up from behind as we were both climbing a hill. They were biking so slow I was almost able to keep up. Then they crested the hill and disappeared. Running north, with the wind in my face and the sun on my back, I was pleasantly warm. Running south, I was hot. No wind. Bright, burning sun. An extra layer of clothing that I couldn’t remove. After my run, as I walked back home, I noticed all of the melting. Water slowly streamed down the alley into the street and also dripped down from the gutters. I think this is “The Great Melt, part 4”.

Addendum: Just discovered this amazing short film. Wow! I want to write about this soon. So fascinating. I love the music and poetry that accompanies it.

april 17/7 MILES

32 degrees
35% snow-covered
washington ave bridge turn around

Before leaving the house for my run I decided to try and focus on the different types of water that I noticed. But, how much would I be able to focus on this task? It’s hard to hold onto thoughts when you’re running–or walking. As I walked to the river, it started out well enough. I made note of the drip drip drip of melted snow trickling down from a roof gutter. I thought about the particular sound snow that has partly melted, turned into a slushy mess, and then refroze over night, makes when it crunches. So sharp. Almost like walking over broken glass. But then, I noticed how that crunching sound mixed in with the chirping birds and all of the wind chimes. And then I heard the wind passing through a pine tree. I had to stop and record my thoughts on my iPhone. Here’s what I spoke:

The sharp crunching snow. Almost like walking over broken glass. The small drops of water slowly melting, mixed in with the birds chirping and the wind chimes and then: I finally get it. I heard the wind through the pine trees and I understand why there are so many poems about the wind and pine trees (I think my idea about pine trees comes from this article which also introduced me to a word for wind moving through the trees: psithurism).

Shortly after this revelation, I started running. So bright! So white! The snow sparkling, my shadow leading me on the path. The river was ice-free and a beautiful blue. I greeted the Daily Walker. Ran down the Franklin hill and into the flats. Heard the water gushing down the gorge in a spot fairly close to the site of the mudslide that shut the river road down for 2 years. Saw a lone goose, standing motionless in the snow, looking pissed that it was spring and there was no grass. Running back from the Washington bridge I had this strange feeling that I had dreamed about running this stretch recently. Had I? How much of it was a dream and how much of it was forgotten thoughts from the last time I ran this stretch a month ago?

I didn’t experience any euphoric moments–no runner’s high, but I felt good for most of the run. Happy with a slow, steady sense of joy and gratitude for being outside and moving.

I thought about the Boston Marathon and how so many people suffered from hypothermia. How, with the wind, it felt like 20 degrees while they ran in pouring rain, their teeth chattering only a few miles in. I thought about the layers they wore and how it must have felt to run soaking wet and miserable. Then I thought about my own layers and how soft my warm, dry shirt felt next to my skin.

About 30 minutes into my run, I hit some strong winds. Looking ahead at my shadow, I could see my pony-tail swishing vigorously in the wind. Later, heading back, I could feel it dripping tiny drops of sweat.

I heard a shovel scraping somewhere, probably trying to get the last layer of slightly melted but mostly shard-like snow off of the sidewalk.

As I neared the end of my running, feeling tired, I forgot to look down at the river. It probably had a shiny, sparkling spot or two.

Running back, into the sun, I saw more puddles. Nothing deep, only shallow spots spreading across the path.

My thoughts about water were scattered and unexpected: rain-soaked skin, a sweaty pony-tail, slushing snow, a forgotten river, shallow puddles. I guess that’s how my running brain works.

 

april 16/4 MILES

32 degrees
50% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

This weekend it snowed. A lot. Almost 20 inches. 2 inches an hour, at one point. It started late Friday night and didn’t stop until Sunday morning. But then only for a couple of hours. before starting again. Difficult to run in. So much snow that school was cancelled for the kids. In April. This is very wrong and I am over it. Thankfully, the path was clear today and I was able to run. In some spots, the path was completely clear. In others, there was only a thin strip of bare pavement. On my way back, I encountered more puddles and big chunks of snow that the plow on the road had kicked up. It felt good to be outside running after several days of being trapped in the house. What do I remember for the run? The wind in my face occasionally. Then, beside me. Then, at my back. The dull crunching of the snow when I ran over it, then the soft thud of my feet on the bare pavement. The cars rushing through puddles and splashing up water. I wondered if the water would hit me (it never did). The running felt good, strong. I felt like I was springing off the path.

Watched the Boston marathon this morning. Such miserable conditions–38 degrees, lots of rain, strong head wind. Des Linden was awesome. Had fun cheering for the persistent underdog.

Not much else to write. This weather is crushing my creative spirit.

april 12/6.4 MILES

40 degrees
franklin loop + extra

Felt much warmer than 40 degrees. Was it the sun? The lack of snow? The belief that spring was coming? Had a great run. Decided to try a variation on my franklin loop route. Ran north on the west mississippi river road, crossed the franklin bridge, ran south on the east mississippi river road past the lake street bridge and up the somewhat steep hill to Summit. Turned around, ran down the hill, over the lake street bridge and then south on the west mississippi river road. I liked it–even the hill.

What do I remember from my run? Lots of birds chirping. Turning on the river road just behind a runner who, after passing the parking lot, held up 4 fingers in one hand, 1 in the other. Why 5? Was he signaling to someone? Reminding himself that he had just run 5 miles or 5 loops or what? He was running faster than me–not fast enough for me to catch him, but fast enough to make me run a little faster too. I never found out what he was doing and by the time I had been running for 10 minutes, I forgot all about it. Greeting the Daily Walker. Greeting a runner I was passing who said “good morning” to me first. Deciding to run onto the Franklin bridge instead of below it into the west river flats. Running on the bridge and noticing the east river flats. Passing a few more runners. Smiling. Deciding to keep running past the Lake street bridge and run up the steep hill to Summit. Running close enough to the trees by the bridge to almost reach out and touch them. Turning around at the top of the hill and thinking about how I would be running up this hill in 2 weeks for a 10k race. Checking to see if the eagle was perched on the dead limb of a tree. Feeling good, relaxed. Loving how clear the path was and wondering how covered in snow it would be after the winter storm hits on Saturday. Looking down at the floodplain forest: a little bit of snow, bare branches.

At the end of my run, I stopped at an overlook to take in the beautiful view of the river and to listen to the birds, especially the woodpecker. Here’s a recording of some sounds:

april 11/4 MILES

38 degrees
minnehaha falls loop

It may be only 38, but it feels like spring outside. Sunny. Birds calling. Paths clearing. Water flowing. I am ready! Last night, I finished the (hopefully) final poem about the crunching snow that I will write this year. I’m ready for a new subject.

Recorded the sounds of spring as I was walking back home, at the end of my run:

april 9/4 MILES

33 degrees
50% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

More snow. An inch or two. Much of it melted by the time I started running. The rest of it–either soft grains that were fun to run through or slick, icy patches to try and avoid. Last year it was 57 degrees on my April 9th run. This winter has been much longer. Still, it was a good run. Encountered a few runners. The Daily Walker–passed him twice and then we turned off the river road at the same time. I thought about introducing myself, but then didn’t. Noticed the cars rushing by quickly, their wheels whooshing through the puddles on the road. The word for today’s run? Wet. Not too many big puddles on the path but lots of slick, shiny stretches. Wet roads. Big drips of melting snow that dropped off the bottom of the bridges and onto my face or my back or the brim of my hat as I ran under them. Dripping eaves. Gushing gutters. The big melt, part two–or is this part three?

Walking back home after my run, I recorded some wet sounds:

I love water. I’d like to read more water poems and maybe write some myself. Here’s an excerpt from a water poem I read last month that I want to remember (ed bok lee, water in love):

Worship, splash, guzzle, or forget
It clears any difference
Stone washer and mountain dissolver
that will
outlive us, even the memory of
all any eyes touched

april 4/4 MILES

17 degrees
95% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

It snowed. 9 inches total. Didn’t bother me at all. What a glorious run! So beautiful–a bright blue sky, powdery perfect white snow, my shadow beside me. Checked the “feels like” temp before I went out: 6 degrees. It didn’t feel cold at all. Actually, I was warm for most of the run. The path was plowed and mostly packed with a narrow strip of almost clear pavement. Not too much wind. Passed the Daily Walker at the beginning. Heard birds chirping, cars rushing by, snow crunching, snowblowers blowing, plows plowing, a few dogs barking.

Recorded the crunching snow (hopefully) for the last time:

march 30/3.2 MILES

30 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/north

Cold but clear. Hardly any snow left. Felt pretty good. Wish I could remember more. Saw my shadow for a few minutes but then it turned gray. Encountered some dogs and runners and, after a long absence, a roller skier! Spring is coming. More evidence? Saw the U of M rowers out on the river yesterday.

march 28/6.7 MILES

42 degrees
the washington bridge turn around

Birds! So many chirping birds. And sunshine. And clear paths. And the feeling that spring is coming sometime soon. Ran down the franklin hill in the flats, all the way to the washington avenue bridge by the U and back. Felt strong and relaxed. Walked most of the way up the hill on the way back, but didn’t care (well, not too much) because it was still a good run. Started my run by getting to greet the Daily Walker. Encountered several runners and a few bikers. Saw my shadow–she was beside me today.

The wind was strong on the way back home and I had to run right into it. This wind was a wall. I hit it and happily stopped just a few tenths shy of my goal: 7 miles.

 

march 25/4 MILES

36 degrees
downtown loop

Scott and I started at the Guthrie, ran next to the beautiful, extra blue Mississippi river under the Hennepin Avenue bridge and over the Plymouth bridge through Boom Island and Father Hennepin park over the Stone Arch bridge and then back to the car. At the start of the run, I noticed so many intense shades of blue. The sky a purplish blue clashing with the steel blue river and the royal blue biking/walking signs on the path. Then I noticed the wind–such wind!–almost taking our breath away. 15 mph with strong gusts.

Scott stopped to take a picture on the Stone Arch bridge and I asked him to include me in the picture:

march 23/5.2 MILES

34 degrees
franklin loop

Wore less layers today. No headphones. Heard lots of grit scraping scratching shifting rubbing on the path under my feet. Right near the welcoming oaks, the path was covered in a super slick layer of ice. Not sure what happened–it wasn’t just melted snow that had refroze. Very slippery. Felt good on the run. The river was beautiful from the bridge–especially the Franklin bridge. Later, I noticed the sunlight had created two big spots on the water’s surface. Bright and sparkly. A few days ago, after listening to the line from one of my poems about how beautiful sparkling water is, Scott suggested that maybe I saw it differently–more sparkly?–because of my macular degeneration. I wonder, is that true? Do people with healthy vision not see the sun shining on water–the way it blinds and undulates and flashes, almost swims–as impossibly beautiful? Or, is it just Scott who doesn’t see it? Encountered a few walkers, a few runners, a few dogs and the Daily Walker. Heard something, I think it was a dog, down in the gorge on the St. Paul side and then a few minutes later, also heard a few people trying to hike up the side of the gorge. Noticed the trail in the east river flats was pretty clear. Also noticed a trail that seemed to lead below the Marshall/Lake Street bridge. Next month, Scott and I will have to check it out. At the end of my run, I saw a little kid with an adult, driving one of those annoying motorized kid cars. It made this irritating buzzing, grinding, not quite humming, sound that contaminated the calm quite river sounds that I had been (and hoped to continue) enjoying.

march 21/4.1 MILES

37 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/north

Today’s run felt difficult. Was it because I ran in the afternoon? Or because I ran a 10K yesterday? Not sure. But I ran the whole thing. Ran right by Minnehaha Falls. So loud, with the water rushing down to the river. Didn’t feel much wind. Did feel overdressed. Too many layers. As I looked down at the gorge, with the trees bare, I thought about how the number of layers I’m wearing is inversely proportional to the number of leaves on the trees. I’m ready to not be wearing 2 jackets and a base layer + running tights. Heard lots of birds. Felt the sun on my face. Spring is definitely coming! Anything else? Oh–a woman was walking a big white fluffy dog–or was the dog walking her? Hard to tell. Several people were admiring the falls. One person was taking a picture of Minnehaha creek. Kids were out playing on the school playground. There was lots of grit on the path making a nice scratching sound. Ran through a few puddles, over one or two patches of ice.

march 18/5.25 MILES

43 degrees
franklin loop

A great run with Scott this afternoon! We went slow and walked for a minute after every nine minutes. Very easy. Almost effortless. Wet with lots of puddles. Not much ice. Not much else that I remember. No eagles perched on the dead tree near the Marshall/Lake Street bridge. A rowing boat–I think they’re called a shell?–on top of car driving up from the Minneapolis rowing club. An annoying black standard poodle–is there any other kind–was barking on the path ahead of us. I’m so glad that we ran!

march 14/5.35 MILES

28 degrees
the franklin loop

A good run at an easy pace. Not too windy. Ran over the Lake Street and Franklin Avenue bridges and watched the river flowing. The sun was almost blinding, reflecting off of the water, as I ran over to St. Paul. Lots of ice under the bridge and several patches of barely ice, almost water for the next few miles. Noticed the river again near the end of my run. The sun was illuminating a big circle that started closer to the east bank but then quickly traveled to the west. Strange to see it travel so fast. What else do I remember? Lots of cars moving quickly on the river road. A handful of runners. At least one dog. Birds chirping. The path down in the east river flats looked clear–almost time to go check it out again! Briefly thought about the new show “Rise” that I had watched for 20 minutes before running. Why is the main character/savior a white male? Why is one of his main “enemies” a Latina? Did I think about anything else–other than how my knee was doing? I can’t remember.

march 12/4.3 MILES

31 degrees
clear path!
mississippi river road, south/minnehaha falls/north

The temperature may be below freezing but it still feels like spring. The water at the falls was gushing. The path was clear. The sun was shining. The elementary school kids were outside, gleefully shouting. Thought about my mom while I was running and looking over to St. Paul. Is this one of the reasons I like to have an obstructed view to the other side of the river? To see St. Paul, the city where my mom was born and raised (technically, she lived in West St. Paul, but close enough)? Running back towards the end of my run, I saw the shadow of a small bird flying behind me. It seemed strange and I wondered, how often do I see the shadows of birds? Not often, I think. I tried to keep my run steady and slow and my pulse low. It worked. A good run. Now, a good day.

march 6/3 MILES

33 degrees
70% snow-covered
mississippi river road, north/greenway/mississippi river road, south

It snowed yesterday. Almost 5 inches. Here in Minnesota, winter doesn’t end until April or May. The snow didn’t stop until early this morning. Of course, the awesome Minneapolis Parks and Rec had the path plowed in just a few hours. Being able to get outside in the winter makes all the difference. I’m still ready for spring, but I can endure the endless white and gray and cold and slippery sidewalks if I can run by the river. The snow today is heavy, dense and wet. When I walked on it, it didn’t make a sharp snap or a crackly crunch. It was more like a thick, heavy pressing down–what sound is that?–of the snow, the air, the moisture in the snow.

I only ran 3 miles because I’m trying to be gentle with my right knee. Lately, my kneecap likes to slide around and slip out just a little. So far these wanderings haven’t been a problem, except for some soreness. To keep it that way, I’m not running too much. The run felt good. Strong. My knee wasn’t perfect, but it also didn’t hurt and now, an hour after my run, I’m fine.

In the middle of the run, I felt dazed, transported somewhere else, almost blinded by the snow and the bright white, occasionally brilliant blue peeking through, sky. Pretty cool.

Walking back to my house after my run, the sky looked so heavy. A dull, dense grayish white–almost like the sky was a ceiling of snow looming, hovering. Not quite waiting to collapse. Weird.

march 3/4.5 MILES

40 degrees
18 mph wind/26 mph gusts
mississippi river road, north/franklin hill/washington bridge/franklin hill

Windy! Was planning to do 7 miles but made it to the Franklin Hill and thought that I better take it easy on my knee. It feels okay, but a little weird. So I stopped at 4.5 miles. The gorge was beautiful. Bright blue sky with white snow and bare trees. It was so windy that down in the flats the river had white caps! The path was wet but clear. Don’t remember much about the run except for the annoying runner who was slowly creeping on me. I could hear her feet crunching. She passed me on a hill and then stopped at the top, right in front of me. I kept going and she started running again. She passed me and then stopped again.

feb 26/4 MILES

26 degrees
85% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

A beautiful day for a run by the river. Not too cold with abundant sun. But I should have listened to my body, especially my knee, and not run today. The path was very difficult, with only one narrow strip of bare pavement, and my knee was already a little swollen from hiking through the snow yesterday. It was difficult walking home with a slight limp. I must take a break from running for a few days. It’s probably a good time to take a break with the weather getting warmer then colder. “Thaw, freeze, repeat” is how MPR describes it. Yuck!

Even though I’m (only a little) worried about my knee and whether or not I’m entering another round of subluxations and swelling and even though there’s so much snow on the ground and covering the path and blocking the sidewalks, it’s hard not to think of spring with the warm sun shining on my face and the birds!! chirping. I recorded a little bit of it when I was almost home:

Birds!!

At some point in the year, I might take the birds for granted, hearing them only as background noise, but I couldn’t today. Such a glorious sound!