sept 19/RUN

3.1 miles
two trails + extra
72 degrees

Ran south almost to the falls then north until I reached the lower trail at 44th. Hot, again. Totally dazed, out of it, from a cold. When I’m trying to sleep or write it bothers me, but when I’m running it helps to enhance the dreamy, untethered state I like to reach. Listened to my playlist until the lower trail. Then, I don’t remember much. Heard some runners above me, school kids on the playground. Did I look at the river? Not really. Noticed some of the trees weren’t quite as excessively green.

Thought a little about my haibun/running route project and how I’m interested in linking my experience of the gorge with its management by minneapolis park and rec (and longfellow neighborhood and friends of the mississippi river and national parks, including mississippi national river and recreation area mnrra). It’s fascinating to read all the documents online. So many project proposals and detailed information about plants and trails and ecosystems and access.

Found this abecedarian poem on twitter. Love this form and love how it’s in prose form instead of lines. beginning/claire wahmanholm (in wilder)

Right now, I’m really interested in what wild/wilderness means in the context of the gorge and my experiences of it. Maybe this collection of poems will give me some ideas?

sept 17/RUN

1.5 miles
two trails (almost)
83 degrees

So hot! Wasn’t planning to run today but then, when I didn’t think I would reach my move goal of 490 calories, decided to do a short run. The things we do to keep a streak going. 114 days now of filling all 3 rings on my apple watch. Very glad I did. Listened to a playlist and forgot that I had a cold–I always feel less sick when I’m running. I think I was the only person I saw running. I imagined people driving by looking at me like I was crazy running in this heat with the bright sun and not much shade. Ah September, the annoying month of being teased with wonderful fall weather and then cruelly tricked with mini heat waves.

Found this poem while searching for “heat” on the poetry foundation site. I feel like it really fits in ways that I don’t quite understand yet.

The Heat of Autumn
BY JANE HIRSHFIELD

The heat of autumn
is different from the heat of summer.
One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider.
One is a dock you walk out on,
the other the spine of a thin swimming horse
and the river each day a full measure colder.
A man with cancer leaves his wife for his lover.
Before he goes she straightens his belts in the closet,
rearranges the socks and sweaters inside the dresser
by color. That’s autumn heat:
her hand placing silver buckles with silver,
gold buckles with gold, setting each
on the hook it belongs on in a closet soon to be empty,
and calling it pleasure.

sept 16/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees/72% humidity/dew point: 65

Hot. Humid. Even though it was sunny, I don’t remember seeing my shadow. She was probably hiding in the cool shade down by the river. A squirrel, rustling in the brush, darted out right in front of me and then quickly ran back into the woods. At first I was listening to my audio book, but around the time I reached the Welcoming Oaks, I decided to turn it off and listen to my breathing, the traffic, the gorge. I counted to 4 over and over again. ONE two three four ONE two three four. Without headphones, I also managed to hear the loud cracks of acorns hitting the asphalt. Crack! Crack! Not one landed on my head or near my feet. And I heard at least one goose honking up above–were they confused by the weather. Is it summer or fall or what? As I write this I hear Scott annoyingly pointing out, “Technically, it’s still summer. Fall starts on September 21st.”

I copied this poem into one of my notebooks last year, but I don’t think I ever posted it on this log. I love how the oak tree says to only eat fruits and vegetables.

Elegy with Apples, Pomegranates, Bees, Butterflies, Thorn Bushes, Oak, Pine, Warblers, Crows, Ants, and Worms
Hayan Charara – 1971-

The trees alongside the fence
bear fruit, the limbs and leaves speeches
to you and me. They promise to give the world
back to itself. The apple apologizes
for those whose hearts bear too much zest
for heaven, the pomegranate
for the change that did not come
soon enough. Every seed is a heart, every heart
a minefield, and the bees and butterflies
swarm the flowers on its grave.
The thorn bushes instruct us
to tell our sons and daughters
who carry sticks and stones
to mend their ways.
The oak tree says to eat
only fruits and vegetables;
the pine says to eat all the stirring things.
My neighbor left long ago and did not hear
any of this. In a big country
the leader warns the leader of a small country
there must be change or else.
Birds are the same way, coming and going,
wobbling thin branches.
The warblers express pain, the crows regret,
or is it the other way around?
The mantra today is the same as yesterday.
We must become different.
The plants must, the animals,
and the ants and worms, just like the carmakers,
the soap makers before them,
and the manufacturers of rubber
and the sellers of tea, tobacco, and salt.
Such an ancient habit, making ourselves new.
My neighbor looks like my mother
who left a long time ago
and did not hear any of this.
Just for a minute, give her back to me,
before she died, kneeling
in the dirt under the sun, calling me darling
in Arabic, which no one has since.

sept 15/RUN

2.1 miles
2 trails
62 degrees/humidity: 94%!

An organized run took over the path–marathon training. Trots of runners forcing me to aggressively claim my own space on the upper path. Sunny. Humid. Happy to turn down at the 44th street parking lot and take the lower trail. Hardly any traffic. Saw the shining river. Heard the water trickling out of the sewer pipe. Felt my legs getting stronger. Noticed how the leaning tree near the 38th street steps is still leaning. Forgot to check if the yarn is still dangling from it.

Searching for “leaning tree poetry” on google, I found this fabulous poem on the third page of results. This poem! I want to spend some time with it, thinking about knowing and writing and language and experience and how words do and don’t matter.

Learning the Trees
BY HOWARD NEMEROV

Before you can learn the trees, you have to learn
The language of the trees. That’s done indoors,
Out of a book, which now you think of it
Is one of the transformations of a tree.

The words themselves are a delight to learn,
You might be in a foreign land of terms
Like samara, capsule, drupe, legume and pome,
Where bark is papery, plated, warty or smooth.

But best of all are the words that shape the leaves—
Orbicular, cordate, cleft and reniform—
And their venation—palmate and parallel—
And tips—acute, truncate, auriculate.

Sufficiently provided, you may now
Go forth to the forests and the shady streets
To see how the chaos of experience
Answers to catalogue and category.

Confusedly. The leaves of a single tree
May differ among themselves more than they do
From other species, so you have to find,
All blandly says the book, “an average leaf.”

Example, the catalpa in the book
Sprays out its leaves in whorls of three
Around the stem; the one in front of you
But rarely does, or somewhat, or almost;

Maybe it’s not catalpa? Dreadful doubt.
It may be weeks before you see an elm
Fanlike in form, a spruce that pyramids,
A sweetgum spiring up in steeple shape.

Still, pedetemtim as Lucretius says,
Little by little, you do start to learn;
And learn as well, maybe, what language does
And how it does it, cutting across the world

Not always at the joints, competing with
Experience while cooperating with
Experience, and keeping an obstinate
Intransigence, uncanny, of its own.

Think finally about the secret will
Pretending obedience to Nature, but
Invidiously distinguishing everywhere,
Dividing up the world to conquer it,

And think also how funny knowledge is:
You may succeed in learning many trees
And calling off their names as you go by,
But their comprehensive silence stays the same.

sept 14/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
60 degrees

Saw my shadow, a roller skier, groups of runners, bikers, squirrels, dogs, the river. Heard the doppler effect on a runner’s radio and some rowers yelling on the river. Counted to 4: 1 2 3 4/ 1 2 3 4 Didn’t think about anything except running and breathing. Heard some people raking leaves in their yard across the boulevard. Lots of people–including me–wearing blue shirts.

Doppler Effect
Arthur Sze – 1950-

Stopped in cars, we are waiting to accelerate
along different trajectories. I catch the rising

pitch of a train—today one hundred nine people
died in a stampede converging at a bridge;

radioactive water trickles underground
toward the Pacific Ocean; nickel and copper

particulates contaminate the Brocade River.
Will this planet sustain ten billion people?

Ah, switch it: a spider plant leans toward
a glass door, and six offshoots dangle from it;

the more I fingered the clay slab into a bowl,
the more misshapen it became; though I have

botched this, bungled that, the errancies
reveal it would not be better if things happened

just as I wished; a puffer fish inflates on deck;
a burst of burnt rubber rises from pavement.

Doppler effect (noun):

a change in the frequency with which waves (as of sound or light) from a given source reach an observer when the source and the observer are in motion with respect to each other so that the frequency increases or decreases according to the speed at which the distance is decreasing or increasing. [Merriam Webster]

sept 13/RUN

4 miles
almost to franklin turn around
59 degrees

Such weird weather. Windy. Sunny then cloudy then misting then sunny again. Cool then warm then cool. Listened to my audio book (Once Upon a River) and avoided slow squirrels sauntering on the path. Felt strong and relaxed. Greeted the Daily Walker. Faintly heard some rowers in the gorge. Stepped on and over acorns and piles of fallen leaves littering the path. Occasionally glanced down at the river. Hard to see through all the green. Even when it was overcast and the sun was hidden, I glowed in my neon yellow 2018 10 mile race t-shirt.

Returning to my haibun route project. Started reading Lorine Niedecker’s Lake Superior for inspiration. Here’s an excerpt:

The journey of the rock is never ended. In every tiny part of any living thing are materials that once were rock that turned to soil. These minerals are drawn out of the soil by plant roots and the plant used them to build leaves, stems, flowers and fruits. Plants are eaten by animals. In our blood is iron from plants that draw it out of the soil. Your teeth and bones were once coral. The water you drink has been in clouds over the mountains of Asia and in waterfalls of Africa. The air you breathe has swirled thru places of the earth that no one has ever seen. Every bit of you is a bit of the earth and has been on many strange and wonderful journeys over countless millions of years.

page 7

sept 12/RUN

3.2 miles
ford bridge and back
59 degrees

Another good run, squeezed in between rain drops and thunder strikes. Strange weather today. It’s supposed to start storming soon. Ran south towards the falls this morning, partly for a change of pace, partly to check out if some of my favorite fall color trees have turned yellow yet, and partly to avoid running under all the thick tree limbs I encounter when heading north. Listened to my breathing instead of an audio book. Spent a lot of time counting to 4 as my feet struck the ground. No chants or spells today. Heard the water gushing! out of the sewer pipe below me. Thought about descending to the lower path and checking it out, but decided that running on the muddy trail would be the end of much of the white of my too white shoes. Encountered a few squirrels smart enough to not dart in front of me. Heard the wind howl, my shoes squeak on some wet leaves. Saw a few people walking. No roller skiers or runners or bikers.

For the past week, I’ve been hearing geese honk as they fly south. Not sure why, but I’m really enjoying these honks this year. I’ve probably posted this poem before, but I’m doing it again because I love it. A few years ago, I memorized it. I’ve lost some of the words, but never forget the harsh and exciting geese:

Wild Geese/mary oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

sept 11/RUN

5 miles
franklin loop
64 degrees
light rain

What a run! I haven’t run 5 miles in months. Loved running in the rain. At first, I was listening to my audio book, but after hearing the water gushing through the sewer pipe near the 36th street parking lot, I decided to listen to the rain instead. Not too long after I started running, I began making up little poems/chants. I did them in 4/4 because I wanted to get into a rhythm with a strong downbeat on my right leg. I kept doing them for most of the run. Here’s what I remember:

I am running
in the ra-in (which then became: in the cold/warm/soft rain)
will it stop now?
never again

Rain is falling
on my shoulder
rain is falling
on my knee

Rain is falling
on my elbow
and it’s dropping
from that tree

pitter patter
pitter patter
pitter patter
drip drip drop

pitter patter
pitter patter
drip drop drip drop
drip drop drip drop

There were more, but I can’t remember them now. I guess I should have stopped and recorded them on my phone. It was interesting how the verses shifted and become more rhythmic as I ran longer. Really cool and so much fun. No brilliant poems, but who cares?!

Today I noticed some leaves changing color. Just off the railing near the lake street bridge I spied some red–or was it orange? I’ll have to check–peeking through. On the St. Paul side, approaching Marshall, I noticed some more reddish-orange/orangish-red leaves blazing near the ground. The grayish light and the wet pavement made the colors seem more vivid, especially the bright orange construction sign.

I don’t think the rain ever stopped, which was fine with me. Very refreshing. Just a fine, steady drizzle–only a little more than a mist.

When I was done running, as I was walking through the tunnel of trees, I noticed a person perched up in a tree. Nestled in among the leaves, hovering above me, wedged in by the wooden fence. So strange. What were they doing there? Had a flash of panic, wondering if they would pounce on me, but they were content to stay hidden (and silent) in the tree.

I love how this poem is constructed entirely out of lines from a few different articles. I’d like to experiment with this form. Maybe something taken from the Mississippi River Gorge materials?http://sixthfinch.com/aylor1.html

sept 10/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
70 degrees
humidity: 84%

Weird (almost) fall weather. Yesterday I had to wear so many more layers, today summer had returned. Humid and hot. Greeted the Daily Walker. Encountered other runners and walkers and bikers. No roller skiers on the path but I did see one on the street later when I took the dog for a walk. Listened to an audio book (Once Upon a River) and noticed the river and a spot in the tunnel of trees that opens up into an amphitheater of air–this spot is different than the one I tried to write about earlier in the summer. So spacious and airy and light–and still quite green. What color will it turn in the next month? Don’t remember noticing any non-green leaves. Today, with the sun so bright and warm, it’s hard to get excited about fall or winter. It feels like summer will never leave.

Reminded by someone on twitter of these great lines from Mary Oliver:

Sometimes/Mary Oliver (in Red Bird):

Instructions for living a life:
Pay Attention.
Be Astonished.
Tell about it.

Mannequin of the Day:

There’s something about this mannequin’s face that makes me think she really doesn’t give a fuck. She doesn’t even care that a ribbon is covering her cheek. It’s the eyes, right?

sept 9/RUN

1.5 miles
river road, north/south
60 degrees

Did a short run today in-between rain drops. It’s starting to look like fall. A few trees are losing leaves or turning red and yellow. Will there be bright orange this fall too? I hope so. In my 20s and 30s, I didn’t appreciate orange. Too bright or earthy or… orange. Green–darker, more muted–was my favorite. I still love green but I love orange now too. Is it because it was my mom’s favorite color? Maybe. I love bright oranges that glow unnaturally. And earthy, rusty oranges. It’s funny that I like orange now, when I can’t always see it because of my cone dystrophy. I’m thinking of getting some orange sneakers to wear this fall–not to run in, but just to wear and admire.

Right now I’m reading Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights and listening to podcast interviews with him and thinking about his ethics/politics/pedagogy of delight. So wonderful! Here’s one of his poems from a few years back:

Sorrow Is Not My Name
BY ROSS GAY

—after Gwendolyn Brooks
No matter the pull toward brink. No
matter the florid, deep sleep awaits.
There is a time for everything. Look,
just this morning a vulture
nodded his red, grizzled head at me,
and I looked at him, admiring
the sickle of his beak.
Then the wind kicked up, and,
after arranging that good suit of feathers
he up and took off.
Just like that. And to boot,
there are, on this planet alone, something like two
million naturally occurring sweet things,
some with names so generous as to kick
the steel from my knees: agave, persimmon,
stick ball, the purple okra I bought for two bucks
at the market. Think of that. The long night,
the skeleton in the mirror, the man behind me
on the bus taking notes, yeah, yeah.
But look; my niece is running through a field
calling my name. My neighbor sings like an angel
and at the end of my block is a basketball court.
I remember. My color’s green. I’m spring.
—for Walter Aikens

“there are, on this planet alone, something like two/million naturally occurring sweet things,/some with names so generous as to kick/the steel from my knees…”

sept 8/RUN

4 miles
almost to franklin bridge turn around
54 degrees
light rain

Ran in the rain. Just a light drizzle that I could barely feel. Nice. Listened to an audio book. Forgot to check if there were any stones stacked on the boulder. Looked for, but couldn’t find, the forest floor. Still too many leaves. Noticed a few changing colors, turning yellow. Thought I heard some cheering from the gorge. A rowing competition? Passed the Daily Walker, good morning-ed him on the way back. Worked on lifting my head, straightening my back. Saw a few squirrels, a dog, a roller skier, bikers, runners, walkers–lots of people out in the rain. Didn’t really see the river, only an occasional flash of white through the trees. I loved my run this morning.

Found this poem this morning while searching for the subject “september” on poets.org. Thinking about my mom and the 10th anniversary of her death at the end of this month. I deeply feel this profit and loss in my own grief and also the idea of not trying to assess it or to reconcile the feeling of loss with the unexpected joys it has brought–like a deeper appreciation of the woods or a football game or, in my case, the leaves in the gorge. The more I read this poem, the more I love it. Such a beautiful way to express the process of learning to live with grief.

Mannequin of the day:

Is the white in the middle of the pupil just because the paint is wearing off, or is it an artistic effort to indicate life/a spark/a soul within?

I find delight (reading Ross Gay’s wonderful, The Book of Delights, I’m trying to be better about claiming my own quirky delights) in this mannequin and her continued (and improbable) presence at the State Fair in a space barely touched by progress where the amateur is celebrated and beauty is never slicked up. Every year, walking into the creative activities building and seeing these cracked, faded, weathered mannequins still adorned in handmade hats and coats and scarves and sweaters, looking creepy and odd, I am delighted–and not in an ironic, hipster way. Here, the ugly and old and outdated have a space. I think I’m almost able to articulate this delight, but not quite. I’ll keep working at it. Something about how these mannequins represent resistance to the relentless need (by capitalism) to constantly change things to make them better! and newer! and prettier! and, in doing so, erase/remove/destroy those things which don’t fit their vision of better/newer/prettier. I love things that are ugly and overlooked and unsettling.

sept 7/RUNSWIM

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
58 degrees

A great run! A cooler temp makes all the difference for me. What do I remember? Walking towards the river, listening to the electric hum of the bugs, the cawing of the crows, the rumble of the garbage truck. Seeing so many bright colors today–glowing yellowish green and orange shirts, aquamarine and hot pink shorts. Encountering a few roller skiers, a rollerblader, groups of runners, a water station set-up not too far from the overlook. Hearing the rowers on the river. Admiring the sparkling sun on the water, just barely cutting through the thick curtain of leaves.

Still Burning
BY GERALD STERN

Me trying to understand say whence
say whither, say what, say me with a pencil walking,
say reading the dictionary, say learning medieval
Latin, reading Spengler, reading Whitehead,
William James I loved him, swimming breaststroke
and thinking for an hour, how did I get here?
Or thinking in line, say the 69 streetcar
or 68 or 67 Swissvale,
that would take me elsewhere, me with a textbook
reading the pre-Socratics, so badly written,
whoever the author was, me on the floor of
the lighted stacks sitting cross-legged,
walking afterwards through the park or sometimes
running across the bridges and up the hills,
sitting down in our tiny diningroom,
burning in a certain way, still burning.

I love the linking of thinking with moving here–swimming, walking, running.

Mannequin of the day:

I am always fascinated by the eyes in these mannequins–the little bit of white in the corner of the pupil and the curls veiling the one eye. The way her pupils are shifted up and to the side. What is she looking at? Is it my shoulder? One of the first things the ophthalmologist told me when I was diagnosed with cone dystrophy was that I’d need to learn to look just past people’s shoulders if I wanted to see their faces. Once my central vision was gone, I would only be able to see them through my peripheral. How unsettling is it to others to look at them this way? I do not look at people’s shoulders…yet. For now, I either avoid looking or I just stare into their dim, fading, dead-pupil faces and pretend that they don’t look like a lifeless mannequin.

swim: .9 miles (1600 yards)
lake nokomis

Guess who got to swim in Lake Nokomis this afternoon? Me! When I got back from my run, I found out that the lake was open again (after being closed due to some kid pooping in the water and spreading e-coli and getting several dozens of other people sick…boo). I didn’t think I’d be able to swim in this lake again this year. Now I get to give a proper good-bye. Hopefully, I’ll be able to swim in it more times this week. With my wetsuit I’ll keep swimming until they won’t let me or there’s ice or I decide I”m over it. Open swimming is the best! The water was calm. Everything was a dull, light gray except for the trees on the other side. Already starting to turn slightly. Light green and yellow. After the swim, headed over to sandcastle with Scott for a beer and some fries. Does it get any better than this?

sept 5/RUN

3.6 miles
river road, north/lake st bridge/marshall hill/east river road, south/lake st bridge/river road, south
65 degrees

Was planning to swim today at Lake Harriet but it seems too cold. Maybe tomorrow? Ran instead. Decided to tackle a hill. Made it over to the St. Paul for the first time in a while. A few leaves are already changing color. Nice and cool, breezy without any sun. Feeling stronger in my runs. At the end, finally saw the Daily Walker again! Has it been a month since I saw him last?

Sharon Olds, from The Gold Cell

I am doing something I learned early to do, I am
paying attention to small beauties,
whatever I have–as if it were our duty to
find things to love, to bind ourselves to this world.

Today’s mannequin:

Looked up uncanny valley and found this definition: “a distinctive dip in the relationship between human-likeness and emotional response.” What makes us human? Or, what makes us see each other as human, makes us feel empathy for each other? Is it the eyes? The pupils? The spark within that black ball?

I have trouble seeing people’s pupils. Can I ever see that spark? Do I imagine one? Sometimes everyone feels like a mannequin to me. Not quite human. Not alive or there. And sometimes mannequins feel human, like this girl.

sept 4/RUN

3.5 miles
two trails +
63 degrees

What a great run! Love the cooler weather. Ran faster without more effort. Listened to a playlist while up above because I needed to forget the difficulty of getting a girl to go to school. Ran past the double bridge and the ford bridge, almost to the falls then turned around. Took off my headphones when I reached the turn for the lower trail. Heard kids on the playground up above, an occasional acorn dropping below, the almost gushing water at the second sewer pipe. Glanced at the river. No shimmers or sparkles only blue glass. Smiled at all the people I encountered. No roller skiers. No fat tires. No little old lady in a straw hat. A few dogs. Some squirrels above me, in the trees. No brilliant thoughts, but no worries either.

Thinking about faces and recognition and my inability to stare deeply into someone’s eyes and see anything but a blur or lifeless pupils. Found this poem:

When We Look Up
Denise Levertov – 1923-1997

He had not looked,
pitiful man whom none

pity, whom all
must pity if they look

into their own face (given
only by glass, steel, water
barely known) all
who look up

to see-how many
faces? How many

seen in a lifetime? (Not those that flash by, but those

into which the gaze wanders
and is lost

and returns to tell
Here is a mystery,

a person, an
other, an I?

sept 3/RUN

2.5 miles
two trails
70 degrees
humidity: 77%

First day of school. No drama this morning. A little sad to say goodbye to the summer, but happy for the fall. Ready for cooler, crisper air than what I got this morning. Still, a nice run. The sun was sparkling on the river. I’d like to start collecting descriptions of what the sun looks like as it shines on the water. I’m tired of sparkling or dancing or shimmering or glimmering. What other expressions can I find? Was surprised to not hear the water trickling out of one of the sewer pipes, especially after all the rain last night. The other one was almost gushing. The tree trunk is still leaning near the 38th street steps, with its yellow and pink yarn dangling down. The path wasn’t too muddy for my (too) bright white shoes. Don’t remember thinking much of anything except that I felt relaxed and happy to be out on the path on this beautiful day.

I’m excited about the new project I’m working on about my vision, eye contact, faces, and mannequins. A primary question guiding it is: What makes us human? Exploring how this is often understood in terms of seeing and connecting through faces/facial recognition. While thinking about it earlier this morning, I encountered this beautiful poem:

AND SWEPT ALL VISIBLE SIGNS AWAY/carl phillips

Easy enough, to say it’s dark now.
But what is the willow doing in the darkness?
I say it wants less for company than for compassion,

which can come from afar and faceless. What’s a face, to a willow?
If a willow had a face, it would be a song. I think.
I am stirred, I’m stir-able, I’m a wind-stirred thing.

the song would go…But there
is no song. As there is no face. There’s just the willow
as willow. Nothing but itself. Its shadow meaningless

except to those who want for shade,
and find it there. Who keep finding they hardly
care anymore–almost, some days, as if they’d never cared–

about connection. Green as water, the willow’s motion. Green as oblivion,
the willow’s indifference–flecked with a little gold, some blue.