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 6/RUN

2.3 miles
65 degrees
mississippi river road path, south/north

A quick run with a playlist. Ran because it’s global running day. Because I needed to forget about the difficult morning trying to get a girl to go to school. And because I could. Jogged to the river, turned right towards the falls and then ran much faster than I usually do. First mile: 7:39. Felt good. Free. I think my body likes running faster.

This morning I discovered double abcedarians and I’m in love. What a challenging form. The first one I read had 26 lines. Each line started with the alphabet going up (a b c …) and ended with the alphabet going down (z y x …).

Alcatraz
beneath a sky
crouching low and black as onyx

The second one I read had 26 lines, with each line starting with the alphabet going down and ending with the alphabet going up.

Zooks! What have I done with my anthologies? I’ll need a
year of sleep after writing my millionth review (with aplomb).
XX bottles of moonshine litter my bedside table like arsenic.

may 31/RUN

6.7 miles
bohemian flats and back
70 degrees/90% humidity/dew point: 67

Was planning to run 9 miles this morning but I started too late and it was too hot. Why is it so hard for me to run in the summer heat? The first 3 miles were fine: I saw the Daily Walker, glanced down at the gorge, settled into a dream-like state of moving without effort. But then something happened. I got hot. It got hard. I started thinking about how far I was planning to run and the 2 big hills I had to climb and doubt creeped in. Was it all psychological, this inability to keep going? I’m not sure but I’m not disappointed that I stopped.

addendumI almost forgot. I saw a bright pink yarn bomb in the shape of a heart on the railing just past the lake street bridge! It made me smile. I like the random whimsy of yarn bombs.

Here’s an excerpt from a poem about heat that seems effective:

The heat pours into their throats and ears.

It fills their lungs with a smothering staleness.

The heat blots out the conscientiousness

That made billy pick up the litter

That kept tracy from slamming the door.

Under heat, the lightness is lethargy

The buckled-up discontent bursts

And the delicate brain-curves unravel.

may 25/RUN

4 miles
to minnehaha falls and back again
67 degrees/91% humidity/dewpoint 61

Ran early this morning. 6 am and already 67 degrees. Today, 90. Tomorrow, 95. Sunday, 97. I do not like running in the heat. This morning it was okay, especially since I was only running 4 miles. When I got to the river, I turned right instead of my usual left and headed towards the falls. A few minutes after me, Scott went out for a run too, but turned left at the river. My path was clear but his was blocked by a big tree, split in two during the heavy winds and thunderstorm last night. Listened to my running playlist so I didn’t hear birds or rushing water or snapping branches. I have no memory of what I thought about while I ran other than mundane running thoughts like: “I feel like I’m running fairly fast but I bet I’m running slow. I shouldn’t look because then I will just feel bad.” or “I need to make sure to focus on using my left leg so I can build up the muscles in it.” or “I don’t know if this rhythmic breathing works for me.” What else do I remember about my run? Running right by the falls and enjoying the coolness of the spray from the gushing water on my face and arms. Happily drinking water from the fountain that has finally been turned on. Feeling soaked from sweat even before the end of the first mile.  No bikes. No roller skiers or roller bladers or dogs or bugs. One squirrel that almost darted in front of me but then wisely turned around. Several pairs of runners, one trio. A woman stretching her calves on the concrete ledge where Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” is etched.

Again, everything was green. A lush, post-rain green that glows and overwhelms and spills out over the path from below and above. Late May is very early for that shaggy, scruffy, weedy, much too green feeling. I usually don’t feel that until July or August. I love the green, but I’m ambiguous about weeds. In theory, I appreciate their unruly resilience but, even so, I struggle to see beyond their disruptive excess–blocking my view of the river, covering the path, housing too many bugs. Here are 2 poems for reflecting further on this ambiguity, one that I encountered today, the other I read last fall:

Long Live the Weeds/Theodore Roethke

Long live the weeds that overwhelm
My narrow vegetable realm!—
The bitter rock, the barren soil
That force the son of man to toil;
All things unholy, marked by curse,
The ugly of the universe.
The rough, the wicked, and the wild
That keep the spirit undefiled.
With these I match my little wit
And earn the right to stand or sit,
Hope, look, create, or drink and die:
These shape the creature that is I.

Surrender/Geraldine Connolly

Rogue seedlings flank
the front bank.

Aspen roots lift
asphalt
from the driveway’s face.

I can hear
growth

like a crackle
of flames.
I watch a frantic

squirrel hoard
pinecones,
strip them clean.

Weeds choke the garden,
thorns and buffelgrass.
Wild blackberries seethe.

I scrub green moss.
Still it spreads its stain

across the deck, and
falls into cracks where
green sprouts flare up.

I fight against surrender but
the trees call to me
as they creep forward.
The forest wants to take us back.

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 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 7/5.75 MILES

69 degrees
ford loop

9:15 am and 69 degrees? No thanks. I love so much about spring and summer but not running in the heat and the bright sun. Hardly any shade. Listened to headphones and felt disconnected. Thought I was doing okay, but near the Ford Bridge, it started to feel difficult. Stopped to walk for a few minutes on the bridge. Strangely, walking today didn’t bother me or make me feel like I failed.

This very warm weather is coming too soon. Last year on May 7th it was only 51 degrees. Much better running weather. Everything is happening too soon and too fast. My view down to the river is almost gone. The floodplain forest is covered in green. A beautiful shade of green, but that’s not the point. I want to see the river and the sandy trail through the forest for at least a few days more. Yesterday when I was walking near the river I heard the rowers! They’re back. I looked down at the ravine as I ran up the hill near Summit. No water today. Tried to run mostly on the dirt trail next to the uneven path. Noticed the raging river at the locks and dam. Ran by a walker that I encountered in the same spot last week. If I keep running this loop in the morning, will he become a new Daily Walker to watch for? At some point during the run, around the time it was feeling especially hard, I wondered–am I getting enough iron? Resolved to eat more spinach and maybe take an iron supplement. Finished strong, running faster and feeling freer. Stopped at the water fountain but noticed too late that it wasn’t working yet. Saw my shadow–in front of me, then beside me. I think she likes the heat and the bright sun. Sweat a lot more. Face felt bright red. My hair was completely soaked and dripping by the end. Next time I run I’ll need to bring some water.

note: While quickly proofreading my log, I noticed a theme: water. A lost river view. Rowers. A lack of water in the ravine. The raging river below the bridge. A water fountain that doesn’t work. A sweaty, red face with a dripping ponytail. The need for water to drink.

Returning home, I discovered a new poem to love from The New Yorker: “Eating Grapes Downward” by Christian Wiman. I especially love the opening stanza:

Every morning without thinking I open
my notebook and see if something
might have grown in me during the night.
Usually, no. But sometimes a tendril
tries a crack in my consciousness
and if I remain only indirectly aware of it
and tether my attention to the imminent
and perhaps ultimately unseeable
sun, sometimes it will grow. Inevitably
a sense of insignificance intrudes: I think
of all the lives in all the places
waiting in their ways
for something to grow out of them,
into them. Is it the same God?

Love this idea of indirect awareness. So important to how I am living these days–with my writing and my vision and even my running. Want to experiment with ways to write about it/with it/around and through it.

april 21/3 MILES

47 degrees
greenway bridge turn around

Another beautiful morning. Don’t remember much because I was listening to my headphones. I think I saw my shadow a few times in the bright sun. Saw lots of runners, alone and in groups. A few bikers. Walkers. No roller skiers. No puddles. No ice, except for under the lake street bridge. Ran faster and felt the joy of working harder. I definitely need to do some more speed work to get used to pushing myself.

Encountered a wonderful poem that reflects my feelings about the slow arrival of spring:

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

feb 21/4.25 MILES

8 degrees/feels like -3
99% snow-covered
mississippi river road path, north/south

Bright blue sky. Blinding sun. Cold air. Slippery path. Fogged-up glasses. Crunchy path. I was struck by how the 2 crunching sounds of my feet highlighted the differences between walking and running. When I was walking, the slower, steadier crunch lasted longer, as my foot went from the initial heel strike to the final toe-off. How many bones came into contact with the crunchy snow? When I was running, that second crunch was quicker, with less grinding. I’d like to capture some sound of me running on crunching snow, but that seems hard.

Reading The Snow Poems by AR Amons which is, disappointingly, not all about snow. But, there are some snow poems, like this one:

here a month of snow,
mere January than
February, intervenes
during which
I wrote
nothing. it is
the winter-deep, the
annual sink:
leave it unwritten,
as snow unwrites
the landscape