Fall leaves fall! More color, more leaves on the ground, more cool air. Ran south on the river road trail to the southern start of the Winchell Trail. Was almost hit by at least 2 bicycles — bikers biking on the walking path. Didn’t yell, but cried out, Watch out! to one person and exclaimed, Jesus! or Christ! or Jeez! beside another.
Didn’t see any squirrels or almost trip over any acorns. No clicks or clacks from roller skiers’ poles. No fat tires or honking geese. No territorial turkeys — I love how htis sounds! I want to write something that uses this phrase! No rowers or chapel bells. Not a single good morning.
I did hear some kids playing at a school playground. And jackhammers across the road. A weedwacker trimming the hillside. 2 guys talking — I tried to hang onto what the one guy said, but now I can’t remember.
As I was walking back after my run, I tried to recite Hopkin’s “Spring and Fall” and Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” I missed a few lines; time to memorize them again!
I think I found this pithy poem on twitter this morning:
6 miles bottom of franklin hill turn around 71 degrees 8:30 am
Warmer this morning. I guess the stretch of slightly cooler days is over. Still a beautiful day. Started in a state where everything was out of focus — initially I wrote, in a daze, but I wasn’t out of it or in a trance. It was more like I had turned my attention down, or maybe I had shifted it, from looking to listening? That kind of captures it; I wasn’t listening acutely, just absorbing the sounds and breathing and being relaxed. Ran down the franklin hill and into the flats, then turned around at 3 miles. I kept running until I reached the bridge, then walked up the hill as I talked into my phone. Turned on Beyoncé’s new music, Renaissance, and ran the rest of the way home. It’s great to run to; I felt like a badass — powerful.
I’m one of one, I’m number one, I’m the only one.
Alien Superstar/ Beyoncé
Here’s the recording I made. I think it would be helpful to find something that transcribed the recording too. But, what? Voice memo for iPhone is good for recording. The notes app does an adequate transcript. What can do both, and how much does it cost? I’ll have to look into it.
5.5 miles bottom of franklin hill and back 64 degrees 8:30 am
Hooray for a cooler morning and a wonderful run! It (almost) gets me excited for fall and winter running. I’m not ready for that yet, though. Still loving the swimming. Ran north on the river road, down the franklin hill, then stopped to walk up it. I dictated notes into my phone about my final lecture. Then, I turned on a playlist and ran faster on the way back.
moment of the day
I encountered a group of camp kids, in their bright yellow vests, biking up the franklin hill. Near the top, I heard one kid lament, This isn’t fun anymore. Or, did he say funny? I can’t remember. Then about halfway down, a counselor was yelling out encouragement to 2 kids struggling to keep biking. Let’s go! You got this Lily! Let’s go Mya! It made me smile. I hope they both made it up the hill okay.
Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker and Mr. Morning! Heard the rowers, faintly, below me. Lots of birds. Was there sun? I can’t remember now — I’m writing this the next morning. Oh — I remember the river down in the flats. So calm, so still, almost a mirror. And yes, there was sun. It was hot as I ran near the Annie Young Meadows parking lot. No stacked stones on the ancient boulder. No roller skiers. No big groups of runners. Someone on one of those e-bikes with the tiny wheels. Several people running with dogs. A woman sitting on a bench.
Why should it be so hated, the word for soil as the farmer longs for it, for the fresh loaf, for the inside of the lips, the indoor pool’s sweet chlorine air when winter burns your throat? For the brush against your thigh of a dog’s nose, for skin vital in its perspiration, the velvet eyelid petal of the rose, those other lips below, and the agile tongue? Maybe only one who has been dry and cold for years under Saturn’s tutelage would need to praise the word that all decry— a word for tears, for the heart, for new ink smudged. A word for the peach after the knife goes in: pried deeply, split, its inner gold now shown.
Sun. Slightly warmer. Less wind. Hooray! Still wore my running tights, winter vest, and gloves, but felt like spring is almost here. Ran around the falls. They were gushing, but the creek was barely moving. Ran past the “big feet” statue. I can’t remember his name — Gunther something, I think — but I do remember that he was a poet, a hymn writer, and a politician from Sweden. Ran the Winchell Trail too. At the start of it, I slipped, but didn’t fall, in the mud. Said a lot of “excuse mes” as I encountered people from behind. Not irritated at all. A good run on a beautiful morning.
before the run
Thinking about roots and how things become rooted in the ground today. This topic is inspired by a favorite poem that I memorized in May of 2020: What Would Root/ Katie Farris. Here’s what I wrote in an entry from may 20, 2020:
I like the idea of this long, wild story, being rooted at the rock from the beginning of the poem. And I love this idea of rooting, being rooted and how the story unfolds around it. I want to spend some more time thinking about what it means to root, be rooted, take root. I’d also like to write a poem like this–with a story at the gorge–about sinking.
I used to have this poem memorized, and I think I can again, with a little practice. For now, I’m going to record myself reading it, then listen to that recording a few times while I run today.
during the run
Started by listening to the recording of myself reading the poem. It was very cool — dreamy, almost disembodied — to listen the words as I ran through the neighborhood and toward the river. Then, when the recording was done, I put my headphones away and thought about roots as I ran south above the gorge. I remember imagining my skin as more porous and open to the world and grass growing through my pores (instead of Farris’ roots).
Halfway through the run, in Wabun park, I stopped to record my thoughts. Here’s a summary:
Thought about being rooted in a place, then being on the inside or the outside and how being rooted means being both in and out, or neither, at the same time. Just there, part of what’s happening.
Then, I wondered, Does rooted always mean we’re tethered or stuck in one place, immobile? What would it mean to be rooted in a place while you were moving?
Then: how are the roots formed? Instead of one solid, thick, sturdy root that’s difficult to cut down, what if we were a network of roots spread throughout the ground, connected and tangled with other? Roots can be networks — shallow and easy to pull out, like weeds, but multiplying and growing when you do that (rhizomes and nodes).
Getting at the root, radical feminism and the root of oppression, the origin/cause of the problem I often think about the origins of my running story — there is no one root or cause or start, but a series (a network) of reasons.
Chanted: root root root root/root root root root/ roo ting roo ting/root root root root/root root root root/roo ted root less I like these simple repetitions. I’d like to try chanting these for several minutes, then seeing what other words/ideas/chants might appear.
Full of yourself— a friend’s touch is sharp as a thorn. A buzzing fly drives you mad.
Forget yourself and what friend can hurt you? You mingle with wild elephants and enjoy the ride.
Caged in self, you drown in anguish. Storm clouds swallow the sun. Your lover flees the scene.
Outside yourself, the night is moonlit. Lovers drink Love’s wine. It flows through you.
Self-conscious, you’re dry as autumn leaves. You bite like frost.
Melt yourself, and winter’s frozen meadows will become spring’s fragrant fields.
(How) can we travel outside of ourselves? What does this untether/uproot us from? I posted this quotation from Jamie Quatro in a log entry from April 19, 2018 about running as prayer:
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.
Does fully present in a body = rooted? I’m also thinking about entanglement and Ross Gay’s critique of buoyancy and floating free (see april 12, 2022). Can we be a self, rooted in a body and a place, and still be other than ourSelf? How do I fit Rumi’s idea of forgetting the self with entanglement?
4.25 miles top of franklin bridge and back 37 degrees wind / rain / snow
Ran in the afternoon, after returning from Austin. A huge wind gust almost blew me off the trail as I ran through the Welcoming Oaks. Later, the tornado siren went off. Because of the wind, I was concerned. Called Scott to check. It’s severe weather week and today they’re testing the sirens. Whew. With all the wind and snow and sirens, I don’t remember looking at the river. Did I? Yes! I just remembered. I admired the snow flurries looking like mist hovering right above the river. Very cool.
I chanted, mostly in my head but a few times out loud, the Christina Rossetti poem, “Who Has Seen the Wind?”:
Who has seen the wind? Neither I nor you: But when the leaves hang trembling, The Wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I: But when the leaves bow down their heads The wind is passing by.
Anything else? Lots of black-capped chickadees. A Minneapolis parks vehicle approaching with a double set of headlights — 2 at the normal spot on the bumper, and 2 up above on the roof.
before the run
Today dirt = mud and sinking down into the earth. Found this poem by a Minnesota poet, Joyce Sidman (search term: mud):
Sun slant low, chill seeps into black water. No more days of bugs and basking. Last breath, last sight of light and down I go, into the mud. Every year, here, I sink and settle, shuttered like a shed. Inside, my eyes close, my heart slows to its winter rhythm. Goodbye, good- bye! Remember the warmth. Remember the quickness. Remember me. Remember.
“‘Muddy’ is inspired by the motion and cadence of Diné words. Looking at it on the page, one sees kinetic text and hears onomatopoeia, so the repetition of ‘tł’ish’ reenacts the sound of someone stepping in mud, and then the word itself turns into a poem.” —Orlando White
Mud as where you sink and settle during winter, and the sound of squishing through mud.
during the run
Tried to notice the mud. Mostly, it was on the edge of the trail. I ran over it to avoid 2 walkers. Biggest (and yuckiest) bit of mud was right by the big boulder near the sprawling oak just above the tunnel of trees at the grassy spot between the walking and biking trails. A vehicle had driven through it, leaving deep, muddy tire ruts.
5.25 miles bottom of franklin hill and back 7 degrees / feels like 0
It’s supposed to be getting warmer, starting today and into next week, but it was cold this morning. Sunny, not too much wind, but cold. No frozen fingers or toes, but I felt the burn of cold air, especially after I was done. A harder run. As I’ve heard some runners say, the wheels came off in the second half. I wondered why and then I remembered I didn’t have any water this morning, just coffee. That might have been a big part of the problem. I stopped to walk at least twice, on the walking path, closer to the river but also covered in uneven snow. I noticed the river had a thin sheet of ice on it again. That should melt this afternoon or tomorrow.
Heard some black capped chickadees and the fee bee song, some cardinals too. Encountered two large (10+ runners) groups on the trails — the first one, just as I entered the river road trail, the second, not too long after the lake street bridge. The first group was all men, the second all women with 2 dogs. Right before I reached them, the women stopped to walk. After I passed them, I could hear cackling and an occasional sharp ruff. For some time, they seemed close, then they disappeared. Near the end, I saw some sledders about to go down the Edmund hill. I wonder how crusty and hard that snow is?
Practiced reciting (almost always in my head) some lines from Emily Dickinson and Richard Siken. First, from Siken, the opening words of his great poem, “Love Song of the Square Root of Negative One”:
I am the wind and the wind is invisible
All the leaves trem ble but I am invisible
(in the actual poem, the line is broken like this: “I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves/tremble but I am invisible”)
I like reciting this when I’m running into the wind. Then, I returned to ED’s “Life is but life/and breath but breath/Bliss is but bliss/and breath, but breath.” Yesterday I had chanted it with slightly wrong words: “Life is but life/death is but death…” It was difficult to train my brain out of reciting it that way. I played around with different ways of saying it, including:
Life but life Death but death Bliss but bliss Breath but breath
Death is but death and Bliss but bliss Breath is but breath and Life but life
Just thought about this as I was writing this entry:
Life is but death and breath but bliss Death is but life and bliss but breath
Here’s a recording I made after I finished my run and was walking back. You can really hear the wind!
Speaking of the wind, here’s a poem I found yesterday from Alice Oswald that I love (like all her poetry):
Describe the Wind, Wind! Say something marked by discomfort That wanders many cities and harbours, Not knowing the language. Be much travelled. Start with nothing but the hair blown sideways And say: Gentle South-easterly Drift With Rain. Say: Downdraught.
Unglue the fog from the woods from the waist up And speak disparagingly of leaves. Be an old man blowing a shell. Blow over the glumness of a girl Looking up at the air in her red hood And say: Suddenly Violent Short-lived Gust. Then come down glittering With a pair of ducks to rooftop.
Go on. Be North-easterly. Be enough chill to ripple a pool. Be a rumour of winter. Whip the green cloth off the hills And keep on quietly Lifting the skirts of women not wanting to be startled And pushing the clouds like towers of clean linen Till you get to the Thin Cry That Suffers On seas.
Wait for five days In which everything fades except aging.
Then try to describe being followed by heavy rain. Describe voices and silverings, Say: Strong Wet Southwester From December to March.
Describe everything leaning. Bring a tray of cool air to the back door. Speak increasingly rustlingly. Say something winged On the branch of the heart. Say: Song. Because you know these things. You are both Breath And Breath And your mouth mentions me Just at the point where I end.
So much in this poem to discuss, but what jumped out at me right away was: “Describe everything leaning”. For the past few days, but especially yesterday, I’ve been noticing the bare trees and how some of them lean in one direction, both their trunks and their branches. Usually leaning towards, sometimes away. These leanings can look menacing or graceful, threatening or like surrender. I love straight trees, but i think I love leaning ones more. It would be a fun exercise to go out for a run with the task, “describe everything leaning.” I think I’ll do that tomorrow!
5 miles franklin bridge and back 17 degrees / feels like 7
What a gift this winter-almost-spring run is this morning! A reminder of why I love winter runner with its cold, crisp air and quiet calm. It was a little difficult to breathe, with my nose closing up on me (hooray for sinuses), and it didn’t always feel effortless. Still, I was happy to be outside with the world — the birds (pileated woodpeckers, geese, cardinals), the Regulars (Dave, the Daily Walker and Daddy Long Legs), and the river, sometimes brown, sometimes blue.
Before I went out for my run, I read a lot of different poems and essays about poetry and breath. Decided I would think about rhythmic breathing, running rhythms, and chants. I started by counting my foot strikes, them matching it up with my breathing of In 2 3/ Out 2 or Out 2/ In 2 3: 123/45, 123/45 then 54/321, 54/321. A few miles later, I thought about a verse from Emily Dickinson’s poem, ‘Tis so much joy! Tis so much joy!” that I imagine to be a prayer or a spell or reminder-as-chant. I started repeating it in my head:
Life is but Life! And Death, but Death! Bliss is, but Bliss, and Breath but Breath!
With this prayer/chant, I matched the words up to my foot strikes in several different ways, none of which were 123/45 or 54/321.
Equal stress on each syllable/word, and the altering of the poem slightly:
Life Is But Life Death Is But Death Bliss Is But Bliss Breath Is But Breath
Then in ballad form (I think?), with alternating lines of: stressed un un stressed / 3 stressed but silent beats (or not silent, but voiced by my feet, striking the ground):
Life is but Life x x x Death is but Death x x x Bliss is but Bliss x x x Breath is but Breath x x x
Then in 6, with 2 feet of stressed, unstressed, unstressed (a dactyl):
Life is but Life is but Life is but Life is but Death is but Death is but Death is but Death is but Bliss is but Bliss is but Bliss is but Bliss is but Breath is but Breath is but Breath is but Breath is but
Then in 4 again, one spoken beat, three silent:
Life xxx Life xxx Life xxx Life xxx
Or, like “The Safety Dance”:
Life life life life Death death death death Bliss bliss bliss bliss Breath breath breath breath
These were so much fun to do, and helpful in keeping me going as I grew tired. When I chanted them, my pace was about 8:40 and my heart rate was in the upper 170s (pretty standard for me). At one point, I pulled out my phone and recorded myself mid-run. Later, when I stopped running and was walking back, I recorded myself again.
It’s interesting to check back with the poem now and see that I had added words to make the rhythm more steady and even. Seeing how Dickinson wrote it, I want to try these chants on another run with the right words. How will I fit “And Death, but Death!” with my feet? Is this part of Dickinson’s disruption of rhythm?
I like the repetition of these chants and how, if you repeat them enough, they lose their meaning, or change meaning, or change the space you’re running through, or change you. It reminds me of some lines from a poem I recently wrote about running by the gorge and rhythmic breathing. It’s in 3/2, In 2 3/Out 2:
settle in- to a
rhythm: 3 then 2.
First counting foot strikes,
then chanting small prayers.
I beat out meaning
until what’s left are
syllables, then sounds,
then something new, or
Wow, this is so much fun for me, thinking through how my running, and breath, and poetry, and body, and the words work (and sometimes don’t work) together. Very cool.
And, here’s a poem that doesn’t fit neatly with my running rhythm/chants, but fits with the idea of getting outside to move by the river:
2 miles 43rd north/32nd east/edmund south/37th west/43rd north 22 degrees
A quick run to get the last miles I need for my weekly goal (20 miles), to enjoy the “mild” weather and mostly clear pavement, and to recite the poem I’m re-memorizing today, “Lovesong of the Square Root of Negative One.” I ran through the neighborhood, which I don’t do as much this year now that I’m vaccinated and not as nervous about encountering people. Ran by Cooper School, then the abandoned house that has stood almost, but not quite, finished for at least 3 years now. It’s sealed, with a door and windows, so it’s safe from the elements. I can’t remember if it has siding. If this house were finished, it would probably be worth at least 1/2 million. Strange to see it still here, still not done. Did the builder go bankrupt? When I almost reached the river, staying on edmund instead of crossing the river road, I saw lots of cars — Sunday drivers, I guess.
I recited my poem a few times. Probably because of the cold, I didn’t stop and record myself reciting it at the end. I should start doing that again, to make sure I’m getting all of the words. I noticed how certain bits of the poem worked very well with the steady rhythm of my running: “the trace of the thicket, the key in the lock, as root breaks/ rock, from seed to flower to fruit to rot”. Others did not, like “dark boat in the dark night”.
Scrolling through some of my running instagram (I use twitter for poetry; instagram for running; facebook for family/IRL friends), I discovered the Quadratus Lumborum muscle, which causes lots of problems for runners, and might be why my lower back often hurts. Nice. Never heard of this muscle before. It’s located in the lower back and involves the iliac crest, the lumbar vertebrae, and the 12th rib. Here are some stretches I’m planning to try: Top 5 QL Stretches
4.45 miles top of Franklin and back 19 degrees / feels like 10 50% snow-covered
Yes! What a difference it makes to run outside! It was cold, and I wore a lot of layers, but not nearly as cold as I thought it was going to be. According to the experts, an arctic hellscape blast is headed our way for 7-10 days in the beginning of February. Possibly -20. I wonder what the feels like temp will be? More treadmill, I guess. But, that also means more Dickinson, so it’s not all bad. The run felt good. My hands and feet weren’t too cold. I didn’t have my headphones on as I ran north, but when I turned around, I decided to put them in. One problem: it was so bright, I couldn’t see the screen to find a playlist. After trying for a few minutes without success, I just pushed a few random buttons and listened to whatever came on. I’m not sure what kind of playlist/shuffle it was on, but it started with Gerry Mulligan’s “Israel,” and I was really enjoying it. I like reading and writing while listening to jazz, but I’ve never tried running to it! A new experiment? Seeing how my run changes with different rhythms? That sounds like fun!
1 pair of socks
2 pairs of running tights
1 long tank top
1 green base layer shirt
1 black 3/4 zip black pull-over
1 pink jacket with hood
2 pairs of gloves
cap with ear flaps
I’ve decided to refresh my memory on past poems that I’ve memorized in the past. My tentative goal for the year? 100 memorized poems. I’m about halfway there, if I can remember all the ones I’ve already memorized. Today, I revisited Dickinson’s “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark.” I love this poem and how it gives me words for my experiences with vision loss. Throughout the run, I recited it in my head. Favorite verse today:
Either the Darkness alters – Or something in the sight Adjusts itself to Midnight And Life steps almost straight.
In terms of (re)memorizing poems, I think I’ll start with the vision ones first. They might inspire me in my own writing. I’ve decided on this project because memorizing poems makes me feel good, and it’s one of the more effective ways for me to study poetry as craft. Plus, I’ve been working for months on my own poems, and I’d like to devote some attention to other peoples’ words.
10 Things I Noticed
the classic: a lone black glove, abandoned on the middle of the path
the river: all white, covered with snow
some kids sledding down the hill between edmund and the river road
cigarette smoke invading my nose, escaped from a truck
Dave the Daily walker (who I good morninged) was in more than his standard short-sleeved t-shirt. He had on a stocking cap, gloves, and something long-sleeved — a shirt, or a coat? I can’t remember
a chipper was set up in the grass between edmund and the river road, near minnehaha academy, rumbling and grinding and buzzing
a group of 4 or 5 fat tires
a biker approaching with their bike light on
the floodplain forest was white with tall, brown, slender trunks
someone in bright orange, sitting on a bench above the river, almost to franklin
bike: 16 minutes bike stand, basement run: 1.6 miles -5 degrees / feels like -20
Brr. Earlier in the week, I ran when it felt like 20 below, but today that felt too cold, and I’ve run everyday this week, so I decided to run less, and downstairs in the basement. Watched a replay of some Olympic track races while I biked, listened to Taylor Swift’s Reputation while I ran. I wore my new running shoes, the ones that have been redesigned with a much tighter toe box and that made my toe sore earlier this fall. I’m trying to break them in/stretch them out slowly this winter.
In this first week of January, I’m rereading all of my entries from 2021 and putting together a summary. It’s fun (mostly, but a little tedious too) to review them and remember the year. Today I did August and read about swimming and swells and droughts and wildfires and sweating and running on the Winchell Trail.
Hardly any mention of COVID — there was definitely a lull with the pandemic this summer and fall. But…that’s not quite true in Minnesota. Delta hit hard, and even before Omicron hospitals were almost at capacity. In November or early December, the hospitals put out an ad pleading with people to be careful, and that hospitals/ staff were reaching the breaking point. Now, Omicron has hit. I don’t think our numbers are as bad as other places, but here are some thing I’d like future Sara to know about this time:
It looks like Omicron is less severe, which is great, but hospitals are still filling up and mild cases range from almost nothing to being knocked out and miserable for a week.
the mild designation has to do with your oxygen levels. As long as you can breathe and your oxygen rating is in in the upper 90s, and you don’t have to be admitted to the hospital, it’s a mild case. From what I’ve read anecdotally, mild cases can be awful: headaches, fatigue, chills. And then, there’s long covid
full hospitals mean there are no beds/care for people with other emergencies. Just skimmed an article that mentioned wait times at metro area emergency rooms are anywhere from 8 to 24 hours
schools are in-person and one of the main ways they’re trying to manage keeping kids safe is for them to get tested regularly. The problems: rapid at-home test are all sold out everywhere — stores and online; testing sites are booked up for weeks; even if you are able to get tested, results can take more than 72 hours. It is impossible to contain the spread of omicron this way (note: just found out you can pick rapid tests up at school so RJP will get some for us)
schools are running out of staff + substitutes because teachers are getting infected and have to quarantine whether they experience symptoms or not
I am not nearly as stressed out about this wave as I have been for the last (almost) 2 years. My jaw is not tightening, and neither is my chest. Still, this is a drag and I worry about RJP, who wants to go to school and see her friends
reciting while running
After running for about 10 minutes, I decided to record myself reciting my haunt poem again.