nov 26/RUN

7K (4.3 miles)
franklin loop
34 degrees

For our annual Thanksgiving morning run, Scott and I decided to do the Franklin loop. On the way there, we stopped at his favorite spot right above the river road and the Franklin bridge. I was going to embed the photo from instagram but I can’t do that–what can’t I do that anymore? Oh well, here’s the link: Scott and Sara’s 7K

Things I Remember

  • mostly people who cared and who tried to keep distance, a few who did not–the people in the tunnel at Brackett Park, the runners who took over the narrow lake street bridge and barely moved
  • the soft, fuzzy (or furry?) browns of the leafless treeline, the pale blue of the river, the white sunless sky
  • yard signs: Dogs for Biden, Cats for Biden
  • discovering another street to take instead of the sometimes crowded path on the St. Paul side
  • easy relaxed run with a conversation–what did we talk about? Do I remember any of it? Not sure but that’s okay
  • running on the sidewalk by the fancy houses on the east river road
  • running by a less fancy house, hearing a noise, and playing one of my new favorite games: is it a … or a …? Today’s: is it a heater or a vacuum cleaner? Last week’s: is it a chainsaw or a leaf blower?

(from 27 nov) last night and this morning, I remembered a few more things from yesterday’s run I’d like to add:

  • running in the road to avoid people on the sidewalk, noticing the terrible condition of the asphalt. So many cracks and craters and dangerous divots!
  • the trees on the edge of the boulevard leaving precariously towards the street
  • at least 2 different groups of people thanking us for running in the street and giving them distance
  • a good omen: standing at Scott’s favorite spot on the hill above the river road near the franklin bridge, hearing the distinctive clicking and clacking of a roller skier’s ski poles
  • seeing (and counting) so many bright yellow shirts on bikers, one dark gray shirt with a thick horizontal yellow stripe
  • hearing about Scott’s idea for a meta Christmas song: structured like the 12 days of christmas, about the 12 things that must be in all christmas songs
  • admiring the majestic lion statues on pedestals–or, on plinths? I love the word plinth–in front of a equally majestic house, right above the public sidewalk
  • the house that was so big we couldn’t tell right away if it were a house or an apartment and that had a crappy plastic storage shed near one side

nov 19/RUN

4 miles (1 with FWA, 3 by myself)
river road trail + turkey hollow
46 degrees

FWA had to run for online gym class this morning, so we went out together. Yes! I always enjoy getting to run with him even if we do more walking than running. As we ran + walked, we smelled a lot of things: meat, soap, almost burnt toast, thawing half-mulched leaves. FWA recounted a childhood memory of tasting blueberry syrup and hating it so much that we never wanted to return to the restaurant where he tried it. I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted blueberry syrup but I imagine it’s gross. After dropping FWA back off at home, I went out for another run. We had run north, to I went south. Such a wonderful time to be running above the river! All the leaves gone, so much view! Hardly any wind, some sun. No ice, not too many people. For most of my run, I listened to the sounds around me but for the last mile I turned on a playlist and tuned everything else out.

For a short stretch of time after the election, I enjoyed checking the news. Now, it’s time to avoid it again. I believe in December when the electoral college meets, this will all be worked out. Until then I can’t get sucked into the daily shit show of contesting results, lawsuits, threats of violence, etc. Instead, I’ll spend more time by the gorge and with poems like this:

In the Evening/ William Reichard

The night air is filled
with the scent of apples,
and the moon is nearly full.

In the next room, Jim
is reading; a small cat sleeps
in the crook of his arm.

The night singers are loud,
proclaiming themselves
every evening until they run

out of nights and die in
the cold, or burrow down into
the mud to dream away the winter.

My office is awash in books
and photographs, and the sepia/pink
sunset stains all its light touches.

I’ve never been a good traveler,
but there are days, like this one,
when I’d pay anything to be in

another country, or standing on
the cold, grey moon, staring back
at the disaster we call our world.

We crave change, but
turn away from it.
We drown in contradictions.

Tonight, I’ll sleep
blanketed in moonlight.
In my dreams, I’ll have

nothing to say about anything
important. I’ll simply live my life,
and let the night singers live theirs,

until all of us are gone.
I won’t say a word, and let
silence speak in my stead.

I like the simple, graceful form of this poem, how it flows, and how it captures and expresses so many contradictions. I’d like to try out this form in some poem about the gorge.

oct 5/RUN

1.4 miles
walk/run with FWA
3 miles
river road, south/42nd, west/edmund, north/32nd, west/47th ave, south
51 degrees

Warmer today. Windy. Went out with FWA for another walk/run. I like getting to spend time with him in my favorite place. Also, it’s a nice warm-up before my run.

Starting out after walking back home with FWA, I ran into the wind and chanted to myself, “I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves tremble but I am invisible” (Richard Siken). I ran on the trail right above the river for a mile. Much more of a view these days! I can see the river through the trees. The surface of the water was glowing silvery-white in many spots. The only bird I heard was a black capped chickadee doing the feebee song. Looking over at the gorge from the river road, it was glowing gold. We must almost be at peak color. Anything else? Yes! I remember, about a mile into my solo run, feeling happy and relaxed. Such a nice feeling, rarely felt these days, especially now during “October Surprise” season, when I have been sucked into the endless cycle of asking, does 45 have the virus or not, is he barely sick or about to die, is this all an attempt to distract/confuse/frighten/enrage/weaken us?

Speaking of October surprise, I’d like to reclaim that phrase–or maybe REFRAME–and make it about something other than orchestrating (or appearing to orchestrate) an event that could influence the outcome of next month’s election. I like October–it’s a great month with all the Halloween decorations and scary horror movies from the 70s and crisp air and falling leaves. And, I like surprises and the unknowing bewilderment and excitement they can cause. Looking up surprise in the dictionary, one definition is astonishment. I also read in Merriam-Webster, “to strike with wonder or amazement, especially because unexpected.” In that spirit, I’d like to offer some of my own October Surprises for the rest of the month. Some of them might be moments of pure astonishment and wonder (I hope), others might be milder. All will be genuine instances of delight and joy.

Today’s October Surprise

I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the black-capped chickadee out by the gorge this morning. I thought that they only did their “feebee” song in the spring and summer. I looked it up and discovered that they continue to sing these two notes throughout the winter. I’ll have to listen in January and February. Will I hear them as I run through the snow? I hope so!

This morning, checking one of my poetry sites, I found another green poem. Such a great description of greedy, gluttonous green and what happens after it leaves (or un-leaves?).

First Leaf/Lia Purpura

That yellow
was a falling off,
a fall
for once I saw
coming —
it could
in its stillness
still be turned from,
it was not
yet ferocious,
its hold drew me,
was a shiny switchplate
in the otherwise dark,
rash, ongoing green,
a green so hungry
for light and air that
part gave up,
went alone,
chose to leave,
and by choosing
embellishment
got seen.

sept 24/RUN

1.2 miles
river road, north/south
62 degrees

3.1 miles
over lake street bridge and back
64 degrees

I was just about to leave for a run when my son asked if I could run with him for his online gym class. Of course! I wish he could learn to love running; I would worry much less about all the time he spends in front of his computer. We did a combination of running and walking. A beautiful fall morning. As we were walking I said to FWA, “It’s really fall now!” On cue, a swirl of leaves fell between us. (I looked up “collective noun for leaves” and got: pile and Autumn–really? An Autumn of leaves? Ugh. Decided on my own: swirl.)

After walking back home with him, I headed out again for my own run. Decided to run across the lake street bridge to check out the trees on the banks of the Mississippi. Big, bright slashes of red, orange, yellow! Not quite peak, but getting there. When I reached the east side of the river, I ran up the hill just past the steps and stopped at my favorite spot where the path is right on the edge of the bluff, above the tree-line, and you can see the blue water and the glowing trees on the other side. I stopped for a few minutes and admired an orange tree on the west side.

Yesterday I worked some more on my second mood ring poem. Happy to have figured out the story that I’m trying to tell: it wasn’t until my vision failed that I became very curious about how vision works and once I did, I learned all sorts of fascinating, delightful things. Here’s the text of the poem without the formatting:

MOOD // CURIOUS

All I remember from science class is the inscrutable image of an inverted tree, entering upright, then shrinking and flipping around. I don’t remember the retina or that it’s a thin layer of tissue lining the back of your eye or that at its center is the macula where some of the most important cells reside, waiting to convert light into signals that travel through the optic nerve to the visual cortex. I never thought about blind spots or tried to find mine or wondered about how much of what I saw was real or illusion. But when my brain could no longer hide the effects of diminishing cones I started paying attention. Now I’m learning about photoreceptors and the fovea and the number of cone cells in it and why they’re called cone cells and what the types of scotomas are and when the blind spot was first written about and how the brain guesses or makes up images when it lacks visual data and why some people, in the early stages of vision loss, hallucinate dragons and floating heads and little people dressed in costumes.

I have decided that each of these mood ring poems will be a block of text very similar in size and dimensions to the Amsler Grid, which is a grid you can use to check for macular degeneration. Each of the poems will have my blind ring on it in some way–lightly superimposed or darker, blocking the text, or maybe even creating an erasure poem. I’m still trying to figure it out. Here’s one possible version:

Originally, I made the “ring” text even lighter but I’ve been thinking I might want to make the ring become more difficult to see around as the poems continue–so the text would get lighter and lighter?

Here’s an amsler grid:

sept 7/RUN

3.15 miles
lake nokomis
55 degrees

Scott and I decided to drive over near Lake Nokomis and run (in opposite directions) around the lake. We parked on Nokomis Avenue and ran together on the creek trail, then under 28th ave on the part of the path they just built this year, over by Lake Hiawatha, up the hill to Lake Nokomis Community Center, and then down to Lake Nokomis where we split up. I turned left, he turned right. So wonderful to be running by water and around the lake. This is the first time I’ve run here since last November 14.

Ran by the little beach first. The buoys are still up. Will I try swimming once this season? I’m not sure. Had to run on the grass a lot to avoid people. Noticed how many changes they’ve made: plastic fences up to protect the shoreline, some trees missing. As I ran over the big bridge, I looked down at the water and the wide strip of shimmering light on the surface. Luckily Scott took a picture of it when he ran over the bridge.

Thought briefly about open swim as I ran by the big beach. I checked to see if anyone was swimming this morning. I don’t think so. Saw at least one kayak but no rowing shells or sailboats. I’m sure they’ll be there later today. I miss being by the water. I miss not being slightly terrified all of the time.

blind spots and mood rings

Still thinking about my latest writing project on blind spots and mood rings. I think I’ve finished the text for the mood 1: wonder. I haven’t quite figured out the visuals behind it. How to show the ring? How to show my vision loss? I’ve been researching concrete/visual poetry and found this cool eye poem by Lauren Holden:

further & further & further

I really like how this looks and its effect. And I like the repetition of the words/phrase. Maybe I want to do this too? As part of a ring chapbook? I’m thinking that each of my mood rings would involve 2 poems:

  1. A justified block of text with my blind ring superimposed on the text
  2. A visual poem similar to the one above made up of 2-4 words describing the mood repeated and making the shape/effect of my blind ring.

july 18/RUN

2.5 miles
43rd ave, south/42nd st, west/edmund, north
74 degrees
humidity: 87%/ dew point: 71

Hot this morning! Very crowded too. Started out running with Scott but after avoiding too many people together, we decided to split up. Some clueless walkers, but mostly just lots of people. Encountered several cars on Edmund too. Don’t remember any roller skiers or runners. No rowers or river views. Any birds? Not that I heard. Finished by running around the block. Discovered it was .5 miles. Good to know.

Discovered Copper Canyons wonderful collection of poems about connection during COVID yesterday via twitter. So good! Scrolling through them, I found two that connect with the poems I’m reading/thinking about right now:

joy and suffering beside each other (Ross Gay, Book of Delights)

What Issa Heard/ David Budbill

Two hundred years ago Issa heard the morning birds
singing sutras to this suffering world.

I heard them too, this morning, which must mean,

since we will always have a suffering world,
we must also always have a song.

“This is what you’ve been waiting for” (Marie Howe/ “The Gate”)

Goshen/ Ruth Stone

For fifteen years I have lived in a house
without running water or furnace.
In and out the front door
with my buckets and armloads of wood.
This is the mountain.
This is the fortress of ice.
This is the stray cat skulking in the barn.
This is the barn with vacant windows
that lifts like a thin balsa kite
in the northeasters.
These are the winter birds
that wait in the bushes.
This is my measuring rod.
This is why I get up in the morning.
This is how I know where I am going.

june 27/RUN

2 miles
river road, south/north
76 degrees

Ran with Scott on the rive road. Warm in the sun. Crowded. Saw a peloton turn onto the road and whizz by. Heard the crack of ski pole as a roller skier prepared to roll down the hill just past the welcoming oaks. While Scott was talking about XTC and their strange side projects, I though I heard the cackle of either Emily or Agatha (the pileated woodpeckers I named the other day).

When we returned home, I sat on the deck and recited Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese” into my phone. For some reason I keep thinking it’s “you only have to let the SMALL animal of your body” instead of “you only have to let the SOFT animal of your body.” Not sure why because soft makes much more sense.

Wild Geese, June 27

june 20/RUN

2 miles
36th to 42nd to 36th
65 degrees

A short run with Scott this morning. Crowded out on the road with lots of groups of bikers and runners and walkers. Not too hot or windy. Still green. Very green. Don’t remember hearing any birds, although I’m sure they were making noise. What else did I miss while Scott and I were busy cranking about a biker biking too close or walkers social distance-ing across the entire road? A lot, I’m sure. Fairly certain I didn’t see any floating cottonwood. No roller skiers, no Daily Walker, no music blasting from bike speakers.

Oh, this beautiful poem I found on twitter yesterday, “The Stuff of Astounding: A Poem for Juneteenth.” Patricia Smith is amazing–the words here and the form. I love the idea of making another poem out of the last word of each line.

june 16/RUN

2 miles
36th to 42nd to 36th
70 degrees

Ran the short loop with Scott this morning. We talked about the fall, whether or not schools would open, how complicated and messy and difficult it is, and how much the federal government has failed us. It’s warmer today and we could feel it, especially in the shade-less stretches. Still nice to be outside and start the morning running near the river.

After the run, walking through the neighborhood with Delia the dog, I recited the poem I memorized yesterday to Scott: Praying/ Mary Oliver. Another door poem.

Praying/ Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t 
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

I love this idea of a doorway into thanks and how paying attention to the world can lead us through it. Also like the idea of silence and other voices speaking and how paying attention can help us to listen.

june 7/RUN

3.75 miles
river road, north/river road, south
65 degrees
humidity: 72%

Started the run by myself but at the halfway point I encountered Scott and decided to run with him the rest of the way. Sunny. Windy, feeling warmer than 65. Remember hearing at least one woodpecker, a lone goose up high honking, “wait for me!” or “where is everybody?” Caught a quick glance of the river before having to move to the road to avoid an approaching walker. Forgot to look at the trestle–no trains above. More than once I thought the fast, whirring wheels of a bike were an approaching car.

reciting while running

Before meeting up with Scott, I recited Rita Dove’s poem a few times. Almost memorized it enough to dig into the meaning of the words. Today I liked the line “If you think about it,/everything’s inside something else;/everything’s an envelope/inside a package/in a case—/and pain knows its way into every crevice.” Need to think some more about what that means. Also liked, “There are spaces for living/and spaces for forgetting.”

A few minutes after returning home, recited the poem into my phone. I need to work on the line about standing outside of your skin–I said body.

voiceover/rita dove (june 7)

A few hours later, sitting in red lounge chair in the shade of the crabapple tree, I thought some more about Dove’s poem and the lines about everything being inside something else. Wrote in my plague notebook #3: There is no ultimate outside of everything. No pure objectivity, free of pain or perspective. No access to the Big, complete picture.

june 4/RUN

3 miles
47th st loop variation (return north on 43rd ave)
67 degrees

Another quiet night last night. No cars or explosions or sirens. Today is the George Floyd memorial service in Minneapolis. Last night the Minneapolis Parks Board unanimously voted to stop using the Minneapolis Police Department. Wow–the U of M, Minneapolis Public Schools and now the parks department. Momentum.

Ran with Scott this morning. Already feeling warm and green. Didn’t notice as many bugs today. Also, not too many people. Definitely more bikers than runners. Saw 2 turkeys crossing the road, heading to turkey hollow. As we ran we talked about what it might look like to reimagine or eliminate the police, and then about our very limited and disappointing experiences with the police in the past. (Such privilege in our lack of experience with the police).

Random memory: Last summer–or was it the summer before last?–we had just arrived home from a trip. For the brief minute we were away from the car, bringing our bags in through the backyard to the house, someone broke into our garage, stole an old iPod from the car, the garage remote, some tools/pump from my bike, and a few other things. It never crossed my mind to call the police. Instead, we talked to several of our neighbors and we all kept a closer eye on the alley for the next few weeks. I can imagine safe/r communities without the police.

Almost forgot: at some point, while we were running on the river road, I looked up at the clouds and remembered Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s suggestion to learn all the cloud types. I can’t remember what today’s clouds looked like. Maybe I should try to describe the clouds in each log entry? Here’s a cloud identifier, in case I’m having trouble figuring it out.

Since memorizing Rita Dove’s “Ode to My Right Knee” last month, I have realized that I love her writing. Here’s a great one that was just published in the June issue of Poetry magazine:

Mirror/ Rita Dove

Mirror,
take this
from
me:
my blasted gaze,
sunken
astonishment. Resolve
memory & rebuild; shame’ll
dissolve
under powder pressed into
my skin.

Oh, avalanche, my harbor:
can I
look
over you;
pit & pustule, crease & blotch
without seeing
you through you—
if all I am
(Am I all?)
is Woe is
me?

Mirror,
this take
from
me:
gaze blasted, my
sunken
resolve, astonishment.
Shame’ll rebuild & memory
dissolve
into pressed powder under
skin, my

harbor, my avalanche. Oh
I can
look
you over;
blotch & crease, pustule & pit—
seeing without
you, through you.
Am I all if
all I am
is Woe is
me?

I love the form of this poem! I want to experiment with it soon. So creative and fun and powerful.

june 3/RUN

3 miles
river road, south/42nd st, west/43rd ave, north/edmund, north/34th st, west
65 degrees
humidity: 90%

Back in Minneapolis. Ran around the neighborhood with Scott this morning. We were gone for a few days and when we came back it was summer. Even more green. Buggy. Overgrown. Last night was quiet. Haven’t heard about any fires or explosions or mayhem. Everything looks peaceful today. Running on the river road, there was no view of the river, only green trees and haze. Surprisingly, I handled the humidity and sun better than I have in the past.

I forgot that yesterday was my 9th anniversary of running. Even if I had known, I don’t think I would have run. By the time we got home to Minneapolis, it was over 90 degrees. I’ll take today as my celebration. 3 relatively easy miles, running with Scott through a neighborhood of resilient people working to create a better city.

I haven’t been thinking about poetry for about a week now. Too overwhelmed with all that’s happened. I want to return to it now. Here’s a poem I’d like to spend some more time with. (Listen to a brief discussion about the poem + Brimhall reading it here.)

Resistance/ TRACI BRIMHALL

I must be the heavy globe
of hydrangea, always bowing
by summer’s end. Must be salt,
like sadness at a burning city,
an ethical disobedience. I must be
a violet thorn of fire. These days
I don’t taste good, but I must
be singing and boneless, a lily.
I must beg for it, eyes flashing
silver as a fish. Must be a rosary
of listening. This is how I know
to love. I must hide under desks
when the forecast reads: leaves red
as meat, sleeping lions, chandelier
of bone, moon smooth as a worry
stone. I must want my life and fear
the thin justice of grass. Clouds
hunt, wound the rising tide. I must
be paradised. On my knees again.

june 1/RUN

3.7 miles
running, with lots of walking
austin, mn
83 degrees

Ran with Scott on his 9 year anniversary of running. Mine is tomorrow (I’m writing this a few days late; it was too hot to run on my anniversary date). To commemorate the day, we included the 1/2 mile stretch he had to run in high school. He hated doing it because he was out of shape and couldn’t run that far, and all the jocks in the class were assholes. Hot and sunny, but we did it. So much has happened since we started running 9 years ago. Wow.

dec 25/ RUN

3.2 miles
Austin, MN
42 degrees

Ran in Austin with Scott this afternoon. Warmish. The streets were clear, the sidewalks had lots of puddles and ice and snow built up at the ends. We ran a mile, walked a minute, three times. Then walked another mile.

Observations

  1. Slick, wet pavement. Be-puddled sidewalks.
  2. Running over the crushed up, light brown gravel on the sidewalk where they had been doing sewer work
  3. Wonderfully tacky inflatable nativity scene in front of someone’s house
  4. Big stretches of bare ground–mud, green grass.

dec 8/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
32 degrees
5% ice and snow covered

Ran straight into the wind on the way north. Met up with Scott just past the trestle and ran south with the wind at our backs. Was able to introduce Scott to Dave the Daily Walker. Heard some geese. Admired the river, looking like it was on fire, bursting through the bare trees. Gray sky, humid air. Counted to 4. Had to wipe my eyes repeatedly–very annoying. Walking back through our neighborhood, pointed out a small circular hole in the street to Scott. Not big enough to mess up a car or a bike but maybe a foot? After asking why there wasn’t a cone over it, Scott noticed that there had been a cone but it was jammed down into the hole. Wow. Who does that?

one more thing: After posting this entry, I remembered something else about my run. As I started, I noticed my ponytail brushing up against the back of my jacket. I don’t recall noticing it for the entire run. Did I just get used to it, or did it stop brushing my jacket?

What Would Root
BY KATIE FARRIS

Walking through a cathedral of oak trees
and bristlecone pines, scolded by squirrels
in their priestly black, their white collars
wagging with the force of their scolding, I
was struck, simultaneously, in both eyes,
by some sort of flying detritus—pollen or seeds—
and stopped to lean against a rock
to scrub it (I thought) away. It was May,

it was May, it was May, and the air was sweet
with pine and Island Mountain lilac. The squirrels,
I mentioned them already, etc, and the lizards
ran down the spines of rocks like a bad feeling. I
could see everything: red-headed hummingbirds
dipped their beaks into the little red hoods of penstemon,
and I, a redhead, could hear everything: a red-crested
woodpecker, who was not offended I did not know his name.

And I could see everything: it was all green, really;
even the red was anti-green, and though my eyes
ached from everything-seeing, I could taste the granite
in the spring (oh yes, I drank water from the ground; I
was wild, even then, though the squirrels scolded
me and tried to convince me I was not). Soon I crested
a rise; the land spread itself greenly for me and I
wished I had seed to toss into that green, just to see

what would root. My right eye would not close to this
view; why would it; but when I reached up to touch it, I
felt that there was a twig emerging, and another from my
other eye; that they were a part of my body I could not doubt;
they were living and enervated and jutting out. I
sat down, feeling the hairs on the back of my neck,
understanding for the first time they were not hairs, but roots.
I could see everything; it was all green; the twigs in my eyes

tasted sunlight with my mouth; the roots drew the salt
from my sweat into their vacuum, and I was no longer hungry:
my metamorphosis had rendered me perfectly self-sufficient. I
could see everything; the roots in my skull shifted and I
lay down beneath my own branches. I had to wiggle a bit to
find a place to lay my head; the rock was very hard,
and I needed softer ground—yes, a place for the top
of my head to come off, to nuzzle into the earth, to drink.

Wow! I love this green poem. So good. So green. So wild. So wonderful to imagine rooting in a field. Love this line: “even the red was anti-green” I want to spend more time with this poem and add it to my collection of green poems.

dec 2/RUN

3.25 miles
us bank stadium

Scott and I ran inside the stadium for the first time this season. The Minnesota Distance Running Association no longer manages it so it was a little more expensive and lot more fiddly–purchasing tickets, taking 2 separate elevators. I strongly dislike elevators. Maybe because of the change or the increase in price, there weren’t that many people there. We had a nice run. Not sure how many times I’ll do it this season but it’s always cool to get to run inside the stadium, especially in the evening. Not much I remember about the run except the music: every song sounded like Selena Gomez…excerpt the brief respite when they played Lizzo.

December
David Baker

Instead, there is an hour, a moment,
a slight fading of the light like a loss of power

in the neighborhood. Then it’s dark. You can’t see
the trees any more, the old snow, the dog that barks

from the door of his shed because it’s night now
and time to be fed. Is he huddled now, over his paws?

—And one Canada goose so low in passing
above the barn you still hear the shadow.

This weekend I heard a lot of geese over head. Too high in the sky to hear their shadows passing, but I did hear their honks. Such beautiful, haunting sounds! This season, my favorite. I really like this poem and what it captures. and how it de-privileges vision–hearing the dog bark, the shadow of the goose, feeling (when unable to see) the tree, the old snow.

nov 28/RUN

3.2 miles
lake harriet
25 degrees

Ran around Lake Harriet with Scott on Thanksgiving day. Some ice and snow but hardly any wind. Not too cold. The water is still open–no ice skating yet. Lots of people walking and running. A few bikers, some fat tires. Driving over to the lake on the parkway, it looked like a winter wonderland with all of the snow-covered trees.

Tonight for dessert, I am making an apple crumble. It is baking in the oven and smells delicious as I write this entry. Looked up “apple” at the poetry foundation site and found this wonderful celebration of all things A:

The Letter A
BY DARREN SARDELLI

The letter A is awesome!
It simply is the best.
Without an A, you could not get
an A+ on a test.
You’d never see an acrobat
or eat an apple pie.
You couldn’t be an astronaut
or kiss your aunt goodbye.
An antelope would not exist.
An ape would be unknown.
You’d never hear a person
say “Afraid” or “All Alone”.
The A’s in avocado
would completely disappear
and certain words would be forgot
like “ankle”, “arm”, and “ear”.

Without the A, you couldn’t aim
an arrow in the air.
You wouldn’t ask for apricots
or almonds at a fair.
Aruba and Australia
would be missing from a map.
You’d never use an ATM,
an apron, or an app.
The arctic fox and aardvark
would be absent from the zoo,
and vowels, as you know them,
would be E, I, O, and U.
There wouldn’t be an A chord
on the instruments you play.
Let’s appreciate, admire,
and applaud the letter A!

nov 14/RUN

6.5 miles
river road, south/falls/minnehaha creek/lake nokomis
30 degrees
30-40% snow-covered

Ran over to Lake Nokomis for the first time in a while. Ran straight into the wind for most of it. The path was slick in spots. Will this small bit of snow ever go away or it will just keep melting during the day, then re-freezing at night? Some annoying squirrels almost got in my way. Pretty sure I spotted an albino squirrel on the creek path between the duck bridge and the echo bridge. No ice on the creek but the lake was covered with snow. When I reached the lake, I met Scott and ran around it with him. He pointed out how the snow illuminated a narrow crack in the ice that spanned the entire lake. Strange looking out at the water as we ran, so many trees have been cut down–the view here too clear, too exposed. For most of the day it was sunny, but during my run it was gray. Felt like January.

Hardly a month left in this decade and I’ve been thinking about what I’ve done in the past ten years. So much of it is documented on my many virtual spaces and in my notebooks. Might be fun to read through it all.

I love Maggie Smith’s poetry. So many beautiful ideas and images. The hum as an appliance inside of us, then as the soul. So cool.

The Hum/maggie smith

It’s not a question
without the mark: How do we live
with trust in a world that will continue

to betray us. Hear my voice
not lift at the end. How do we trust
when we continue to be betrayed.

For the first time I doubt
we’ll find our way back. But how
can we not. See how the terminal

mark allows a question
to dress as statement and vice versa.
Sometimes if I am quiet and still,

I can hear a small hum inside me,
an appliance left running.
Years ago I thought it was coming

from my bones. The hum
kept me company, and I thought
thank god for bones, for the fidelity

of bones—they’ll be there
until the end and then some.
Now what. How to continue.

I’ve started calling the hum the soul.
Today I have to hold
my breath to hear it. What question

does it keep not asking
and not asking, never changing
its pitch. How do I answer.

oct 5/RUN

3.5 miles
top of franklin hill and back
52 degrees

Rainy in the morning so our 10K race was cancelled. Ran after the rain, in the afternoon. First mile, then last 1/2 mile with Scott. The rest by myself, partly with no headphones, partly listening to a playlist. Don’t remember much but seeing streaks of fall colors and lots of cars driving on the parkway. Why so many cars?

oct 3/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
48 degrees

Ran with Scott in the afternoon. Still wore shorts, but it’s getting colder. A great run. Relaxed, not too fast. Getting ready for the 10k race on Saturday. Haven’t raced a 10k in almost a year. Noticed more leaves have fallen from the trees. The Welcoming Oaks are now a goldengrove unleaving. When did that happen? Everything is changing too fast.

Spring and Fall
BY GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

september 1/RUN

3 miles
austin, mn
60 degrees

Another run through Austin, this time in the opposite direction. Started with a few “hills.” Ran through a neighborhood without sidewalks. Don’t remember much–I do remember telling Scott a story and having trouble talking while running.

Today’s mannequin is “please find my hands!”:

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Please find my hands!

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

august 31/RUN

3 miles
austin, mn
61 degrees

Ran in Scott’s hometown. Here you can see a lot in 3 miles. Downtown, the fairgrounds, a creek, river, a few parks, the library, the almost built fitness center.

After seeing all the creepy, wonderful mannequins at the state fair last week, I’ve decided I want to write about them. For a few years now, Scott’s been taking pictures of them for me. Today’s mannequin is “sassy no arms”:

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Sassy No Arms.

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

august 21/RUN

2.2 miles
lake harriet

Ran this morning around lake harriet with Scott while our son was taking his 2nd of 3 behind the wheel driving lessons. So great! The water was still, glass-like. Near where all the boats are docked (would you call this a marina?), the water was smooth for 10-15 meters, then suddenly rippled. What was causing this? Noticed a beach with a big swimming area that I’ll have to try out next week before the lake closes for the season. After we finished, had breakfast at Bread and Pickle, something I wanted to do for a few years. Heard a kid jubilantly call out, “I just saw a fish! A Northern Pike! Right there! Right there!” Such wonderful enthusiasm. O, to be so unabashed in my joy! A goal for this year. I’m tired of cynicism and swallowing the quirky joy I have for so many small and random things like garden gnomes and undulating waves and bright, glowing green running shoes!

Halos/ed bok lee

Blood vessels are invading
both corneas, crowding
the sclera, says my opthamologist.

Not an emergency yet, but
just be aware and get proper rest. I ask
about laser surgery and he sighs; confesses

when his own eyes are shot, he’ll
surgically insert acrylic lenses.
Two slits, no stitches, fifteen minutes.

With lasers, you’ll still need
readers and eye drops. On my walk
home, I take off

my glasses to receive the breeze.
I like that any nearing face
is surely smiling, gorgeous;

each blurry body’s aura numinous:
style of no style, racially
ambigious, a glob, pure

spectral inchoesion. Aren’t we all
just masses of energy and light
approaching or leaving

one another in the jumbled
future or past; sometimes stop-
ping to embrace

for a moment or decades,
before passing
way too far for sight?

That visual impairment improves hearing,
taste, smell, touch is mostly myth.
With it, however, I can detect

fuzzy spirits exiting buildings;
halos around bikers’ helmets;
each streetlamp another pink-orange dawn.

You should see the full moon
spanning half the skyline.
I don’t mind opening a book

like a pewter Rorschach test,
or waking up each morning
inside a fish tank of dream.

I like, whenever I wish, strolling past
the myopic me
in a window or mirror or whatever

reflects back to believe the soul is
ubiquitous like water
in our voices, our cells.

How else, when blinded by life,
would I remember:
to the dead, we’re the ghosts?

This poem captures so much of what I’ve been feeling about my vision and the magic of seeing differently–out of focus, fuzzy. Often, I like the strangeness of my sight; everything is more beautiful. I was mentioning to Scott the other day that I see things through a soft filter, like the one they used for filming Barbara Walters on The View. But even as I love the soft, generous way my vision enables me to see the world, sometimes, it’s exhausting, overwhelming. Walking around the Mall of America the other day, I was unable to see the hard edged outlines of peoples’ moving bodies. Difficult to navigate. Entering a store, I couldn’t immediately read the signs to orient myself, everything just out of focus.

swim: 1.5 miles
cedar lake

This final week of getting to swim every day is wonderful. Cedar Lake is the best. Looked it up and discovered that at its deepest point, it’s 88 feet. On average, it’s 37 feet. Cool. Felt strong and fast swimming today. More choppy water. More people to pass. As I neared the buoys, it always felt like I was swimming in place or swimming away from the buoy. A bit disorienting. I think there was a current that was pushing both me and the buoy away from each other–is that possible? Discovered an easy way to sight the shore that is invisible in the blinding sun: there’s a clear break in the trees that I can see no matter how bright and shiny everything else is. Breathed every five, then five/six/five. Took a few short breaks at the end of a loop but mostly swam non-stop. I wish there was another month of this swimming–hard to wait until next June for it to happen again.

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 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 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 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?

july 22/RUN

2.75 miles
lake harriet
77 degrees
humidity: 46%

Ran around Lake Harriet with Scott this afternoon. Less humidity but still hot and sunny. Not much shade at 2 in the afternoon. What I remember most: the gross, fishy smell; dodging lots of people; the shshshsh of the sand on the side of the path as I ran over it; trying to sing The Commodores’ song “lady…you bring me up when I am down” and “na na na na na naaa na na na naaa” and having trouble mid-run; running an small extra loop to get my final exercise minutes and overhearing a man say to the woman next to him, “people are running right now?!”; running up hill a lot. A good run.

Postscript
Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Love this poem for so many reasons: the ocean wild with foam and glitter, head-strong looking heads, being neither here nor there but a hurry through which known and strange things pass, big soft buffeting catching the heart off guard. This morning, when I was walking with Delia, I thought about how different one’s experience of a landscape is depending on whether you are walking or running or biking or riding in a car.