may 6/RUN

7 miles
st. kates and back
60 degrees

Ran with Scott on a beautiful spring morning. Sun, shadows, a welcome breeze. We ran over to St. Catherine’s University, across the river. RJP has almost decided to go there (hopefully she makes up her mind tonight) and we wanted to check it out. I’m impressed and excited to visit her next year. We talked a lot more in the first half of our run; we were both tired the last 2 miles. Scott talked about some Threads exchange involving Drake, Kanye West, and a diss track. We heard a creaking tree and I said it sounded like the squeaking gate we heard yesterday afternoon while we were walking. The mention of the gate reminded me of Marie Howe’s poem, “The Gate,” which I recited for Scott (of course I did). We talked about many other things but I just remember discussing what a wonderful campus St. Cates is and how great it will be for RJP.

On the sidewalk just outside of campus, we encountered several sidewalk poems that are part of the Public Art Sidewalk Poetry project. Scott took a picture of one:

November/ Marianne McNamara and Scott’s feet

November/ Marianne McNamara (2009)

Autumn winds drag leaves from the trees,
clog the streets in dreary finale.
Bare branches crisscross the heavy sky.
Icy rain spatters, ink-blots the pavement.
I settle at the window, stare into the black flannel, search the woolly lining of the night for winter.

I was unable to read this on the sidewalk, so I’m glad I could find it online. How hard is it for someone with good vision to read? I like the idea of this project, but in practice, it doesn’t quite work. Scott suggested they should use black paint on the letters, to make them stand out.

10 Things

  1. smell: lilac, intense
  2. tree shadows, more filled in than last week
  3. a loud leaf blower
  4. a safety patrol on the corner near Dowling saying I hate you, I hate you — who was he talking to?
  5. the soft trickle of water falling from the sewer pipe near the 44th street parking lot
  6. mud and ruts filled with water at a construction site on the edge of campus
  7. feeling a fine film of dust on my face near the end of the run
  8. more than a dozen signs in the grass outside a liquor store, each one said the same thing: wine sale. Scott: I guess they’re having a wine sale
  9. running down Randolph encountering 3 or 4 sidewalk poems, none of them marked on the map
  10. noticing a faint white thing flying through the air, high above us: a bird? a plane? a trick of the light or corrupted data from my eye to my brain?

the allegory of the cave, part 1

I want to read the cave parable and think about its shadows, but I want to read it in the context of The Republic so I’ve been searching my shelves for my copy. Which class in college did we read this for? Probably The Individual and Morality. Maybe a philosophy class? Anyway, it is very hard for me to find one book among almost a thousand. When we moved in I organized them, but over time, books have moved. Also, it’s dim in our living room and I have a lot of trouble reading book titles with my bad eyes. Yesterday I asked RJP to help, and she found it! Maybe I’ll try reading some of it out on the deck this afternoon. Reading physical books, as opposed to e-books, can be hard; there’s never enough light unless I’m reading it under my special lamp (designed for sewers and cross-stitchers and 80 year-olds with bad eyes and me). Reading outside in natural light helps.

an hour spent outside reading and dozing off and reading again . . .

First, two links that connect Plato and his cave with poetry:

Reading through the allegory, I cam accross these lines:

. . . the eyes may be confused in two ways and from two causes, namely when they’ve come from the light into the darkness and when they’ve come from the darkness into the light. . . whether it has come from a brighter life and is dimmed through not having yet become accustomed to the dark or whether it has come from greater ignorance into greater light and is dazzled by the increased brilliance.

518a, The Republic / Plato, trans. G.M.A. Grube

Of course, I immediately thought of two of my favorite vision poems (what I’m calling them) by Emily Dickinson. And of course I have both of them memorized — but not her punctuation.

We grow accustomed to the Dark
When light is put away
As when a neighbor holds the lamp
To witness her goodbye.

A Moment — We uncertain step —
For newness of the Night
(We Grow Accustomed to the Dark/ ED)

Too bright for our infirm Delight
The truth’s superb surprise

. . .

The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
(Tell all the truth but tell it Slant/ ED)

I remember Plato’s cave and the shadows and the inability to access Truth, but I didn’t remember him discussing how both too little light and too much light blind us. The emphasis, as I recall, was always on darkness = bad, ignorance, the problem. Was I just not paying attention in philosophy class?

Searching for “plato cave,” I came across a video about it and decided to watch it:

The School of Life

I’d like to write more about what I find to be missing (also what’s helpful) in this account, but I’ve run out of time. Here’s one more video for comparison that I just started watching. When I have time, I’ll reflect on both:

After Skool

may 1/RUN

4 miles
veterans home and back
57 degrees
wind: 14 mph / 28 mph gusts

Ran with Scott. What did we talk about? I remember Scott talking a lot at the beginning — it was something he was excited about — but I can’t remember what it was. I do remember him complaining about Spotify and how some of their new policies hurt independent musicians like him. I talked about shadows and wind and marveled at a tree branch creaking in the wind. Oh — and I complained (again) about my new yellow shoes. I tried them one more time and they still hurt my feet and make my calves ache. I need to remember: no more yellow shoes!

The water was gushing at the falls. We could smell something being fried at Sea Salt — it’s open for the season! I heard and saw a cardinal. I was dazzled by the bright white paint on the locks and dam no 1 sign — we both wondered if it was a reflective paint that made it so bright. A mile later, I could barely make out the bright yellow sign at 38th — the one I referred to as a bee last month. It was dull and blended in with the greenish-yellow trees behind it.

My favorite thing today: the wonderful shadows the new leaves made on the sidewalk. Tiny little jagged dots or points, making the tree shadow look like something other than a tree. What? Not sure. A strange, magical sculpture? Glitter shadow? The leaves made the shadows strange, the shadows made the path strange. First encountering them on the double bridge, I didn’t think they were shadows but some sort of blob on the asphalt.

During the run I had mentioned that I didn’t know what my May challenge would be but that it would be fun to have a theme that I could make a playlist for. By the end of the run, after witnessing the wonderful shadows, I had my topic: Shadows! As we walked back, I was already creating my playlist.

I’m Shadowing You

  1. I’m Shadowing You / Blossom Dearie
  2. Me and My Shadow / Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.
  3. Shadowboxer / Fiona Apple
  4. My Shadow / Keane
  5. Shadow Dancing / Andy Gibb
  6. Shadow Song / Screaming Trees
  7. Shadows and Light / Joni Mitchell
  8. Silve Shadow / Atlantic Starr
  9. Total Eclipse of the Heart / Bonnie Tyler
  10. Help Me Make It Through the Night / Kris Kristofferson
  11. Sunshine in the Shade / The Fixx
  12. the Shadow of Your Smile / Astrud Gilberto
  13. Evening / The Moody Blues
  14. White Room / Cream
  15. Shadow Stabbing / CAKE
  16. I’m Beginning to See the Light / Ella Fitzgerald
  17. Twilight Time / The Platters
  18. The Shadow Knows / Link Wray
  19. yesterday / The Beatles
  20. Moonshadow / Cat Stevens
  21. Golden Years / David Bowie
  22. Candle Mambo / Captain Beefheart
  23. If You go Away / Neil Diamond
  24. We Will Become Silhouettes / The Postal Service
  25. Crepuscule With Nellie / Thelonious Monk

Discovered this poem on the Slowdown before my run. Oh, Dorianne Laux, what a gift your poem is today!

Life On Earth/ Dorianne Laux

The odds are we should never have been born. Not one of us. Not one in 400 trillion to be exact. Only one among the 250 million released in a flood of semen that glides like a glassine limousine filled with tadpoles of possible people, one of whom may or may not be you, a being made of water and blood, a creature with eyeballs and limbs that end in fists, a you with all your particular perfumes, the chords of your sinewy legs singing as they form, your organs humming and buzzing with new life, moonbeams lighting up your brain’s gray coils, the exquisite hills of your face, the human toy your mother longs for, your father yearns to hold, the unmistakable you who will take your first breath, your first step, bang a copper pot with a wooden spoon, trace the lichen growing on a boulder you climb to see the wild expanse of a field, the one whose heart will yield to the yellow forsythia named after William Forsyth—not the American actor with piercing blue eyes, but the Scottish botanist who discovered the buttery bells on a highland hillside blooming to beat the band, zigzagging down an unknown Scottish slope. And those are only a few of the things you will one day know, slowly chipping away at your ignorance and doubt, you who were born from ashes and will return to ash. When you think you might be through with this body and soul, look down at an anthill or up at the stars, remember your gambler chances, the bounty of good luck you were born for.

april 27/RACE

10k
Get in Gear
55 degrees
92% humidity

This morning, Scott and I ran the Get in Gear 10k. We haven’t run this race since before the pandemic. It’s right by our house and follows the ford loop route. We didn’t run fast, but it felt good and I felt strong. Strong enough to pick it up at the end. For years I’ve wanted to be able to enjoy the race as I ran it, instead of pushing hard and feeling miserable. This year, I’m doing it! Much more rewarding than a PR.

10 People

  1. Bethany had a loud voice with a strong Minnesota accent that cut through the wind. I know her name is Bethany because she introduced herself to someone about 25 yards ahead of us. I bet she was nice, but that voice! As we tried to figure out where to line up Scott said, not near Bethany! After finishing the race, Scott noticed her and her bright yellow shirt — oh look, there’s Bethany. As we ran, I mentioned how frustrating it might be to have a loud voice like that. Scott said: Bethany’s don’t care how loud they are
  2. a tall man in a bright yellow shirt who kept sprinting then stopping, sprinting then stopping. For almost 4 miles, he would run past us, then stop and walk until we caught up, then start running fast again. We dropped him on some hill — finally
  3. a shorter man taking deep, noisy breaths every few steps — I think he made a noise with the exhale — whoooooooooo whoooooooooo whoooooooooo
  4. a man before the race doing a lot of stretching and warming up — I don’t know the names of the stretches, but I’m sure they have names — he was almost skipping forwards, then sprinting, then skipping backwards. I wonder how fast he ran?
  5. a woman standing at a distance from the porta potties. Another woman asked, are you in line? and even though we thought there was no way she would say yes because she was so far from the line, she said yes, I think so
  6. the enthusiastic, slightly unhinged, volunteer handing out water — you’re so fast! great job! woo hoo!
  7. an older couple standing beside the course, cheering us on. When I said, thank you, one of them said, no, thank you!
  8. a woman just behind us, scuffing her foot on the road with every strike, scrape scrape scrape
  9. a guy cheering, good job! you’re almost there, when we still had 2 miles left
  10. 2 little girls before the race, meeting up, the one squealing in delight at seeing her friend arrive, Irene!
  11. remembered 2 days later: a woman, stopped, either coughing or dry heaving vigorously

april 25/RUN

4 miles
dogwood run
52 degrees

Did a run with Scott to Dogwood Coffee on a beautiful spring morning. Wore my new running shorts. They’re blue and very comfortable, which is a big deal because it’s difficult to find good running shorts. We ran north to the bottom of the franklin hill, then back up it until we stopped to walk for the last stretch. I know we looked at the river, but I don’t remember what it looked like. Was it smooth? Blue? Any foam? I have no recollection. I do remember that there weren’t any rowers on it. No geese either.

I talked about a video I watched earlier today on how to write poetry for beginners by a poetry influencer. (I didn’t like it). Scott talked about some drama happening in the big band he’s in.

After the run, waiting in line at Dogwood, I overheard the woman ahead of us tell the barista her name was Sara. She asked his name: Scott. I just had to chime in that we were a Sara and Scott too! She mentioned that she just met someone the other day who had the same birthday as her. The only 2 people I know that have the same birthday as me are two of RJP’s former frenemies.

Anything else? Not that many people running . . . just remembered that we saw two people running up the franklin hill. One of them was accompanied by a roller skier.

Also: as we ran under the trestle something was crossing the tracks above us. A train? Nope a truck with special wheels for riding on the track. I turned around and ran backwards to watch it for a minute and discovered that running backwards is kind of nice. I liked how it worked by leg muscles differently.

random etymology: Happened upon the origins of gnarled:

We owe the adjective gnarled and other forms of the word to our friend Shakespeare, who created it in 1603. In Measure for Measure, he writes, “Thy sharpe and sulpherous bolt splits the un-wedgable and gnarled oak.” But gnarled didn’t come into use again until the 19th century. In any case, word experts believe it’s related to the Middle English word knar which means “knot in wood.”

gnarled

Today is Ted Kooser’s birthday. I’m happy to report that although I thought he was dead — having posted about it on 22 april 2022, he is not! I’m not sure why I thought he was, but all the results on my google search indicate that he is still alive. He’s a wonderful poet, and person according to what I’ve read from poetry people on 2022 twitter. Here’s a poem I read this morning on poetry foundation:

So This is Nebraska / Ted Kooser

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.

You feel like that; you feel like letting
your tires go flat, like letting the mice
build a nest in your muffler, like being
no more than a truck in the weeds,

clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
or holding a skinny old man in your lap
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like

waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave
instead and leave your hand out gliding
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.

Oh, I love so much about this poem — everything?! You can listen to him read it at poetry foundation (poem title is link). I want to spend more time with his writing.

april 15/RUN

5k
trestle turn around
67 degrees

Ran in the afternoon with Scott. Wore my warm summer attire: black shorts and tank top. Wow. Feels like summer. Tried my new bright yellow running shoes — Saucony Rides. Love the color, but not the fit. My feet and right calf hurt now. Guess these shoes will just be for walking. Oh well.

There was some wind, but mostly it felt refreshing. There was only one stretch where it made running more difficult.

We talked about how the first mile is the hardest, how my shoes weren’t working (poor Scott had to listen to that a lot), and what a badass Helen Obiri is — moderate pace for most of the marathon then unleashing a 4:40 mile near the end.. Then I mentioned an edited version of my birding poem that I’m planning to submit to some journals.

Right before descending below lake street, we encountered another, older runner. I said that I liked his orange shirt and then asked Scott if the shirt was actually orange. It was a gradient, Scott replied. It started orange then magenta then red — at least I think that was the order of colors. Well, I just heard ORANGE in my head, I said. Then: orange shirt
old guy
struggling

Scott pointed out that it was in my running rhythm — 3/2, with an extra 3. Nice.

Random Thoughts Recorded Earlier Today on a version of the wind: air

from Living Here/ Cleopatra Mathis

In the world of appearances, teach me
to believe in the unseen.

from long entry dated 16 august 2022

Of course, appearances refers to more than vision or looking; it’s about “the world of sensible phenomena” (Merriam-Webster). And, to be seen or unseen, can mean much more than what we perceive with our eyes. But how often is appearance/seen reduced to vision and sight? (rhetorical question — my answer: too often or all the time or most of the time).

To appear can mean to be present, to attend, to show up for something.

To believe in the unseen — believing in that which we can’t prove? Believing in something that I know is there but that I cannot see? An orange buoy?
What does it mean to be unseen? To not be seen with our eyes? To not be consciously aware of what some part of us might be seeing or sensing?

belief trust faith confidence acceptance conviction

Mostly, we can sense the wind, or at least see the evidence of it all around us — swaying trees, swirling leaves, flapping flags. But what about air? Air, which we often mis-identify as emptiness?

april 13/RUN

10k
hidden falls and back
66 degrees
wind: 13 mph / gusts: 25 mph

Another run with Scott. Today, too hot! We ran around 11, which was too late. So much sun and no shade. It’s time to adjust to running much earlier.

Of course, I’m writing this right after the run, when I’m feeling wiped out, so my perspective on it is skewed.

We talked about the Beaufort scale and songs that might fit with the different levels of wind. Scott recounted the history of the man behind Chef Boyardee. That’s all I remember.

10 Things

  1. wind — strong enough that I took my hat off on the ford bridge and held it so it wouldn’t blow off my head
  2. ripples on the river — I mentioned to Scott that they were referred to as scales on the Beaufort scale
  3. wind chimes, all around the neighborhood chiming
  4. soft shadows
  5. after months of not being lit, the street lamps along the river road are finally lit again
  6. on your left! a biker passing us on the bridge
  7. the water fountains aren’t working yet — we kept stopping to check, but no water yet
  8. a few LOUD blue jays
  9. swarming gnats!
  10. bright yellow and orange and green running shirts on other runners

before the run

Reviewing a link I posted earlier this month — Historical and Contemporary Versions of the Beaufort Scale — I started thinking about different versions of the Beaufort Scale that I could do. On the run, I’d like to talk with Scott about a wind song Beaufort scale that describe/ranks the wind using song lyrics. I’m thinking that Summer Breeze might be on one end and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald on the other.

Other versions of the Beaufort Scale might include poetry lines — yes, a wind cento! — and things experienced while running.

Beaufort Scale

force / name / for use at sea / for use at land

  • 0 / calm, still / sea like a mirror / smoke rises vertically
  • 1 / light air / ripples on water / direction of wind shown by wind
  • 2 / light breeze / small wavelets / wind felt on face, leaves rustle
  • 3 / gentle breeze / crests begin to break, scattered white horses / leaves and small twigs whirl, wind extends small flags
  • 4 / moderate breeze / small waves, fairly frequent white horses / wind raises dust and loose paper, small branches move
  • 5 / fresh breeze / moderate waves, many white horses, some spray / small trees in leaf start to sway, crested waves on inland waters
  • 6 / strong breeze / large waves, white foam, spray / large branches in motion, whistling wires, umbrellas used with difficulty
  • 7 / near gale / breaking waves blow in streaks / whole trees in motion, inconveniant to walk against the wind
  • 8 / gale / moderately high waves / twigs break from trees, difficult to walk
  • 9 / strong gale / high waves / slight structural damage, roof slates removed
  • 10 / storm / very high waves / trees uprooted, considerable structural damage
  • 11 / violent storm / very high waves / widespread damage
  • 12 / hurricane / air filled with foam, spray / widespread damage

I’m struck by how mild the wind is here in Minneapolis by the river gorge. The roughest wind I’ve run (or swum) in is 6, which is about 31 mph. That’s only a strong breeze and when umbrellas are used with difficulty. And that’s only halfway up the scale! I’m a wimp, I guess.

Looking at this a different way, I think there’s a lot more levels between light breeze and strong breeze. maybe I should try to notice and describe the differences between leaves rustling and leaves in a whirlwind? Or wind felt on my face as a soft kiss versus wind whipping my hair?

during the run

Scott was excited about the idea of creating a Beaufort scale with songs/song lyrics. So far:

0 / In the Still of the Night / Dion
1 / In the Air Tonight / Phil Collins
2 / Summer Breeze / Seals & Croft
3 / Sailing / Christopher Cross
4 / Dust in the Wind / Kansas
5 / Breezin’ / George Benson
6 / Blowing in the Wind / Peter, Paul & Mary
7 / Windy / The Association
8 / They Call the Wind Maria / Paint Your Wagon
9 / Ride Like the Wind / Christopher Cross
10 / Tear the Roof Off the Sucker / Parliment
11 / The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald / Gordon Lightfoot
12 / Rock You Like a Hurricane / Scorpion

This was fun and a great distraction as we ran!

april 8/RUN

10k
the flats and back
48 degrees
wind: 10 mph

Because of the ran yesterday, Scott and I did our long run today. It was wet and dark and so humid that we could see our breaths. First we talked about anxiety — Scott’s was about missing some notes at a rehearsal, mine was about waking up with it, feeling it in cramped feet. Then I described a New Yorker article I was reading before we left about forensic linguistics. My description included misplaced apostrophes, devil strips, and Sha Na Na. Wow. Scott spent the last mile of the run trying to remember the name of the guy who was always on 70s game shows, had curly yellow hair, and shot out confetti — Rip Taylor.

We greeted Dave the Daily Walker — Hi Dave! — and listened to some cool-sounding bird. Heard a seep that had turned into a little waterfall below the U. Smelled the sewer. Watched the river move so slowly that it didn’t look like it was moving. We walked part of the franklin hill then ran the rest.

According to my watch, the wind was 10 mph 18 mph gusts. I don’t remember feeling much wind, or hearing it in the trees, of seeing it move the leaves. In fact, the wind was so calm that the water looked still. Not smooth, but no waves, not even ripples. Am I forgetting?

Here’s a wonderful little poem about wind by A. R. Ammons that I found on a favorite site, Brief Poems:

Small Song/ A. R. Ammons

The reeds give way
to the wind

and give
the wind away

A note about the total eclipse: it didn’t really happen here in Minnesota — it was overcast and we weren’t in the path of the eclipse. Oh well. Here’s a pdf of Annie Dillard’s “Total Eclipse” which I must have read for a writing class but that I can’t find a copy of in my files.

march 31/RUN

5.5 miles
marshall loop, variation
38 degrees

Back to the running-with-Scott-on-the-weekend tradition. Today a variation of the marshall loop that we probably won’t try again. Over the lake street bridge, up the marshall hill, right at cleveland past St. Thomas and Summit, right on St. Clair, then down to the east river road. St. Clair was mostly a long downhill which sounds nice but was a little too steep.

For the first mile, we talked about the differences between Big Bang (which we don’t like) and Community (which we do). My theory: many of the differences are about the shows relationship to what it means to be normal.

The river looked so cool today — brown, mostly calm but with slight ripples. A bright circle of light and wavy texture — the sun and clouds reflected on the water.

The river was calm enough to see the bridge’s upside down smile reflected on its surface.

Heard the St. Thomas bells, some birds, a squeaking squirrel. The trails weren’t crowded because today is Easter.

added a few hours later: before and after the run (also after dropping FWA back off at college), I worked on my latest birding poem. Will I try to get these published? Maybe, but I’m more interested in them as the opportunity to work on how to turn my daily observations, mostly using peripheral vision and/or senses other than sight, of birds into poems. Something was missing in my poem from yesterday, so I thought about it some more this morning. Yesterday, I kept thinking about how the birds’ singing didn’t hesitate at all as the plane flew above them. This morning I suddenly thought: what if their song was the response to plane — a warning song? I looked up birds and their reactions to planes and found this article, with a line that conjured an image for me.

the line:

Using modern electronic instruments, it is possible to measure the heart rate of brooding birds. Measurements show that these birds often react to the appearance of airplanes with a marked increase in heart rate, in other words they become nervous, even if no outward reaction is visible.

the image: tiny heart beats beating out a rhythm underneath the trill and buzz tune.

A plane’s buzz
mixed with

frantic trills
in trees.

Underneath
this tune

tiny hearts
beat in

a rapid
rhythm

ancient and 
modern. 

march 23/RACE

10k
Hot Dash
18 degrees

Not a fast run, but I felt relaxed and strong, and I powered up the big hill. No difficulty at all. I picked it up a little at the end and enjoyed crossing the finish line. A victory! Maybe the hardest thing about the race was holding back — I kept wanting to go faster than Scott, but I kept it slow and relaxed. My goal is not a fast time, but to be able to run the marathon with Scott.

For most of the race I recounted stories — probably the same stories — about past races: having to run ahead to get water for FWA in our 5k, RJP being very disturbed by a runner who was dry heaving as he neared the finish line, a wheezing runner dying on a hill, running way too fast in the first 5k of a 10k then dying and having to stop and walk several times for the second 5k.

10 Things

  1. 2 women behind us lamenting how they were both such bad singers — I played an instrument, but I just can’t hear the notes. I turn the radio way up to drown out my own voice. I wanted to turn aroudn and say, Me too!
  2. the crappy pre-recorded version of the national anthem before the race
  3. cold, cold fingers and toes for the first mile
  4. Scott yelling, Banana!, when a guy in a banana costume ran by
  5. Overheard: Oh right — I get a beer when I’m done with this! note: our bibs had a ticket for one free beer at the end
  6. Overheard: runner with a 1/2 mile before she would reach the turn around: where is the turn around anyway? I wanted to say, a long way, but didn’t
  7. a few patches of snow and ice near the edges of the road
  8. snow on the grass
  9. the cobblestones at the end were in bad shape — lots of holes, rough, uneven
  10. on the cobbles, I heard someone behind sprinting and yelling but they never passed. What happened? did they think the race finished sooner? did they sprint too soon and run out of gas? I’ll probably never know

march 17/RUN

6.2 miles
minnehaha dog park and back
wind: 13 mph / gusts: 27 mph

Another weekend run with Scott. We talked about Ada Limón’s National Park project and I recited Scott’s favorite line from one of the poems featured in the project. The line — Surely you can’t imagine they just stand there loving every minute of it. The poem — Can You Imagine/ Mary Oliver. Scott likes the line because it’s also a line from the Loverboy song, “Loving Every Minute of it.” As we ran into the wind I mentioned the terrible wind (and rain and cold) in the 2018 Boston Marathon. Scott talked about a dream he had last night that he went to a friend’s gig and how, when he woke up, he realized that that friend did actually have a gig last night. He also talked about birds — wild turkeys and his favorite encounter with them when he saw two walking side-by-side down a busy sidewalk near lake street.

When we started running, it was snowing — small flurries. At some point it stopped, but it stayed cold and windy. Writing this now, a half an hour later, I’m still cold.

image of the day: a robin on the edge of path, hopping along then flying across the path. Having noticed the leaves skittering in the wind on the other side of the path, at first I thought the robin was a leaf. But then, when it landed on the fence, I could tell it was a bird. After mentioning it to Scott, I recited a line from ED’s “A bird came down the Walk –“. I think I’ll write a little birding poem about this Robin!

10 Things

  1. skittering leaves
  2. a robin — first on the ground as a dark form that could be anything and that I thought was a bird, then fluttering across the path, then landing on the top of the fence
  3. flurries in the air — steady, then swirling, then a clump of them dumped
  4. water falling at the falls, a few bits of ice near the edge
  5. the creek, mostly flowing, but still on the edge, and low
  6. a walker with an unleashed dog, wandering around the trail
  7. the view of the river obscured by a screen of thin, unleafed branches
  8. the fake bells of the light rail on the other side of Hiawatha
  9. the curve of the river below us as we ran south toward fort snelling
  10. a steady cadence — the lift lift lift of my feet, slightly slower than Scott’s

march 10/RUN

5 miles
marshall loop (prior)
47 degrees

An afternoon run with Scott. We talked about a cool rpf (request for proposal) that Scott just completed and whether or not the wires sticking out of the street lamps on the bridge were live and how the clocktower at Disney Land was telling the wrong time for years without them realizing. For most of it, I felt fine. My calf was a little sore after we picked up the pace so we wouldn’t miss the light at Cleveland. A few minutes later, it felt okay again.

10+ Things

  1. the clear, straight, sturdy shadow of the bridge railing
  2. from the top of the summit hill near shadow falls: the river burning white through the trees — I got distracted looking at it and almost fell of the edge of the sidewalk
  3. from the lake street bridge heading west: a bright path of light on the surface of the river, spanning from the bridge to the west bank
  4. the pale brown of a sandbar just below the surface of the river
  5. the underside of the steps leading up to the lake street bridge: peeling paint
  6. a “Tacos” sign where the BBQ sign used to be at Marshall and Cretin
  7. a big, beautiful wrap around porch with white spindles near Summit
  8. overheard: Katie didn’t know
  9. wind chimes!
  10. a tabby cat running across the street, headed straight for us — it seemed to be saying, Keep moving! This is my block!
  11. added 11 march 2024: overheard — one woman to another: After the costume change, I’ll shine and fly

haunted by haunts

In the fall of 2021 I worked on a long poem based on my 3/2 breathing rhythms and centered on the gorge and my repeated runs around it. I revisited the poem this past fall in 2023 and wrote around it, leaving only a few traces of the original — a palimpsest? I stopped at the beginning of 2024 with a message to future Sara: good luck. Well, here I am and I can’t remember what prompted me to open my haunts documents again, but I did and I’m back. Reading through an older version titled, “Haunts late fall 2023.” It’s a mixture of the old poem and my new additions, and I’m wondering why I got rid of so many of the old lines. It might be because I submitted parts of the poem to about a dozen journals with no luck. All rejections. It made me doubt what I was writing. But maybe I should try to keep submitting it instead of losing all of it? Maybe submit different versions, too?

Reading through the poem, I wrote a list of themes in my Plague Notebook, Vol 19!:

  • girl
  • ghost
  • gorge
  • trails
  • loops
  • echoes
  • bells
  • traces
  • remains
  • stories
  • bodies
  • habits repetitions

Bells. In the newer version of my poem, from late 2023, I got rid of almost all of the mentions of bells. But, I keep coming back to them, like in ED’s “I felt a Funeral in my Brain”: As all the Heavens were a Bell, / And being, but an Ear

bells

  1. starting a ritual
  2. the keeping of time — YES! bells as time/clock*
  3. tolling = death, the dead
  4. signalling the final lap in a race
  5. “fake” simulated recorded bells
  6. light rail bells elementary and middle school bells college bells
  7. the gorge world echoing of past bells
  8. echo = repeating, but not exactly the same, reverberation, ripple, eroding of the original sound from the strike
  9. Annie Dillard and each of us walking around as as bells not yet struck
  10. vibrations movement sound

A curious, “fun” fact that I’d learn in my research about the St. Thomas bells and that supported in my own observations: the St. Thomas bells are not always accurate in their time-keeping; they can be off by a few seconds. Someone has to re-sync them periodically.

A bell poem in the latest issue of Poetry (March 2024):

A Bell Is a Bearer of Time/ ALISON C. ROLLINS

*To be performed with bells on. All “writing” is performance, some performance is “writing.”

I am
a product
of my time.
Time is a body
that resembles
a sound without a scale.
Forever foreclosed fortitude.
In heaven, the dinner bell rings
as elegy. The porch-light stars turn
on their mothering moths. Betrayal
takes at least two, and wherever two
or more are gathered, I am there in
their pulsating timbre. To hear is to hunger
for the gendered race of sound. In my midst,
loneliness listens. In confidence, I am secreted
away. I was today years old when I learned the truth,
a browbeat bell is an idiophone. The strike made
by an internal clapper or an external hammer, a uvula—
that small flesh, conical body projecting downward from
the soft palate’s middle. Vocal, vibrating vulva. I am less a writer
who reads than a reader who writes. Therein lies the trouble, the treble clef of
conviction. Come now to the feast of hearing, where Hortense J. Spillers
gives a sermon: We address here the requirements of  literacy as the ear takes
on the functions of “reading.” Call me bad news bear. Bestial. Becoming.
In “Venus in Two Acts,” Saidiya Hartman asks, Must the future of abolition be
first performed on the page? Must I write a run-on of runaways?
Must you make out my handwriting? Evidence that loss has limbs.
The clawed syntax. The muzzled grammar. Don’t be afraid.
Kill me with your language. Learn how to mark my
words.*

During today’s run, the only bells we heard were not bells but chimes, wind chimes. Strange how close we were to St. Thomas without hearing the bells.

march 3/RUN

5 miles
lake nokomis, then falls coffee
60 degrees

Ran through the neighborhood, past the falls, over the mustache bridge, on the creek path, up the hill from lake hiawatha to lake nokomis, then turned around and took the sidewalk on the parkway until we reached Falls Coffee. A good run — warm and very windy. Lots of shadows on the path — people too. Crowded. Tried to stay loose and relaxed as I ran; I called it being “Shaggy loose.” It worked and my right calf didn’t hurt when I was running. It felt strange again when I stopped — a few flashes of discomfort, then anxiousness. But we ran 5 miles and walked 2 and I was fine.

We talked about Scott’s music project: an arrangement of “Helter Skelter” without using any past versions for reference. I asked about the difference between parallel and series circuits. Mostly, we were quiet today, partly because we were enjoying just running outside in the warmth, and partly because Scott was arranging music in his head and I was monitoring my calf mid-run.

My calf occasionally reminded me it was there during the run, but it was fine and I was loose. When we stopped, my ankle was a little tender, but nothing hurt. Still, I was anxious and concerned about what might happen. Spent the walk home talking through it with Scott. I felt a little sore and stiff during the walk home, but no shooting pain or pops or anything too alarming. I said to Scott that I feel like my body was trying to tell me something with all this anxiety and he answered, Maybe it’s not. And I thought, yes, maybe it’s not. Maybe I’m just dealing with the random aches, the occasional nighttime muscle cramp, that older runners get? Why does the story have to be any more complicated than that?

As we approached the playground at Hiawatha School — the one our kids played on for almost a decade — I said, I think my calf pain is minor, like the sinus pain I used to get in my face. Once I started using breathe-right strips, it stopped happening — no more pressure or sinus head-aches. Scott replied: You need to find the breath right strip for your calf. Now, hours later, it suddenly came to me: compression socks. Could that be the magic antidote to my calf pain (and my fears about calf pain)? Have I cracked the code? I’ll try it and see.

note for past Sara (or future RJP/FWA) and for anyone else interested: Writing some of this stuff about my anxieties over calf pain feels a little ridiculous, but it seems important to document the in-the-midst-of-it process of figuring out how to navigate the uncertainty of new (albeit minor) pain. There are lots of reason why, here’s one that I return to again and again: remembering how you felt and handled moments of vulnerability and uncertainty, when you’re overwhelmed and anxious, can give you more empathy for others in their own, often different, experiences of uncertainty.

notes from a pages document titled: “To Do: 2022/2023/2024”

brain mind self soul spirit Sara body
I You us we
pain fear uncertainty loss death grief
breath muscle machine
break rupture relent embrace reject reframe resist rewire

Back to the magic of the body and our efforts to understand and describe what’s happening / the power of language, of stories, to affect how and if we survive and endure — what stories do we tell?

Where does my body end, yours begin?

What if the soul was populated by selves? what if Sara was a city, not one Self? or a lake — Lake Sara? or a gorge? or a river — the river Sara?

What is the relationship between anxiety, the body, and the mind? Is anxiety the body asserting itself?

Running as a new relationship with my body, poetry as a rewiring of my brain/mind — not as rational scientist (even though I still do this), but as poet. Not fully rejecting the rational/scientific approach, but de-centering it.

wiring circuits: series and parallel
body circuits: pulmonary and systemic
ED: success in circuits lie

Yesterday I mentioned Natasha Badmann and her experiences running through the Energy Lab during the Kona Ironman. I found the spot in the race commentary, where she is interviewed:

The Energy Lab wasn’t taking energy, but giving energy. . . . I left my soul out there on part of the course . . . Exchange yourself with the island, see the beauty. . . . Running into the Energy Lab, I saw the strength of the ocean, the waves splashing up, and I said, This ocean, it’s endless. My energy is endless.

start at 8 hours and 52 minutes in / Women’s Ironman 2023

added this in a few minutes later: After the run, I got a pistachio scone at Falls Coffee. When I told RJP about it, she said, Feed 2 birds with one scone, which is PETA’s non-violent version of the classic expression. I like it! How else can I play with it?

Text 2 teens on one phone.
Diss 2 jerks with one own.
Scare 2 kids with one crone.
Film 2 scenes with one drone.
Seat 2 kings on one throne.
Put 2 scoops in one cone.
Whet 2 blades with one hone.
Buy 2 cars with one loan.
Seduce 2 Ferris’ with one Sloane. (too many syllables, but I couldn’t resist)

one more note, the next day: When I mentioned the scones/birds phrase to FWA on our weekly Facetime, he mentioned another one: Feed a fed horse. Oh, that’s good.



feb 25/RUN

5 miles
franklin loop
45 degrees

A regular run! It felt mostly fine, a few times strange. I told Scott that often when something is sore or stiff or hurts, it just feels strange to me. I need better words.

A few time my calf felt strange…but what does that mean? It felt like it was trying to talk to me, like it wasn’t used to moving, like it was complaining. During the run, once or twice, the smallest flare of something that wasn’t quite pain yet. After the run, tight, a little sore along the outside of my calf starting near the knee and moving down. Here’s some information that I might want to look at: Calf Muscle Tightness

While we ran, we talked about Scott’s latest work project involving wrangling a lot of data about water quality and temperature and more and turning it into a user-friendly widget. I talked about Courtney Dauwalter and listening to your body and pushing your limits and the memory palace. Near the end of the run, we encountered people protesting Israel’s invasion/war against Palestine on the bridge. I almost called out from the river to the sea! but didn’t — do I wish I had? yes, I think so. Saw some Palestinian flags and people with signs. A few minutes later, we heard a bullhorn from up on the bridge — were they marching to the capital?

earlier today

While reviewing the feb 25 entry from 2022, I came across a reference to the memory palace. I’d like to do something with this idea — an experiment, a poem, something else? Found a helpful discussion of it in a Paris Review article about Wordsworth:

The idea of the mind as a palace or church, whose individual rooms can be explored with training, is familiar from the memory treatises of antiquity and the Middle Ages. The “memory palace” as a mnemonic device was widely used before the advent of printing to organize and remember vast amounts of information. By memorizing the spatial layout of a building and assigning images or ideas to its various rooms, one could “walk” through the imaginary building and retrieve the ideas relegated to the separate parts.

The Celestial Memory Palace/ Aysegul Savas

I mentioned the memory palace in a feb 25, 2022 entry. In a feb 25, 2020 entry, I also wrote about place, the house:

I’d like to put this poem (A Skull) and the idea of the skull as a house beside the two other poems with houses that I posted on feb 22.

Two different, yet connected, versions of imagined place. Can I do something with these?

Here’s a delightful poem from a chapbook, Cheap Motels of my Youth, that I just got in the mail:

I Heard a Fly Buzz/ George Bilgere

I stumbled out in to the kitchen,
got the coffee maker started,
did the dishes from last night,
and then you came out in your robe,
wondering why I was up so early,
and I realized I’d misread the clock,
I’d actually gotten up at 7, not 8,
and suddenly I had a whole hour
bestowed upon me by the gods
who dole out our span to time.

And this was long ago, years ago, but
I still have that hour, I’ve guarded it
zealously, and when the time comes
and the darkness is closing in, and perhaps
I even hear a fly buzz—I’ll take out
that hour from the secret place
where I keep it, I’ll show it to all of you
gathered around my bedside
and I’ll cry out, Look! Another hour!

And that fly will pause in its
goddam buzzing, and all of you—
and that means you, Michael and Alex—
all of you will be forced to smile
and say, Really? That’s just awesome!

And I shall continue with my reminiscences.

I love this poem — the way it gently references Emily Dickinson, the delightful story it tells, his use of goddam in the second to last stanza, the calling out of his kids in the poem, how the first stanza is all one sentence, and that last bit about reminiscing as what he’d want to do with his bonus hour.

I like his use of goddam, and I wonder: how often do women poets use goddam? It seems like a swear word male poets would use. What are some good examples of women poets using goddam in their poems? I looked up “women poets goddam” and came across Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam.” Listened to it — wow — and found this article for later: The long story behind Nina Simone’s protest song, “Mississippi Goddam” Kept scrolling in my search and found a link to a Book Notes series in which authors create a playlist for their books. Cool! What does this have to do with goddam? Nothing, but I love that I found this site, especially after creating a playlist for my windows month.

Okay, time to stop wandering. I think I’ll go study and memorize Emily Dickinson’s “I heard a Fly buzz — when I died”

Almost forgot: still playing around with the tiles for the two main muscles in the calf: gastrocnemius and soleus

Glass moon curse suite

feb 11/RUN

5 miles
Veterans’ Home and back
32 degrees

Another weekend run with Scott. Usually we run on Saturdays, but yesterday we were in St. Peter, so we ran today instead. Colder, windier, sunny. Sharp shadows. My favorite shadow: running under the ford bridge, a big shadow crossed over my head. A bird? No, a bike up on the bridge.

We talked about ones and zeroes and the differences between null, zero, and false in coding. I mentioned how when it gets to the brain, seeing is about signals firing and not firing. Then we talked about a recent controversy with Margaret Livingstone’s research on animals, which led us to a discussion about scientific experiments as material practices, the ethical dilemma of using knowledge gained from unethical experiments, and then a mention of Newton’s experiments on himself — shoving something in his eye to learn about color. Some fun discussions!

I forgot to notice the falls or look down the river, I recall seeing someone in yellow running on the Winchell Trail. I smelled the smoke near the house that always smells like smoke. I heard a dog’s collar clanging behind us. Felt the cold wind almost taking my breath away.

before the run

Started rewatching Margaret Livingstone’s lecture about artists and vision. Also found her book, Vision and Art — the “read sample” is helpful here.

Near the beginning of the video, Livingstone emphasizes this idea: “Visual information processing is not image transmission.” She adds: you don’t transmit information up to your brain because there’s nobody up there to look. In her book, she elaborates on this idea, giving it a name: the homunculas fallacy — homunculas means “little man.” The fallacy: some little man is up in your brain “looking” at the image. I love this name and the idea of a little man; I’d like to put it in a poem!

feb 3/RUN

5 miles
ford loop
38 degrees

Ran with Scott on the ford loop. Today I talked about the US Olympic Marathon Trials, which I watched this morning. A runner from Minnesota, Dakotah Lindwurm, got third. Scott talked about the music project he worked on before the run — a little jam with his new keyboard and bass. We also mentioned slippery mud, tight shins (Scott), cramped toes (me), running up the Summit hill during the marathon, and mistaking a fire hydrant (Scott) and a black fence (me) for people. I was surprised that there weren’t more people out running — it’s not that cold and the paths are clear. Maybe it was the time of day — 12:30?

10 Things

  1. an empty bench on the bluff
  2. a wide (r than I remembered) expanse of grass between the path and the edge
  3. the crack trail
  4. some strange decorations on the fence in front of the church — yarn? paper chains?
  5. a car blasting music at an overlook parking lot — the only lyric I remember was senorita
  6. a wide open view of the river and the other side
  7. a double lamp post on the ford bridge — one light was on, the other was not
  8. the dead-leafed branch that’s been pushed up agains the other side of the double bridge for months — still there with all of its dead leaves
  9. no poem on the poetry window — have they stopped doing it? was it just for the pandemic?
  10. ice on river, near the east shore, one chunk almost the shape of a right triangle

Searching “peripheral” on the Poetry Foundation site, I found this interesting blurb:

Poet Tan Lin edited issue 6 of EOAGH, for which he invited contributors to submit a piece of “peripheral” writing – that is, a text that doesn’t directly supply the material or inspiration for the authors’ work, but is in some tangential, peripheral, or ambient way, related.

blurb

I would like to play around with this idea of the peripheral text in my own writing. What are the peripheral texts, ideas, practices that contribute to my poems, especially my Haunts poems?

jan 27/RUN

4.15 miles
franklin loop
34 degrees / humidity: 82%

Another run with Scott. As we ran north we talked about jazz band and soloing and COVID and how some people are still isolating and how it’s never going away but we’re learning to be out in the world again. Then I talked about muddy trails and no snow and Scott imagined possibilities for his new projects, including an arrangement of Porkpie Hat.

10 Things

  1. slippery mud — almost fell!
  2. crossing the franklin bridge, the water looked like dark glass
  3. the shore was glowing white
  4. the edges of the water were gray and icy and looked cold
  5. crossing the lake street bridge, the water was dark gray with small waves
  6. also on the lake street bridge: a sandbar that stretched out from the bridge footing
  7. most of the lamps on the bridge were lit, only a few had been stripped of their wires
  8. no eagle on the dead tree limb near the bridge
  9. the sky was gray and gloomy, the tree line was a soft, pleasing brown
  10. spotted: a small white strip of something on the trail. Was it a ruler? I couldn’t quite tell

jan 26/RUN

2.1 miles
river road, north/dorman/loons coffee
37 degrees / humidity: 90%

Ran with Scott up the river road and over to a coffee place. The air was so thick with moisture, which made it harder to breathe. Otherwise a good run. We talked about The Muppet Movie, which we watched last night, and how it didn’t dumb down (or try to purify) the characters or their relationships. Then I rambled on for a few minutes about what a rich, messy character Miss Piggy was and how there was such a variety of representations of love within the movie.

10+ Things

  1. encountered and greeted a woman in a bright red jacket, almost the same color as Scott’s
  2. passed a woman in a blue jacket — she’s a Regular that I should name. I see her often. The thing I remember most is that she’s always wearing a long skirt or dress. In the winter, she also wears a ski jacket and tights, in the summer just the dress. I’m not sure what to call her — all dressed up?
  3. near the tunnel of trees the river is still white
  4. everyone else the river is open — a deep dark gray
  5. heard some cardinals, at least one black-capped chickadee
  6. the ghost bike — June’s bike — at the trestle was wreathed in dried flowers
  7. the ravine, between the 35th and 36th street parking lots had an open view and was only half covered in snow
  8. 4 stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  9. bright orange striped barrel blocking the way down the old stone steps
  10. a lone black glove, looking forlorn on the biking path
  11. a SUV honking unnecessarily and repeatedly at a pedestrian near Minnehaha Academy

Here’s a poem I don’t want to forget by Jane Hirshfield:

To Opinion: An Assay/ Jane Hirshfield

Many capacities have been thought to define the human— yet finches and wasps use tools; speech comes into this world in many forms. Perhaps it is you, Opinion.

Though I cannot know for certain,
I doubt the singing dolphins have opinions.

This thought of course, is you.

A mosquito’s estimation of her meal, however subtle,
is not an opinion. That’s my opinion, too.

To think about you is to step into
your arms? a thicket? pitfall?

When you come rising strongly in me, I feel myself grow separate
and more lonely.
Even when others share you, this is so.

Darwin said no fact or description that fails to support an argument can serve.

Myoe wrote: Bright, bright, bright, bright, the moon.

Last night there were whole minutes when you released me.
Ocean ocean ocean was the sound the sand made of the moonlit waves
breaking on it.

I felt no argument with any part of my life.

Not even with you, Opinion, who drifted in salt waters with the bullwhip kelp
and phosphorescent plankton,
nibbling my legs and ribcage to remind me where Others end and I begin.

Good joke, I agreed with you, companion Opinion.

jan 6/RUN

4.15 miles
bottom of franklin hill (short)
32 degrees

Another Saturday run with Scott. Last night, we got a light dusting of snow which made everything frosty and a little slick at the start. Scott talked about the latest mash-up he’s arranging with the theme from Taxi and Green Day’s Brain Stew, Chicago’s 25 or 6 to 4. Then I talked about my latest focus on doors and windows and how it is allowing me to engage with things (poems, essays, ideas) that I’ve collected previously but were buried in a file folder or a log entry.

As we ran down the hill I mentioned something I had read in an essay by George Orwell, Why I Write. He describes how when he was an undergrad at Berkeley* he wanted to be an intellectual, but when he was supposed to be reading Hegel he would always be looking out the window, admiring the flowers instead.

*Scott didn’t hear anything after I said Orwell went to Berkeley; he was confused, believing that Orwell never left England. I checked the essay when I got home and realized that there were two versions of “Why I Write” in the document, one by Orwell, one by Joan Didion. The reference to Berkeley was from Joan Didion. Sometimes I get frustrated with Scott’s attention to details, but he’s usually right and I’m grateful that he caught this mistake (which was my fault, but not totally; the essays were placed one after the other in a document that was not well marked. His almost always being right can be irritating, but that’s more my problem than his, I guess.

Here’s the quote:

During the years when I was an undergraduate at Berkeley I tried, with a kind of hopeless late-adolescent energy, to buy some temporary visa into the world of ideas, to forge for myself a mind that could deal with the abstract.

In short I tried to think. I failed. My attention veered inexorably back to the specific, to the tangible, to what was generally considered, by everyone I knew then and for that matter have known since, the peripheral.

Why I Write/ Joan Didion

I love her mention of the peripheral. That’s where I spend all of my time too — literally and figuratively.

10 Things

  1. stretches of the trail were slick and my feet slipped a few times
  2. the knocking of a woodpecker — the sound echoed through an empty field
  3. the ice chunks on the river yesterday had melted and were replaced with swirls of foam
  4. the quiet thuds of a faster runner approaching from behind
  5. after he passed us, he kicked a big branch off to the side (we were grateful and impressed that he was able to do it while running fast down the hill)
  6. there was a thin layer of snow on the top of the concrete wall next to the river
  7. the suspended path on the other side — in the east river flats — looked inviting — I’d like to run it before it’s closed for the winter — maybe it already is?
  8. passing by the ghost bike hanging from the trestle
  9. the curved fence above the big sewer pipe was easy to see below us — no more leaves blocking our view
  10. passing a guy walking a dog on the sidewalk, saying good morning — realizing it was not morning but afternoon — 12:30 — we went out for the run a little later than usual

At the bottom of the franklin hill, Scott used my phone to take some video of the foamy, fast-moving water. Here’s a short clip:

fast moving foam / 5 jan 2024

Here are two passages from Virginia Woolf’s Street Haunting that include windows and doors:

But when the door shuts on us, all that vanishes. The shell–like covering which our souls have excreted to house themselves, to make for themselves a shape distinct from others, is broken, and there is left of all these wrinkles and roughnesses a central oyster of perceptiveness, an enormous eye. How beautiful a street is in winter! It is at once revealed and obscured. Here vaguely one can trace symmetrical straight avenues of doors and windows; here under the lamps are floating islands of pale light through which pass quickly bright men and women, who, for all their poverty and shabbiness, wear a certain look of unreality, an air of triumph, as if they had given life the slip, so that life, deceived of her prey, blunders on without them. But, after all, we are only gliding smoothly on the surface. The eye is not a miner, not a diver, not a seeker after buried treasure. It floats us smoothly down a stream; resting, pausing, the brain sleeps perhaps as it looks. 

That is true: to escape is the greatest of pleasures; street haunting in winter the greatest of adventures. Still as we approach our own doorstep again, it is comfortingto feel the old possessions, the old prejudices, fold us round; and the self, which has been blown about at so many street corners, which has battered like a moth at the flame of so many inaccessible lanterns, sheltered and enclosed. Here again is the usual door 

dec 30/RUN

3.1 miles
43rd, north/32nd, east/river road trail, south/42nd, west/edmund, north
29 degrees

My first run since last Sunday, partly due to travel, partly feeling sore. A great winter run. Cold, with layers, but not too cold. And no ice or snow or bad trail conditions. Before we went out for our run, Scott put together his marathon plan for this year — we’ve decided to try again. My goal: to make it to the start line next October, healthy. Should I come up with some sort of a plan? If I did, I imagine it would combine running, walking, and poetry.

As we ran, we talked about how the river road stops being red at certain points where the county or city or state (I can’t remember what Scott said) takes over. In those spots the road is black asphalt. Then I mentioned that we had had a very similar conversation 2 or 3 years ago. Then we talked about time looping and repeating yourself and when it’s ritual, when it’s being stuck in a rut.

10 Things

  1. open, brown river (no ice or snow)
  2. a scratching noise — not roller skier poles but the drum beat on a rap song that 2 white women were blasting as they ran by — wow
  3. one or two patches of ice on the sidewalk by edmund
  4. a runner in a bright orange sweatshirt or jacket, glowing in the gloom
  5. a light grayish-blue sky, everything darker — not feeling like day or night, but some in-between time
  6. a few flurries
  7. pothole 1: what started as a small hole has gotten bigger and deeper every year. 2 years ago they tried to patch it, but it didn’t work. The orange spray paint they used to outline a few years before that has faded, near the oak savanna
  8. pothole 2: at the spot where the bike and walking paths separate, less a pothole, more a deep gash 3 or 4 feet long. Every year they circle it with white spray paint — the shape of paint resembles a tube sock
  9. passing a woman who swung her arm out awkwardly like Dave — wasn’t sure for a minute — could it be Dave? no
  10. looking down at the floodplain forest, pointing out the clear view of the forest floor to Scott. He said if he looked he might faint: vertigo

Winter Song/ Wilfred Owen

The browns, the olives, and the yellows died,
And were swept up to heaven; where they glowed
Each dawn and set of sun till Christmastide,
And when the land lay pale for them, pale-snowed,
Fell back, and down the snow-drifts flamed and flowed.

From off your face, into the winds of winter,
The sun-brown and the summer-gold are blowing;
But they shall gleam with spiritual glinter,
When paler beauty on your brows falls snowing,
And through those snows my looks shall be soft-going.

I like the focus on winter colors in this poem and the idea of snow as flamed and flowing and shift from sun-brown and summer-gold into spiritual glinter and how his looks are soft-going. I might need to use that expression for how I see: soft-going.

dec 24/RUN

3.1 miles
edmund, south/river road trail, north/32nd, east/44th, south
52 degrees

52 degrees! Shorts and one bright yellow long-sleeved shirt! Wow. Scott and I couldn’t pass up the chance to run in shorts in December, so we went out for a 5k. It really doesn’t feel like Christmas.

We talked about the terrible meal we had last night when we went out dinner (Scott’s fish was completely raw) and the double half marathon (a 1/2 in minneapolis one day, in eue claire the next) that Twin Cities in Motion is advertising for April and the time I was running up the hill and a barefoot kid raced me for a few seconds.

Other things I remember: the river was blue and open, the sidewalk on 32nd was in bad shape, the floodplain forest didn’t have any ice, there were a few stones stacked on the big boulder, the colors — rusty green — on the wet boulder near the bench.

Here’s poem I encountered this morning. I love the brevity and the title and the magical moment of hope that it captures.

IN MY DREAMS I BAKE A CROQUEMBOUCHE FOR CHRISTMAS / Megan Williams

& the caramel sticks to my hands & my hands stick to my cheeks & everyone marvels at my choux pastry magic & no one asks what I am going to do with my sad, sorry life

dec 23/RUN

4.3 miles
franklin loop
43 degrees / 95% humidity

Another Saturday run with Scott. We talked about visiting my dad and seeps and the distance from Minneapolis to Seattle versus Seattle to Alaska and Alert, the northernmost town of 2000 people in Northern Canada and different National Park designations. The sky was a heavy white. At the beginning of the run, it was misty and damp. Looking out at the river from the bridge, everything looked soft and fuzzy and barely formed. We encountered a roller skier, lots of walkers, a few runners. Heard some water gushing out of the rock or sewer pipes.

2 happy people with hats on the franklin bridge with the misty and foggy water of the mississippi river in the background
during the run / 23 dec 2023

dec 16/RUN

3.1 miles
marshall loop (cretin)
39 degrees / 90% humidity

The saturday morning tradition: running with Scott. Damp and overcast. Everything quiet and strange. Scott’s bright red jacket looked even brighter and RED! In the distance, a soft mist hovered on the river’s surface. The sidewalk was wet and slick, with some puddles to leap over. We talked about snowboarding and half-pipes and how Ailing Gu is a full-time student (at Stanford), a full-time model, and full-time athlete. Wow.

Entering the bridge, I heard some geese flying by, then a bald eagle soaring low in the sky. At the end of our run we encountered a grumpy goose. Scott warned that they might be ready for a rumble. Not quite, but almost. The goose honked and flapped its wings, then flew up and over a fence to join the rest of the geese.

A gross thing I remember: running over some squishy, slippery mud. Didn’t see it, but felt it — told Scott it felt like stepping in poopy diarrhea. Yuck!

I loved the weather and the quiet, almost reverent, feeling of being out in the world on a gloomy, empty Saturday (late) morning.

Discovered a beautiful poem, and helpful discussion of it by Wendy Pratt:

Good-Night/ Seamus Heaney

A latch lifting, an edged den of light
Opens across the yard.
Out of the low door
They stoop in the honeyed corridor,
Then walk straight through the wall of the dark.

A puddle, cobble-stones, jambs and doorstep
Are set steady in a block of brightness.
Till she strides in again beyond her shadows
And cancels everything behind her.

dec 9/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
35 degrees

Snow flurries this morning. Everything dark and gloomy and rusty orange. No snow on the ground. Damp. Scott and I ran together to the falls. Talked about cats and Emma Stone’s charisma (I just watched La La Land last night and enjoyed it) and the quarry at Minnehaha Falls. I remember hearing at least one chickadee and a strange call that could have been a bird or a squirrel. We debated whether the river had some ice on it or the switch in color from pale icy blue to brown was a reflection of the sky (I was on team ice). Encountered a few small groups of runners. Morning! / Good morning! The falls were falling, the creek was flowing. I stopped to study the creek for a moment and wondered if I was seeing small chunks of ice or foam (again, I’m team ice).

The trail was wet but not slippery. The sky smudged white. The wind was often at our backs. We were both a little overdressed. We ended the run by a house near Dowling Elementary that always has an eclectic mix of inflatable decorations — sometimes Darth Vader mixed with snoopy and santa claus. This year they’re more traditional — a giant Rudolph, a sideways snowman, and only one skeleton zombie.

dec 2/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
30 degrees

Another Saturday run with Scott. Another sunny, mild morning. Sharp shadows, sparkling water, a clear path. Before the run, I was feeling out of sorts, sad, but after I feel much better. Running, and being outside, breathing in fresh air, is the best!

The falls were gushing and framed by ice columns. Making our way through the park, we walked past Sea Salt and I had flash of memory: being here in the hot summer, sitting with a pitcher of beer and shrimp tacos. Then it was thick with people, today the restaurant is closed and only a few people are walking around.

nov 25/RUN

4.85 miles
top of franklin to stone arch and back
27 degrees

Another Saturday run with Scott. We drove to the top of the franklin hill and started our run: down the hill, through the flats, up the 35W hill, past the Guthrie, to the Stone Arch bridge, then back. We ran up the whole hill and it felt great to me. So great that I, annoyingly I’m sure, sang “Eye of the Tiger” as we neared the top.

11 Things

  1. ice on the seeps, 1: big columns of ice streaking the limestone
  2. ice on the seeps, 2: so many streaks of ice; some of them stretched to the street and had melted and refroze on the road. A strange sight. It looked like someone had used “fake snow” spray paint to make it look like winter
  3. a few scattered chunks of ice on the river
  4. more bright green leaves still on some trees
  5. a new apartment building that looked like it was made out of limestone, but was probably mostly concrete with a thin veneer of limestone
  6. ducks! in the river, bobbing up, showing their butts
  7. geese! in the river, too far away for me to see, loud honks
  8. roller skiers, pt 1 — a whole crew of a dozen of more, heading south on the trail
  9. roller skiers, pt 2 — bright pink jackets on 2, yellow on another, one in black and white
  10. roller skiers, pt 3 — click clack scrape echoing off of the bridge
  11. a runner sprinting up the hill — when I saw her I sang the Kate Bush song to Scott, Running up that hill

Here is a vision poem that I’d like to remember and return to:

punctum/ Teja Sudhakar

A punctum is the little, unexpected extra in a photo. It is the face or the hand or the expression or the animal that you did not notice as you took the picture. It is simultaneously never the subject and entirely the subject. – Diana Weir

my earliest memory is of learning disappearance / on my father’s lap smudging an eraser across the page / even then i knew what i could lose if not careful / how whiteness operated to disappear you / have you ever been the first to leave a room / have you ever made your place behind the camera / my children might know me only out the corners of their eyes / when birds slam against rainbacked windows they leave their outlines the water continues as if there was not dying all around it /
are you seeing this / i ask someone here are you seeing this / how many buildings have i passed through without a sound / how many years only remember me by my imprint / when we speak

a word we are naming each of its previous utterances / i fear i am only the language i have kept alive / i fear i am only my name being poured down a hallway / are you seeing this / the light we look through took years to get here / to see the disaster you must first see its veil / our pupils not made to hold all this bright / our eyes call their blood to the photograph / to take an image you must first take all the light out of the room / please hold as i steady / please keep your eyes soft / as i click /

nov 23/RUN

4.5 miles
franklin loop
25 degrees

Ran with Scott. Cold, windy but sunny. Lots of wonderful shadows — ours, trees, lamp posts. Running across the lake street bridge at the end, the railing shadows made a cool pattern on the sidewalk. Combined with the breath-taking (at least for Scott) wind, it created a strange, untethered effect. Felt like I was floating or hovering or moving without touching ground. I asked Scott how he experienced it, and he said he was too focused on avoiding all of the groups of people approaching us on the bridge. Also seen on the bridge: a flyer posted on several of the posts that read “Killed by Israel.” I suggested to Scott that it should read, “Killed by the Israeli government.”

Found this poem the other day and it makes me think of how often I mistake one thing for something else as I run around the gorge:

Mistake/ Heather Christle

For years I have seen
dead animals on the highway

and grieved for them
only to realize they are

not dead animals
they are t shirts

or bits of blown tire
and I have found

myself with this
excess of grief

I have made with
no object to let

it spill over and
I have not known

where to put it or
keep it and then today

I thought I know
I can give it to you

I have to think about the ending some more — what does it mean to me? — but for now, what I like about this poem are the opening lines and the idea that other people also think they’re seeing dead animals when they’re actually seeing something else. I often think I’m seeing dead squirrels, when it’s actually a furry hat or a glove. These mistakes don’t make so sad or produce excess grief, just confusion and uncertainty and a little bit of morbid fascination.

I just realized what it means to me — the you is us, her readers. And she’s right, she is giving it to us, not as a burden to bear, but as an experienced shared. I love that about poetry, how you can write or read a poem and feel less alone, (a little) more understood.

nov 18/RUN

4 miles
hidden falls to crosby farms and back
37 degrees

Just like yesterday, another beautiful morning! Sunny, calm, not too cold. Sharp shadows, cloudless blue sky. Today’s route started and ended at the Hidden Falls parking lot, right next to the sunlit river. So wonderful! Ran with Scott and talked about Amy Winehouse, NCAA cross country races, lurking shadows, and why there was a car driving on the no vehicle path — lost golden retriever. As we neared Crosby Falls, we ran over a root that was embedded in the path and looked like a snake. Very cool! Scott took a picture of it:

a cracked sidewalk with a tree root winding through it, looking like a snake
Scott’s picture of a root in the paved path / near Crosby Farms

10 Things

  1. chirping birds, shrieking squirrels
  2. shadows, 1: ours, sharp, beside us then in front of us
  3. shadows, 2: the trees, casting long lines across the paved path
  4. shadows, 3: the trees on the water, making the bright blue water look dark brown
  5. question pondered: what’s the difference between a shadow and a reflection — Scott’s answer: the position of the light
  6. a walker in a bright pink jacket
  7. the sandstone/limestone bluff — high and looming — on one side of us
  8. graffiti spray painted on a barricade in the parking lot, uh oh stinky
  9. smoke from a campfire on other side of a little lake near Crosby Farms
  10. running up a short, step hill on the tips of my toes and remembering when I tried (and failed) to bike up it a few years ago without shifting gears

nov 11/RUN

5.25 miles
fort snelling loop*
36 degrees
snow flurries

*a new loop! Started at the Hidden Falls parking lot in St. Paul and ran south to some steps just before the confluence. Over a bridge to Fort Snelling. Through Fort Snelling, Coldwater Springs, the Minnehaha dog park, the Veterans’ Home. Over the ford bridge and back to the river trail.

A wonderful run with Scott! A new loop to add into the mix. From our house, this loop is about 7.5-8 miles. Not too bad. So many wonderful views of the rivers — Mississippi and Minnesota. Such variety in surfaces and landscapes! Asphalt, concrete, crushed limestone, grass, dirt — soft and hard, dead leaves. Over bridges, above ravines, beside old military barracks and frequently travelled highways, through beloved parks, around disc golf courses. Under trees, next to freaky looking bushes with no leaves but dark pinecones, through tall grass, up steep steps with special tracks for rolling bikes down.

Not too long after this run, we drove down to St. Peter to hear FWA’s fall concert. I didn’t have time to finish and post this entry. I’m finishing it on Sunday morning. Can I remember 10 things from yesterday’s run?

10 Things

  1. the river (mississippi) stretching north — a clear, unobstructed view from above — this stretch near hidden falls in st. paul has the best views of the river
  2. so many glowing green leaves on the trees
  3. Scott ranting about Elon Musk and his latest attempts to destroy electric cars
  4. the strange (and a little irritating) visual effect of running next to a tall railing as the light pulsed through the slats — a constant flash flash flash flash
  5. running right by the barracks at Fort Snelling and feeling the misery of it — the cold quarters, especially in the winter, and this site as concentration camp, killing so many Dakota people in the winter of 1862
  6. the pleasing slide and crunch of the crushed limestone on this stretch of the trail
  7. a mix of surfaces: a few steps of limestone, then a flat, hard surface with a map printed on it
  8. running through the Ft. Snelling parking lot, then over to a trail next to Highway 55 — a tall wall then the highway on one side, strange bushes with ugly and ominous-looking pinecones on the other
  9. cutting through a narrow dirt trail near coldwater springs — running up and down as the path gently rose and fell over small hills
  10. a row of American flags lining the road right by the Veterans’ home — it’s Veterans’ Day

I did it! I probably could have listed another 10 things. This route was memorable.

nov 4/RUN

4.1 miles
hidden falls / confluence
28 degrees

Loved the weather this morning! Hardly any wind, not too bright, not too cold. Scott and I drove over to a parking lot near Highland Bridge and ran beside the Mississippi River past Hidden Falls to the confluence where the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers meet. Wow! Such soft, sweeping views! Heard lots of chickadees (chick a dee dee dee) and ran up and down lots of little hills.

10+ Things

  1. a cracked rutted cratered trail
  2. steps leading down to a bridge across the river — something to try next time!
  3. empty benches on the edge
  4. a recently re-painted parking lot below the confluence with jaunty arrows on the pavements — I said they looked like they were italicized
  5. the tops of the bare branches looked fuzzy and soft and gray
  6. 2 rivers curving around an island
  7. more white sand than usual — the river is low
  8. running through Highland bridge, I could hear a dog relentlessly barking at the dog park
  9. hidden falls was steadily flowing down limestone and concrete ledges
  10. a few slick, icy spots on the bridge
  11. geese! A gaggle of geese on the edge of the trail, only the final one acknowledged our presence with a sharp honk — no hiss, thankfully

oct 28/RACE

Halloween 10k
stone arch bridge
27 degrees

We did it! Scott and I ran together in our first race in 4 years. Much slower than I’ve ever run a 10k, but it doesn’t matter because we did it without stopping, especially on the final hill. And I felt good at the end and even smiled. Hooray! The only part I didn’t like was before the race. It was freezing. I was dressed in my usual winter attire — tights, a green shirt, orange sweatshirt, black vest, gloves, and a buff — but it wasn’t enough. I was so cold that I felt like I might throw up. I’m fine running outside when it’s very cold, but I have to be moving, which we weren’t for almost an hour.

10 Things

  1. the cobblestones at the beginning were a challenge — so uneven and broken
  2. David S. Pumpkins and his 2 ghosts were running the race
  3. also a guy portaging a canoe — an actual canoe! I wonder if he was running the 10k or the marathon
  4. other costumes: 2 m-n-ms — red, 2 oompa loompas, curious george and the man with the yellow hat
  5. a guy dressed up like the granny from Little Red Riding Hood
  6. running down a hill, I passed one of the leaders of the race running back up it. I thought I heard hime call out, only 5?! as he passed the 5 mile marker
  7. one runner approaching another one and calling out, I love your earrings! They make your outfit look extra special
  8. a guy in a banana costume struggling up the first hill, wheezing loudly and breathing heavily
  9. bump/bump bump bump/ bump bump buuuuummp (overheard: the opening to “eye of the tiger” at the top of the hill)
  10. speeding up on the stone arch bridge and (almost) sprinting across the line with Scott with a huge smile on my face — a great race!

adding this several hours later: I found this poem on HAD (havehashad.com) and I didn’t want to wait until the next time I run to post it, so here it is:

Friendly?/ Luke Strathmann

The fact they call Casper friendly
Means he probably isn’t
Probably a real piece of shit
The type of ghost
Who keeps business unfinished
Just to stick around
Longer than anyone wants
One time grandpa fell on a knife
And grandma said a ghost did it
And I bet it was fucking Casper
I don’t trust him for one fuck
And don’t care if he hears it, either
Haunt me, baby
HAUNT ME!!!
One day I’ll be a ghost, too
And then we’ll see who’s friendly
We’ll beef until the sun explodes
Eats the earth and everything else
And that will be the end of all business
Unfinished or not