sept 19/RUN

3.1 miles
two trails + extra
72 degrees

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

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

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

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

sept 18/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around + extra
72 degrees

Listened to my playlist again this morning. Greeted the welcoming oaks, then the Daily Walker. Avoided acorns and park workers mowing the green strips of grass between the walking and biking paths. Dripped a lot of sweat. Smiled and nodded at other runners. Felt tired 2 miles in and decided to try and steady my breathing and slow down, which of course meant I ran my fastest mile…almost 30 seconds faster. Funny how that happens. Warm and sticky after the thunder storms this morning. Noticed how the leaves are changing color. A few trees turning golden, some slashes of red on the low lying bushes. The floodplain forest is still green green green. Can’t wait for the leaves to start falling and for everything to turn rusty and brown and then bare.

sept 17/RUN

1.5 miles
two trails (almost)
83 degrees

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

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

The Heat of Autumn
BY JANE HIRSHFIELD

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

sept 4/RUN

3.5 miles
two trails +
63 degrees

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

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

When We Look Up
Denise Levertov – 1923-1997

He had not looked,
pitiful man whom none

pity, whom all
must pity if they look

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

to see-how many
faces? How many

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

into which the gaze wanders
and is lost

and returns to tell
Here is a mystery,

a person, an
other, an I?

august 28/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
60 degrees

Windy. Cool. Fall is coming, then winter and winter running! Very sad to be done with open water swimming but ready for routines and kids in school and cooler weather and layers and colorful leaves and creepy Halloween yards and cold clear air and no more itchy dogs. A good run this morning. My leg felt tight 2 miles in so I walked for a minute. Tried to look at the river but the one time I remembered, it was too hard to see. Smelled someone smoking pot below me in the gorge. Saw the man in black–not in black but in shorts. I recognized him by his extra long legs. No Daily Walker. No roller skiers. Not too many runners or walkers. No rowers or squirrels or soaring birds or shadows. I don’t remember seeing my shadow for a long time–where’d she go?

Just found this awesome video of Bruce Lee talking about being like water. Yes!

transcript (lines breaks by me)

Empty your mind. Be
formless shapeless
like water
now you put
water into a cup
it becomes the cup you put
water into a bottle
it becomes the bottle you put
it into a tea pot
it becomes the tea pot
now water can flow or it can
craaaaasshh
be water my friend

It’s interesting that the title of this video is “be as water” when Bruce Lee says be water. I like it better when it’s not a simile.

august 23/RUN

2.5 miles
two trails

A nice morning. Listened to my playlist up above and felt fast. Listened to the gorge on the lower trail. The river was glowing through the trees. I think the tree trunk was still leaning by the 38th street steps, but I can’t quite remember. Surely I would have noticed if it were gone?

august 16/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
64 degrees
humidity: 90%/dew point: 62

Sometimes, less often in the last year, when I wake up I feel regret or shame about some intangible thing that I didn’t actually do. This makes me uneasy until I’ve fully woken up and restored my sense of exuberance. Usually a run or a walk or just being outside helps. Today, running while listening to Lizzo, worked. Ran by the welcoming oaks, through the tunnel of trees, which isn’t really a tunnel but 2 walls of green, past the old stone steps. Heard a dog barking deeply and persistently in the gorge. Felt strong running up the hill after the lake street bridge. Wanted to sing along with Lizzo being 100% that bitch but didn’t. Smiled at several runners and walkers. Didn’t see the river. Avoided a stupid squirrel. Tried to keep my shoulders relaxed and my right arm swinging as much as my left.

Saw this poem on Instagram. The poet, Crystal Williams, offers this explanation for why she wrote it:

“Many years ago I heard someone describe Aretha Franklin’s voice as the voice of God, which was an amazing thing to say. This meditation is my attempt at understanding why that statement struck me as profoundly true. In the end, Aretha’s voice is an aggregation of the choruses of the natural world—all of their harmony, complexity, and distinctiveness—and it is as close to the divine as I can imagine.”

I really love her description of the diving here: the aggregation of the choruses of the natural world

The Voice of God
Crystal Williams

      Poem for Aretha Franklin

when she opens her mouth
our world swells like dawn on the pond
when the sun licks the water & the jay garbles,
the whole quiet thing coming into tune,
the gnats, frogs, the dandelion pollen, the
pebbles & leaves & the whole world of us
sitting at the throat of the jay
dancing in the throat of the jay
all of us on the lip of the jay
singing doowop, doowop, do.

july 23/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

3.1 miles
two trails
66 degrees

Cooler this morning. Listened to a playlist running above, some rowers running below. Noticed that the dirt path at the beginning of the lower trail is more old asphalt than I realized. How long ago did they stop paving this trail? Could see the river sparkling serenely beneath me. Heard the rowers. Encountered some walkers who had no idea I was there. When I called out, “excuse me,” one of them dramatically flinched. Never know how to handle these situations. Sometimes I find it funny, their frantic gestures. Other times, it’s annoying that they’re blocking the whole path and I can’t get past them without startling them. Encountered another walker, an older woman with hiking poles, listening loudly to a speech. The women speaking was calling out, “we’re not the problem, we’re the solution!” What is she referring to? Who is the we? What is the problem and what is the solution?

Cliffhanger update: the leaning tree trunk near the 38th street steps seems to be leaning more. I almost had to duck as I ran under it. Is it lower, or am I just forgetting how lean-y it already was? Will it lean even more or fall or be removed soon?

Ended my run right past the small clearing in the tunnel of trees. I’m stuck in my writing about it. Is it because it’s more magical in the early spring before the trees have filled in? When I look at it now, it’s still a clearing but it doesn’t make me feel dizzy or like I’m floating as I run past it. Maybe I should look at earlier entries about it?

A Kind of Meadow
BY CARL PHILLIPS

—shored
by trees at its far ending,
as is the way in moral tales:

whether trees as trees actually,
for their shadow and what
inside of it

hides, threatens, calls to;
or as ever-wavering conscience,
cloaked now, and called Chorus;

or, between these, whatever
falls upon the rippling and measurable,
but none to measure it, thin

fabric of this stands for.
A kind of meadow, and then
trees—many, assembled, a wood

therefore. Through the wood
the worn
path, emblematic of Much

Trespass: Halt. Who goes there?
A kind of meadow, where it ends
begin trees, from whose twinning

of late light and the already underway
darkness you were expecting perhaps
the stag to step forward, to make

of its twelve-pointed antlers
the branching foreground to a backdrop
all branches;

or you wanted the usual
bird to break cover at that angle
at which wings catch entirely

what light’s left,
so that for once the bird isn’t miracle
at all, but the simplicity of patience

and a good hand assembling: first
the thin bones, now in careful
rows the feathers, like fretwork,

now the brush, for the laying-on
of sheen…. As is always the way,
you tell yourself, in

poems—Yes, always,
until you have gone there,
and gone there, “into the

field,” vowing Only until
there’s nothing more
I want—thinking it, wrongly,

a thing attainable, any real end
to wanting, and that it is close, and that
it is likely, how will you not

this time catch hold of it: flashing,
flesh at once

lit and lightless, a way
out, the one dappled way, back—

I like how this poem demands many readings, some of them out loud, for me to begin to understand it. I have not yet read it enough. So far, here’s what I’m drawn to: trees and moral tales; trees as hiding/threatening/calling to; trees as Chorus; the double-meaning of stands (represents + a group of trees); the worn path as emblem; trees whose twinning of late light and the already underway darkness.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 1.5 miles
lake nokomis

Today’s open swim was so crowded! Hundreds of swimmers. Too hard to see them all in the sun. So I only swam 2 loops and an extra mini loop off the big beach. The water was choppy but I didn’t care. Couldn’t see much but I kept swimming. I felt strong for most of the swim until suddenly my right shoulder hurt. Now, a few hours later, I am very tired. Swimming in the lake is the best. What joy to still be able to see enough to swim and bike!

july 20/YOGABIKERUN

bike: 5.2 miles
torchlight 5k packet pick-up and back

Biked on the river road, over the ford bridge, up the hills in highland park to the packet pick-up for the july tradition: torchlight 5k. So hilly in St. Paul! Biking over the ford bridge is always beautiful–after the rain, the river was a calm, steel blue and the air was much cooler. Still not shifting into different gears when climbing. Speaking of climbing, thought about today’s stage of le tour de france and the brutal final climb while Scott and I biked. Those bikers are such bad asses.

run: 3 miles
trestle turn around
69 degrees
dew point: 59

Thunderstorms this morning, so I ran in the afternoon. Listened to my birthday playlist from last year and tried to stay relaxed. Ran all 3 miles without stopping, which was harder towards the end–my legs were sore, but I think it was more mental. Too easy to stop and walk. I didn’t today. Maybe it was because I got so mad at the two walkers that were hogging the entire path, cluelessly spreading out over the entire thing instead of sticking to one side? Felt pretty good. Ran each mile faster than the last. Kept running, but payed attention as I ran by the part of the tunnel of trees that I’m writing about. I’ve been thinking about it as a wide open, spacious room, but it’s more of just a break in the trees. A pause. I recorded some thoughts into my phone when I was done:

Only, just a brief pause. No room for rumination. Only breathing and being before the leaves lock? the leaves thatch? the leaves lattice? the vines envelop the forest again.

Found this great poem via twitter the other day:

Sixteen Theses on Walking and Poetry
by Mátyás Dunajcsik
translated by Timea Balogh1.

  1. Walking is the poetry of the urban space.
  2. Just as a poet uses the same language as everyone else, only for other things and in other ways, a walker walks the same city as other pedestrians, only with a different purpose and perspective.
  3. Walks, much like poems, are composed via selection and arrangement.
  4. Just as a poet sometimes uses strange, obsolete words, a walker often comes across seldom visited places.
  5. Just as poetry can sometimes cleanse trite words, calling them back to their original meanings, a walker can only really see a city if he keeps in mind the original purpose of the places and buildings in it, even if they serve new purposes now.
  6. Just as the poet has the power to give entirely new meanings to certain words, the walker sometimes also uses certain places for things other than they were originally designed for.
  7. The poet is always ambivalent about the grammatical rules of her native language. A good walk is always a little illegal.
  8. Important poems change the language in which they are written. A truly important walk leaves lasting marks on a city.
  9. Both walking and poetry are forms of catastrophe tourism: just as poetry begins where everyday conversation ends, likewise the walker looks for those places where the fabric of the city unravels.
  10. The empty spaces left behind by buildings demolished or never built are as sweet to the walker as the unsaid and the indescribable are to the poet.
  11. Poetry is a language’s living memory and conscience, just as walking is to a city.
  12. A reader most enjoys poems written in his native language. The most exciting walks are always the ones we take in our hometowns.
  13. But actually, all poems speak in their own mother tongues, just as every walk reveals a new city.
  14. The foundation of both walking and poetry is the breath. Its rhythm is determined either by words or by steps.
  15. Just as there are one-word poems, so can one step be considered a walk.
  16. Poets and walkers look up more often than other people.

Love all of this, especially the idea of poets using language differently, walkers walking differently; walking and poetry as forms of catastrophe tourism–looking for places where the city unravels; breath as the foundation for poetry and walking; poets and walkers looking up more than other people. Cool. I’m really interested in the connections between writing and movement, especially in terms of walking, running, swimming and biking.

july 19/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
82 degrees (feels like 89)
humidity: 76%
dew point: 74

Hot, so hot. Even though I was only doing a short run, I brought some water along. I drank some of it, the rest I poured on my head. It started out cool but by the time it reached my back, it was warm. I definitely struggle in the heat. Ran 1.25 miles, then walked a little, then mostly ran with some walking. Noticed that there were a few more stones stacked on the old boulder. The tunnel of trees was soothingly dark and deep and green. Not steamy. Made note of the fact that the part of the tunnel I’m writing about now is almost midway between the path openings and just before where the 4 fences meet. This part of the path is also just above the mid-story trees. I’m planning to play with the idea of mid/middle of the story in my prose poem. After turning around and heading back, I stopped for a few minutes to look at this same, mid-story spot. How the trees open up into a wide area that seems to float and breathe, not tight and confined but loose and spacious. Today I noticed (again) how you can just see a small bit of sky at the top. Could it be river instead? Surely it’s sky.

This Maggie Smith poem is the best. Reminds me of the recent interview with Aimee Nezhukumatathil and her idea of wonderment: (So I think it’s a practice. I think we forget how to be in wonderment. And I think it’s a great, I don’t know, responsibility. But also, it’s contagious. When you hear someone say, oh my gosh, I love how the silver on a silver oak is winking at me, that kind of thing, it’s hard to not notice something yourself. And then someone else will notice something and someone else will notice something.)

Poem Beginning with a Retweet/Maggie Smith

If you drive past horses and don’t say horses
you’re a psychopath. If you see an airplane
but don’t point it out. A rainbow,
a cardinal, a butterfly. If you don’t
whisper-shout albino squirrel! Deer!
Red fox! If you hear a woodpecker
and don’t shush everyone around you
into silence. If you find an unbroken
sand dollar in a tide pool. If you see
a dorsal fin breaking the water.
If you see the moon and don’t say
oh my god look at that moon. If you smell
smoke and don’t search for fire.
If you feel yourself receding, receding,
and don’t tell anyone until you’re gone.

july 16/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

run: 3.1 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees
humidity: 83%
dew point: 66

Hot and harder today than yesterday even though the dew point was lower. Ran 2 miles without stopping then walked then ran again. Listened to headphones. Someone has placed another small stone on top of the ancient boulder. Noticed that at one spot in the tunnel of trees my view filled with a green canopy except for at the very top. I could see a thin line of sky. It looked like air at the surface with me under green water. Cool. Faintly heard the rowers on the river. By the end, felt slow and tired but happy to be outside and moving.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back

Started my bike ride in a soft, steady rain. Ended it in sunshine. Didn’t mind biking in the rain at all. Less bikers on the trail. No chaos by the falls. The creek was high as I biked by my favorite part of the path, but not over its banks yet. By the time I reached the lake, it was much warmer and brighter and the buoys were already out.

swim: 1.35 miles
lake nokomis

An hour before open swim it was pouring rain and thundering so I wasn’t sure if it would happen. But it was clear by 5:30. I could see the buoys without any problems on the way to the little beach but hardly at all on the way back. Almost ran into the lifeguards on kayaks a few times–well not almost. I saw them in time, but I was headed straight for them. I blame the lifeguards. Too close to the buoys. I heard someone else complaining about how close they were. One lifeguard was almost on top of the final buoy. The water was warm. Too warm. I can’t imagine how hot it would have been swimming in a wetsuit. The water was also calm. No waves today. It felt thick and heavy at times. Breathed every 5 and sometimes every 6. Since it was the free night it was more crowded with lots of slower swimmers stopping and floating. I didn’t run into a single one which was amazing because I didn’t notice some of them until I was almost on top of them. Saw some planes in the sky. No sailboats or fish or ducks. Felt strong and straight and joyful. What a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday evening!

Springing
Marie Ponsot – 1921-2019

In a skiff on a sunrisen lake we are watchers.

Swimming aimlessly is luxury just as walking
loudly up a shallow stream is.

As we lean over the deep well, we whisper.

Friends at hearths are drawn to the one warm air;
strangers meet on beaches drawn to the one wet sea.

What wd it be to be water, one body of water
(what water is is another mystery) (We are
water divided.) It wd be a self without walls,
with surface tension, specific gravity a local
exchange between bedrock and cloud of falling and rising,
rising to fall, falling to rise.

july 10/RUN

3.1 miles
the 2 trails
70 degrees

I think this is my new favorite running route, especially since my body doesn’t want to run more than a 5K. Listened to headphones as I ran south, up above the river, next to the road, and then took them out when I ran north, down below the road, still above the river. Overcast and windy. Felt cooler than 70. Heard some trickling water but no rowers. Encountered some dogs and their humans. Appreciated how willing the dogs were to stay on their side of the path and sit when their owners asked them to. Walked a little around 1.5 miles. Don’t remember much except for how different the tunnel of trees looks when it’s overcast. Darker and deeper. When it’s sunny, the light filters through the leaves and dances on the asphalt. But when it’s cloudy the greens are heavier and the air seems weighed down with water.

I listened to the poetry off the shelf podcast this morning with the delightful poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil (ne zoo koo ma tat hill). I love her poetry and what she has to say about the importance of wonderment and being jubilant:

I think there’s almost like a responsibility in some ways when the world and the news is so disgusting and so heartbreaking. I think that’s all the more reason to turn to—I ask my students, when is the last time you were in wonderment of something, when was the last time you had awe over something. And at first, the silence is deafening, you know? And they actually have to think about that and then they realize oh my gosh, it shouldn’t be taking me this long. And I keep asking them that, I keep asking them through the semester, until, you know, maybe by the fourth or fifth week they’re able to say it like right away. Or sometimes they can’t wait till class and they just email it to me like, you know, Professor Nezhukumatathil, on the sunset, I saw something called the green flash. Have you heard of it?

So I think it’s a practice. I think we forget how to be in wonderment. And I think it’s a great, I don’t know, responsibility. But also, it’s contagious. When you hear someone say, oh my gosh, I love how the silver on a silver oak is winking at me, that kind of thing, it’s hard to not notice something yourself. And then someone else will notice something and someone else will notice something.

july 5/RUN

2.8 miles
two trails*
79 degrees
humidity: 79%/dew point: 69

* two trails = upper trail, near the road, paved; lower trail, below the road, above the river, dirt then crumbling asphalt then paved

Maybe because the sun wasn’t out, it didn’t seem too hot at first. But when I stopped for a quick text at the end of mile 1, I realized I was dripping with sweat. Running below for the second half was cool until the trail emerged from the trees. Then, it was hot and I was losing energy. I really need to start running earlier. Today I ran at 10 am. Encountered a few runners, walkers and roller skiers. Listened to a playlist on the upper trail, the water trickling on the lower. Also heard some kids playing way down in the gorge near the sewer pipe. No rowers or paddle boats on the river.

july 1/RUN

3 miles
river road path, north/south
70 degrees
humidity: 92%

Ran in the rain, or at least a drizzle that I hardly noticed because of all the sweat already on my skin. Felt pretty good for the first mile but then started to tire. Why is running so hard these days? Is it just the heat and the humidity? Am I running too fast? Listened to a birthday playlist from last year, so I hardly noticed anything. The tunnel of trees was dark and damp and green. I bet the parks department will be coming soon to trim back the vines. Pretty sure I didn’t even get a glimpse of the river. Too busy avoiding rain soaked branching blocking the path.

june 29/RUN

3.2 miles
austin, mn
79 degrees
humidity: 79%

A very hot and sunny run for my birthday. Ugh! I do not handle the heat very well. So much sweating. I guess I need to start getting up much earlier for my runs, or figure out ways to handle the heat. I ran loops around the park right by Scott’s parent’s house. 2 loops = 1 mile. Listened to a playlist to distract myself. Don’t remember much. Enjoying the brief shade and the occasional breeze. Not smelling anything. My legs feeling tired. Admiring the big, beautiful blue spruces. Hearing a dog bark. Noticing a box or a bag or a bin in the outfield.

The Month of June: 13 1/2
BY SHARON OLDS

As our daughter approaches graduation and
puberty at the same time, at her
own, calm, deliberate, serious rate,
she begins to kick up her heels, jazz out her
hands, thrust out her hipbones, chant
I’m great! I’m great! She feels 8th grade coming
open around her, a chrysalis cracking and
letting her out, it falls behind her and
joins the other husks on the ground,
7th grade, 6th grade, the
magenta rind of 5th grade, the
hard jacket of 4th when she had so much pain,
3rd grade, 2nd, the dim cocoon of
1st grade back there somewhere on the path, and
kindergarten like a strip of thumb-suck blanket
taken from the actual blanket they wrapped her in at birth.
The whole school is coming off her shoulders like a
cloak unclasped, and she dances forth in her
jerky sexy child’s joke dance of
self, self, her throat tight and a
hard new song coming out of it, while her
two dark eyes shine
above her body like a good mother and a
good father who look down and
love everything their baby does, the way she
lives their love.

I love this poem. I love how she describes this experience of being liberated from middle school and elementary school. I have a 13 year old daughter and I’d like to imagine her feeling this way when she finishes 8th grade next year.