july 23/SWIM

5 loops!
lake nokomis open swim
75 degrees

5 loops! The most I have swum this summer at one open swim session. I had to get out after 2 loops to go to the bathroom and then stopped for a break after loop 4. With those breaks, I finished 10 minutes before open swim ends. If I began right when open swim started and didn’t take any breaks, could I do 6 loops in the 2 hours? Maybe that should be an end of August goal?

The water was wonderful — calm, not too cold, buoyant. The air was hazy and I couldn’t see the orange buoys at all for sighting. I also couldn’t see the flash of the white boat that I use for sighting. Before starting, I lined up my path with the far shore and the white boat, then began swimming, trusting that my body — my shoulders, my hips, legs, feet, brain — knew the way to go. And they did. And I didn’t panic or wonder if I was off course. All these years of working on letting go of the need to know exactly where I was going, the need for confirmation with a clear view, is paying off. I can swim without needing to SEE.

The water was opaque, the color of brown lentils. I kept seeing flashes just below me. I wondered if they were big fish or just a trick of the light. None of the flashes bumped into me, so I didn’t care what they were.

As I swam, I devoted some of my time to listening to the different gurgling and sloshing and splashing sounds my body made as I moved through the water — the slosh past my ear, the gurgle of my mouth, the splash as my arm lifted out of the water near my leg then reentered above my head.

On the back end of at least 2 loops (the stretch from little beach back to big beach), I recited the Tony Hoaglund poem I just memorized — The Social Life of Water. I thought about the different types of water and then where humans fit in — aren’t we 98% water? I also thought about the last few lines:

But you, you stand on the shore
of blue Lake Kieve in the evening
and listen, grieving
as something stirs and turns within you.

Not knowing why you linger in the dark.
Not able even to guess
from what you are excluded.

I thought about how different it is to be standing on the shore versus being in the water, swimming through it, being rocked by the waves, hearing sounds underwater, feeling the cold. I don’t think I can understand like the line, all water understands, suggests, but I do believe that I witness the social life of water in a different way when I’m in it.

june 24/RUN

3.1 miles
marshall loop
72 degrees / dew point: 59

It seemed warmer than 72 out there this morning. Ran with Scott. First Scott talked about Russia and Wagner, then I talked about the You and I and how we start as one and become the other as we acknowledge each other. This discussion was partly inspired by encountering one walker who called out good morning! and another who instead of offering a greeting ignored us and almost ran into me. What else do I remember? Rowers! Scott counted at least 6 shells on the river. Mostly I only saw them, but for one brief moment I heard the coxswain’s voice.

wordle challenge

4 tries: handy / drain / brand / grand
For the third day in the row I had to choose between equally fitting options. This time, brand or grand? I chose incorrectly.

a refreshing shandy
the pro cyclist Indurain
Rembrandt teeth whitening (brand)
Grand Old Days — the start of summer in St. Paul

She defeated him handily.

Yesterday I came across Annie Proloux’s book, Fen, Bog, and Swamp, and I’m certain that she disagrees with the phrase/metaphor, drain the swamp.

Mostly I don’t care, but I have 2 brands that I especially like. For swimming, TYR, and for running, Saucony. I used to mispronounce both of them. It’s tear (cry) not tire, and sock-a-knee not something that rhymes with Marconi.

Before I got into watching pro cycling or running and before my vision made it almost impossible to track the ball, I loved watching Grand Slam tennis. My favorite was always Wimbledon — Jennifer Capriati, Monica Seles, Steffi Graf, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Roger Federer.

handy dandy notebook
down the drain
brand spanking new
you’re a grand old flag, you’re a high flying flag

Somewhere along the way, what is marketed as handy and convenient is not always user-friendly.

a drain, a sewer, a causeway, a sluice

I hate shopping at Target. Endless aisles, filled with only 1 or 2 brands. The illusion of choice.

In 2008, we almost moved to Grand Rapids, MI. We had already picked out a house to rent, almost signed a lease, told neighbors we were leaving. Then I was told I might be able to have a full-time position at the U. Scott and I walked along Lake Michigan and had a gut-wrenching talk. I decided to turn down a guaranteed job for the possibility of a preferable one.

Crossing Water/ Tony Hoaglund

In late summer I swim across the lake to the stand of reeds
that grows calmly in the foot-deep water on the other side.

It is like going to a florist’s shop
you have to take your clothes off to get to,

where nothing is for sale
and nothing on display

but some tall, vertical green spears,

and the small, already half-shriveled pale-purple blossoms
sprouted halfway up the sides of them.

Squatting softly in the cool, tea-colored water,
hearing my own breath move in and out,

leaning close to see the tattered, soft-edged
purses of the flowers,
with their downward hanging cones and coppery antennae.

—This is more tenderness than I had reason to expect
from this rude life in which I built

a wall around myself, in which I couldn’t manage to repair
my cracked-up little heart.

Each time I make the trip, I get the strange idea that this
is what is waiting at the end of life–

long stalks slanting in teh breeze, then straightening—
flowers, loose-petaled as memory, gray
as the aftertaste of grief.

Tonight, I’ll lie in bed and feel the day exhaling me
as part of its long sigh into the dark,

knowing that I have no plan,
knowing that I have no chance of getting there.

I will remember how those flowers swayed and then held still
for me to look at them.

Oh, I love this poem! And I love Tony Hoaglund. I know that he died several years ago (in 2018), but I didn’t know the cause. Looked it up: pancreatic cancer. Just like my mom.