march 3/RUN

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
19 degrees / feels like 10
5% ice-covered

Sunnier today. Remembered to notice the sky. High above me, a clear, soft blue; nearer, mostly wispy clouds. Not much wind, not too cold. The river continues to open, ripped seams everywhere. I felt good as I ran. Tried chanting in triples (strawberry/blueberry/raspberry), but it didn’t last long. Devoted some attention to feeling my feet strike the ground, my legs lift off.

Before my run, I felt weighed down. Is it because my mom’s 80th birthday would have been this Saturday if she hadn’t died in 2009? Or because winter doesn’t want to leave? Or Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine? Or the University of Wyoming voting to end funding for the Gender and Women’s Studies Department? The climate crisis deniers? Whatever it was (and will continue to be), it lifted as I ran.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. lots of crows
  2. on the way back from the falls, after I put my headphones in, a cardinal’s trill fit very nicely with Cee Lo Green’s singing in “Crazy”
  3. a few walkers done below on the Winchell Trail
  4. primary noise: cars’ whooshing wheels on the river road
  5. a crew was out, in front of Minnehaha Academy, sawing down some tree limbs. The chainsaw started as an irritating whine, then a bzzzz
  6. laughing and yelling kids out on the school playground
  7. the snow on the hill in the oak savanna is melting fast — I saw some bare patches
  8. the falls: still frozen, all the trails and the stairs are covered in crusty, icy snow
  9. conversation overhead: something like, “and that’s what your dad was doing…”
  10. all the puddles from yesterday were solid and slick ice today

Right now, I’m trying to put together a course proposal for a summer class on moving and being outside and noticing wonder. It’s fun and frustrating and very exciting. Just north of the 44th street parking lot, I began thinking about whether I should use the word habit or ritual. I like ritual, but writing rituals seem to have a specific meaning. When I think of rituals, I often think of things done to prepare you for writing/creating — sitting in this chair, drinking this tea, listening to this music, wearing this shawl, etc. While being outside and moving can do that, it does more too. The act of regularly being outside and moving not only prepares you to be more creative, but can be the repeated practice of being creative. Does that make any sense? When I have time, I think I’ll do some more thinking through the differences between habit and ritual, especially how it is understood within poetry.

Found this poem in the march issue of Poetry:

Peripheral/ Hannah Emmerson

Yes I prefer the peripheral
because it limits the vision.

It does focus my attention.
Direct looking just is too

much killing of the moment.
Looking oblique littles

the moment into many
helpful moments.

Moment moment moment
moment keep in the moment.

My first reaction to this poem is resistance: I don’t agree with the idea that the peripheral limits vision. It alters it, changes how we see, but doesn’t limit it. Instead, it expands and softens. Is this reaction fair? I’ll sit with it for awhile, then return to this poem. When I finally begin work on my peripheral project, I’ll add it to my list of resources.

feb 20/RUN

2.6 miles
river road, south/north
36! degrees

Wow, it feels like spring this morning! Warmer air, bright sun, melting snow, chirping birds — cardinals and chickadees. Lots of walkers and runners and bikers on the trails, but no one was taking over the path. Saw someone running in shorts, someone walking with their winter coat draped over their arm. Heard some people hiking the winchell trail. The path was mostly clear, with a few narrow sheets of ice. The river was still covered with snow and ice.

Before I went out for my run, I was listening to Lulu Miller’s story, “The 11th Word,” on Radiolab. (It was originally published in 2020 in the Paris Review). In it, she considers language and how the ability to name might shape us in negative ways. She discusses how we use language to name things, and while that give us order, and some sort of control, it also strips us of our ability to live in and with uncertainty. I kept thinking, as I listened, about poetry and how it often attempts to make words and language uncertain again. There are ways to use/play with/invoke language that aren’t about Knowing or controlling or getting rid of the uncertainty. I wondered if I would think more about this as I ran, I didn’t. I don’t remember thinking about anything but how it felt like spring and I was over-dressed and wishing I’d worn a few less layers.

Also before I went out for a run, I listened to about 20 minutes of Tommy Pico reading his amazing book-length poem, IRL. Wow! Here’s an excerpt of an excerpt from it. I’m blown away by Pico’s voice (the writing, and his audio).

excerpt of an excerpt IRL/ Tommy Pico

Just what is so scary abt
the cave? I… I can hear
my heart beating in there
and I don’t like it.
In an effort to connect,
fingers will click open
more and more tabs.
People say there are three
Muses or nine sometimes
six or eight but
we’re friends now,
Imma crack open
the mythology for u—
Really there are four
states of Muse:
Solitude
Intimacy
Anonymity
Reserve
Solitude carries a deck
of cards. Intimacy brought
lube. Anonymity is here
I think. Reserve gives gift
certificates. Obviously.
The influence of Muse
is not unlike being under
the influence, the way a poem
is spontaneously drunk
on Robert Graves. The
implications of Muse pop
fizz in all directions: photography,
printing press,
telephone, flash fry, cave etc.
The temple of Muse
is all around you. Don’t patronize
me, tradition
is a cage Conflict constant The
argument to post will take
more on and more alluring
forms. Muse must be chased!
Vigilance is all that stands btwn
us and a police state Tell me
as I switch between lenses—
which is clearer: A… or B. One
more time? Okay, A… or B.
I can’t ever see
where I stand in the lineage
of art, but I find being alone
maxes out my HP really
makes me kinder: Gap
btwn talking to mom vs
talking to mom
Muse used to mean
purpose in being
alone—Muse is romanticized
by the idea of possession and lord
knows I can’t live unoccupied.

I want to do something with their mention of switching between lenses and whether it is better in A or B. Very cool. Yes, the idea of being better with A or B (or 1 or 2), makes me think about this in-between state I’m in with my vision right now, both how well I can and cannot see, but also which world is better or preferable or more true, whatever that means — the world I was in where I could see mostly normally, or the world I’m slowly entering now where my central vision is almost gone or totally gone. I always struggle with either/or choices and the binaries they create. I want to do some more research on this vision test — what it’s called, who developed it and for what reason, why it’s used and if there are alternatives test to measure the same thing.

feb 15/RUN

5.5 miles
bottom of franklin and back
21 degree / feels like 10

At first, I was planning to bike and run in the basement this morning, but I decided outside was better. And it was. The paths were slick in spots, but I was fine. Yesterday when I went running at around this time, late morning, I was hungry. I thought I’d be fine, but halfway through the run, I felt very tired. Again today, I was hungry, but I ate a cookie before I left and it made all the difference. (The cookie was a snickerdoodle from a batch I baked yesterday for Valentine’s Day.) I had energy for the whole run.

More cardinals today, no black-capped chickadees. The sun was out, then not, streaks of blue sky in the cracks of the clouds. I could see my shadow. She was not sharp, but soft, a little more than the idea of her there, a little less than her solid presence. The gorge was still white, and so was the river, except for some cracks in the ice, especially near the bridges — lake and franklin. On the way down to the flats, I cross under the I-94 bridge. Someone painted graffitied letters in lime green a few months ago and now, in the dreary dregs of winter, right above the dark gray water, they look sad and tired.

I don’t remembering noticing any critters, although I do recall hearing some rustling in the brush across the road as I entered the flats. I looked, but couldn’t see anyone or anything. Smelled a strong wave of pot. Encountered several runners and walkers. Near the end of my run, I passed a runner stopped by the side of the trail, waiting while her dog pooped in the snow.

Anything else? I think I devoted a lot of energy to watching the trail, and making sure I was avoiding ice, especially the big, concrete-like chunks that blend into the white background. At least, for me — do they for people with normal vision? One of the bigger chunks could do some serious damage to my foot.

Almost forgot: As I was finishing up, running on the sidewalks, trying to avoid the sheets of ice stretching across parts of the path, I thought about how I can usually see the ice. It’s because my peripheral vision is fine, and that’s where I spot the ice. And, to see ice — that is, “warning! ice ahead, watch out!” — doesn’t require a highly focused, precise image. Ice is often a blob or a discoloration on the path. I don’t need cone cells to see that. And, the way I, and probably a lot of other people, detect ice is by noticing how the light reflects off of it differently than the bare sidewalk. The sun on ice shimmers and sparkles more. Gray-ish light on ice is duller, flatter.

I think I finished my mannequins poem, I’m titling it, “Praise Improbable Things,” after lucille clifton’s poem, Praises, and its refrain, “Praise impossible things.” I’m barely halfway done with the month, so I have time to explore other meanings of WYSIWYG. I’m thinking of sticking with the mannequins, but exploring alt-text for them.

Here are some sources for alt-text that I want to use/refer back to:

feb 3/RUN

4.6 miles
minnehaha falls and back
0 degrees / feels like 0
0% snow-covered

It was cold today, but there was sun, and no wind, so I decided to run outside above the gorge. It felt colder than 0 to me, especially at the beginning. I started to get a slight headache from the cold air on the bridge of my nose. Once I warmed up, it went away. The other part of me that was cold for a few minutes: my feet.

layers (extra cold version)

  • one pair of socks
  • 2 pairs of gloves, 1 black, 1 hot pink with white stripes + hand warmers
  • 2 pairs black running tights
  • green base layer long-sleeved shirt
  • black 3/4 pull-over
  • pink jacket with hood
  • gray jacket
  • buff
  • black cap
  • sunglasses

Mostly, I was alone on the trail. When I did encounter people, it was almost always walkers alone, or in pairs, often in clusters — one walker, then a few seconds later, another walker, etc. At the falls, there were a few more people. At least 2 of them had big cameras. The falls were totally frozen, so was the creek up above. Almost everywhere, it was quiet and still.

This month, I’ve decided to read and write about a phrase that is also the theme for a call for poems from a journal that I’m submitting to: “what you see is what you get.” I’m hoping to approach this from as many angles as I can think of (and have time for). As I ran, I thought about in two ways:

what you see is what you get = whatever it is you can see (with your cone dystrophy), is all you get to work with for figuring out how to make sense of something. With the limited data I get from cone cells, that will involve some guessing, and relying on other senses + past experiences

what you see is what you get = what you see is not what you get, or what is real is not seen, but sensed in other ways, like air and wind. You can’t see wind or air, but you know it’s there. I think I was thinking about another example — maybe something to do with shadows? — but I’ve forgotten now.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. School kids on the playground — in 0 degrees. Minnesota kids are hearty
  2. The collar of my jacket rubbing against my hood
  3. My breath, labored as I ran up a hill
  4. Some sort of bird chirping, sounding like spring
  5. A car’s wheel whooshing on the river road
  6. A low, almost shrill and sharp, buzz just barely noticeable near the DQ
  7. The soft shuffle of my feet striking the grit on the path
  8. Someone on the walking side of the double-bridge holding a snowboard (I think?), then a thud, then that someone yelling something that sounded slightly distressed, but mostly not. What were they doing?
  9. Returning 20 minutes later to the bridge, hearing some scraping or pounding in the ravine below. I don’t know what the noise was, but I imagined snowboard dude, along with some other snowboard dudes, was chipping ice, or climbing an ice column, or doing something else to ice to make it possible for them to get back up to the bridge. Will I ever know what was going on?
  10. (not related to sound): a walker, or runner, I couldn’t tell, below me on the winchell trail. As I ran I wondered, was there even someone there, or was I imagining it?
  11. one more: my shadow, behind me as I ran south. Sharp, well-defined

Another thing I did in relation to “what you see is what you get” was to do some research on Groundhog Day. I’ll add the notes to my February page; I’ve spent too much time in front of my computer right now. Some interesting stuff. I wanted to think about Groundhog Day because it was yesterday, and also it fits the theme. In the U.S. if it’s sunny and the groundhog sees his shadow on Feb 2, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy, and he doesn’t, spring is coming. As Scott pointed out, this tradition is not an instance of, “what you see is what you get,” but the opposite: “what you see, is what you don’t get.” note: If the groundhog sees his shadow, most people across the country are bummed. Ugh, 6 more weeks of winter! But, here in Minnesota, it’s cause for celebration. Only 6 more weeks of winter? Hooray!

jan 24/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 2.2 miles
treadmill

More cold, more basement. Watched a Spartan race while I biked, listened to a podcast while I ran. Covered the display panel and didn’t look at my watch, so I (sort of) lost track of time, which was nice. Felt pretty good until the last few minutes, when my legs were sore — my left hip + knee. Did I think about anything? I don’t remember. Oh, I do remember thinking about stopping to set up a camera and do some video of my running. I want to see if I’m raising up my left hip enough. I didn’t stop. Then I thought about physical therapy and remembered the last time I was there, when the therapists recorded some of my running on an iPad. Anything else? Nope. All the thoughts, good or bad, gone. That’s cool.

I’m continuing to work on my Haunts poem. Not sure how I will weave these in, but I want to add a few more parts that deal explicitly with my story of vision loss. Here’s what I have so far. It’s still in the 3/2 form, but turned into 5 syllable lines:

Before there was ghost,
there was girl. Fiercely
physical, sturdy,
not certain but sure
footed, the ground firm
beneath her, able
to shake worlds with her
body, to make worlds
with one glance — meadows,
forests, stintless stars —-
all hers instantly.

Before there was girl,
there was ghost, carried
deep within unknown
ancestors, passed on
to the girl.* Scrambled
code in the back of
each eye, starting a
shift from sharp to soft
so slow it will go
unnoticed until
lines dissolve, letters
blur, ground unmoors, and
a gorge is carved out
between girl and world.

*initially, I wrote this line as:

there was ghost, carried
deep within the girl,
passed on from unknown
ancestors: scrambled…

I can’t decide which I like better.

Since I’m thinking more about vision, and how to express it in poetry, here’s a poem about saccadic masking from Paige Lewis. Like most poems I really like, I don’t quite get it yet.

Saccadic Masking/ Paige Lewis from Space Struck

a phenomenon where the brain blocks out blurred images created by movement of the eye

All constellations are organisms
and all organisms are divine
and unfixed. I am spending
my night in the kitchen. There
is blood in the batter—dark
strands stretch like vocal
cords telling me I am missing
so much with these blurred
visions: a syringe flick, the tremor
of my wrist—raised veins silked
green. I have seen the wings
of a purple finch wavering
around its body, stuck, burned
to the grill of my car, which means
I have failed to notice its flight—
a lesson on infinities, a lesson I
am trying to learn. I am trying.
Tell me, how do I steady my gaze
when everything I want is motion?

jan 23/RUN

3.4 miles
river road trail, south/north
2 degrees / feels like 2
100% snow-covered

Cold, but only 2 mph wind and sun, so the feels like temperature was the same as the actual temperature. Nice! A great morning for a run, even if it was too bright, with the sun reflecting off the new snow. For the last two runs, I was inside, and I could have decided it was too cold and too snow-covered again today and ran on the treadmill, but I remembered how much I love running outside in the winter and went for it. Very glad I did. Saw Santa Claus, several fat tires, half a dozen walkers, and a cross-country skier, skiing in the wide boulevard between edmund and the river road. It’s always a great run when I encounter a cross-country skier! The river was pure white and quiet. Two people were shoveling the WPA stone steps at the 44th street parking lot –were they “official” volunteers, or had they just decided to shovel the step because they needed to be cleared? Heard a black-capped chickadee, but not any geese, or cardinals, or crows.

My Glasses/ Jane Hirshfield

Glasses can be taken off.
The world instantly soften, blurs.
The pattern of carpet
or leaves out a window,
words on a page,
the face in a mirror.
Blurs,
even the war that is coming,
pushing its iron boat-shape
onto the sand of a beach not far
but not seen;
even the silences coming,
following the boat
as a swimming dog follows its master.
Lu Chi, poet and scholar,
born into a family of generals,
was executed
in the thirty-fifty year of the Xi Jin dynasty,
after his soldiers’ bodies
blocked the Great Yangtze.
The Yangtze went elsewhere,
blurring the nearby fields.
Merciful blurring, merciful forgetting.
Meeting Lu Chi’s name.
I think of his image of culture
as one axe handle shaping another,
I think of his thoughts about unpainted silk.
Each of the Yangtze dead
had a mother, a father, wife, children,
a well, some chickens.
No, the largesses of glasses is not seeing.

For more on Lu Chi, see Wen fu/Essay on Literature.

jan 17/RUN

5.5 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
22 degrees / feels like 15
75% snow-covered

Looking forward to the day when the pavement is bare again. It’s supposed to be above freezing tomorrow, so maybe it will melt? Even with the soft, slippery snow, it was a good run. Felt really strong and relaxed all the way through the turn around. Running up the franklin hill was hard, but I forced myself to keep going until I reached the bridge. Then I walked for a few minutes and put in my headphones. Then I ran the rest of the way. Wore the right number of layers for the weather (2 tights, 1 pair of socks, tank top, green long sleeve shirt, pink cotton jacket, black vest, buff, 2 pairs of gloves, black hat), although the hat got a little warm. Taking the hat off, at the end of my run, my ponytail was soaked. Later, when I took the ponytail holder out, I sprayed water all over the floor. Gross, I guess. Scott asked: “Was that sweat?” Yep.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. right before starting my run, looking north on my street, the sidewalk was stretched out in a straight line for blocks, almost completely clear
  2. the tight crunch of salt or ice-melt on the sidewalk in front of the church as I ran over it
  3. the short stretch of sidewalk on the north side of lake street that leads over to trail was in rough shape: soft, sloppy, uneven
  4. chirping birds, sounding like spring
  5. everything looking like static, not quite staying still, except for the tree trunk which looked solid and very brown
  6. everything also looking sepia-toned. Is it because of all the brown trunks?
  7. a single crow cawing nearby
  8. the river, 1: mostly white, with small holes of open water
  9. the river, 2: under the bridge, open with gray water
  10. the river, 3: down in the flats, just past the franklin bridge, I was closer to the water and the many spots where the ice/snow had cracked, everything still, not calm but desolate or abandoned

Hearing the single crow cawing, reminded me of an Arthur Sze poem I read this morning:

Fauve/ Arthur Sze in Dazzled

Caw Caw, Caw Caw Caw.
To comprehend a crow
you must have a crow’s mind.
To be the night rain,
silver, on black leaves,
you must live in the
shine and wet. Some people
drift in their lives:
green-gold plankton,
phosphorescent, in the sea.
Others slash: a knife
at a yellow window shade
tears open the light.
But to live digging deep
is to feel the blood
in your rage as rivers,
is to feel love and hatred
as fibers of a rope,
is to catch the scent
of a wolf, and turn wild.

The word, fauve, sounded familiar, but I had to look it up. It means vivid colors, and refers to the movement of painters, including Matisse, and “their unconventional use of intensely vivid color, and free treatment of form” (Merriam-Webster).

fauves = wild beasts
vivid colors express intense emotions

I’m thinking about Fauvism (the little bit I understand of it), and its intense, vivid, sharp, striking colors. One blog post I read, contrasted Monet’s dreamy, subdued Houses of Parliament with Derain’s Charring Cross Bridge and his “lurid greens” and yellows. It is difficult for me to see intense colors. I was noticing earlier today that sometimes it helps to look off to the side. In general, I see the world, more like Monet’s dream. What does this have to do with Sze’s poem? Not sure, but it connects. I’ll need to think about it some more.

jan 15/RUN

4.4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
10 degrees / feels like 1
100% snow-covered

Cold, but not cold enough to freeze snot, sunny. Lots of birds singing: some chickadees, cardinals (I think?). The shadows were sharp, strong. I noticed them heading south: the shadows of a sign, then a fence post. Heading north, my shadow, beside me. The path was covered in snow, some parts of it tamped down, others loose and soft. Hard work. Happy to be outside, remembering how much I love the snow, how it connects me to my north woods roots.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. at least a dozen people walking around the falls, some of them up above, a few below, 2 walking across the frozen creek
  2. the river, heading south: such a bright white, glowing, shining, blinding
  3. lots of people on the Winchell Trail — the trees were so bare that I could see them clearly: someone with a dog, later someone in a bright orange or red jacket
  4. the Winchell Trail between 42nd and 44th was hidden by snow
  5. a sharp, loud bark from a dog somewhere below me, way down by the river?
  6. 1 or 2 fat tires
  7. a man talking on a bluetooth headset, just exiting the walking part of the double bridge
  8. A guy walking a dog, carrying a kid in a backpack
  9. the sky, bright blue, cloudless
  10. the river, heading north: flat, dull, looking more like a white field

Found these on Couplet Poetry:

Ekphrasis as Eye Test/ Jane Zwart

If you wake to a Rothko where the windows
should be, to the dark wearing an indistinct belt
between uneven sashes of glass, one oxblood
shoe-polish, one midnight blue, the problem
is refraction. The light–what little outruns
the dark–has turned its ankle on the retina,
bouncing false on a trampoline inside your eye.

Of course some afflictions also disappear in the dark,
which swallows the man whole. At night a Reinhardt,
in day the fellow’s fifty-year-old face is a Rembrandt,
an oval of flesh glaucoma vignettes; blindness
likes to lick the outskirts of likeness first.

Other losses begin in the middle of the field:
redacting the kiss at a picture’s center–
wrapping lovers’ heads in pillow slips; hovering doves
at eye level anywhere hatted men stand.
They could be anyone, the strangers Magritte painted
almost as their mothers, maculas wasted, would see them.

But usually the picture dims proportionally, cataracts
stirring gray into haystacks and ground and dust-ruffle
sky. Maybe you will finally understand Monet, his play
in thirty acts, his slow lowering of the lights in Giverny.
At last there is nothing left to squint against.

Ekphrasis as Eye-Test/ Amit Majmudar

Ecstasy is not to see a stranger’s vision but to say it,
Echolocating, in your own voice’s
Existential mirror,
Ecstasy.

Ecstasy means to stand outside the
Ecstatic moment itself. You have to
Ache toward the vision whose
Ekphrasis

Awakens phrases in you that dead
Reckon the unseen by way of the seen.
Echo-shaped, you take on the vision’s
Edges, take an

Axe to the lake that froze around your legs
Decades ago. The eye that
Examines is your self. The stranger’s vision you
Recreate through

Ekphrasis
Expresses through
Ecstasy
Ecstasy.

dec 26/RUN

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
27 degrees
0% snow-covered

All of the snow — well, all of the snow on the road + trail + sidewalk — melted while I was gone for Christmas. Even though we got back in the afternoon, and I was hungry, I decided I couldn’t not got out and take advantage of bare trails, something that happens so infrequently in the winter. I ran to the falls and tried to notice them as I ran by. I can’t remember hearing them, but I saw the water flowing freely.

Running above, I studied the Winchell Trail below. Between 28th and 42nd, it was covered in ice and empty of walkers. From 42nd to the southern start, there were several groups of people on it. I couldn’t see if it was clear or covered. Near the double-bridge, I heard a kid laughing somewhere nearby.

For Christmas, I got several books: Lydia Davis’ ESSAYS One; Alice Oswald’s Dart; Maggie Smith’s Goldenrod; and Arthur Sze’s The Glass Constellation. I’m trying to not get as many physical books these days because of my declining vision, unless I know I’ll read and refer back to them a lot. I’m very excited about all of these! Here’s a poem from Arthur Sze:

Eye Exam/ Arthur Sze

  E D F C Z P
his eyesight is tethered to shore —

  no sign of zebras
but spotted towhees repair their nest;

  before the ditch is cleared,
plum trees are blossoming along a riparian bank —

  he pauses at the gaps between letters,
notices how his mind has an urge to wander,

how it resists being tethered to question and quick reply —  
yellow daffodils are rising in the yard;

    behind his eyelids,
a surge of aquamarine water is breaking to shore:

  they are stretching,
they are contorting into bliss —

  and as the opthamologist
rotates lenses, “Is it clearer with 1 or 2?”

he sees how this moment is lens, mirror, spring,    
and how, “1,”

D E F P O T E C
sharpens his vision to this O, the earth

I have thought of writing a poem about this “better with 1 or 2” exam. So many questions, so hard to determine which is better, which is worse. For now, glasses still help a little with my non-cone dystrophy problem: near-sightedness. But standard eye exams seem almost pointless for me. I can read small things when I’m given as much time as I need. If I have to read it quickly, I can’t. Which lens, 1 or 2, makes my ability to focus fast better?

I want to spend some more time with this poem to reflect on its meaning. Are the zebras and towhees referencing letters in a way that I’m missing? This idea of sharpened vision tethering one to earth makes me think of how untethered I often feel out in the world, with everything unfocused, fuzzy, soft. Are there other ways to be tethered that don’t require clear vision? Yes, but they aren’t often recognized, represented. Are they in this poem?


nov 4/RUN

4.75 miles
Veteran’s Home Loop*
35 degrees
humidity: 84%

*a new loop: south on the river road trail to Minnehaha Regional Park, up the steps and over the falls. Follow the trail along the fence, past the John Stevens House. Take the bridge to the grounds of the Veteran’s Home. Go through a parking lot, up some steps, to the trail near the edge that leads down to Locks and Dam Number One. Rejoin the river road trail heading north until you reach the parking lot with the entrance to the Winchell Trail. Take the Winchell trail north to the Oak Savanna.

A good run. Cold update: It lingers. Still stuffed up, but continuing to feel better. A little harder to run because of the crud in my throat + a few raggedy coughs. Another sunny day with not much wind. So humid. I want my cold, crisp air!

10 Things I Noticed

  1. A haze in the air from the sun illuminating the humidity. Running above the oak savanna, everything was even softer, out of focus than (my) usual, filtered through the damp air
  2. Still above the Oak Savanna: I can see more of the mesa now that more leaves have left
  3. The river was glowing white with sunlight
  4. Not too many people on the trails — hardly any walkers or runner or bikers. Just 2 roller skiers
  5. Stopped at the spot on the Winchell Trail where the man had been using a hacksaw last week to check what he had done. Nothing, as far as I could tell
  6. At its start, just after the slabbed steps, the Winchell Trail, which had been covered in leaves last week, was clear. Minneapolis Parks must have cleared out the leaves sometime this week
  7. The bridge over to the Veteran’s Home, high above the trail below — the trail that follows the creek after it has fallen all the way to the Mississippi River — has a chainlink fence that makes it difficult to see below, especially when the sun is shining directly on it
  8. Running on the edge of the bluff, I heard the roaring of the water as it rushed over the dam at Locks and Dam Number One, then I saw it: a wall of white water
  9. A turkey crossing! Near turkey hollow, I encountered at least 5 turkeys, almost all the way across the road
  10. At the end of my run in the Oak Savanna, I heard a bird crying out. I stopped to locate it: a white-ish bird in a small nest in a nearby tree. I can’t remember the sound it made and have no idea what kind of bird it is — was it the mother, protecting her young? Do any birds nest in the fall?

Just looked it up and yes, some birds do nest in the fall. I didn’t know that. I’m thinking it might have been a mourning dove. They nest in the spring, but can lay eggs as late as October. Wow.

Prints/Tracks/Traces

The poem of the day on poetry foundation reminded me of part of a poem I read last month and then wrote about in a document titled, “October’s Apparitions.” I like the multiple meanings of the title. Prints, as in photographs, but also fingerprints. I thought about prints as tracks too — not yet a trail, but evidence of someone or something else there before you.

Prints/ Joseph Bruchac

Seeing photos
of ancestors
a century past

is like looking
at your own
fingerprints—

circles 
and lines
you can’t 
recognize

until someone else
with a stranger’s eye
looks close and says
that’s you.

Here’s the part of the poem that I posted/wrote about in October:

from Seven Types of Shadow / U A Fanthorpe

We carry our human ghosts around with us.
As we grow we face the mirrors, and see
The specter of a great-aunt, a vague look
Known only from sepia snapshots. The hands we’re used to —
Yes, these — their contours came by way of a long retinue
Of dust. We are photofits of the past,
And the future eyes us sideways as we eye ourselves.
We are the ghosts of great-aunts and grand-nephews.
We are ghosts of what is dead and not yet born. 

And here is what I wrote on oct 15th:

Who, from my family, do I look like? What characteristics of others do I have? Whose nose? I don’t know/remember too many of my relatives, so it’s difficult to imagine who I might look like…[pause to look at pictures of relatives] I couldn’t find much resemblance. I’m not sure who from the past is like me, but my daughter is like me in her posture — she swims like me, she walks like me, she has my shoulders and non-existent eyebrows. I like the idea of the traces of others within us — what we pass on, the gestures and the expressions — there is love in the passing on, even if or when there’s not much connection or love in the relationships. We are ghosts of what is dead and not yet born. I like this idea of all these different times mingling together.

Interesting…reduced to body parts — ghosts as that which we inherited…makes me think of the cone dystrophy — whose bad vision did I inherit? How many others have had it? And which side of the family? My sister has mentioned a grandmother who was blind—did she have cone dystrophy, or was it something else? Thinking about first talking with the doctor and the idea of how it skips generations, jumping around in families so you don’t know where it came from — a ghost not attached to anyone, unknown. So much unknown…

The comfort of a known ghost. To look at someone and see yourself in them or them in you. To know they are the ghost you are passing on. What do you do with not knowing? Is it necessary to know? Do you want to find out? What do you do about you kids? 

pages document/ oct 15, 2021

Re-reading this, I’m thinking more about how invisible, or at least very difficult to see, cone dystrophy is. It’s rare and has such a wide range of symptoms, presenting differently even in the same families. And, it skips generations and moves around families: a great-aunt might have it, but not a grandparent or parent. I’m not sure when it was first discovered — even now in 2021, so much is not known about it and the diagnosis of it falls under the vague, blanket term, “cone dystrophy,” which stands in for all sorts of cone-related vision problems. If it existed in families a generation or two ago, it was very likely it was not discovered. No understanding or diagnosis. No treatment. No prints (no evidence revealed in photos or through a doctor’s diagnosis). Instead, only faint tracks or trails: a story about someone having bad vision when they got older, knitting even though they couldn’t see what they were doing. My dad’s family, poor and living in rural upper peninsula Michigan, and before that, rural Finland, most likely had very little or no access to an ophthalmologist that would look for or understand cone dystrophy.

Cone dystrophy is inherited, most likely an autosomal recessive inheritance (AR). If I understand it correctly, I have a 50% chance of passing it on to my kids, but they only carry it if both Scott and I have it, and they only have a 25% chance of being affected by it (and, even if they are affected by it, their symptoms might be very mild or hard to detect). [source: Cone/Cone-rod dystrophy for patients] My experience of it, with most of my cones in my central vision gone and a good chance of becoming legally blind, is rare. So, I’m not too worried about my kids. Instead, I am fascinated by where it came from and the strange, unlikely path it has taken to get to me. What ghosts have passed it on unknowingly? To this I’ll add: I’m not sure if I need to know who it is from, or get an accurate map of how it’s traveled; I am more interested in the idea that it’s hard to track and what it means to live with unknown/unnamed ghosts.

Taking this idea of what our ghosts pass on to us in a different direction, I’m reminded of something I read in Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth a few years ago about the diseases we carry in us unknowingly, maybe from birth, maybe not:

Franny’s father, Fix, says, “People are scared of the wrong things… We go around thinking that what’s going to get us is waiting on the other side of the door: it’s outside, it’s in the closet, but it isn’t like that. . . For the vast majority of the people on this planet, the thing that’s going to kill them is already on the inside.” 

Ann Patchett/ Commonwealth

Does this make sense? Will it be useful to future Sara?

I began working on the tracks/prints part of this entry before my run. The last thing I thought about before I left flowed from it: What are the connections between my vision loss and running by the gorge? Some of it is directly related; I’m gathering words, images, metaphors about my vision while I run. Some of it is more a matter of them happening at the same time.