jan 25/RUN

5.1 miles
bottom of franklin hill
37 degrees / humidity: 91%

Fog. Mist. And is that a very light drizzle or just the over-saturated air? Felt cold in the beginning — that damp, gets-in-your-bones cold — but warmed up by the end of the first mile. Waved at Mr. Morning!, said Hi! to Dave, the Daily Walker. Smiled at many other people I encountered. The fog made everything seem muffled, relaxed.

10 Things, Water

  1. beyond the flood plain forest, the river, glowing a silvery white, iced over
  2. small puddles on the path
  3. my forehead was damp for most of the run — not sweat, but drizzle or the damp
  4. in the flats, the river, almost completely open, only a few chunks of bright white ice floating on the surface
  5. the slick sound of water in car and bike wheels
  6. stepped in some squishy mud where snow had melted on the dirt trail
  7. some people down in longfellow flats, right by the river, laughing
  8. hardly any snow anywhere, almost all melted
  9. low visibility, enveloped in fog
  10. my pink headband at the end of the run: soaked with sweat

Before I ran, I started thinking about a hybrid chapbook idea: combining some of my water poems with the moments in my log where they started. I want to call it Waterlogged. Initially I thought I would just use poems about swimming in Lake Nokomis, but as I ran, I thought about all the different water-related things I’ve written, about the fog (yes, this idea was inspired by today’s weather), the crunching snow, the gorge and erosion, sweat/humidity/dew point. Maybe even a 10 Things list about water?

Running north, I listened to the water and my feet crunching on the sandy debris on the trail. Running south, I listened to Dear Evan Hansen.

august 6/SWIM

3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
68 degrees

First swim back since last Monday. I’ve missed it. Almost thought it wouldn’t happen; it was supposed to rain. Instead, cloudy. Hooray!

I had a rough start. Right before swimming, I couldn’t get my nose plug to stay on my nose. After taking it off and putting it on again several times, I decided it was good enough and headed out to the first orange buoy. A few strokes in, I had to stop. A leaking goggle. Fixed it, started again. A minute or two later, I could tell my nose plug wasn’t on fully. Stopped in the middle of the lake to adjust it. A few minutes after that, my eye began to burn — I hadn’t rinsed out all the baby shampoo I use to de-fog my goggles. I swam with my eyes closed for a few strokes then stopped to rinse my eyes and goggles out while treading water halfway between the shore and the middle green buoy.

I had hoped to recite Mary Oliver’s “Swimming, One Day in August” as I swam, at least the first lines: It is time now, I said,/ for the deepening and the quieting of the spirit/among the flux of happenings. But, it was hard to think about deepening and quieting when my eyes were burning and my nose plug was leaking. After completing 2 loops, I decided to stop and stand and rest at the big beach for a minute and then find a way to get deeper and quieter for my last loop. I think it worked.

10 Things

  1. seagulls! Maybe a dozen, standing in the water near the shore
  2. a gray morning with rain coming
  3. water temperature warmer than the air
  4. opaque water — no silver flashes
  5. a few boats in the water, mostly lifeguards in kayaks
  6. the buoys were off from my line of landmarks — the top of the building, the over-turned boat, so I swam wide and on the edges of the course as I kept the landmarks in sight
  7. smooth water — were there any waves?
  8. no vines or weeds or floating chunks of vegetation
  9. no sun
  10. at least one plane in the sky

A strange sensation. I keep having flashes of memory about the swim that seem like dreams. Was I dreaming as I swam, or did I dream about swimming last night? Maybe a bit of both?

Hard for me to believe, but it looks like I haven’t posted Mary Oliver’s poem, “Swimming, One Day in August” in its entirety. Here it is:

Swimming, One Day in August/ Mary Oliver

It is time now, I said,
for the deepening and quieting of the spirit
among the flux of happenings.

Something had pestered me so much
I thought my heart would break.
I mean, the mechanical part.

I went down in the afternoon
to the sea
which held me, until I grew easy.

About tomorrow, who knows anything.
Except that it will be time, again,
for the deepening and quieting of the spirit.

july 31/RUNSWIM

5 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
65 degrees

What a wonderful morning to be outside! Cooler, sunny, calm.

My new morning routine is to get up, feed the dog, make my coffee, and then sit outside on my deck. Sitting there, I noticed a few birds swooping down from our new gutters. Uh oh — they’re trying to build a nest.

I felt pretty good on my run. Relaxed for the first few miles. Running down the hill, my left hip felt a little tight. Not too bad. Last night, Scott and I talked about signing up for the Oct 2024 marathon, for our 50 birthdays. Can my knees and hips handle it?

Listened to birds, acorns falling from the trees, kids calling out for Dairy Queen for the first half of the run. Put in headphones and listened to “Camelot” on the way back.

At the bottom of the franklin hill, I turned around. As I walked back up the hill, I recorded a few moments from the run:

moment one

Running through the tunnel of trees
a few minutes ago
a wonderful silence
no cars
I could hear myself breathing
everything still
no wind.
I was mostly in the moment
every so often a wonder
about when a car would come
and break the silence
cut into my calm.

moment two

approaching the trestle
I heard some kids
yelling, yeah! dairy queen!
another camp group
a dozen kids in bright yellow vests
as they biked past me
one of them chanted, dairy queen! dairy queen!

moment three

as spoke about moment two into my phone
a runner passed me
looking relaxed graceful
his legs rhythmically bobbing up and down

10 Things

  1. a still river
  2. a black shirt dropped near the porta potty
  3. one acorn dropping to the ground from a tree, thud
  4. another acorn being crushed by a bike wheel, crunch!
  5. 2 roller skiers, or the same roller skier encountered twice
  6. the Welcoming Oaks wondering where I’ve been
  7. a person asleep under the bridge
  8. a regular — Santa Claus
  9. another regular — Mr. Morning!
  10. a woman ahead of me, a dark shirt strung through the strap of her tank top, flapping as she ran

On this last day of July, a month about water, I want to include this passage from Roger Deakin’s Waterlog:

The following afternoon, under a blue sky fringed white with distant clouds on the horizon, four of us swam in 360 feet of turquoise water in a sheer-sided quarry on Belnahua. The island encricled a huge natural swimming pool, raised above sea level, whose waters were so utterly transparent that when we swam, we saw our shadows far down, swimming ahead of us along the bottom. All around, only yards away, was the deeper blue of the open sea, and the Hebrides: Fladda, Scarba, Jura, Lunga, the Garvellachs (the ‘Islands of the sea’, St. Coumba’s favourite place), Luing, Mull and Colonsay. The light and the skies kept changing all afternoon: from bright blue with distant dazzling clouds to deepening red and gold. Diving from the rocks into the immensely deep, clear, brackish water, intensified the giddy feeling of aquatic flying.

Waterlog / Roger Deakin (237)

I would love to swim here (or near here)– some day in my 50s, I hope. Last week I mentioned possibly seeing my shadow in the water, but barely because the water in the lake is opaque. I remember seeing (and writing about) my shadow in the pool last winter, how it felt like I was flying above the deep end. I love the idea of aquatic flying and the rare times I feel like I’m actually doing it.

swim: 2 loops (4 cedar loops)
cedar lake open swim
83 degrees

Always grateful for another swim. Was able to swim on course, even without the buoys. My calves felt a little strange, my nose was a bit stuffed up, but otherwise, a great swim.

Instead of listing 10 things I noticed, here’s the coolest thing of the night: the vegetation stretching up from the bottom of the lake. How tall is it, I wonder? On the last loop, rounding the far orange buoy at Hidden Beach, I swam parallel to the beach, right above the vegetation — is it milfoile? Whatever it is, it’s wonderfully creepy — a pale green, ghostly, reaching up toward the light or my torso. So much of it! When I have more time, I do a little more research about these plants, and try to describe them more too.

july 30/SWIM

4 loops
open swim lake nokomis
69 degrees

Another great Sunday swim. Sunny and a calm. A little cooler, but not too bad. Felt very strong on the first loop, not so strong by the fourth one. Somewhere in the middle, I lost track of the number of loops I was doing. I entered the swimming area at the main beach convinced I had done 5, when I had only done 4. Oh well, that was enough for me. For some reason, today’s swim tired me out more than the 4 loops on Friday. I guess it is a lot of swimming. I swam more miles this week (10.5) than I ran (10). I think I swam more miles than ran this entire month. I did a rough check, and they were basically the same. Wow. I really cut back on running this month and increased my swimming!

Started the swim by being routed by someone with an orange safety buoy. No worries. I just stopped for a minute and regrouped.

Saw at least one plane, many minnows, the swimmer with green arms — I still can’t tell if it’s a wetsuit or a sun shirt (or whatever they’re called), pale legs under the water, sparkles on the water’s surface, a clear sky, then a cloud-filled one, shiny bubbles from my fingers.

I recited a few poems — lines from “A Nude Swim,” “Evaporations,” and “The Meadow.” Thought again about my body losing all of its loneliness.

Wow, this poem!

Glacier/ Claire Wahmanholm

It is everywhere. It is the water I am trying to teach my daughters to float in. It is the sky I tell them to keep their eyes on. It is the air I tell them to seal in their mouths should they slip underwater. I am a leaky boat, but I am trying to answer their questions. As deep as thirty Christmas trees. As deep as twenty giraffes standing on each other’s backs. There hasn’t been a sea here for seventy-five million years. I cannot explain that number. My daughters’ ankles are sinking into the beryl water. No one can float forever. On the map, pushpins skewer patches of icy green like rare moths. I am trying to say it’s too late without making them too sad. It’s like how you can’t take the blue out of the white paint, like how you can’t hear your name and not turn around. The calving of glaciers is the loudest underwater sound on Earth. I dip my daughters’ ears beneath the surface to let them listen. It’s like how you can’t put a feather back on a bird, like how the bird won’t fit back into its shell. We step backward into the house. I wring the glacier out of their suits. I wring it out of their hair. I wipe it from their faces, but it is everywhere. It is the storm, it is the drowned harbor, it is the current, it is the bathwater that the baby slurps before we can stop her. The horizon rises. It rains. The glacier hammers the roof, the glacier soaks a corner of the bedroom ceiling, which greens with spores. On the map, the pushpins hover over green air, the green air is a spreading shroud. The storm surges ashore, mercurial and summer-smelling. We are not accustomed to the sea, so we describe it like a sky. The waves are tornado green and loud. In the water, the polar bears look like clouds.

july 28/SWIM

4 loops
lake nokomis open swim
71 degrees

Yesterday, it was very windy and HOT — upper 90s with feels like temp of over 100 — so I decided to skip open swim last night. I’m glad I did. I think I would have been sore and tired, having battled the wind and the waves. Instead today was a great swim. Calm water and not too crowded. I felt strong and fast and confident.

Again, I couldn’t see the orange buoys, but it didn’t matter. I was fine. I’ve been writing for years about how I can’t see those buoys. Slowly, what it means to “not see the buoys” has changed. It used to be, I only see the buoys every few minutes, not all the time, or, I only see the flash of orange or a small orange dot. But today, on the way to the little beach, swimming into the sun, I only saw the buoys out of my peripheral as I swam by them, never when I was trying to sight with them. Looking straight ahead, using my central vision, I only saw glare and water, trees, and sky. This did not worry me at all. The only time I could see an orange buoy with my central vision, and again, just barely, was after I rounded the second green buoy as I swam back to the start of the loop. Mostly I could see the green buoys as the idea of green or a small green dot. One time, as I got closer (but I was still 50+ yards away), I knew I was heading toward the second green buoy but I couldn’t actually see it. I paused, lifted my head high out of the water, then turned to look out of my peripheral. There it was. When I looked through my central vision again, I could see it because now my brain knew where it was. That’s one way my brain compensates for bad cones.

On the back half of loops 3 and 4, I recited A Oswald’s “Evaporations,” A Sexton’s “A Nude Swim,” and T Hoaglund’s “The Social Life of Water.” Fun! I like reciting these poems. I thought about Sexton’s line, we let our bodies lose all their loneliness and Hoaglund’s lines, all water is a part of other water and no water is lonely water. Also thought about Ed Bok Lee and his idea of water as wise, ebullient, and generous in “Water in Love.” I tried to love like the lake loves, open and generous to everything and everyone. I gave attention to feeling not lonely — connected, entangled, beholding and beholden by the fish or the lifeguards, the other swimmers, the buoys.

10+ Lake Companions

  1. the woman who, as she neared the safety boat by the lifeguard stand on the beach to drop off her stuff, called out, I forgot my cap in the car! Then later, when I asked, pointed out the far orange buoy to me
  2. the lifeguard on the shore, speaking into her walkie talkie, instructing the lifeguards where to place the buoys
  3. the swan boat, far off to my left
  4. the plane sharply ascending above me
  5. the small piece of debris that I accidentally swallowed then felt as it briefly got stuck in my throat
  6. the small piece of debris that somehow got trapped in my googles, then in my eye until I blinked it out
  7. the swimmers with bright pink buoys tethered to their torsos
  8. one of the few swimmers wearing a wet suit on this warm morning
  9. the breaststrokers
  10. the women giggling and calling out to each other as they approached the first orange buoy
  11. the woman discussing her swim with another swimmer after she was done, I’m slow, very very slow

All of us, together, loving the lake and each other.

Before my swim, I read a great interview between two writers discussing illness and the writing life, Sick and Writing: Two Poets Converse. Here are some passages from it that I’d like to remember and reflect on:

detection, diagnosis, disease

poetry is not so much a means of healing as it is a method of detection, occasionally therapeutic but essentially diagnostic. Which of course implies that poetry is rooted not only in dis-ease but in causes hidden.

Jennifer Sperry Steinorth

to articulate what this singular life is like, in the thick of it

Not that we’re writing to solve the mystery of being; it’s more the need to see clearly. To look at the undersides of leaves, to watch butterflies emerge from their chrysalises. To be amazed. To look at the adventure of our infirmities, even. As Marianne Boruch said, it’s about detection.


I’ve wondered if I write them [emotions] to feel in control, to feel in connection with others who suffer, or simply to articulate what this singular life is like, in the thick of it.

Fleda Brown

on erasures

I like the idea of receptivity with regard to erasure. I have often used the metaphor of excavation to speak of that work, though I too balk at the idea that I am digging up something that already exists, something latent in the text. Rather, it is as if I am excavating the dead from a text that buried them—a kind of channeling.


trying to find the awe in awful

The word awful has awe in it, but when I feel awful it doesn’t feel like awe—maybe it should. Pain alienates us from one another, from ourselves, and from language. It disrupts connectivity. But through writing or other forms of making, we struggle against that disconnect.


on taking walks in order to face the lion

 I sometimes need multiple walks a day; movement outside in the ordinary splendor of the world allows me to enter the tragic spaces of the past and the ongoing darkness in the world and in myself, without being swallowed by it. Jane Hirshfield talks about this in her wonderful essay “Facing the Lion,” inspired in part by Allen Ginsberg’s poem “The Lion for Real,” “The trick then is to let the lion into the house without abandoning one’s allegiance to the world of the living: to live amid the overpowering scent of its knowledge, yet not be dragged entirely into its realm.” Moving my body out in the world—outside the intimate spaces where I write—being in conversation with others—all of these help me hold the dark and light together. That this work demands so much discipline—even when I feel otherwise stable—speaks to the toll our work can take.


the relief of a diagnosis

 Sometimes when I tell people my diagnoses they tell me they are sorry, and I understand they think the diagnoses are awful, and I get that, but I am so thankful for the diagnoses. It’s such a relief to know what’s wrong—even when nothing can be done to fix it.

Maybe knowing what’s wrong—the diagnosis—helps us—if not to fix what’s wrong, then to adjust our mind to new uncertainties—to let something go?


Discovered that Fleda Brown has a wonderful blog, The Wobbly Bicycle. I’ll have to keep checking it out!

Here’s the poem-of-the-day from yesterday. If I had swam last night, I would have posted it then. It’s fitting for my swim this morning, thinking about my love for/of others in the water. Also, it’s a nice nod to the swimmer I heard after I exited the lake who said she was slow, very very slow.

Romance/ Susan Browne

I swim my laps today, slowly, slowly,
reaching my arms out & over, my fleshly oars,
the water silken on my skin, my body still able
to be a body & resting at the pool’s lip,
I watch other bodies slip through the blue,
how fast the young are
& how old they become, floating, floating,
forgetting the weight of years
while palm trees sway above us,
a little wind in the fronds, children playing
in the fountains, one is crying, one is eating
a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, I’m hungry
& wonder, has everything important happened
& what is more important than this,
like a secret adventure, like an affair I’m having
with everyone I see, their soft or washboard bellies,
their flat or rounded butts, their rippling hair
or shiny domes, their fragile ankles,
their beautiful bones, all our atoms swimming, swimming
& making us visible & I shove off the wall,
reaching my arms out, embracing the whole
magic show, with ten more laps to go.


4.6 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
63 degrees

What a beautiful morning! The first 3 miles of run felt good. When I stopped to walk up the last quarter of the franklin hill then started running again, my left knee and hip felt tight. I wonder if I need to cut back a lot on my running and focus on swimming and biking for the rest of July?

10 Things

  1. roller skiers! 15-20 of them all in a row — the clack of the skis, the click of the poles
  2. rowers! didn’t see them, but heard the bullhorn and the coxswain instructing the rowers
  3. a glimpse of shimmering water through the trees
  4. someone sleeping under the franklin bridge
  5. the sh sh sh of soft, sandy grit under my feet near the trestle
  6. several bikes flying past me on the way down the franklin hill
  7. greeting one runner as I passed him from behind — good morning!
  8. bright yellow and green shirts on runners I encountered
  9. a woman walker in a bright pink sweatshirt
  10. passing a woman running who was listening to some guy talking — was it Ant? Stage 10 of the tour de france?

That was difficult to come up with 10 things. Was it because the run was difficult? I’m distracted?

Listened to the traffic and my breathing as I ran north, Camelot as I ran south.

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis
74 degrees

Biked with Scott to the lake. Nice! We took the trail on the way there, the streets on the way back. The streets were less fun — too many bumps and holes that I couldn’t see. Just a reminder that I bike so well on the trail because I’ve memorized the path, every curve, crack, bump.

swim: 3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
75 degrees

The first loop was smooth, fast, no swells. Excellent. But by the time I started the second loop it started to become choppy. No worries. I happened to notice that they had placed the first green buoy out farther than they usually do. Nice — since I saw it, I didn’t get off course at all. I might have seen a few silver streaks below me in the water — fish?! Saw some swans, lots of yellow buoys tethered to swimmers, a couple planes. No ducks or seagulls or geese.

favorite stretch: after rounding the last green buoy, swimming parallel to the beach, heading towards the first orange buoy and the start of another loop. Such a cool sight, seeing the orange buoy far off.

Glad I only did 3 loops. As I exited the water, I realized it was raining — sprinkling. It’s funny how hard it is to tell that it’s raining when you’re swimming.

Anything else? Only remember feeling/seeing vegetation once: at the start of the swim, heading towards the orange buoy for the first time, I crossed over some milfoil growing up from the bottom.

An excerpt from a new book, Elixir, about water: In the Ladies’ Pool

june 27/SWIM

3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
85 degrees

The air quality was terrible this morning, but it felt okay during the swim. Very choppy and difficult to breathe on my left side. I didn’t mind; I like the choppy water and the challenge of swimming directly into the small swells. Crash! There was some chaos in the water as one swan boat pedaled right through the course. The water was filled with small particles that almost glowed. A cool visual effect. I felt strong and sore after 2 laps — mostly my back. I took a minute break then headed out again for my third lap. It would have been easy for me to stop after 2 loops — it was choppy, I was sore, I had already swam for 40 minutes — but I’m glad I did the final loop.

Found this beautiful poem on twitter this morning:

When You Learn To Swim/ Souvankham Thammavongsa

It will be different here. You can take a leap
off this ledge ten feet and never touch
ground. You can hover in what

could be air, lean back further and further a
and something that feels like faith
will lift, will hold you up. But it isn’t faith,
it’s some kind of ophysics, law, a rule of matter
put in place, set in place
as old and as constant as that sun:

that unsettled speck, that shadowless thing,
that thing to have

wordle challenge

3 tries:


I decided to do nothing with the rhymes treating them as one does the unfortunately frequent appearance of crafts adults require children to fashion from pipe cleaners and plastic beads.

When is it art, when craft?

Gotta dream boy
Gotta song
Paint your wagon
And come along

about: reasonably close to; almost; on the verge of; on all sides; around the outside; in many different directions — here and there; near; concerning

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.