april 29/RUN

4.2 miles
minnehaha falls and back
49 degrees / drizzle
wind: 7 mph / gusts: 14 mph

When I left for my run, I thought the rain had stopped. I was wrong, which was fine, because I don’t mind running in a drizzle, especially when it’s not too cold. Was it a drizzle? Maybe I’d call it a mist — a steady, soft spray that soaked my orange sweatshirt and mixed with the sweat on my face. Mostly I couldn’t see it; I just felt wet or damp or . . . I’ve got it: Moist! That’s how I felt as I ran today, moist. Scott hates this word, but I don’t mind it. What words do I detest? The only one I can think of immediately is nummy. Is that even a word?

So, everything, including me, was moist. Moist sidewalks, moist trails, moist air, moist shorts, running tights, socks. Other words for moist: soaked, damp, dank, saturated, humid

10 Moist Things

  1. the paved path — big puddles everywhere — the biggest puddle was right after the locks and dam no. 1 parking lot heading south
  2. the strip of dirt next to the paved path — muddy ruts
  3. the oak savanna — covered in leaves, light green and dripping
  4. the thick, gray air
  5. the laughing, water-logged voices of kids on the playground
  6. the slick road
  7. my running shoes
  8. my pony tail
  9. my orange sweatshirt
  10. the grass — a sponge . . . squish squish squish

A good run. I felt strong and springy — both because of the weather and my bouncy feet. I listened to the water gushing out of the sewer pipes and over the ledge as I ran to the falls. I put in my “It’s Windy” playlist on the way back. Most memorable song: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (11 on the Beaufort Scale for violent storm).

before the run

It’s almost the end of April (wow) and this morning, before my run, I finished my Beaufort Scale in Verse:

Beaufort Scale in Verse

0 — The Moment/Marie Howe

The whir of I should be, I should be, I should be

slows to silence,

the white cotton curtains hanging still.


1 — Long Life/Mary Oliver

We may be touched by the most powerful of suppositions—even to a certainty—as we stand in the rose petals of the sun and hear a murmur from the wind no louder than the sound it makes as it dozes under the bee’s winds. This, too, I suggest, is weather, and worthy of report.

2 — Nature Aria/Yi Lei

Autumn wind chases in
From all directions
And a thousand chaste leaves
Give way.

3 — And All Visible Signs Swept Away/Carl Phillips

I am stirred, I’m stir-able, I’m a wind-stirred thing

3 — When the Fact of Your Gaze Means Nothing, They You Are truly Alongside/Donika Kelly

the dry
sound of applause: leaves chapped/falling, an ending

4 — Enough/Jeffrey Harrison

The rising wind pulls you out of it,/and you look up to see a cloud of leaves
wheeling in sunlight, flickering against the blue
and lifting above the treetops, as if the whole day
were sighing, Let it go, let it go,
for this moment at least, let it all go

5 — Love Song for the Square Root of Negative One/Richard Siken

I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves tremble and I am invisible

6 — Wind/Emily Dickinson

When winds go round and round in bands,
And thrum upon the door,
And birds take places overhead,
To bear them orchestra

7 — Who Has the Wind?/Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither You nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
the wind is passing by

8 — Fall/Edward Hirsch

Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies

9 — Plea to the Wind/Alice Oswald

Unglue the fog from the woods from the waist up
And speak disparagingly of leaves

10 — Plea to the Wind/Alice Oswald

Whip the green cloth off the hills

11 — Postscript/Seamus Heaney

So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter. . .
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

12 — Wave After Wave/M. Bartley Seigel

In a heartbeat, rollers mass two stories
trough to insatiate tempest, unquelled
by prayer nor cigarette, careless, mean,

a cold-blooded indifference so pure,
a strong swimmer won’t last ten wet minutes.
At the Keweenaw, surf pummels the stamp
sands with ochre fists, ore boats stack up lee

of the stone, and entire beaches stand up
to walk away.

april 23/WALK

walk 1: 30 minutes with Delia, neighborhood
walk 2: 75 minutes to the library

I haven’t walked to the library in a long time. 5 or 6 or 7 years? Why has it been so long? Partly the pandemic and the library almost being burned down and then closed for a long time are to blame, but it’s also all the running and having a dog. If I have any time or energy left to walk, I need to take Delia the dog along, and the library is too far for her. Also, she’s not allowed inside.

It’s more than a mile, but less than 2 one way. It was great. I listened to Taylor Swift’s new album on the way there, and Beyoncé’s on the way back (Cowboy Carter). Wow! The Tortured Poets Department was good but Cowboy Carter was amazing.

10 Things

  1. a big white dog sitting quietly and calmly in a dirt back yard next to a chain link fence
  2. a cedar fence that looked almost new, with shiny wood, bulging out towards the sidewalk — what happened?
  3. red tulips in full bloom right up against the foundation of a house
  4. a big tree with a full set of yellowish-green leaves
  5. a terraced yard, all dirt, looking neat and ready to be filled with flowers
  6. a little free library packed with books, its glass door wide open
  7. music blasting from an open door at the Trinity Church, playing “Shake It Off”
  8. 2 squirrels winding up a tree, one chasing the other, their nails scratching the rough bark
  9. my favorite stone lions in front of a house wearing purple flower headbands in honor of spring
  10. a big moving truck backed into a driveway blocking all of the sidewalk and half the street

earlier today

This past Saturday, I took a class on public art and ekphrastic poetry with the new poet laureate of Minneapolis, Heid E. Erdrich. A great class. When I signed up for it, I was just interested in taking a class with Erdrich and learning more about ekphrastic poetry; I didn’t realize that public art would also be a part of it. Very cool. Anyway, the class inspired me to think more deeply about public poetry projects. I have several ideas for my own, with very little understanding of how to make them happen. Perhaps studying other examples will help educate and inspire me. Plus, studying them is another way to learn more about the place I live. First up: Sidewalk Poetry St. Paul

Sidewalk Poetry, St. Paul

Sidewalk Poetry is a systems-based work that allows city residents to claim the sidewalks as their book pages. This project re-imagines Saint Paul’s annual sidewalk maintenance program with Public Works, as the department repairs 10 miles of sidewalk each year. We have stamped more than 1,200 poems from a collection that now includes 73 individual pieces all written by Saint Paul residents. Today, everyone in Saint Paul now lives within a 10-minute walk of a Sidewalk Poem. 

This art project began with previous Public Art Saint Paul City Artist Marcus Young in 2008 under the name “Everyday Poems for City Sidewalks,” and continues today with evolved stamping approaches, as well as poetry submission and review processes. Our 2023 Sidewalk Poetry accepts poetry submissions in Dakota, Hmong, Somali, Spanish, and English. The poetry on our streets celebrates the remarkable cultures that make our City home and that makes our City strong. With this as a beginning, other languages may be added in years to come.

Sidewalk Poetry St Paul

I think the first step for me in getting to know this project is to visit some of the poems. I’d like to start running to them! Here’s a map to help me out: Public Art Sidewalks

I think I’ll start (tomorrow) with a favorite poet of mine, Naomi Cohn. She has one on the Southeast corner of Juno and Finn. Very close to it is one by Pat Owen, on the southside of Juno between Finn and Cleveland.

Almost forgot to post this: the first song on Beyoncé’s album, “American Requiem” sings about the wind!

Can we stand for something?
Now is the time to face the wind (Ow)
Coming in peace and love, y’all
Oh, a lot of takin’ up space
Salty tears beyond my gaze
Can you stand me?

Can we stand for something?
Now is the time to face the wind
Now ain’t the time to pretend
Now is the time to let love in

april 22/RUN

3.8 miles
river road, north/south
62 degrees
wind: 16 mph / gusts: 30 mph

62 in bright sun with very little shade feels warm, too warm. Time to start running much earlier in the day. Other weather-related gripes? Had to hold onto my cap several times so it wouldn’t blow off.

Everything is slowly turning green, especially the floodplain forest. The trees are coming into leaf/like something almost being said.

Noticed some cool bird shadows, one on the road from a bird high up in the sky, another on the side of a house.

Heard something beeping as I ran under the trestle — was a train coming soon? Not that I could tell.

Listened to the wind running north, my “It’s Windy” playlist running south. Heard “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Wind of Change” and thought about how an answer blowing in the wind could mean two contradictory things at once: 1. the answer is coming, change is coming, a better, freer world is coming and 2. the answer is just blowing in the wind, out of reach, as futile/pointless as talking to the wind.

back to the Beaufort Scale

Last week I came up with a great plan to create a Beaufort scale out of poetry lines, but it stalled when I couldn’t figure one out for 1. Today I’ll try again.

But before I do that — I think it stalled also because I got side tracked by metaphor and figurative language. The Beaufort scale mostly uses literal language, describing the effects of wind on various things, like umbrellas or people trying to walk. Occasionally metaphor creeps in with the use of white horses to describe white caps on waves. Is this the only use of metaphor in the scale? No.

Use of metaphor in Beaufort Scale:

0 — “sea like a mirror”
1 — ripples like scales
2 — crests like glass
3 — foam like glass
4 — white horses

If I’m reading correctly, the for use on land section is all literal descriptions of wind’s effects: leaves rustling, trees being uprooted, roof tiles ripping off, inconvenient then difficult to walk. I like how 7 is inconvenient to walk, while 8 is difficult.

Okay, now back to a poem scale. Instead of literal descriptions, I think I’d like figurative ones. It’s more fun!

when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by — “Who Has Seen the Wind?”/ Christina Rossetti

Would this be 5, “small trees in leaf start to sway”? or 6, “large branches in motion”? or 7, “whole trees in motion”?

I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves tremble and I am invisible — “Love Song for the Square Root of Negative One” / Richard Siken

2? “leaves rustle”? or 8, “”twigs break from trees”?

I am stirred, I’m stir-able, I’m a wind-stirred thing — “And All Visible Signs Swept Away” / Carl Phillips

Okay, think I know this one: “Leaves and small twigs in constant motion” (3).

Autumn wind chases in/From all directions/And a thousand chaste leaves/Give way. — “Nature Aria” / Yi Lei

I think this should be 2, “leaves rustle”

Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless/ Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:/It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies — “Fall” / Edward Hirsch

7, “inconvenient to walk against the wind”

the dry/sound of applause: leaves chapped/falling, an ending. — “When the Fact of Your Gaze Means Nothing, Then You Are Truly Alongside” / Donika Kelly

3: “leaves in constant motion”

Unglue the fog from the woods from the waist up/ And speak disparagingly of leaves — “Plea to the Wind” / Alice Oswald

This is a tough one for me. Is ungluing the fog violent or gentle? To speak disparagingly of the leaves seems less forceful than yelling at them — I think I’ll go with 4 “wind raises dust and loose paper, small branches move” but I could also go with 9, chimney pots and slates removed

Whip the green cloth off the hills — “Plea to the Wind” / Alice Oswald

10: “Trees uprooted, considerable structural damage occurs”

When winds go round and round in bands,/And thrum upon the door,/And birds take places overhead,/To bear them orchestra, — “Wind” / Emily Dickinson

6 — whistling in telegraph wires, umbrellas used with difficulty

So that the ocean on one side is wild/With foam and glitter. . ./As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways/ And catch the heart off guard and blow it open. — “Postscript” / Seamus Heaney

11: the sea is covered in foam, widespread damage

So, I already found a line last week for 0. With these lines above, I’m only missing 12. Although some of the lines above are used for multiple levels. I’ll fine tune that in a future entry. This was fun!

Here they are in order, so far:

0 —- the white cotton curtains hanging still

1 —

2 — Autumn wind chases in/From all directions/And a thousand chaste leaves/Give way. — “Nature Aria” / Yi Lei

3 — I am stirred, I’m stir-able, I’m a wind-stirred thing — “And All Visible Signs Swept Away” / Carl Phillips AND the dry/sound of applause: leaves chapped/falling, an ending. — “When the Fact of Your Gaze Means Nothing, Then You Are Truly Alongside” / Donika Kelly

4 —

5 — I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves tremble and I am invisible — “Love Song for the Square Root of Negative One” / Richard Siken

6 — When winds go round and round in bands,/And thrum upon the door,/And birds take places overhead,/To bear them orchestra, — “Wind” / Emily Dickinson

7 — when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by — “Who Has Seen the Wind?”/ Christina Rossetti

8 — Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless/ Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:/It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies — “Fall” / Edward Hirsch

9 — Unglue the fog from the woods from the waist up/ And speak disparagingly of leaves — “Plea to the Wind” / Alice Oswald

10 — Whip the green cloth off the hills — “Plea to the Wind” / Alice Oswald

11 — So that the ocean on one side is wild/With foam and glitter. . ./As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways/ And catch the heart off guard and blow it open. — “Postscript” / Seamus Heaney

12 —

april 19/RUN

4.9 miles
veterans’ bridge and back
36 degrees / snow flurries
wind: 16 mph / gusts: 31 mph

Windy, some snow flurries. They started when I started. At first, they looked like glitter falling from the sky, later they felt like sharp pins pricking my face. Difficult conditions, but I didn’t mind — well, not that much.

Saw a BIG turkey heading for the edge of the park. Also saw a bird — a robin, I think — running fast across the grass. It’s fun to watch birds run. Had a sudden thought: Where on the Beaufort Scale would you fit the description, birds opt for running instead of flying or flying is inconvenient for birds? In my head, I began composing lines for a poem that features this bird. Another description to add to the scale: a fallen leaf will outrun you — that’s not quite right, but something about how I noticed a leaf in front of me being pushed by the wind so fast that I couldn’t catch up to it.

Was too busy battling the wind to notice the river. I wonder, were there any foam or white horses on it?

Running south, I listened to the howling wind. Heading back north, I put in Taylor Swift’s new album: The Tortured Poet’s Department

Another 5 on the Beaufort Scale. As I ran I wondered about factors other than wind speed, like wind direction — head winds, tail winds, crosswinds. I never really thought about crosswinds before I started watching cycling races. Now, like many others, I look forward to windy days of a tour when there’s a chance that some bikers will get “caught out by the crosswinds” and the peloton will splinter.

Eula Biss, Pain Scale

Before moving onto level 2 on Biss’ pain scale, I’m trying to think more about 1 and what lines of poetry might fit it. Can’t find anything yet, but I’m imagining level 1 to be the type of pain so minor, so barely there, that we doubt its existence. If 0 is faith, then 1 is doubt.

2

The sensations of my own body may be the only subject on which I am qualified to claim expertise. Sad and terrible, then, how little I know. “How do you feel?” the doctor asks, and I cannot answer. Not accurately. “Does this hurt?” he asks. Again, I’m not sure. “Do you have more or less pain than the last time I saw you?” Hard to say. I begin to lie to protect my reputation. I try to act certain. Okay, so 2 is also doubt. That gray area when we’re not certain. I don’t mind not knowing, when knowing is not possible — embracing the mystery — but not being certain, not knowing when you feel like you should know, are supposed to know, is very difficult.

And here Biss introduces the Beaufort Scale!

Wind, like pain, is difficult to capture. The poor windsock is always striving, and always falling short. There’s the difficulty of describing, and there’s the difficulty of feeling, knowing, experiencing accurately . . .

It took sailors more than two hundred years to develop a standardized numerical scale for the measure of wind. The result, the Beaufort scale, provides twelve categories for everything from “Calm” to “Hurricane.” The scale offers not just a number, but a term for the wind, a range of speed, and a brief description. Creating a standard — a common language from which to communicate and connect with others, a scale that is practical

A force 2 wind on the Beaufort scale, for example, is a “Light Breeze” moving between four and seven miles per hour. On land, it is specified as “wind felt on face; leaves rustle; ordinary vanes moved by wind.”

3

Left alone in the exam room I stare at the pain scale, a simple number line complicated by only two phrases. Under zero: “no pain.” Under ten: “the worst pain imaginable.” Too much is contained between these numbers. . . . This idea of “the worst pain imaginable” produces anxiety. I don’t want to even imagine what the worst pain imaginable might be.

“Three is nothing,” my father tells me now. “Three is go home and take two aspirin.”

“You are not meant to be rating world suffering,” my friend in Honduras advises. “This scale applies only to you and your experience.” At first, this thought is tremendously relieving. It unburdens me of factoring the continent of Africa into my calculations. But the reality that my nerves alone feel my pain is terrifying. I hate the knowledge that I am isolated in this skin—alone with my pain and my own fallibility.

The more I read of Biss’ essay, the more I’m thinking about the purpose of these scales and what other purposes descriptions/words/language can offer. The wind scale is for utility: to help sailors estimate the wind speed using visual observations. The pain scale’s purpose: to better understand and care for patients.

4

conflating physical and emotion pain — is there actually a distinction? hurting vs. feeling?

pain as seen in a face — Biss wonders, no face, no pain? Then she describes how there are no visible markers of her pain — there was nothing to illustrate my pain except a number, which I was told to choose from between zero and ten. My proof. I’m thinking about how invisible my vision problem often is to others and also, how the doctors could tell immediately that something wasn’t right: I got a diagnosis. What relief! I’m also thinking of a New Yorker article I read recently about gaslighting that mentions how the gaslit crave a diagnosis because it offers irrefutable evidence of something being wrong.

Okay, more of the pain scale in the next entry. I’m thinking about a key distinction between the Beaufort and Pain scales: the Beaufort offers brief descriptions to accompany the numbers, not just the numbers.

And, returning to point of these scales: they’re practical, which would seem to make them, at least to some, not poetry. Poetry is impractical and about making strange what we thought was familiar. It removes the utility of language, making it delightfully useless. Of course many poets disagree with this simplistic assessment, myself included. One reason I’ve turned to poetry is because it is useful; it gives me language and a method for describing my strange ways of seeing to others.

I found the following poem in an entry from aug 1, 2019. I think the descriptions might offer a more compelling and practical way than numbers on a scale to understand what pain feels like.

Let us for a moment call this pain by other words/Dominik Parisien

Ask, How many roses does the hammer weigh

when it bears down on your skull? 

Does the sword seem toothed like a toddler’s smile

or sharp as your first ice skates?

On a scale of anglerfish to northern lights

how bright are the flashes in your head? 

When I touch this, here, which constellations

light the sky behind your eyes?

Would you say that pulsing is the flicker of a satellite 

or the stubborn heartbeat of a newborn chick?

Ask, Can we for a moment make of beauty

the measure of our pain? and I will answer.

april 18/CORERUN

core: 10 minutes
walk: 45 minutes
wind: 15 mph / gusts: 28 mph

Did 10 minutes of core, which I’ve been doing almost every day for the last week, or longer, I can’t remember. Later, took Delia on a walk to the winchell trail, then over the grate, up the gravel, down through the floodplain forest, across the road, up to edmund, around the rim of 7 oaks, then home. Breezy enough that I needed to hold onto my hat several times.

beaufort scale: another 5, I think. Today’s 5 was storm window rattling, hat raising, branch dropping*, door howling.

*climbing the gravel out of the ravine, I stopped for Delia to sniff. Heard some loud not-quite-cracking noises then a crash behind me: I didn’t see them, but I think it was a few smaller branches. Glad they didn’t hit me on the head!

So much green in the floodplain forest, but not enough to hide my view of the floor. Caught a glimpse of a black biggish dog on the trail, their owner a few steps behind.

the Pain Scale / Eula Biss, 0 and 1

Since I’m diving deeper into the Beaufort Scale for the rest of the month, I thought I’d look at another scale, the pain scale, and the essay about it that introduced me to the Beaufort Scale a decade ago: Eula Biss’ “The Pain Scale.”

The essay is organized around the 12 levels of pain, starting with 0 and ending at 12. Within each level she offers stories about her own pain, the history of pain management in the West, and various reflections that wander and wonder about pain and whether or not it is scaleable. That’s the most summary I’ll give, I think. Summarizing takes too long and uses up energy that I’d like to devote to engaging with Biss’ ideas. Instead of a summary, here are my notes about the essay, starting with 0 and 1 on the scale:

0

0 as something we must believe in without proof. It requires faith. A good place to see how religion and science have points of connection.

0 as no pain? Is it even possible to not have pain? Is that desirable? I’m thinking about how dangerous it is to not be able to feel pain. It makes us reckless, unable to prevent us from hurting ourselves. I’m reminded of the book, The Covenant of Water and the leper colony — the key problem for the lepers was their inability to feel pain when they cut themselves or broke something. This led to infections and loss of limbs and worse.

0 is not a real measure, but fulfills the need for a fixed point on the scale.

The concept of 0, as a fixed point on temperature scales, differs according to the scale — Fahrenheit, Celsius, Kelvin — and who’s using it. 0 can indicate the point of freezing, but it used to indicate the boiling point. 0 is a construct — human-made, fallible, sometimes arbitrary.

0 on the Beaufort Scale is calm, still, no (evidence) of wind. At 0 is it just air? atmosphere?

1

This pain scale was introduced by the hospice movement in the 70s; it’s designed to quantify pain. To make what’s inner — our feelings, which are subjective — visible to the outer world and to make them more objective.

Minor pain, pain that doesn’t matter, that’s no big deal.

Where does pain worth measuring begin?

Hospice nurses are trained to identify five types of pain: physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and financial. The pain of feeling, the pain of caring, the pain of doubting, the pain of parting, the pain of paying.

1 in the Beaufort Scale is light, barely ripples, hardly any disruption.

april 17

5.15 miles
franklin loop
44 degrees
wind: 15 mph / gusts: 30 mph

So windy! A crosswind heading north towards Franklin, then straight into it heading west over the Lake Street bridge. Cooler too. Wore my running tights and my orange sweatshirt. My left knee felt tight for the first few minutes, then fine for the rest of the run.

Wet and green. Noticed that the floodplain forest is filling in. Last week, bare and brown. Today, an outline of green. The river was gray with ripples. When I looked down at it from the bridge I could tell by the ripples that it was blowing south.

All of the pedestrians I encountered were bundled up in hats and winter coats. One runner was in shorts and white shoes. After he passed me I was mesmerized by his heels floating up and down, up and down, up and down. So smooth and rhythmic.

No eagle on the dead tree branch. Spotted 2 lone black gloves discarded at different parts of the path. Heard one woman talking to another. She said something strange, but I can’t remember what. Heard lots of black capped chickadees but no geese or woodpeckers.

more on wind: According to the Beaufort Scale, today was a 5 — fresh breeze. Brisk? Bracing. Stiff. Not breath-taking but ponytail whipping and energy sapping and eye watering. A few times, it howled in the trees. No dust in eyes or big branches falling from trees, but leaves whirling on the ground. At one point, running across the bridge, I felt like I was being held up by the wind — both slowed down and suspended in mid-air. Running south, with the wind at my back, it felt easier, like the wind was pushing me along.

beaufort scale

Thinking about wind some more and wondering if I shouldn’t narrow my focus to the Beaufort Scale? Maybe try to play around with my own Beaufort Scales. Today, while reviewing Marie Howe’s “The Moment” I thought about gathering lines from poems that fit with the scale. The line in Howe’s poem that Inspired this was the last one:

the white cotton curtains hanging still

The poem is about that moment when everything stands still and is silent. No to-do lists. No traffic. No I-should-bes. With these curtains, I think Howe is referencing sitting silently in her brother’s room, as he was dying. I imagine this moment of stillness as 0 on the Beaufort Scale.

And here’s another stillnes from Rime of the Ancient Mariner / Samuel Coleridge

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
’Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

a bird moment, possibly for my bird project: After I finished my run, walking back on Edmund, I heard 2 black capped chickadees calling back and forth. Their notes were slightly different than I usually hear. By the time I got out my phone to record them, only one chickadee was calling. No response. They kept trying their fee bee call, maybe 5 or 6 times, but no reply.

april 15/RUN

5k
trestle turn around
67 degrees

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

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

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

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

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

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

from Living Here/ Cleopatra Mathis

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

from long entry dated 16 august 2022

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

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

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

belief trust faith confidence acceptance conviction

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

april 13/RUN

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

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

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

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

10 Things

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

before the run

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

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

Beaufort Scale

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

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

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

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

during the run

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

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

This was fun and a great distraction as we ran!

april 11/RUN

3.1 miles
edmund, south/river road, north/edmund, south
56 degrees
wind: 12 mph/ gusts: 22 mph

Shorts and bare legs again today. Hooray! Was planning to do the 2 trails, but when I reached the entrance to the winchell trail I heard some very noisy rustling of leaves. Too big for a squirrel. A dog? A bear? A human? I tried to look ahead but all I saw was a black blob. I thought it was a person with a stroller so I moved a little closer. Nope — a male turkey with its tail spread like a peacock, a red wattle glowing, even for me with my bad color vision. Wow. I mentioned it to a man walking down the hill and he said, well, this is the way I’m going! and slowly and calmly walked toward the turkey. A showdown. After 30 seconds or so, the turkey relented and the man walked past. Not me, I climbed the hill and ran on the trail next to the road. This encounter will be my birding poem for the day!

10 Things Other Than Tom Turkey

  1. a woodpecker cry — pileated, I think
  2. another woodpecker cry a few minutes later — was this bird following me?
  3. loud kids at the playground, mostly having fun
  4. 2 bikers heading north — we can ride the wind now. I thought this meant that they would have the wind at their backs, so I would too, when I turned around. No. Wind was in my face heading north, later in the run
  5. admiring the view of the river from the overlook — the water on the other shore was sparkling
  6. mud and roots on the dirt trail between edmund and the river
  7. the clickity-clack of roller skiers poles behind me
  8. several of the benches had people on them — more than half?
  9. bird shadows
  10. a shrieking blue jay above me

After turning around because of the territorial turkey, I put in my “It’s Windy” playlist: They Call the Wind Maria/ the furies; Dust in the Wind/ insignificant or fleeting

The wind wasn’t overpowering but it was everywhere, coming from every direction. I remember noticing how it played with my hair, making my ponytail bob and my little loose strands fly around my face. Only once did I need to adjust my hat for fear that the wind might blow it off. I don’t remember hearing any skittering leaves or getting dust in my eyes, grit in my teeth. The wind didn’t sing or howl. It did push me forward and hold me back. And I think it made the whole run harder.

Earlier this morning, I checked out Mary Oliver’s West Wind and found this delightful part of a poem about wild turkeys. It seems fitting to include today after seeing several hens — being guarded by the male turkey on Winchell.

from Three Songs/ Mary Oliver

1

A band of wild turkeys is coming down the hill. They are coming
slowly—astheywalkalongthey look under the leaves for things to 
eat, and besides it must be a pleasure to step alternately through the
pale sunlight, then patches of slightly golden shade. they are all hens
and they lift their thick toes delicately. With such toes they could
march up one side of the state and down the others, or skate on water,
or dance the tango. But not this morning. As they get closer the sound
of their feet in the leaves is like the patter of rain, then rapid rain. My
dogs perk their ears, and bound from the path. Instead of opening their
dark wings the hens swirl and rush away under the trees, like little
ostriches.

Returning to my birding poem for the day. I’m having a little difficulty finding the focus, so I thought I’d write a little more around this little poem. What are the details that I remember, that I might want to write about?

  • First thing noticed: an unusually loud rustling sound that I thought was too big for a squirrel, too much for a human
  • the moment of seeing something but not knowing what it was — a bear? a dog? a stroller? Not feeling scared, but feeling like I should stay back until I figured it out, feeling that it was something unusual. This moment last a long time, which was fine because I had time, but wouldn’t have been if I had needed to make a quick decision, like if the turkey was running towards me
  • the turkey was so big! its tail was up and spread out like a peacock, making him look even bigger and framing his face
  • the face — fuzzy but clear enough to know that this turkey was telling me to back off! I couldn’t make out his eyes, but I could see — or, maybe I guessed a little — when he was facing me — yes, it was the contrast of light and dark — when he was turned away, he was just a dark, hulking shape, when he was turned toward me I saw a pale beak
  • the red wattle — was it bright? I can’t quite remember, but I know it was red and big
  • when I felt fairly certain it was a turkey, I still couldn’t see details — just a small, light head with red, framed by broad dark tail feathers — how much of his bigness was because of his tail, how much his body? the form — menacing and comical at the same time, with its big circle for a body and its tiny head
  • the approaching man — I said to him, there’s a big turkey down there! He said something like, well, THIS is the way I’m planning to go! His tone wasn’t too jerky, just matter-of-fact. When he approached the turkey he called out sternly but not too aggressively — hey hey move! At first, the turkey wouldn’t budge and the guy looked back at me, but after some time, the turkey moved

Reflecting on these details some more, I’m thinking that the guy, albeit interesting, is unnecessary for my purposes. I think adding him might take the poem in a different direction. . . although, I am struck by the encounter between me, him, and the turkey. The guy didn’t seem like a jerk, but he did give off some older white guy energy — this is the way I’m going turkey! Your puffed up feathers can’t stop me! I was happy to stand back and observe the turkeys from a (respectful?) distance, while he was ready to keep moving through the turkeys.

The uncertainty from not being able to see what the turkey was is what I’d like to focus on, although I want to weave in the strange mix of menacing and comical too. Here’s a long passage from Georgina Kleege that is helpful in explaining my own process of seeing things. She is able to see most things because she expects to see them; it’s the unexpected things that make it difficult. oh — I like this idea of bringing surprise in here!

Expectation plays a large role in what I perceive. I know what’s on my desk because I put it there. If someone leaves me a surprise gift, it may take a few seconds to identify it, but how often does that happen? . . . . I can recognize most things through quick process of elimination. And that process is only truly conscious on the rare occasions when the unexpected occurs, as when my cats carry objects out of context. A steel wool soap pad appears in the bath tub. I see it as a rusty, graying blob. Though touch would probably tell me something, it can be risky to touch something you cannot identify some other way. . . . I once encountered a rabid raccoon on a sidewalk near my house. I learned what it was from a neighbor watching it from his screened porch. What I saw was an indistinct, grayish mass, low to the ground and rather round. It was too big to be a cat and the wrong shape to be a dog. Its gait was not only unfamiliar but unsteady. It zigzagged up the pavement. I moved my gaze around it as my brain formed a picture of raccoon. The raccoon in my mind had the characteristic mask across its face, a sharply pointed nose, striped tail, brindled fur. Nothing in the hazy blob at my feet, no variations in color or refinements in form, corresponded with that image. Its position was wrong. The raccoon in my image was standing up on its haunches, holding something in its front paws. And what does a rabid raccoon look like?

Sight Unseen/ Georgina Kleege (105-106, print version)

Kleege grew up, from age 11, with a big blind spot in the center of her vision. That was roughly 50+ years ago, so she’s had time to learn how to guess and eliminate and handle identifying unexpected objects. I’m still learning. Mostly, it doesn’t bother me, although i occasionally worry about my safety. Anyway, I find Kleege’s description of her process helpful in enabling me to describe what I did. Kleege saw “an indistinct, grayish mass, low to the ground and rather round.” I saw an indistinct, dark mass, somewhat low to the ground and rather round. My dark mass moved slowly but not awkwardly and was accompanied by a loud racket. I might have guessed turkey earlier if he, and his hens, hadn’t been so loud, and if he hadn’t been so big and round.

How many times have I seen a male turkey with its feathers puffed up? Looking it up, I read that this puffing could be a courtship ritual or a sign of intimidation — in my encounter, was it both? The courtship version involves a strut and a gobble — oh, I wish I would have heard him gobble! The only noises my turkeys made were with their beaks or feet as they rooted around for food. And, maybe his low, un-awkward (graceful?) gait was a strut that I couldn’t quite see?

possible ideas, images, descriptions to add: gobble-less, unexpected and unusual for this regular route, rotund (or round or a puffed up dark dot/circle), rooting racket.

clues to choose from: a dark mass too big for a bird (or so I thought), too small for a bear, a slow strut.

Something to think about: was it just the puffed up feathers that made seeing turkeys strange? I think so.

I almost forgot. I took a picture! Look at me, at a safe distance!

turkey sighting / 11 april 2024

april 10/RUN

5.1 miles
bottom of franklin and back
61 degrees
wind: 8 mph / gusts: 18 mph

Ah, spring! Sun and shorts and short sleeves! Birds — black-capped chickadees, pileated woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, a turkey! I looked at the river but I don’t remember what I saw. Too distracted by blue sky and sharp shadows and the spring breeze — which is less relaxed than a summer breeze, but still pleasant — a word my mom used to say, or did she say it just that once when I was barely four and was talking with her in our new backyard in Hickory, North Carolina as she hung laundry out to dry. It feels pleasant out here or It’s a pleasant day. It’s a terribly bland word, but I love it because I always think of her and that moment.

Encounters:

  • Dave: Hi Sara!
  • while running up a hill, a woman walking down it: Looking good! me: Thank you!
  • two women walking towards me after I finished my run: Well, you look springy!

overheard:

  • from talk radio across the road: Don’t you think I think about it? Don’t you think it keeps me up at night?
  • distorted music coming out of a bike radio

Listened to birds, my breathing, and the smooth wheels of a rollerblader as I ran north. Ran up the franklin hill and sang, Running up that hill, in my head. Put in “It’s Windy” playlist: Let’s Go Fly a Kite: not childish but childlike; Don’t Mess Around with Jim: karma; Ride Like the Wind: haul ass; You’re Only Human (Second Wind) — be generous to yourself; Summer Breeze: relax

my birding moment: running north, listening to Billy Joel, distracted by the song or memories or some thought, something suddenly appeared in front of me — a turkey! It wasn’t too close, but close enough that I was able to watch it awkwardly run across the path. For the poem: distraction, interruption, awkwardness, dragged out of the inner into the outer

Stuck inside
a thought

Unaware
seeing

only bare
path when

Poof! Bobbing
head sleek

body move
past me

faster than
I thought

possible
I watch

then admire
this show

grateful to
be dragged

out into
the world.

a breeze

Before I run, I decided today’s version of the wind would be: breeze.

breeze 1

The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
(from The Work of Happiness/ May Sarton/May Sarton)

breeze 2

definition of breezy: pleasantly wind; airy, nonchalant — as in, breezy indifference

breezy 3

Easy breezy beautiful cover girl
Beautiful skin can be a breeze with sea breeze — or, what my sister Marji used to sing, Beautiful skin can be a breeze with sea grease

breeze 4

Yet again, the ekphrasis appears!

How to Look at Pictures/ Rebecca Morgan Frank

title after Robert Clermont Witt, 1906

Refuse to make eye contact with the subject.
He has been following you around the gallery.
You are certain that he can see down your shirt.
Look at other subjects, but know that they, too,
are not of primary interest. Even when they watch
you. Try not to consider what happened
to the small girl staring furiously, the thin-faced
woman wanly looking away. Do not think about
what they had for breakfast, if the bread was hard.
Certainly do not consider the odors underneath
their arms and skirts. Do not allow a breeze into
the room they sit in. Do not assume I am talking
about any painting: step away from the subject.
All subject. Was the painter in love? Do not ask
the question. Imagine you are the painter,
blocking out everything you don’t want to see.
Everything is out of the picture. Stop looking.
Stop seeking what isn’t there. Tuck your narratives
back in your pocket. Look for perspective, light,
shade. Let your eyes wander back to the girl.
She is trying to say something but her mouth
has been painted deliberately shut. Her lips, thin.

april 8/RUN

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

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

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

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

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

Small Song/ A. R. Ammons

The reeds give way
to the wind

and give
the wind away

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

april 7/RUN

3.3 miles
trestle turn around
41 degrees
wind: 15 mph / 35 mph gusts

More wind. Ran between raindrops and beside a 10 mile race. The wind was at my back running north, in my face south. Those racers were hardcore, running the first 5 miles into that wind — yuck! Puddles and mud and an over-sized green rain jacket puffing up like a balloon about to float away:

Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!

from Ode to the West Wind/ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Listened to the racers, spectators, a drummer drumming, a runner giving a motivational speech as he ran — good job! you can do it! the finish line is almost here! you got this! — which might have been inspirational or insufferable depending on how you felt six miles into a race that started with rain and cold and continued with wind. At the turn around I stopped and put in my wind playlist. Today: Wind it Up — sexual empowerment (I know he thinks you’re fine and stuff, but does he know how to wind you up?). Classical Gas – the 70s, Bohemian Rhapsody – fate, and Don’t Mess Around with Jim – street smarts

After I finished running, as I was walking back, I noticed the flash of a bird fly up from the street to the top of a sign, then 3 or 4 other small birds fly out of the tree and into the air. The small dark dots against the smudged sky looked like static or the stars I see when I’m dizzy or had too much caffeine, or (sorry not sorry to be gross) dropped a big deuce — am I the only one that happens to? I decided that these birds would be the subject of my birding poem for today.

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is

from Ode to the West Wind/ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Yesterday, Scott and I met up with FWA in St. Peter. After taking him shopping for his clarinet recital next week, we went back to campus and took a walk through the Arb. So windy! I didn’t have a hair tie and my hair was swirling around my face as we walked on the uneven dirt trail in the open field. Later, winding through the pine trees we had some shelter. Scott saw the tiniest bird, then I saw it too, first as a flash of movement, then as a small dark form on a low limb. FWA guessed that it was a warbler, which it probably was. We listened for birds and heard a creak: one tree rubbing against another — Shelley’s forest lyre! I told Scott and FWA that I knew a beautiful poem that I wish I had memorized for this occasion — Cello by Dorianne Laux

april 6/WALK

1 mile with Delia
neighborhood
40 degrees

A second day of taking Delia for a walk in the morning, and what a morning! Not warm, but sunny and calm. Birds, a slight breeze, blue sky. Did a lot of deep breaths as I walked. This morning, I was anxious, but I recognized it as a phase that I could endure, and that recognition helped. Slowly I’m getting a little better at navigating perimenopause.

Wind in Leaves or, Leaves in Wind

This entire poem by Donika Kelly is great and I want to return to it, but for now, I’ll just post the opening and its description of wind in leaves through the seasons. Such a fun way to think about wind — how it sounds in leaves in spring or summer or fall.

from When the Fact of Your Gaze Means Nothing, Then You Are Alongside/ Donika Kelly

late spring wind sounds an ocean 
through new leaves. later the same 
wind sounds a tide. later still the dry 

sound of applause: leaves chapped 
falling, an ending. this is a process.

What does it mean that the wind sounds an ocean, and how does that differ from that wind sounding a tide?

Thinking about leaves and wind I’m remembering a line from “Dear One Absent this Long While” by Lisa Olstein:

I expect you. I thought one night it was you
at the base of the drive, you at the foot of the stairs,
you in a shiver of light, but each time
leaves in wind revealed themselves

How do I describe the leaves in wind? Something to think about on my run.

april 5/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
54 degrees
wind: 5 mph

What a day! Took Delia out for a walk this morning. An hour later, sat on the deck and was inspired by the birds to write a beautiful little poem conjuring my mom. Then, around 12:30, went for a run by the gorge. Okay spring! The run wasn’t easy, but wasn’t hard either. My legs are sore from running every day since Tuesday. Tomorrow I’ll take a break.

Listened to birds running north, my “It’s Windy” playlist on the way back south. Wind songs heard today: “Ride Like the Wind” — fast? frantic? under pressure? and “You’re Only Human (Second Wind); — forgiving and resilient and a reprieve

I’m sure I looked at the river, but I don’t remember doing it, or what it looked like. I do remember that the floodplain forest looked open and brown and full of trees that had been through a flood or two. No roller skiers or rowers. No radios or impatient cars. Did hear a few unpleasant goose honks near the lake street bridge.

Beaufort Scale

The History of the Beaufort Scale

Before the run I reviewed the Beaufort Scale and rediscovered a Beaufort Scale poem by Alice Oswald. Gave myself the task of trying to describe the wind today:

running north: make your own wind — or breeze?
south: hair raising . . . leg hair raising . . . calf hair raising
east: no need to shield the microphone; a welcomed air-conditioning after a hard effort; still leaves still; the branches moving so slightly my cone-dead eyes cannot detect their movement — no trees waving to me today . . . rude; flag flapping but no wind chiming

Alice Oswald on wind:

Everything you write about the wind really has to be about something else, because the wind itself is so non-existent. I like the way the Beaufort Scale [a system used to estimate wind speed based on observation of its effects] categorizes something so abstract and undefinable. That is partly what drew me to the project. I regard the words as secondary to the silences in my poetry, so I’m drawn to write about things that will exist without the words. The poems are full of gaps and silences through which something that isn’t linguistic can be heard.

A Poem A Day

wind will exist without the words

Beaufort Poem Scale – Alice Oswald

As I speak (force 1) smoke rises vertically,
Plumed seeds fall in less than ten seconds
And gossamer, perhaps shaken from the soul’s hairbrush
Is seen in the air.

Oh yes (force 2) it’s lovely here,
One or two spiders take off
And there are willow seeds in clouds

But I keep feeling (force 3) a scintillation,
As if a southerly light breeze
Was blowing the tips of my thoughts
(force 4) and making my tongue taste strongly of italics

And when I pause it feels different
As if something had entered (force 5) whose hand is lifting my page

(force 6) So I want to tell you how a whole tree sways to the left
But even as I say so (force 7) a persistent howl is blowing my hair horizontal
And even as I speak (force 8) this speaking becomes difficult

And now my voice (force 9) like an umbrella shaken inside out
No longer shelters me from the fact (force 10)
There is suddenly a winged thing in the house,
Is it the wind?

april 4/RUN

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
45 degrees
wind: 12 mph / 21 mph gusts

I thought it was supposed to be less windy today, but it didn’t feel like it. Heading north, I was running straight into the wind. Sometimes it felt fine, and sometimes it felt hard. Listened to birds, especially black capped chickadees but also the faint knocking of a woodpecker somewhere near a house being built. Admired some gnarled shadows from the oak trees I passed by in the park. Heard rushing water at the falls and the recorded ding of the light rail across the highway. Managed to step in almost every pothole without twisting or rolling anything. Remembered to look at the river and notice how it sparkled in the sun.

Listened to the birds and the wind and the water as I ran south. Listened to my new “It’s Windy” playlist, and a LOUD kid on the playground, as I ran north.

wind!

A lot pf wind outside today, and more inside, at my desk (and no, I don’t been gas). Started with a playlist:

It’s Windy

  1. Windy/ The Association
  2. Summer Breeze/ Seals & Crofts
  3. I Talk to the Wind/ King Crimson
  4. Dust in the Wind/ Kansas
  5. The Wind Cries Mary/ The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  6. Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow/ Frank Zappa
  7. Summer Wind/ Frank Sinatra
  8. Wind of Change/ Scorpions
  9. Blowin’ In the Wind/ Peter, Paul & Mary
  10. In the Air Tonight/ Phil Collins
  11. The Chain/ Fleetwood Mac
  12. Ride Like the Wind/ Christopher Cross
  13. Wind Beneath My Winds/ Better Midler
  14. Break Like the Wind/ Spinal Tap
  15. Listening Wind/ Talking Heads
  16. You’re Only Human (Second Wind)/ Billy Joel
  17. Wind Chimes/ The Beach Boys
  18. The Long and Winding Road/ The Beatles
  19. They Call the Wind Maria/ Paint Your Wagon
  20. The Zephyr Song/ Red Hot Chili Peppers
  21. Wind It Up/ Gwen Stefani
  22. Shining Star/ Gwen Stefani
  23. Shining Star/ Earth, Wind & Fire
  24. Runnin’/ Earth, Wind & Fire
  25. Classical Gas/ Mason Williams
  26. Bohemian Rhapsody/ Queen
  27. You Don’t Mess Around with Jim/ Jim Croce

Here are the songs that I listened to today as I ran:

Windy/ The Association
Summer Breeze/ Seals & Croft
I Talk to the Wind/ King Crimson
Wind of Change/ Scorpion
Blowin’ In the Wind/ Peter, Paul & Mary*

*I started with the Bob Dylan version but when he busted out the harmonica I had to switch to the version I remember when I was kid

Somewhere between Summer Breeze and Wind of Change I thought about what words I might associate with these songs: Windy – capricious; Summer Breeze – carefree; I Talk to the Wind – indifferent; Wind of Change – hope; Blowin’ In the Wind – possibility

Listening to Blowin’ In the Wind, I thought about all of the questions posed in it and was reminded of a line I recited earlier this morning from Rita Dove: Someone once said: There are no answers/just interesting questions. I thought about the idea of questions being spoken into the wind and how there are no certain answers to them but that doesn’t mean they’re just rhetorical. Oh — now I’m thinking about the unanswerable questions and the koan.

other things noticed: the word straight was used several times — In I Talk to the Wind: said the straight man to the late man and Wind of Change: The wind of change blows straight into the face of time. In Windy, the wind is tripping down the street. I wonder if the swirls or whirls in any of my songs?

first definitions of wind from the OED: Air in motion; a state of movement in the air; a current of air, of any degree of force perceptible to the senses, occurring naturally in the atmosphere, usually parallel to the surface of the ground.

  • with specific reference to direction from which it blows
  • in reference to navigation, as means of propulsion
  • to take, have, get, gain the wind of, to scent or detect by or as by the wind
  • As a thing devoid of sense or perception, or that is unaffected by what one does to it — talk to the wind, spit into the wind
  • a type of violence, a fury: swiftness, freedom or unrestrainable character, mutability or fickleness, lightness or emptiness — the furies? fates and furies?
  • air in general, as a substance or element
  • gas
  • air inhaled and exhaled by the lungs
  • air as used for blowing or sounding an instrument

So many directions in which to go!

Revisiting a poem from a past entry:

Project/ A. R. Ammons

My subject’s
still the wind still
difficult to
present
being invisible:
nevertheless should I
presume it not
I’d be compelled
to say
how the honeysuckle bushlimbs
wave themselves:
difficult
beyond presumption.

As I wrote about on this log before, wind is a great counter to the claim, what you see is what you get or seeing is believing.

wind thoughts

Early on in this log I was obsessed with the wind, particularly in terms of my run. How much wind was there outside? Would I have to run into it? I disliked running into the wind; it made it so much harder and I needed it to be as easy as it could be. At some point, I’m not sure when (maybe I’ll try to find it?), I stopped caring so much about how windy it was. It’s never really that windy in Minneapolis, not like St. Peter or Rochester. High winds freak me out.

I’d like to search back through my archive, but I have a problem: I mention the wind a lot, over 700 times. I often record the wind speed, or make a brief reference to it in the first lines of the entry like, it was windy today or so windy! Is this an impossible task, to read through and tag all of these entries? Perhaps. I think I might just start looking through entries and see what happens. . . . A few entries in and I’m already remembering some thoughts about and experiences of the wind:

  • shaking the leaves in the trees
  • sounding like sizzling bacon
  • unnoticed, forgotten at my back, but when I turn around I remember!
  • trying to rip my hat from my head — it’s only happened once!
  • making the tassel on my hat tap me on the shoulder, making me think of my mom
  • rushing past my ears, almost forgotten when I have my ears covered
  • making waves on the water, making the river sparkle
  • in the lake, making the waves so choppy — the past few summers it’s been windier
  • summer breeze — on a playlist

two more random wind thought that just popped into my head:

  1. FWA and his love of the Zelda video game, Wind-waker
  2. FWA telling me one day when he was 8 or 9: I hate the wind. When I grow up I want to invent a device that gets rid of the wind

Walking back to the house after my run, I thought about how fun it is to explore an image like wind and how helpful it is to give so much attention to it and to be open to so many possibilities. Future Sara will appreciate all of the wind options I’m giving here, I think.

april 3/RUN

3.15 miles
2 trails
41 degrees
wind gusts: 35 mph

Windy! Overcast. Quiet. A good run. Slow and relaxed until I reached a runner ahead of me with a dog who stopped then started then stopped again. At this point, I passed them and picked up the pace, hoping to avoid any more encounters. It worked! I felt good enough to keep running faster and faster. Fun!

Listened to the wind and some yelling in the gorge running south and on the winchell trail. Put in my winter playlist for the last mile, heading north on the trail.

10+ Things

  1. wind 1: soft, gentle, haunting wind chimes
  2. wind 2: a small branch of a pine tree with some green needles on the sidewalk
  3. wind 3: a swishing ponytail
  4. an empty playground, or a quiet playground
  5. nearing the Cleveland overlook: the memory of the very LOUD knocking of a woodpecker
  6. an open view of the river — can’t remember what the river looked like, just that it was wide and open
  7. mud on the trail
  8. empty benches
  9. the strong smell of weed in the 36th street parking lot
  10. wind 4: leaves scratching the street
  11. wind 5: a white plastic bag rolling across the street, then stopping in the middle, once side being lifted up
  12. wind 6: a waving bush

before the run

The difference between a sunset and a sun set/ting.

or, the moment or the space that exists between a sun set/ting and a sunset. Ever since I read James Schuyler’s “Hymn to Life” and misread a sunset for a sun set, I’ve been thinking about the difference between them — one is a object (sunset), the others an action (sun set) or a process (sun setting). The difference between something fixed and something happening, moving, doing. Why does a sun set/ting appeal to me more? One obvious reason: understanding the sun as a subject, the natural world as an actor. Another reason: movement. A sunset is a fixed image, a sun set/ting moves. Poetry is about movement — associations between ideas, the flow of words and rhythms, the refusal to land (stand still) on one meaning or ending for too long or at all. My life is about movement — restlessness; the practice of running and writing; a difficulty in ever seeing objects as fixed, always slightly fuzzy, buzzing like static, not flickering but bouncing or shaking (or something like that). (quick thought: I’m drawn to light, but just as much to motion. How true is that for people with all of their cone cells?)

note: writing about this sparked new ideas, including a tentative focus for April, and some thoughts for a artist statement — more on that below.

Since last month, I’ve been playing around with a poem that attempts to describe the differences between a sunset and a sun set/ting. It’s slow-going. Here’s something to add to my already swirling, meandering thoughts: it’s a poem by Nikky Finney from Ross Gay’s discussion of her work in his talk, Be Camera, Black-Eyed Aperture. It’s not about a sun set/ting, but one rising. The italics are Gay’s; I’m keeping them because they’re helpful for seeing the connections to the movement of a sun set/ting:

The Squatting Sun/ Nikky Finney

6:38, flying east, I witness birth,
pushing out of the blushing vaginal rim

like some wide cherry-dropped child.
All the colors that make red have come

to the only straight line on the earth.
Ghostly, I blink, my eyes tweak her nipples,

she releases and the head does not wait
for my awe.

I thought I knew what red looked like.
Believed I had seen this daily drama before;

the earth in morning-mother motion,
the first bowl of earth-bread sipped,

but never had I been asked
inside the sun’s womb so deep.

What I see has so much to do
With the permission to look
.

My egg-white eyes labor to midwife
this moment out all the way.

The baby day pushes clean,
a quarter rim of cherry-spilled earth

lands in a head-back wail
inside my ladling pupils,

the first rising brightness, its long
equatorial head bursts, then crests;

new life passed on
to a pan of waiting salted water.

Some thoughts on the poem by Ross Gay:

. . .this poem witnesses the quiet interior horizon of experience, during which the unfathomably beautiful emerges, and is the contemplation of it. As Finney says, “I thought I knew what red looked like, / believed I had seen this daily drama.” Indeed, it’s the quiet looking that brings the sunrise, the day, wailing into the speaker’s eyes. 

Be Camera, Black-Eyed Aperture/ Ross Gay

Gay’s mention of quiet looking here is about black interiority and comes from Kevin Quashie’s The Sovereignty of Quiet. I’m thinking about the quiet looking as the labor it takes to see something — the process from light to cell to signal, from retina to optic nerve to brain, from being distracted to quieting to noticing. Usually, this labor is invisible; we believe we just see things, they are just there for our camera eye or eye-as-camera to see.

Whew — that’s a lot to think about and to try to make sense of. Anyway, back to what this sunset and sun set/ting thread inspired. An April challenge: wind! And, some thoughts for an artistic statement:

To describe the world (primarily in poetry) from the perspective of the peripheral and from where some central vision exists but is not/no longer centered. . . . new ways of writing about noticing the world that don’t center central vision or that rely on but don’t center peripheral vision (because peripheral vision, by virtue of how it works, can never be centered in the same way that central vision was/is). . . . a few images I’m currently obsessed with: birds, wind, the idea of the Form, not as Platonic but as vague, basic, lacking the specificity of focus — Tree Bird Cloud. 

after the run

After I finished the run, I took out my phone and recorded some thoughts, including:

Somewhat similar to sunset vs. sun set/ting: windblown vs. wind blowing
windblown = evidence that wind existed, witnessed, after the fact
wind blowing = moving through a seemingly invisible force that is happening right now

another example: the absence of birdsong — very quiet, which could have been caused by the birds not singing in the wind, but also by the wind carrying the sound elsewhere

birding: thought about the memory of the woodpecker’s knock near the overlook

i.

an echo
almost

memory
of dead

wood hit hard
somewhere

across the
ravine

ii.

Quiet. Not
absence

of singing
birds but

the presence
of wind

carrying
their notes OR their tune

somewhere else.

A good start. I don’t think I should use somewhere for both.

wind!

So many possibilities for this monthly challenge!

  1. Gathering all of the wind poems I’ve already collected.
  2. A wind playlist.
  3. Tagging related entries with “wind”.
  4. Reading The Wind in the Willows, which I was reminded of by Mary Ruefle when she described it as one of her favorite book on a podcast.
  5. Exploring the idea of wind as both a noun for a weather condition and a verb for wrapping something around something else — a scarf around a neck — or for traversing a curving course.
  6. Returning to the Beaufort Scale

march 16/RUN

2.2 miles
neighborhood
39 degrees / feels like 30
wind: 16 mph / 30 mph gusts

Windy! Colder. Winter layers: black running tights, black shorts, black shirt, purple jacket, pink ear band, black gloves, hat. Thought about running more but remembered that Scott and I are doing a 10k tomorrow. So I ran 2 miles through the neighborhood. My restraint was partly due to the wind, which I ran almost straight into heading north.

10 Things

  1. some dull wind chimes — it wasn’t the clunk clank of wood chimes, but also not the tinkle-tingle-shimmer of metal ones — an unpleasant cacophony
  2. right before starting: a crying kid on the next block — by the time I reached then and their entourage (mom, dog, stroller) — they were laughing — oh to be a kid and to shake anger or disappointment or whatever bad feelings they were having off that quickly — my 8 year old self used to be that way
  3. the trail on edmund between 32nd and 33rd started muddy then turned into hard, packed dirt
  4. heavy gray sky — the type of light that makes it hard for me to see anything completely
  5. the sky was dark enough that a house had on their garage light — I felt a flash of light! as I ran by
  6. harder to see the dirt trail and the roots
  7. voices across the road and below, on the trail — next to me, then ahead of me, then gone
  8. smoke from a chimney on edmund — reminder that winter is still here
  9. a loud rush of noise — an approaching car? No, the wind moving through a pine tree
  10. the swishswishswish of my ponytail hitting the collar of my jacket

Thinking about the wind, I reread ED’s poem, “The Wind.” Here are some ways she describes the wind:

  • old measure in the boughs
  • phraseless melody
  • fleshless chant

Searched “wind” on poems.com and found this amazing poem by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, “All Wild Animals Were Once Called Deer“:

High up a plane droned, drone of the cold, and behind us the flag
In front of the Bank of Hope’s branch trailer snapped and popped in the wind.
It sounded like a boy whipping a wet towel against a thigh

Or like the stiff beating of a swan’s wings as it takes off
From the lake, a flat drumming sound, the sound of something
Being pounded until it softens, and then—as the wind lowered

And the flag ran out wide—there was a second sound, the sound of running fire.
And there was the scraping, too, the sad knife-against-skin scraping
Of the acres of field corn strung out in straggling rows

Around the branch trailer that had been, the winter before, our town’s claim to fame
When, in the space of two weeks, it was successfully robbed twice.
The same man did it both times, in the same manner.

This whole poem is amazing, but too long to post here. What a storyteller BPK is! I should read her collection, Song.

more Lorine Niedecker and “Lake Superior”

On Thursday and Friday I read more of “Lake Superior.” I came to these lines and stopped:

Ruby of corundum
lapis lazuli
from changing limestone
glow-apricot red-brown
carnelian sard

Greek named
Exodus-antique
kicked up in America’s
Northwest
you have been in my mind
between my toes
agate

Huh? I am not an agate expert, so I had to look up everything but the last three lines. Without explaining it all (if I even could), I noticed how fascinated she is with language and culture and the history of the agate as it traveled across cultures.

Of course I might have understood more of the references if I had read her journal first, LN opens her travel journal with this:

The agate was first found on the shores of a river in Sicily and named by the Greeks. In the Bible (Exodus) this semi-precious stone was seen on the priest’s breastplate.

A rock is made of minerals constantly on the move and changing from heat, cold, and pressure.

On the next page, she writes: So—here we go. Maybe as rocks and I pass each other I could say how-do-you-do to an agate.

Then, a few pages later:

The North is one vast, massive, glorious corruption of rock and language—granite is underlaid with limestone or sandstone, gneiss is made-over granite, shales, or sandstone and so forth and so on and Thompsonite (or Thomasonite_ is often mistaken for agate and agate is shipped in from Mexico and Uruguay and can even be artifically dyed in the bargain. And look what’s been done to language!–People of all nationalities and color have changed the language like weather and pressure have changed the rocks.

And then:

I didn’t miss the Agate Shop sign. Woman there knew rocks. whole store of all kinds of samples, labelled. Sold them cheaply too, i.e. agates mounted on adjustable rings cost $1.75. I bought one of these, not the most beautiful but a Lake Superior one, I was told. Also bought . . . a brilliant carnelian from Uruguay. There were corundum samples—also from Canada, the stone that is next to diamonds in hardness. (Deep red rubies, which are corundum minerals, are valued more than diamonds.)

and:

The pebble has traveled. Long ago it might have been a drop of magma, molten rock that oured out from deep inside the earth. Perhaps when the magma coooled it formed part of a mountain that was later worn down and carried away by a rushing stream. Of the pebble may have been carried thousands of miles by a slowly moving glacier that finally melted and left it to be washed up for someone to pick up.

I love how LN took all of her notes and ideas about rock and language and culture and commerce and turned them into this small chunk of the poem. So much said, with so little words! And then to end it with: you have been in my mind/between my toes/agate Wow!

The trails above and beside the gorge have not been between my toes but under my feet and in my mind — maybe I could add a variation of this line to the first section of my poem?

feb 26/WALK

40 minutes
to the river and back
57 degrees

A warm, windy February afternoon. Took a walk with Delia the dog and Scott. Heard some kids on the playground that I mistook for a siren. Then later, heard some actual sirens. Also heard some ragtime music coming from a bike on the path. Marveled at the gnarled oaks and the jagged shadow one cast on another branchless tree. Noticed how high the bluff was above the forest floor. Encountered many happy, chatting walkers, one runner without a shirt.

It’s Windy

Is it the strange, too-early spring weather? The fact that I’m turning 50 in 4 months and that my kids are turning 21 and 18? Not sure, but my thoughts have been scattered lately, flitting from one idea to the next without landing anywhere for too long. Maybe it’s the wind. This morning I said to Scott, what a beautiful morning! Too bad it’s windy. Then Scott started singing “Windy” by the Association — I tried to join in, but I was in the wrong key (as usual). I should have a t-shirt that says, I’m always in the wrong key, I said (which, I think, isn’t always a bad thing to be in). Anyway, I decided to listen to the song and read the lyrics. It’s actually about wind! How delightful!

Who’s tripping down the streets of the city
Smilin’ at everybody she sees
Who’s reachin’ out to capture a moment
Everyone knows it’s Windy

And Windy has stormy eyes
That flash at the sound of lies
And Windy has wings to fly
Above the clouds (above the clouds)
Above the clouds (above the clouds)

I think I might create a page of wind poems/songs and add this, along with “They call the wind Mariah” from Paint Your Wagon and “I Take to the Wind” by King Crimson.

an idea (for the future? now?): Yesterday I posted a poem that uses an Emily Dickinson line in the title (I heard a fly buzz), then obliquely references her in the poem. A year or so ago, I had the idea that I’d like to write a series of poems that use some of my favorite Emily Dickinson lines as titles for my poems about vision loss, how I see, and how I’ve been carving out a new way of being with my moving practice. I’ve already written one that was published this past December in the print journal, Door is a Jar:

The Motions of the Dipping Birds/ Sara Lynne Puotinen

Because I can no longer see
her face, when my daughter talks I watch

her small hands rise and fall,
sweep the air, flutter.

I marvel at the soft feathers her fingers make
as they soar then circle then settle

on the perch of her hips waiting
to return to the sky for another story.

I think Victoria Chang’s collection, The Trees Witness Everything, in which she uses W.S. Merwin poem titles and then writes her own poem, might be a good inspiration. I’ve been wanting to do this project for several years, but I wasn’t quite ready. Am I now? I’ve already been moving towards it with my interest in memorizing 50 Emily Dickinson poems before my 50th birthday — did I mention that in here, or was it just in my “to do” list? Oh, I hope this idea sticks and helps me to write more poetry. Lately, I’ve had tons of ideas that I start, but that really don’t go anywhere.

As part of this Dickinson project, and inspired by yesterday’s poem, I decided to memorize ED’s “I heard a fly buzz — when I died”. After memorizing it, I listened to someone else’s reading of it and noticed a line change:

[original] The stillness in the Room
[alternate in video] The stillness round my form

Which is correct, I wondered. At first, I thought the alternate might be the correct one, but it didn’t seem quite right — form neatly rhymes with the last line of the verse: Between the Heaves of Storm. ED liked slant rhymes, not straight ones. I looked it up and discovered that ED’s first editor, Mabel Loomis Todd, had changed the line to form. She also took out ED’s dashes. I’ve read about the fraught relationship between ED and Todd (who was ED’s brother’s lover) and Todd’s heavy-handed editing, so I’m sticking with the original!

medical term fun!

I’m still working with g a s t r o c n e m i u s and s o l e u s scrabble tiles. Last night’s favorite:

Guess a minute’s colors

I told RJP and she said, 7:42 is yellowish-green. Do I see any particular minute’s colors? No. But I do like trying to describe what colors I see at any given minute.

What happens when I reverse 2 words: Guess a color’s minutes?
Or, Minutes colors a guess?
Or, As color, minutes guess
Or, minutes: a color’s guess (as in, meeting minutes)
Or, a guess colors minutes

Back to ED’s buzzing fly. Whenever I read this poem, I think about an article I discovered a few years ago that discusses how accurately and effectively ED describes the physiology of the dying eye — 15 march 2021

nov 14/RUN

3 miles
under ford bridge and back
55 degrees
wind: 20mph

Almost too warm and definitely too windy. The wind doesn’t bother me like it used to, but this wind was tough. I ran straight into it heading south. One nice thing: it pushed me along in the second half. I wore shorts and by the end of my run I had taken off my sweatshirt and pushed up my short sleeves. Bare legs and bare arms in the middle of November. Strange and disorienting.

10 Wind Things

  1. leaf shards in my eyes
  2. holding onto my hat so it wouldn’t blow away
  3. being pushed to the edge of the trail
  4. a roar in my ears
  5. swirling leaves above me, below me, to the side of me
  6. squaring my shoulders, leaning in as the wind pushed me back
  7. a sudden gust from the side
  8. knocking my ankles together
  9. shaking, swaying trees
  10. more sizzle than howl

I didn’t hear any geese or notice what the wind was doing to the river. I might have seen my shadow; I almost remember. Encountered some other runners, bikers, and a roller skier.

I listened to the wind until I reached the ford bridge, then I stopped and put in an old playlist: “Landslide,” “Cheap Thrills,” “Sorry,” and “Love is a Battlefield.”

I came across Wendy Xu’s “Absolute Variations” today and I wanted to make note of the first few lines. What a way to start a poem!

The first time I read a line by John Ashbery
was in a little café in Massachusetts, from left to right
There it was written across my friend’s collarbone
It felt right to be there with someone
who would show me something like that
when we had never met before

I appreciate how she never explicitly names the Ashbery lines. I suppose if you know a lot of Ashbery’s poems, it’s obvious, but I don’t, so it isn’t to me. But that’s okay; it could be fun trying to find them, and it’s not necessary to know them to enjoy the poem. I think her refusal to be explicit here is an example of trusting the reader to figure it out. I like that.

august 31/RUN

4.15 miles
franklin loop
60 degrees

Since we’re driving FWA back to school on Saturday, Scott and I decided to do our weekly run today instead. We ran (most of) the Franklin loop. A beautiful morning: cool, sunny but with plenty of shade, calm. At one point the wind picked up and I had to recite one of my favorite wind poems, “Who Has Seen the Wind?” by Christina Rossetti.

Fall is coming: discarded acorn shells, glowing leaves, the light seems longer and softer, maybe a bit sadder too?

10 Things

  1. empty river — no rowers or kayaks or big paddle boats playing dixieland jazz
  2. 3 or 4 stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  3. waved at the woman who stopped me the other day to tell me about some other runner who had my same gait. I think she wanted us to go on a date — she kept telling me how cute he was. A new regular? I’ll call her, the Fixer Upper — talking with Scott, we agreed that Fixer Upper sounded like she needed to be fixed up, which is not true at all, so I guess I’ll call her the Setter Upper
  4. the porta potty by the overlook has been removed. Why? I bet the people living in tents down in the gorge really needed it
  5. the cracks in the path just past the trestle are growing wider and deeper. Is the bluff becoming too unstable? Will they need to abandon this part of the path?
  6. a steady stream of cars on the road — no soft moments when all I can hear are my footfalls and my breath
  7. the east river road just south of franklin is in terrible condition — so many potholes!
  8. played a game with Scott — was that noise down in the east flats wind or water? I said water, he said wind. I think he was right; it hasn’t rained for a while
  9. another game — what is that loud, strangled cry? Knowing I was being ridiculous I guessed, a giant gobbling turkey. Scott thought it was a man yelling. We were both wrong; it was a dog barking
  10. crossing back over the lake street bridge: shadows of trees on the river near the shore, soft ripples from the wind

the day made

Walking back through the neighborhood, we encountered a pair of dogs that I had run by earlier in the summer (june 10, 2023) and always hoped to see again. 2 tiny dogs, barking with little yips and snorts, especially the larger one. Scott thought the smaller one — a minpin chihuahua mix? — was so small that it could have escaped through the bars of the fence if it wanted too. It didn’t. Of course, I cried out in delight when I saw them. I might have even clapped. Scott started laughing and then imitating the yip snort whenever I asked. Would I love these dogs as much if I had to live next to them? Maybe not, or maybe I’d love them even more.

Earlier this morning, prepping for my class, I was thinking about being open to the world, letting it interrupt you. These dogs were wonderful interrupters. That glorious bark, those cute, impossibly tiny bodies! Before we saw them, we were tense — Scott needed to hurry home to fix a server, but when they suddenly appeared, everything else was forgotten. It was just those dogs and that moment of sound and blurry little bodies.

I’ve written about frantic dogs barks before (and how much I like them). A few years back, I also posted a poem that included some yippy yappy dogs.

from I Heart Your Dog’s Head/ Erin Belieu

Which leads me to recall the three Chihuahuas
who’ve spent the fullness of their agitated lives penned
in the back of my neighbor’s yard.
Today they barked continuously for 12 minutes (I timed it) as
the UPS guy made his daily round.
They bark so piercingly, they tremble with such exquisite outrage,
that I’ve begun to root for them, though it’s fashionable
to hate them and increasingly dark threats
against their tiny persons move between the houses on our block.
But isn’t that what’s wrong with this version of America:
the jittering, small-skulled, inbred-by-no-choice-
of-their-own are despised? And Bill Parcells—
the truth is he’ll win
this game. I know it and you know it and, sadly,
did it ever seem there was another possible outcome?

It’s a small deposit,
but I’m putting my faith in reincarnation. I need to believe
in the sweetness of one righteous image,
in Bill Parcells trapped in the body of a teacup poodle,
as any despised thing,
forced to yap away his next life staked to
a clothesline pole or doing hard time on a rich old matron’s lap,
dyed lilac to match her outfit.
I want to live there someday, across that street,
and listen to him. Yap, yap, yap.

may 9/RUN

3.3 miles
trestle turn around +
65 degrees / humidity: 70%
wind: 18 mph / gusts: 30 mph

So much wind! As I neared the river, a surprise gust swept through and ripped my visor off my head. Luckily, that was the worst thing the wind did. No knocking down thick branches onto my shoulders. No pushing me off the edge of the gorge. Just a few big gusts, and a wall to run into after I turned around at the trestle.

The wind and the humidity distracted me from noticing much else. Did I even look at the river? One thing I do remember noticing: the green in the floodplain forest is thickening. Already the view through to the river is gone in that spot. I also noticed the welcoming oaks. They’re still bare and gnarled.

Near the end of my run, when I had one hill left and wanted to be done, I chanted some of my favorite lines from Emily Dickinson again: “Life is but life/Death but death/Bliss is but bliss/Breath but breath.” It helped!

10 Things I Noticed While Running*

*4 thoughts that distracted me from noticing + 6 things I still noticed despite the distractions

  1. my left hip is a little tight
  2. it is very humid
  3. I hate my sinuses and allergies; I wish I could breathe fully through my nose
  4. I wish I had worn a tank top. I’m so glad I didn’t wear that sweatshirt I almost put on because I was cold in the house!
  5. an intense floral scent — lilac, maybe?
  6. only a few big branches down near the trail
  7. a woman walking and pushing a stroller, a dog leash in one hand, a dog stretched across the trail
  8. several walkers dressed for winter in coats and caps
  9. an inviting bench perched at the edge of the gorge, taking in the last of the clear view before the green veil conceals it
  10. the creak of some branches in the wind: another rusty door opening!

This final thing I mentioned noticing, the door, made me want to find another door poem, so I did:

Doors opening, closing on us/ Marge Piercy

Maybe there is more of the magical
in the idea of a door than in the door
itself. It’s always a matter of going
through into something else. But

while some doors lead to cathedrals
arching up overhead like stormy skies
and some to sumptuous auditoriums
and some to caves of nuclear monsters

most just yield a bathroom or a closet.
Still, the image of a door is liminal,
passing from one place into another
one state to the other, boundaries

and promises and threats. Inside
to outside, light into dark, dark into
light, cold into warm, known into
strange, safe into terror, wind

into stillness, silence into noise
or music. We slice our life into
segments by rituals, each a door
to a presumed new phase. We see

ourselves progressing from room
to room perhaps dragging our toys
along until the last door opens
and we pass at last into was.

march 29/RUN

3.5 miles
river road, south/winchell trail/river road, north/edmund
39 degrees / feels like 30
wind: 20 mph

Overcast, windy, cold. Not too many people out on the trails. Ran south on the paved path, then a little on the Winchell trail — dirt, then rubbled asphalt, then paved, back up on the river road trail, through the tunnel of trees, then over to Edmund. Everything bare and brown and looking like November. Very pleasing to my eyes. Soft and dull, not sharp or crisp. Down on the Winchell Trail, I was closer to the river, but forgot to look. Maybe it was because I was too focused on the wind and reciting the poem by Christine Rossetti that I memorized this morning. I was reminded of it when I found it on my entry for March 29, 2020.

Who Has Seen the Wind?/ CHRISTINA ROSSETTI

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

It was really fun to recite (just in my head) as I ran. It’s iambic, mostly trimeter (I think?). I also recited the opening to Richard Siken’s “Lovesong of the Square Root of Negative One:

“I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves tremble but I am invisible.”

Before I went for my run, I spent more time with Alice Oswald. Here are a few bits from an interview she did in 2016 for Falling Awake:

I frequently get told I’m a nature poet living in a rural idyll, but just like the city, the country is full of anxious, savage people. The hedges seem so much stronger than the humans that you feel slightly imperilled and exposed, as if, if you stopped moving for a minute the nettles would just move in.

I think about this idea of the vegetation taking over when humans (by the gorge, Minneapolis Parks’ workers) stop managing and maintaining it. Creeping vines, tall grass, wandering branches, crumbling asphalt. I see these things all the time and often imagine how the green things might consume us when we stop paying attention.

I’m mostly interested in life and vitality, but you can only see that by seeing its opposite. I love erosion: I like the way that the death of one thing is the beginning of something else.

Erosion, things decomposing, returning, recycling. I’m drawn to noticing these things as I loop around the gorge.

It’s good to remember how to forget. I’m interested in the oral tradition: what keeps the poems alive is a little forgetting. In Homer you get the sense that anything could happen because the poet might not remember.

I like the idea of finding a balance, where I remember some things and forget others, or I forget some things so I can remember other things.

Poetry is not about language but about what happens when language gets impossible.

I like the idea of things being impossible to ever fully achieve, where no words can ever fully capture/describe what something it. When language is impossible, it’s possible to keep imagining/dreaming up new meanings.

I’m interested in how many layers you can excavate in personality. At the top it’s all quite named. But you go down through the animal and the vegetable and then you get to the mineral. At that level of concentration you can respond to the non-human by half turning into it.

This line about getting down to the mineral, reminded me of some of Oswald’s words in Dart and Lorine Niedecker’s words in “Lake Superior”:

from Dart / Alice Oswald

where’s Ernie? Under the ground

where’s Redver’s Webb? Likewise.

Tom, John and Solomon Warne, Dick Jorey, Lewis
Evely?

Some are photos, others dust.
Heading East to West along the tin lodes,
80 foot under Hepworthy, each with a tallow candle in
his hat.

Till rain gets into the stone,
which washes them down to the valley bottoms
and iron, lead, zinc, copper calcite
and gold, a few flakes of it
getting pounded between the pebbles in the river.

from “Lake Superior” / Lorine Niedecker

In every part of every living thing
is stuff that once was rock

And the idea of moving through layers, reminds me of Julian Spahr and their poem that moves through layers, first out, then in:

poemwrittenafterseptember 11, 2001 / Julian Spahr

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby and the space of the cities and the space of the regions and the space of the nations and the space of the continents and islands and the space of the oceans and the space of the troposphere and the space of the stratosphere and the space of the mesosphere in and out.

In this everything turning and small being breathed in and out by everyone with lungs during all the moments.

Then all of it entering in and out.

The entering in and out of the space of the mesosphere in the entering in and out of the space of the stratosphere in the entering in and out of the space of the troposphere in the entering in and out of the space of the oceans in the entering in and out of the space of the continents and islands in the entering in and out of the space of the nations in the entering in and out of the space of the regions in the entering in and out of the space of the cities in the entering in and out of the space of the neighborhoods nearby in the entering in and out of the space of the building in the entering in and out of the space of the room in the entering in and out of the space around the hands in the entering in and out of the space between the hands.

How connected we are with everyone.

The space of everyone that has just been inside of everyone mixing inside of everyone with nitrogen and oxygen and water vapor and argon and carbon dioxide and suspended dust spores and bacteria mixing inside of everyone with sulfur and sulfuric acid and titanium and nickel and minute silicon particles from pulverized glass and concrete.

How lovely and how doomed this connection of everyone with lungs.

I’ve been wanting to do something with layers and the gorge. What form might it take?

march 25/4 MILES

36 degrees
downtown loop

Scott and I started at the Guthrie, ran next to the beautiful, extra blue Mississippi river under the Hennepin Avenue bridge and over the Plymouth bridge through Boom Island and Father Hennepin park over the Stone Arch bridge and then back to the car. At the start of the run, I noticed so many intense shades of blue. The sky a purplish blue clashing with the steel blue river and the royal blue biking/walking signs on the path. Then I noticed the wind–such wind!–almost taking our breath away. 15 mph with strong gusts.

Scott stopped to take a picture on the Stone Arch bridge and I asked him to include me in the picture:

jan 10/5.1 MILES

38 degrees
10% snow-covered
franklin loop

Another warm and windy day. Another run on the Franklin loop. The path is almost clear but that will change tomorrow when it snows again. Since they don’t clear the east side of the river path quite as well, I’m not sure how long it will be before I can run this loop again. Listened to my playlist and had a good run. Could tell I was getting faster and that my last mile was my fastest. It’s a very gray, gloomy day. What did I think about? I really can’t remember. Didn’t worry about anything. Didn’t experience doubts about whether I could keep running. Didn’t struggle with trying to find the right words or ideas for my poems. Didn’t feel guilt about something I’m supposed to do or something that I already did. Just ran and felt the wind in my face, at my back, rush past my ears. Avoided puddles and ice patches. And tried to keep my breathing steady.

jan 9/5.3 MILES

35 degrees
wind: 13 mph with 21 mph gusts
25% snow-covered
franklin loop

Warmer. Snow melting. Slushy and slick. The path was mostly clear with an occasional ice patch and some gritty debris. Dirt. Sand. Some dead leaves and ground up twigs. It made a fun rubbing sandpaper kind of a noise as my feet struck the asphalt. I’m glad I didn’t wear my headphones. I would have missed this sound entirely. Ran across the Lake Street bridge over to Saint Paul and up to Franklin. Noticed a few walkers heading down to the East River Flats, which I only discovered about a month ago. How wet and slippery is it down there? On the east side of the river it was calm and warm but I knew what that meant: all the wind would be on the west side in my face as I finished my run. And it was. I think I felt a few of those 21 mph gusts that I read about. Tough, but I didn’t stop. With a mile and a half left a runner—in shorts!–passed me but hovered just ahead. I followed him all the way home, feeling good.

Last year, I spent a lot of time trying to identify different versions of the wind. I think this year, or at least this winter, will be about the path–the different sounds it makes, how it feels, how it looks.

dec 19/4 MILES

36 degrees
10% snow-covered
wind: 20 mph
mississippi river road south/minnnehaha falls/mississippi river road north

Earlier this morning I took the dog for a walk and the weather seemed perfect. Not much wind. Warm. Sunny. So, even though I ran yesterday and the day before that, I decided that I better get out there. Tomorrow it’s supposed to snow and the paths will probably be covered again with ice.  I got ready but just before I opened the front door to leave I heard it. The wind howling. Uh oh. I decided it was too late to stop so I went out for my run. The wind wasn’t too bad–only gusting in my face occasionally. Most of the time, it was at my back. When I reached the river road, I ran to the right instead of the left—to Minnehaha Falls. Pretty cool. Half frozen, half gushing. The path was almost completely clear. Only a few ice patches.

nov 15/4 MILES

37 degrees
wind: 16 mph/gusts up to 25 mph
mississippi river road path, north

Windy. Dark. Gray. Cool. Before leaving the house, I could see the trees swaying, so I knew it would be windy. Decided to not wear headphones and pay attention to the wind instead. How many versions would I be able to name? Remembering to pay attention to the wind was difficult. I kept getting distracted. Another runner creeping up on me. I could hear their feet strike the grit on the path. Tried slowing down a little–or did I unwittingly speed up?–to let them pass. They must have turned off at Lake Street. The few remaining orange and gold leaves stubbornly clinging to the branches, refusing to concede to winter. The faint beeping of an alarm–beep beep beep beep beep–coming from a car driving by. The uneven path just past the railroad bridge, waiting to twist my ankle if I stepped wrong. But even with these distractions, I noticed the wind.

versions of the wind

  • Muted wind, made gentle by a hood covering my ears. Roars becoming whispers
  • Sneaky wind, hiding from me, tricking me into forgetting about it until the path twists and it rushes at me, full force
  • Thoughtful wind, generously clearing the leaves off the path right in front of me
  • Teasing wind, playing with my hood, moving it onto my shoulder where it bunches up annoyingly
  • Helpful wind, pushing me along, enabling me to go faster, feel freer in the second half of my run

The sounds and textures of the wind blended in with other sounds. Was that the wind rushing at my back or a car whooshing along the river road? Wind blowing turned into cars traveling into a bike wheel turning, its chain clanging into wind shivering into a leaf blower blowing into jagged breathing into grit crunching. So many noises, one flowing into the next, never starting or stopping just shifting form.

As I ran, I thought about form. How I’ve been taking writing classes on form–unconventional forms, finding the right form, using different forms to provoke and inspire–and thinking about my running form. I’d like to write a poem or a hybrid essay about form, weaving together ideas about writing and running form. Maybe include one of my favorite lines by a poet about how form is a way of conserving energy–“energy soon leaks out of an ill-made work of art.” Forms: the shape of the wind, bare oak branches, sloping hills, relaxed shoulders, slightly bent trunk, twisting path, winding river, flowing sounds, scattered leaves piled up on the path.

I also noticed the colors. Oh, the colors of late fall! Not as showy as October’s glowing greens and yellows and oranges and flaming reds, but achingly beautiful. Dark dark brown, tan, steel gray, pale blue. Flashes of rusted red and burnished gold. All muted colors, nothing bright to hurt my eyes, nothing too intense to disrupt the calm that has sunk beneath the surface of my skin.

One final memory: Running on my favorite part of the path where it dips below the road and close to the top of the gorge, my shoe squeaked as it landed on wet leaves.

Today’s run has given me so many writing ideas! Lunes about the wind. An anaphora about color. A pantoum about the shifting shapes of sound.

update: here are the poems I just crafted after writing my log entry:

versions of the wind, mostly haikus, a few lunes

1.
muted wind, softened
by hood covering cold ears
roars become whispers

2.
sneaky wind, tricking
me into thinking it left.
still here, just hiding.

OR

the sneaky wind hides
making me think it has gone
it waits near the gorge

3.
thoughtful wind
clearing leaves off path
as I near

OR

the thoughtful wind clears
the pile of leaves off the path
before I approach

4.
teasing wind
playing with my hood
annoying

OR

near the bridge
the teasing wind plays
with my hood

5.
running fast
and feeling freer
wind at back

OR

helpful wind, pushing
me to run faster, freer
it is at my back

OR

the wind helps me to
run faster and feel freer
when it’s at my back

Not an anaphora about color, just free verse

Oh, the colors in November!
The closing credits of fall
after October’s big show
so subdued in their splendor
nothing bright or intense to disrupt
the calm that sits
on the surface of my skin
dark brown
light tan
steel gray
pale blue
rusty red
burnished gold
I stare at the gorge
my eyes grateful
for the rest.

a pantoum

Running log, november 15, 4 miles
today I’m paying attention to the wind
but it is not the only sound I hear
the wind mixes with other noises

I’m listening closely for the wind
but I’m confused—is that the wind or a car coming?
the wind mixes with the noise of whooshing wheels
one sound blends into the next

I’m confused—is that the wind or a car coming?
or is it the wheel of a bicycle, its chain clanging?
one sound blends into the next
the rushing wind becomes whooshing car wheels then a whirring bike wheel

A bike wheel, its chain clanging, becomes the wind again,
shooshing, sounding like brushes softly hitting a snare drum until
the wind becomes the distant hum of a leaf blower then my quick breaths as I run
sometimes jagged, sometimes smooth

sounding like wind that roughly rushes near the bridge or softly sifts through the tall grass
so many noises, one flowing into the next
never starting, never stopping
wind car bike leaf blower runner the shifting shapes of sound

oct 30/3.85 MILES

37 degrees
wind: 16 mph
mississippi river road path, north

Ran for 35 minutes and 3.85 miles without stopping. Negative split each mile. My knee was sore for the first half, but it mostly felt okay. It was windy and cool with some light drizzle/snow. Checked on the progress of the leaves on my favorite part of the gorge: all gone. Now I can see the slope down to the forest floor and the Mississippi.

Thinking again about routine, rituals and habits and what is/isn’t sacred about running and preparing for running. Wrote a poem in homage to Craig Arnold’s Mediation on a Grapefruit. Towards the end of the poem he writes:

a discipline
precisely pointless       a devout
involvement of the hands and senses
a pause     a little emptiness

My homage is about coffee brewing, an essential part of my pre-race routine/ritual. note: I can’t figure out how to the spacing here. It’s supposed to have more, like Arnold’s poem.

Meditation on the Smell of Coffee Brewing

To wake when nothing is possible
before the unexpected joys of the day
have saved me
To come to the kitchen
and pull out a thin paper basket
before breakfast
To open the metal tin lid sounding
like cymbals being lightly struck
by a drum stick
metallic and sharp as a cold winter morning
To tip
each rich brown scoop into the filter
not that carefully sometimes spilling
several darkly fragrant grounds
To pour each cup of water
into a cheap black coffee maker
the water settling until the whole
carafe is emptied
and only then to breathe and to brew
who knew
this habit
seemingly not the point a repeated
performance ending with the nose
a deep inhale with no substance

each morning harder to live within
each morning harder to live without

and

Meditation on a running shoe

To wake when nothing is possible
before my morning run
has saved me
To go to the front room
and find my electric blue wings
after breakfast
To take them out of the shoe rack
light and featherless        with orange swishes
swirling on the side
vibrant and zesty as citrus
To slide
each foot in, first right then left
so mindfully     without making
my socks bunch up.
To tie each lace
into big, loopy knots
then tuck the loops    until the whole
shoelace is protected
and only then to run
more than fun
a ritual
reverently practical       a sacred
preparation for the body and spirit
a moment      a little attention

each morning more necessary to live within
each morning more impossible to live without

may 31/6 MILES

62 degrees
the franklin hill turn around + extra

Today was a harder run than yesterday. My legs felt sore. I took it out too fast. And I was overdressed. Decided to walk a few times when I felt like I needed it, which was a good idea, not a failure, I’ve decided. Recorded two voice memos into my iPhone, one about attention as a salve against apathy and another about how bodies are machines.

Before the run, I started working on a series of wanderings around attention. I’ve given years of attention to attention in my ethical work on curiosity and a feminist ethics of care and now, in this running/writing project, it keeps coming up as a primary goal for me: to pay attention to my body, to my surroundings, to my voice, to authentic expression, to nagging injuries, to breathing, to joy, to staying upright, to resisting oppressive regimes.

Attention, Wanderings

Wandering One

Mary Oliver from Upstream

“Attention is the beginning of devotion” (8).

Here’s my (first?) attempt at a sonnet, riffing off of Oliver’s line:

Attention is the beginning of devotion.
Devotion, the beginning of prayer.
Attention sets curiosity in motion.
Curiosity is a form of care.

Attention can lead us to question.
all that we’ve been taught.
Compelling us not to rest on
the assumptions we have wrought.

Attention promotes belief
belief breaks us open,
spilling out a grief
that comes from loss of hope and

apathy, a monstrous twinning.
Attention is the beginning.

Wandering Two

Marilyn Nelson, “Crows

“What if to taste and see, to notice things,
to stand each is up against emptiness
for a moment or an eternity—
images collected in consciousness
like a tree alone on the horizon—
is the main reason we’re on the planet….”

So many ways to connect this excerpt with my wanderings on the vertical yesterday! The tree. the horizon. The purpose of life.

This is makes me think of Krista Tippet’s interview with the poet Marie Howe. Howe has some thoughts about the is, which she calls the this, and how we struggle to “stand each is up against emptiness” (hover over the following quote to reveal the erasure poem):

It hurts to be present, though, you know. I ask my students every week to write 10 observations of the actual world. It’s very hard for them. Just tell me what you saw this morning like in two lines. You know I saw a water glass on a brown tablecloth. Uh, and the light came through it in three places. No metaphor. And to resist metaphor is very difficult because you have to actually endure the thing itself, which hurts us for some reason….We want to — we want to say it was like this. It was like that. We want to look away, and to be, to be with a glass of water or to be with anything. And then they say well there’s nothing important enough. And then it’s whole thing is that point.”
Attention

attend to:
witness
keep vigil
be devoted

have a long attention span:
don’t forget
keep noticing
pay attention

give attention:
care
care for
care about

be curious:
wonder
imagine
believe

receive:
breathe in the this and breathe out the that
slowly absorb the is through your skin

note: So many more variations to do, including one with Simone Weil.

may 16/3.3 MILES

64 degrees
muggy and windy
mississippi river road north

Was able to get in a quick run between thunderstorms. It’s funny how the winter weather didn’t prevent me from running outside, but these spring thunderstorms are. So humid. At one point during the run, when the walking path dips down and follows alongside the wooded gorge, everything looked weird, almost like I was seeing it through a filter. I wondered if it was my vision then I realized it was steam, trapped in the trees! Yuck.

Before and after the run I worked on having more fun with medical terms. Specifically, more fun with the biomechanics of walking. So much fun! When I started it, I had no idea where it would lead me. This is the unexpected result:

It starts with a step, versions and variations

Version One:

“Where does it start? Muscles tense. One leg a pillar, holding the body upright between the earth and sky. The other a pendulum, swinging from behind. Heel touches down. The whole weight of the body rolls forward onto the ball of the foot. The big toes pushes off, and the delicately balanced weight of the body shifts again. The legs reverse position. It starts with a step and then another step and then another that add up like taps on a drum to a rhythm, the rhythm of walking (Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust).”

variation
It starts with a step:
heel touches down
weight rolls forward
onto ball of foot
big toe pushes off
body shifts
legs reverse
step + step + step + step + step + step + step = walking

Version Two:

The biomechanics of a step: The Stance Phase in 5 parts

  1. Heel strike/the heel first touches ground
  2. Early flatfoot/from when the foot is flat until body’s center of gravity passes over foot, here the foot is loose and floppy
  3. Late flatfoot/body past center of gravity, heel beginning to lift, foot is rigid
  4. Heel rise/the heel rises off the ground
  5. Toe off/the toe lifts off the ground.

variation
the heel strikes
on the ground,
not out at the plate or
because of unjust working conditions.

early flatfoot
a police officer with a morning shift.

late flatfoot
another officer, working the night shift.

heel rise
apparently I was wrong about why the heel was striking.
It is because of unjust working conditions.
She and other foot workers are refusing to lift anything off the ground until their demands are met, namely adequate health care.
They are rising up!

toe off
Management is becoming increasingly irritated by the peaceful strikers.
All mechanical operations have been shut down.
How can the toe be lifted off the ground when the heel won’t do her job?
The early and late flatfoots, who have both finished their shifts, are called in to force the heel and her compatriots to submit.
Neither of them are happy about it.
They’re tired and want to go to bed.
Besides, they agree with the heel and are angry with management.

Version Three:

The biomechanics of a step: The Muscles

During the heel strike/early flat foot phase the anterior compartment muscles work to gently lower the foot onto the ground. The anterior compartment muscles are the tibialis anterior muscle, the extensor hallicus longus, and the extensor digitorum longus. .

During the late flatfoot to heel rise phase the posterior compartment muscles control the body so it doesn’t fall forward. The posterior compartment muslces are the gastrocnemius, the soleum and the plantaris.

variation
During the strike, the heel is confronted by some well-meaning but naive co-workers who are urging her to reconsider her tactics. “Why not ask nicely?” the tibialis anterior muscle suggests. “Yes!” agree the extensor hallicus longus and the extensor digitorum longus, “if we take a gentle approach and try to reason with them, management is sure to see that we deserve better!”

Listening in on their conversation, early flatfoot rolls her eyes and can be heard to mutter dismissively to late flatfoot, “yeah right.”

Heel refuses to listen to the anterior compartment muscles. “We will strike!” she declares. She is joined by many others, including the posterior compartment muscles. The gastrocnemius and the soleum help by reassuring the crowd of striking workers and the plantaris delivers the strikers’ demands to management.

Version Four:

The biomechanics of a step: The Swing Phase in Three Parts

  1. early swing/after toe is off the ground, just until it is next to opposite foot
  2. midswing/the swinging foot passes by the opposite foot
  3. late swing/lasts from end of midswing until heel strike

variation
The striking heel, along with the toe and the ball of the foot, soon realize that their tactics are not working. Management is refusing to consider their demands. They reluctantly determine that their only option is to walk out. To do this, they need the help of the other foot. The dorsiflexors of the ankle joint are enlisted to initiate the swing phase so that the toe can try to convince the workers in the opposite foot to collaborate on the direct action. The big toe is successful with her negotiations. So successful that not only does the opposite foot agree to the plan, but so do early and late flatfoots. Slowly and steadily the feet trade off steps. One heel strikes, one foot is flat, one toe lifts off. The other heel strikes, the other foot is flat, the other toe lifts off. Step. Step. Step. Step. Step. Step.

note: The technical information for the versions comes from these sources:

I had not intended to write about the heel striking, but I’m glad I did. At some point, pretty far into the process, I realized that the management was me. And the workers were going on strike because I wasn’t taking care of myself properly. This version of the biomechanics is very different from Solnit’s romantic understanding of walking. I think I went in the direction that I did because I associate learning/being curious about the technical aspects of walking with injury. Why else would I want to dissect the process and learn the specific names of muscles, bones and joints?