march 3/RUN

6 miles
ford loop
32 degrees
20% deep puddles with ice

Wasn’t planning to run 6 miles today, but when I got closer to under the ford bridge and saw a maintenance truck blocking the way, I decided to take the path up to and then over the ford bridge. I briefly worried that it might be too much for my IT band, but decided to do it anyway. My IT band is sore, and it did grumble a little during the run, but I think it’s okay. Another reason I was willing to do this route: the part of the path between 42nd and the double bridge had 2 big stretches of jagged ice + deep, cold puddles + slush. I had already gotten my feet wet once (brrr), and I wasn’t excited to do it again.

Crossing the ford bridge, I admired the river. Farther north, it was open but right below, it was still iced over. Later, crossing the lake street bridge, I admired the river more. Open, undulating, and blue. The sun was shining on the waves, making a sparkling path towards the east side of the river. Beautiful! I wondered if it sparkled there because of a sandbar just below the surface. Probably not, but maybe?

Had to stop and walk a few times to navigate the slick, slushy trail.

Heard at least one drumming woodpecker, and a bunch of other chirping birds. Saw a bird soaring in the sky. Also heard what sounded like rushing water near Shadow Falls. Was it water, or dead leaves. Water, I decided.

Saw my shadow ahead of me. She was enjoying the sun as much as I was.

On the east side, I saw two walkers stopped for a minute, looking up into the tree. What were they seeing, I wondered.

My plan was to read all of My Emily Dickinson this month, but I made it about halfway and stalled. Too academic for me. Maybe I’ll return to it later? Still thinking about Emily Dickinson, though, and windows (which was another possible topic for this month). In the spirit of that, here’s a poem from Kelli Agodon Russell and one of her books that I just discovered and bought, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room:

Another Empty Window Dipped in Milk/ Kelli Agodon Russell

“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone: “so I can’t take more.”
You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “It’s very easy to take more than nothing.”

I am the opposite of duende.
I am the humdrum, monotonous, the blah blah blah
when you want dazzling, a passion
flower with hipbones.
I’m not the voodoo that you do,
but the bone from the salmon on the side
of your plate. My lips say hiatus, say corpse pose.
All morning I make Ku Ding tea, serve crumb cake.
Trust me, it’s not bitterness I carry
in my blood, but the pulse and flow
of ordinary, the white picket fence
I like to call my ribcage. Listen—
the faulty valve of my heart quotes Einstein,
believes everything’s a miracle instead of nothing is.
All around, birdsong and background
music. All around, diamond birds and beetles.
To the mirror, I’m less than a gem. Some days
I see green glass while others see emeralds.
I needle through this, trying to sew synchronicity
into my stories. Sometimes I drop a stitch
and have to back-tack spiritus mundi to my hem,
slide the universe beneath my slip.
I would live differently if I knew passion
flowers would bloom in my bourbon,
if I believed randomness
wasn’t only a bone I choked on.
At night God speaks to me while I’m balanced
in dead bug pose. He says I’m beautiful
balanced in dead bug pose, but
I want to be the voice and not the insect,
the hipsway of tail feathers and not the egg
broken beneath a wingspan of worry.
I tell myself I’m safe from extinction
living in a marsh of marginal, a swamp
of so-so, but I’m afraid I’m becoming the common
seagull. Deep down, hope perches in my ribcage
and its song is enough to make me soar.
And this hum I thought was a murmur,
was another’s words—dwell, dwell—in a voice,
a ventricle, in the vital song of a hermit
thrush singing, here I am right near you,
to the robin outside my window
repeating as I serve the crumb cake,
the bitter tea: cheer-up, cheer-up, cheer-up.

I like this poem, even as I don’t completely understand it. Because I’ve been thinking about the ordinary — Linda Pastan’s line, It is the ordinary that comes to save you — I was struck by Russell’s lines,

it’s not bitterness I carry
in my blood, but the pulse and flow
of ordinary

I also like living in the marsh, a swamp of so so. And, the birdsong and the bird — ED’s hope is a feather perching in her ribcage — as being enough to make the narrator soar. I looked it up and found a source for Russell’s robin singing cheer up and her hermit thrush singing here I am right near you: Bird Songs: Putting Words to What You Hear

dec 17/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
18 degrees / feels like 8
100% slick snow

Another dusting of snow last night. Just a slow, steady accumulation. Everything a bright, blinding white — the sky, the path, the trees, even the river, at least in one spot where the sun hit it just right and made it burn or glare or whatever word you might use to describe a blinding white light. Wow.

Layers: 2 pairs of black running tights, green shirt, pink jacket, gray jacket, buff, black fleece-lined cap with brim, 2 pairs of glovers (black, pink and white striped)

No headphones on the way to the falls; an old playlist titled “swim meet motivation” on the way back — David Bowie, Beck, Todd Rundgren, Ozzy Osbourne, Pat Benetar

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the creek was flowing and the falls were falling, making a delightful rushing sound
  2. when I stopped just before my favorite spot (because a couple and a kid were already at my spot), I could hear the falls as they fell. When I looked, all I could see was one white tree after the next
  3. the trail was not too slippery, but slippery enough to make my legs work harder
  4. I think it was between locks and dam #1 and the double bridge — as a car passed me , I smelled hot chocolate. did it come from the car, or was that just a coincidence?
  5. on the way back, stopped to walk on side of the double bridge that doesn’t get plowed in the winter. I looked down into the white ravine as I trudged through the snow
  6. glancing at the river through the trees, something about all the white in the trees, the light, and my vision made the river look like it was sepia-toned
  7. nearing the ford bridge, looking ahead, I noticed something that looked like an animal. I couldn’t see an owner and wondered if it was a coyote and not a dog. As I got a little closer I realized it was a person wearing a shirt so light — pale blue? gray? white? — that it blended into the sky. The dark I had seen was their pants. This is not the first time this has happened to me
  8. running by some steps saw the briefest flash of orange — must be a sign warning people not to enter, I guessed
  9. one car crawling along the river road, the line of cars growing behind it
  10. a runner in a bright orange stocking cap and bright yellow jacket

Discovered Wendell Berry’s window poems. I like collecting window poems. This morning, I was thinking about them in relation to winter and windows as frame for the world, and layer between you and the world, and a place to be delighted when it’s too cold to be outside. I think I want to add something about windows to the section in my winter wonder class about layers.

As I was writing this last sentence, I started thinking about Emily Dickinson and how she wrote so many of her poems sitting in front of her windows, so I googled, “Emily Dickinson window” and this post was one of the top results: Emily Dickinson and the Poetics of Glass. Very cool!

Aside from working in the garden and walking the grounds of the property, looking through windows was her primary mode of relating to the landscape around her.  Fortunately for Dickinson, she lived in a house abundantly punctuated by windows.

There were approximately seventy-five windows at the Dickinson Homestead.

Emily Dickinson and the Poetics of Glass/ Xiao Situ

Thinking about the literal windows in ED’s house, made me think of Berry’s Window Poem 3#:

from Windows/ Wendell Berry

The window has forty
panes, forty clarities
variously wrinkled, streaked
with dried rain, smudged,
dusted. The fram
is a black grid
beyond which the world
flings up the wild
graph of its growth,
tree branches, river,
slope of land,
the river passing
downward, the clouds blowing,
usually, form teh west,
the opposite way.
The window is a form
of consciousness, pattern
of formed sense
through which to look
into the wild
that is a pattern too,
but dark and flowing,
bearing along the little
shapes of the mind
as the river bears
a sash of some blinded house.
This windy day
on one of the panes
a blown seed, caught
in cobweb, beats and beats.

To add to this wandering, I remembered listening to Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine (the album that I had listened to over and over while writing my dissertation back in 2004/5) earlier this week and noticing her song about breaking the window. Had I ever thought about these lyrics in all those dissertation writing listenings?

Window/ Fiona Apple

I was staring out the window
The whole time he was talking to me
It was a filthy pane of glass
I couldn’t get a clear view
And as he went on and on
It wasn’t the outside world I could see
Just the filthy pane that I was looking through

So I had to break the window
It just had to be
Better that I break the window
Than him or her or me

I was never focused on just one thing
My eyes got fixed when my mind got soft
It may look like I’m concentrated on 
A very clear view
But I’m as good as asleep
I bet you didn’t know
It takes a lot of it away
If you do

I had to break the window
It just had to be
Better that I break the window
Than him or her or me

I had to break the window 
It just had to be
It was in my way
Better that I break the window
Than forget what I had to say
Or miss what I should see

Because the fact being that
Whatever’s in front of me
Is covering my view
So I can’t see what I’m seeing in fact
I only see what I’m looking through

So again I done the right thing
I was never worried about that
The answer’s always been in clear view
But even when the window was cleaned
I still can’t see for the fact
That it’s so clear I can’t tell what I’m looking through

So I had to break the window
It just had to be
It was in my way
Better that I break the window
Than him or her or me

I had to break the window
It just had to be
Better that I break the window
Than miss what I should see

I had to break the window
It just had to be
It was in my way
Better that I break the window
Than forget what I had to say
Or miss what I should see
Or break him her or me
Especially me