dec 31/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
20 degrees/ feels like 10
100% loose snow

It snowed all day yesterday and even though they plowed it once, there was still a lot of loose powder on the path. Not fun to run in this stuff. Still, I enjoyed it. Watched my shadow as she helpfully showed me how my running form looked. Again, I forgot to look at the river. I did see some other walkers and runners and a kid and adult sledding down a hill on the other side. Also encountered a plow which wasn’t actually plowing but just speeding down the path. Heard my feet crunching sharply on the path as the spikes from my yaktrax met the crusty snow on the edge.

Stranger by Night/ David Hirsch

After I lost
my peripheral vision
I started getting sideswiped
by pedestrians cutting
in front of me
almost randomly
like memories
I couldn’t see coming
as I left the building
at twilight
or stepped gingerly
off the curb
or even just crossed
the wet pavement
to the stairs descending
into the subway station
and I apologized
to every one
of those strangers
jostling me
in a world that had grown
stranger by night

I feel lucky to have stumbled upon this poem by a poet I like very much on a subject that is very important to me. I have the opposite problem with my vision–my central vision is going while my peripheral will always be there. I see people but their edges are fuzzy (and so are their faces). It’s hard sometimes to see where they end and I begin. This becomes especially overwhelming in crowded places, like the Mall of America which I hate going to but often do to please my daughter. I like the gorge because there are more trees and rocks than people and when I can’t see them or bump into them, I don’t have to apologize.

Rereading this poem a few times, I love how it is all one sentence. I also love how he describes his experience with vision. I’d like to try writing a poem like this one about my own vision problems. He seems to have found an effective way to communicate the strange scariness of it without being too heavy-handed with emotion, which seems hard to do. Sometimes I feel angry or overwhelmed by my inability to see and others’ inability to make more room for people like me.

dec 30/RUN

3.25 miles
trestle turn around
34 degrees/ snow
15 mph wind/ gusts up to 29 mph
100% snow-covered

Happy Winter Running! Even running straight into the wind and the snow didn’t dull my delight for being outside in the wintery white world. Wow! (too much with the rhyme and alliteration?) These days I don’t mind so much about the wind or the snow as long as the path isn’t too rough and uneven. Today I wore my yaktrax and had no problems running on the snow. There were a lot more people out there than I would have expected. I thought I was the only crazy one who goes out in this. Was it because of the holidays? Was able to say good morning to Dave the Daily Walker at the end of my run–I haven’t seen him in a while. I do not remember looking at the river even once–now I do remember looking down at the river when I got to the trestle but I absolutely don’t remember what I saw.

Observations (or thoughts?)

  1. The snow was wet and heavy and made pock-marks on the sidewalk.
  2. The sharp, wet flakes flew straight at my face coating my vest, turning the black material from dull to slick and shiny.
  3. For a few stretches, I pulled the brim of my baseball cap down as far as it could go to block my face from the sharp, prickly snow. I looked down at my feet and imagined the path in front of me.
  4. The path was covered in footprints and a single track–probably from a bike wheel.
  5. With the snow, I couldn’t see where the path ended and the grass began but I could feel it when my foot stepped off. Softer on the grass and springier too.
  6. Heard but didn’t see geese honking overhead as I ran south. I imagined what it would feel like to be flying so high in the icy wet sky, honking with wild abandon.
  7. Running by, I noticed two people standing at the top of the old stone steps. How long did they stay there? Did the climb over the chain and take the steps down to the river? If they did, who/what did they find?

Before heading out for my run, I listened to a Poetry Off the Shelf podcast episode with Matthew Zapruder. In it, he talks about nothingness (which is also a chapter in his book, Why Poetry):

One way I think about nothing is silence and absence. And I think that poems—people want to talk a lot about the difference between poems and song lyrics. You know, are song lyrics poetry, and I think the lyrics in song take place against the information of music. And they’re in dialogue with that information. But poems are in dialogue with silence. And silence and nothingness and absence are so fundamental to the physical experience of writing and reading poems for me. But nothingness also has a conceptual importance for me as a poet, which is that, you know, language—I mean, even the kind of talking that you and I are doing now—it’s so purpose driven. We want to accomplish things with our language and communicate and exchange. And that’s a beautiful thing, and that’s what language—you know, it’s a miraculous tool in that way. But what happens if you remove all that purpose and functionality from language? If you take it away and there’s a kind of absence or nothingness in your purpose of speaking, what then starts to happen? And I think what happens is poems. Because then language has a chance to move around and be intuitive and make connections and reach for the limits of experience in a way that it can’t do when you’re constantly turning it to a purpose.

I really like thinking about language not having a purpose and about a poem giving language the chance to breathe and move around and not be driven by any one aim.

Erstwhile Harbinger Auspices 

Erstwhile means long time gone.
A harbinger is sent before to help,
and also a sign of things
to come. Like this blue
stapler I bought at Staples.
Did you know in ancient Rome
priests called augurs studied
the future by carefully watching
whether birds were flying
together or alone, making what
honking or beeping noises
in what directions? It was called
the auspices. The air
was thus a huge announcement.
Today it’s completely
transparent, a vase. Inside it
flowers flower. Thus
a little death scent. I have
no master but always wonder,
what is making my master sad?
Maybe I do not know him.
This morning I made extra coffee
for the beloved and covered
the cup with a saucer. Skeleton
I thought, and stay
very still, whatever it was
will soon pass by and be gone.

I have loved the word harbinger ever since I first encountered it in a vocabulary book in a high school english class. I love how this poem makes me wonder why a blue stapler from Staples is a sign of things to come. I love the idea of air being an announcement and that people called augers studied the honks of birds to determine the future. I love when a word can be both a thing and the action that thing does–flowers flower. And I love that it will take me many readings to begin to make sense of this poem.

dec 29/RUN

5.4 miles
franklin loop
42! degrees/ 98% humidity
0% snow-covered/ 40-50% puddle-covered

A wonderful run on a wet, almost raining day! Wasn’t planning to do the franklin loop but then decided at the last minute, why not, I bet it’s clear on the st. paul side and it was. The river was brown then gray then brown again. Never white. As I crossed the franklin bridge I could see that the path below in the east flats was clear. The path above was too. Lots of puddles, but no ice or snow. Didn’t think about anything I can remember.



  1. Encountered an older man and woman on the lake street bridge as I climbed up from the steps. As I started to run again, the man said, “And she’s off!”
  2. Running up behind a woman with a dog on a narrow part of the path. She veered in front of me without looking. Called out to her once, “excuse me” but she didn’t hear me. Had to do it again and freaked her out.
  3. Lots of runners on the minneapolis–any on the st. paul side? I don’t think so.


  1. So wet! Lots of drips from the trees.
  2. The sewer pipe in the ravine was rushing, gushing, almost roaring.
  3. Big puddles on the sidewalk. Tried to avoid one but stepped right in it.
  4. Car wheels whooshing over the wet pavement.
  5. Always wondering: is that just water or a sly slick spot?
  6. More gushing, dripping, falling water on the St. Paul side.
  7. Huge puddles on the east river road. Big splashes as the cars drove through them.
  8. Tiny ice chunks flowing down the river towards the falls below the lake street bridge.

After finishing the run and walking back, stopped to record the sounds of water on the street, rushing down the sewer, dripping off the eaves, mixed with all the birds:

Last week, I read a great poetry/craft advice column–The Blunt Instrument–on sentimentality and whether or not it’s bad.

It’s not sentiment or emotion itself that’s bad, it’s misused or overused emotion, and this is what writers, maybe especially poets, need to watch out for: unearned sentiment that feels mawkish, cloying, or cheap. In other words, laying it on too thick, or using emotional tropes to trick the reader into thinking they’re feeling something, when actually they’re just recognizing the outlines of a familiar emotion.

I enjoy her description of how excessive, insincere sentiment, which she names as hokey and corny, is determined:

You can’t define an adjective like “hokey” or “corny” (both of which, by the way, mean “mawkishly sentimental”) by any clear objective standard, but some number of people are going to read it and make the puke face.

Her advice for avoiding the puke face? Read a lot and learn how to judge from a wide range of examples when feeling is corny or genuine.

Her final line offers a great way to sum up sentimentality:

Sentimentality is feeling that’s too sure of being understood. 


bike: 37 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.3 miles
treadmill, basement
outside: sleet, ice, weather advisory

So glad to have a bike stand for my bike and a treadmill in the basement. The sidewalks, roads, paths are pure ice. Saw a video on twitter of a kid skating on the sidewalk with ice skates. What? Re-watched the Track and Field World Championships while I biked and managed to forget about all of the ideas about writing/creative projects I had swimming around in my head. Too many ideas! Listened to an old playlist while I ran. What a dreary, trapped-in-the-house-kinda-day. Gray, dark, wet. Now it’s raining. At the end of December. Strange.

This morning I watched the wonderful America Ferrera read Denise Levertov’s Sojourns in the Parallel World on Brain Pickings.

by Denise Levertov

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension—though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it “Nature”; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be “Nature” too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal—then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
—but we have changed, a little.

I love the idea of nature not caring about our preoccupations and of living in and beside it and of a moment or an hour in which we can drift and lose track of ourselves as we respond to nature–which is, by the way, what running enables me to do by the gorge for at least a few seconds every time I run. I also love how she describes nature in such simple forms: cloud, bird, fox. With my vision and how it makes objects fuzzy, sometimes all I can recognize is the basic form: person, tree, boulder, river, bird

This valuing of losing track of ourselves is central to my own goals and has me thinking that it is just as or more important than the constant refrain to find ourselves.

What would it look like to center/prioritize losing instead of finding ourselves?

dec 27/ RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around
29 degrees
0% snow-covered!

Back home in Minneapolis. Clear paths and sunshine. Feels harder to run in the afternoon today. Ran to the trestle with no headphones, returned with a playlist. Most memorable thing observed: a car honked its horn for at least 15 seconds when a slower car pulled out in front of it. What an asshole (the honker, not the honked-at). Don’t remember much else from the run other than I was tired–probably because I ran the final mile a minute faster than mile 2. Why? Not sure. I think I’m too tired to have any “brilliant” revelations about my run or life or the gorge.

A few nights ago, unable to sleep, I found a great book by a poet I happen to like a lot. So I checked it on my Libby app (this app is awesome): Theodore Roethke/ On Poetry and Craft

dec 26/RUN

3.3 miles
Austin, Mn
34 degrees

Ran 3/4 of a mile to a elementary school then ran the block around it 4 or 5 times. Ran back to Scott’s parent’s house, into the wind. Sorta-sprinted up the final hill. The sidewalk had a lot of slick spots so I ran on the road. Not too bad. Happy to be able to get outside. Felt good to run and breathe coldish, fresh air. Heard lots of water whooshing under car wheels. Also heard some loud crows. Encountered 2 other runners.

dec 25/ RUN

3.2 miles
Austin, MN
42 degrees

Ran in Austin with Scott this afternoon. Warmish. The streets were clear, the sidewalks had lots of puddles and ice and snow built up at the ends. We ran a mile, walked a minute, three times. Then walked another mile.


  1. Slick, wet pavement. Be-puddled sidewalks.
  2. Running over the crushed up, light brown gravel on the sidewalk where they had been doing sewer work
  3. Wonderfully tacky inflatable nativity scene in front of someone’s house
  4. Big stretches of bare ground–mud, green grass.

dec 24/RUN

5.5 miles
bottom of Franklin hill and back
34 degrees

Didn’t have time to write this entry until the 26th so I don’t remember that much. I do remember it was a good run and I felt strong and happy to be able to run for 50+ minutes outside at the end of December. And I also remember reaching the bottom of the hill and listening to the water in the flats slowly flowing.

dec 23/RUN

3.4 miles
river road, south/north
25 degrees
10% snow-covered, a few ice patches

Ah, winter running! A great morning with a clear path. Only encountered a few runners and walkers.


  1. The cloud-covered sun, glowing quietly beneath the grayish white
  2. Wide, open white sky blending in with the white gorge, seeming endless and airy and like I was floating
  3. 2 walkers/hikers below me on the stretch of the Winchell Trail that hugs the steep slope of the gorge, between 42nd and 44th. Noticing them first when their bright blue jacket entered my peripheral vision
  4. The sudden, unexpected crunch of snow under my foot as I stepped down on a clump of snow that I hadn’t seen
  5. A little old lady with ski poles (the same little old lady? not sure) walking near the double bridge
  6. Tiny clumps of snow littered the path on the side closest to the street–how did that happen? Little pellets of white

dec 22/RUN

4.2 miles
to the falls and back
33! degrees
25% snow-covered

Ran south again this morning. Beautiful! Above freezing! Only wore one shirt and a vest today. Trying out a new thing where I post 5 observations (see/hear/feel/smell).

At least 6 Observations on My Run

  1. (Heard) Kids having fun, yelling near the savanna.
  2. (Saw) Runner running below on the Winchell Trail near 42nd. Shuffling along, steadily climbing up the snowy path.
  3. (Heard) Booming roar of the rushing water at the falls, Low rumbling roar of a plane overhead, High-pitched, frantic roar of a car engine, speeding on the parkway.
  4. (Saw) The ancient boulder by the bench (mentioned yesterday) partly buried in snow.
  5. (Saw) A snowy view of the other side of the gorge through the bare trees.
  6. (Heard) A biker on the road spitting.
  7. (Saw) A small gray car almost running the stop sign at Godfrey and 46th.
  8. (Saw) A runner’s red quilted vest–not bright red.
  9. (Saw) The curve of the wrought iron fence below the path, bending around the ravine near 42nd.
  10. (Saw) Snow trapped in a small pothole on the path that’s been getting bigger ever year.
  11. (Heard) The slushy crunch of my feet striking the snow on the path.
  12. (Saw) A dropped glove–black, thick–on the edge of the sidewalk.

Felt good again today. Enjoyed running south to the falls and stopping to admire them for a few seconds. Almost forgot–encountered a runner I’ve been seeing a lot on the weekends. Usually I see him running much farther north. Does he usually run this far or has he changed his route too because of the snow? Thought briefly about asking him how far he usually runs but didn’t. Will I see him again next weekend, shuffling along in his black sweatpants and hooded sweatshirt?

I don’t think I have posted this poem before although I know I have admired it.


I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don’t cut that one.
I don’t cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,   
an unseen nest
where a mountain   
would be.