march 31/RUN

3.5 miles
edmund bvld, south/north/32nd west/43rd south
46 degrees
Deaths from COVID-19: 12 (MN)/ 3,400 (US)

Trying not to read too much news about the virus. I am doing what I need to do: nothing. I haven’t left the house, except for my daily runs and walks since March 10th. This staying home all the time is not that different from my regular (pre-pandemic) schedule, except for the added fear about how bad it might get that hovers around me all the time.

After reading about how the virus can (in the right conditions) spread through the air and thinking about how much less fun it has been to run by the gorge, always trying to avoid people, I decided to run on Edmund Boulevard today. It is parallel to the river road, separated by a large stretch of grass, an occasional tree and some ancient boulders. From Edmund, you can’t ever see the river, but you can see the trail and the trees on the bluff and, in early spring, a few glimpses of the other side. Because it’s a road, there’s more room and more chances to stay farther away from other people. The only problem: the continuous stretch of it near me starts in the south at 42nd and ends in the north at 32nd. Even when you add in a few more streets to make a loop, it’s only a 5k. I’ll have to think about ways to make it longer without having to repeat.

Bright sun today. A few birds. Too many people walking around everywhere. Don’t remember what I thought about. Did I see anything interesting? No birds soaring above me. No Daily Walker. No shimmering river or welcoming oaks or spazzy squirrels. No kids playing at the playground. No roller skiers. No fat tires. No shadow following or leading me. Ran over some grit in the street and was able to listen to the shshshsh of my striking feet. Saw some dogs and their humans. A little kid on a bike. Two women taking over most of the road, keeping 6 feet of distance from each other. A runner pushing a kid in a jogging stroller. A man talking on the phone as he slowly walked on the grass.

an evening walk

Around 6pm yesterday, Scott, Delia the dog, and I took a walk around the neighborhood. Here are three things that I wanted to remember:

  1. Someone was playing saxophone outside. They were very good, so good that lots of people were walking on the street towards them. I was curious to see who and where they were, but Scott was freaked out by all the people, so we kept walking. I like hearing random instruments playing around the neighborhood.
  2. I found it! Finally, after seeing a cute little gnome-sized door at the bottom of a tree several years ago and then trying to locate it again with no luck, I found it! Well, Scott found it first. It’s near the corner of 33rd street and 48th avenue. Hidden behind some tall grass.
  3. We noticed some chairs set up at the end of a street, blocking it off. A woman was sitting in one of the chairs reading a book. Kids were biking up and down the street. Am I being too freaky to think that this might not be a good idea and that these kids aren’t staying far enough away from each other? I’m so glad my kids are older and that they are introverts who mostly like to text with their friends. It would be very hard to find ways to entertain a young kid who was super extroverted right now.

a poem, a page

Here are two poems I recently discovered that are about the relationship between a poem and a page.

POEM WHITE PAGE WHITE PAGE POEM/ from Muriel Rukeyser’s “The Gates”

Poem white page white page poem
something is streaming out of a body in waves
something is beginning to declare for my whole life
all the despair and the making music
something like wave after wave
that breaks on a beach
something like bringing the entire life
to this moment
the small waves bringing themselves to white paper
something like light stands up and is alive

Fool’s Gold/ Ted Mathys

This morning I love everyone, 
even Jerome, the neighbor I hate, 
and the sun. And the sun 

has pre-warmed my bucket seat  
for the drive up Arsenal Street  
with the hot car effect,  

a phenomenon climatologists 
use to explain global warming 
to senators and kids. 

I love the limited edition 
Swingline gold stapler 
in the oil change lounge 

which can, like a poem, 
affix anything to anything 
on paper. One sheet of paper, 

for instance, for that cloud of gnats, 
one for this lady’s pit mix 
wagging his tail so violently 

I fear he’ll hurt his hips.  
One sheet for glittered lip balm, 
for eye contact, Bitcoin extortion 

and the imperfect tense.  
Sheets for each unfulfilled wish 
I left in a penny in a mall fountain. 

Sun spills into the lounge  
through the window decal 
in geometric Tetris wedges. 

I have a sheet for Tetris, 
its random sequence of pieces 
falling toward me in this well 

like color coded aspects of the life 
I neglected to live, for the pleasure 
of making line after line 

disappear. The gold stapler 
has twenty-sheet capacity 
so I straighten my stack 

on the reception counter 
and staple the day together 
with an echoing chunk.

Wow. I love both of these poems and want to spend some more time with them. In Rukeyser’s poem, I love the idea of something streaming out of the body in waves of despair and music. I love the idea of something–what is that something? An urge? A soul? I love the different things you can imagine about that something. In Mathys’s poem, I love how the line break works in line 3: “and the sun. And the sun”. I love how the sun keeps returning. I love the gold stapler and how he links it with a poem: “like a poem,/ affix anything to anything/ on paper.” I love how each idea gets its own sheet of paper.

march 30/RUN

4.1 miles
river road, north/edmund bvld, south
39 degrees
Deaths from COVID-19: 10 (MN)/ 2,509 (US)

As expected, COVID-19 is getting much worse. Deaths in Minnesota almost doubled in one day. I just read an article about a choir rehearsal in Washington state in which 45 out of the 60 attending members were infected. Experts think it was spread through the air. Should I stop running by the gorge? Almost all of the time I’m able to keep a safe 6 feet+ distance, but not absolutely always. Today, for example, while running through the tunnel of trees I was only 3 or 4 feet away from some walkers. I almost twisted my ankle trying to stay as far away from them as possible. Maybe I should just run on the road through the neighborhood? As much as I usually love running beside the gorge, it has been more stressful than joyful lately.

Run with/without headphones, an experiment

Today, I’m trying a variation on this experiment:

Run on the two trails loop beside the gorge. Listen to music as you run south, up above near the road. Take out your headphones and listen to the gorge as you run north, down below on the Winchell trail. Think about how you experience running and breathing and paying attention differently when you listen to a playlist versus when you have no headphones in. Write about it.

It’s a variation because I didn’t run on the 2 trails. I ran north on the river road without headphones, and south on it and Edmund Boulevard with headphones.

without headphones

Sunny, bright, low wind. Looked down and admired the floodplain forest. So brown and airy. Felt like I was floating above it. Heard some birds–just a general sense of birds, can’t remember any specific ones. Don’t remember seeing too many cars on the road. A walker with his dog called out and asked how my run was going. I said, “Good. It’s a great day for a run!” Noticed a few patches of snow below me, near the Minneapolis Rowing Club. Noticed the Winchell Trail between the trestle and my turn around spot 1/2 mile later. Looking more clear and less muddy. Any other sounds? Some people talking. Can’t remember any other sounds. Counted to 4 a few times then tried chanting triple berries (strawberry/blueberry/raspberry–strawberry/blueberry/blackberry). Felt mostly relaxed and happy to be running but also on edge as I constantly thought about making sure I had enough distance from other people.

With Headphones, Listening to Playlist

More relaxed and happy to be listening to music: I’m So Free/Beck; Black Wizard Wave/Nur-d; Juice/Lizzo; Let’s Go Crazy/Prince. Had a big smile on my face and felt free and fast for a few minutes. Not worrying about viruses or annoying people who refused to move over or what would happen if I suddenly had a lot more trouble breathing. Often when I run without headphones, I feel more connected to the trail and my body. When I listen to music, I feel more like I’m floating, like I don’t have a body, like I’m not quite on the trail.

I really like listening to Beck’s “I’m So Free”. Thought I’d look up the lyrics:

excerpt from I’m So Free/ Beck

[Verse 1]
I’m on a tangent
Textbook ephemeral
Facts are confusing me
I’m so free now

I’m on a one-man waiting list
I’m bored again
I buried all my memories
I’m so free now

I see the silhouette of everything
I thought I ever knew
Turning into voodoo
I’m so free now

A panic cycle, sentimental
Feel it out until you know
It isn’t meant for you
I’m so free now

I’m so free now
I’m so free now
And the way that I walk
Is up to me now
And if I breathe now
I could scream now
You can hear me
From Topeka to Belize now
I’m gonna freeze out
These enemies out
They never see what I got
No need to bend my knees down
Heaven forbid
I never cared
Time is running out
Nothing new under the sun
Better get down

I’m so free
I’m so free-ee-ee
I’m so free
I’m so free-ee-ee
I’m so free (free)
From me, free from you-ou
I’m so free
I’m so free-ee-ee
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
(I’m so free from you)
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
(I’m so free from you)

A horizontal aspiration
In the basement
With a thick and digital lust for life
I’m so free now

Looking over the lyrics, I always thought he said something about booking his ticket to Belize now, not “From Topeka to Belize now.” Whenever I listen to this song, I think of it as a feel-good anthem. Reading the lyrics, I’m realizing it’s much darker and angrier. Will that affect how I hear it in the future?

Later, during a deck do-nothing

This afternoon it is sunny and 58 degrees and the shadows don’t consume our deck until almost 3:00 so Scott and I decided to sit outside. Scott worked a little while I read a few chapters from 2 books and then soaked up the sun listening to the birds. A lot quieter today than last week. I had noticed that when I headed out for my run around 9:30 but forgot to mention it earlier in the entry. The bird that I heard last week, who keeps adding to their trill, was singing again. Scott told me it was a cardinal. Hopefully I can remember this. Decided to look up the cardinal and find out why they sing that way and why they might add syllables to their song. Found a great resource (TheCornellLab/All About Birds) and this information:

Scientists have described at least 16 different calls for the Northern Cardinal, but the one you’ll hear most commonly is a loud, metallic chip. Cardinals make this call when warning off intruders to their territory, when predators are near, as females approach their nests, and by both sexes as they carry food to the nest or when trying to get nestlings to leave the nest. When one member of a pair is about to feed the other, either bird may make a softer took note.

16 different songs! In another paragraph about the cardinal, it mentioned that their “syllables can sound like the bird is singing cheer cheer cheer or birdie, birdie, birdie.” Interesting. I’d like to listen to some more birds on the deck or out in the neighborhood and figure out my own words to match their syllables. Maybe the first step is to gather some recordings when I’m walking. Yes! Another experiment to add to my list!

I clicked on one the links at the bottom of the page and found a great video about how the Cardinal sings: with a paired structure located where the bronchial tubes from each lung come together, the syrinx. Fascinating! Cardinals are a strange bird for me because my damaged cones in my retina make them virtually impossible to see. I rarely can see red. But, I can hear it!

One more thing: I just remembered that I heard another bird that sounded much farther away. Who who who. Was it an owl in Seven Oaks? In looking for a link to Seven Oaks, I found this cool site about the history of Minneapolis Parks. Nice!

march 29/RUN

2.6 miles
river road, south/edmund bvld, north
39 degrees/ 18 mph wind
503 confirmed cases of COVID-19

Happy Birthday to my two children, born on the same day three years apart! It’s a crappy time to be having a birthday but they’re both handling it well. As I write this at 12:30 pm, they are both still sleeping. They have turned nocturnal while the schools are closed. Scott and I managed to stay up until midnight (no easy thing to do for us old folks) and blast The Beatles “Birthday” while I danced around clapping and singing loudly and looking foolish.


Windy this morning during my run. It was at my back heading south. I ran straight into it heading north. Speaking of the wind, I just added a writing prompt to my unabridged list of experiments:

What do you remember–other than how difficult it is–when you are running straight into the wind? Pick a windy day, run straight into the wind, write about it.

Often when I’m running into a strong wind, I think about the other people around me–the walkers, runners, drivers–and wonder if they’re feeling it too and what they think about me running straight into it. Do they think, how crazy is she to be running into this wind? As I passed some people about to cross the street, heading west instead of south, I wondered if they were feeling the wind too. I noticed how much less I felt it when I had my hood on. I almost didn’t notice it. I remember it making a loud rushing noise, every so often, as gusts came through. Sometimes I thought this noise was a car, but it never was. I felt the wind tug at my hat a few times. I don’t remember seeing any trees swaying or leaves swirling. Oh–I also remember hearing it rushing through the ravine at 42nd and wondering if it was gushing water or the wind–I guess I’m still not sure. I thought about the Boston Marathon and the Olympic Trials and the strong winds the runners had to run into and couldn’t imagine how they ran so fast for so long with such resistance. Yuck, no fun! Professional runners are such bad asses.

Here are two poems about wind:

Wind/ Florida Watts Smyth

What does wind stir in me
That stirs not in the tree?
It stirs a farther hope.
Trees stand, but I shall run
Beyond that slope,
Beyond the sun,
And see,
Wind-swept, the spaces of eternity.

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.


walk: 1.5 miles
longfellow neighborhood
bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.3 miles
treadmill, basement
441 confirmed cases of COVID-19

Started the day with a walk around the neighborhood with Scott and Delia the dog. Lots of birds, hardly any people. We meandered, often turning when we saw people approaching. Ended up walking by one of my favorite garages–so awesomely weird.

We also walked by the creepy, completely shrouded in towering trees, house across from Sanford Middle School. Scott noticed a few windows on one side but they were concealed with thick awnings. Even the side entrance is fenced over, with the railing poking through fence boards. What happened here? I can’t believe my kids haven’t passed on any ghost stories from other Sanford kids about this place.

Later, after it began raining, I decided to workout in the basement. Started watching a documentary on Netflix about a failed Stephen Sondheim/Hal Prince musical, Merrily We Roll Along: The Best Worst Thing That Could Have Happened. So far, I’m enjoying it. I love musicals. Another version of me, in a different universe, would have loved to be in musicals. In this universe, I’ll just have to appreciate my niece Isabel and her amazing talent as an actor.

Finished off my workout with a short run. I’m growing to like these quick, fast-feeling treadmill runs. No 6 feet of distance needed! As much as I enjoy them occasionally, I hope we don’t get to a point where we can’t go outside and this is the only way I can run.

Right now, I’m working on creating an unabridged list of writing experiments (tried or to be tried), inspired by my runs beside the gorge. I’ve thought of turning some of them into an autobiographical poem. This poem is very different from what I imagine writing, but it’s helpful as an example–and so powerful.

Prompts (for High School Teachers Who Write Poetry)/ Dante Di Stefano

Write about walking into the building
as a new teacher. Write yourself hopeful.
Write a row of empty desks. Write the face
of a student you’ve almost forgotten;
he’s worn a Derek Jeter jersey all year.
Do not conjecture about the adults
he goes home to, or the place he calls home. 
Write about how he came to you for help
each October morning his sophomore year.
Write about teaching Othello to him;
write Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle, 
rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven
Write about reading his obituary
five years after he graduated. Write
a poem containing the words “common”
“core,” “differentiate,” and “overdose.”
Write the names of the ones you will never
forget: “Jenna,” “Tiberious,” “Heaven,”
“Megan,” “Tanya,” “Kingsley” “Ashley,” “David.”
Write Mari with “Nobody’s Baby” tattooed
in cursive on her neck, spitting sixteen bars
in the backrow, as little white Mike beatboxed
“Candy Shop” and the whole class exploded.
Write about Zuly and Nely, sisters
from Guatemala, upon whom a thousand
strange new English words rained down on like hail
each period, and who wrote the story
of their long journey on la bestia
through Mexico, for you, in handwriting
made heavy by the aquís and ayers
ached in their knuckles, hidden by their smiles.
Write an ode to loose-leaf. Write elegies
on the nub nose of a pink eraser.
Carve your devotion from a no. 2
pencil. Write the uncounted hours you spent
fretting about the ones who cursed you out
for keeping order, who slammed classroom doors,
who screamed “you are not my father,” whose pain
unraveled and broke you, whose pain you knew.
Write how all this added up to a life.  

march 27/RUN

4.2 miles
river road, north/river road, south/32nd to Edmund Bvld
43 degrees
398 confirmed cases of COVID-19

Another beautiful day by the gorge! As the days get scarier, my hour outside in the morning (running, then walking Delia the dog) becomes more necessary and appreciated. Fresh air, warm sun, noisy birds! Early on in my run a group of walkers thanked me for moving over and giving them space. A simple gesture that enabled me to be open and generous to others I encountered. Not too crowded. Was able to greet Dave, the Daily Walker. Heard some geese, woodpeckers, a few dogs barking down below. Also heard the beeping alarm of an approaching train (I think?) as I ran under the trestle. Didn’t stop to see if a train would come. Ran by a lonely bench with a beautiful view of the other side. Didn’t stop to sit and take in the brown slopes and the blue river. Will I ever stop? Maybe someday. Running above the rowing club, admiring the bare tree trunks, I thought about what color brown they were. Maybe milk chocolate? I love the soothing colors of light blue and brown.

Bliss Point or What Can Best Be Achieved by Cheese/ Benjamin Garcia


          the other gold. 

                    Now that’s the stuff, 

                               shredded or melted 

                                         or powdered 

                                                 or canned. 


                                         the pinnacle of man 

                     in a cheeto puff! 

Now that’s the stuff 

                      you’ve been primed for: 

                                             fatty & salty & crunchy 

          and poof—gone. There’s the proof. 

Though your grandmother 

                        never even had one. You can’t 

                                    have just one. You 

                                              inhale them puff— 

                                                                     after puff— 

                                                                after puff— 

                               You’re a chain smoker. Tongue 

                      coated & coaxed 

but not saturated or satiated. 

                       It’s like pure flavor, 

                                   but sadder. Each pink ping 

                                                       in your pinball-mouth 

                                                                expertly played 

                             by the makers who have studied you, 

                               the human animal, and culled 

                    from the rind 

         your Eve in the shape 

                                 of a cheese curl. 


                                come curl in the dim light of the TV. 

                           Veg out on the verge of no urge 

                  of anything. 

         Long ago we beached ourselves, 

                                 climbed up the trees then 

                                          down the trees, 

                                                knuckled across the dirt 

                               & grasses & thorns & Berber carpet. 

                                           Now is the age of sitting, 

                                   so sit. 

           And I must say, 

                       crouched on the couch like that, 

                             you resemble no animal. 

                                    Smug in your Snuggie and snug 

                                                     in your sloth, you look 

                                           nothing like a sloth. 

           And you are not an anteater, 

                                   an anteater eats ants 

                                                   without fear 

                                       of diabetes. Though breathing, 

                 one could say, resembles a chronic disease.  

                                                                                            What’s real 

                             cheese and what is cheese product? 

                              It’s difficult to say 

               but being alive today 

                                      is real- 



                                like a book you can’t put down, a stone 

                       that plummets from a great height. Life’s 

                      a “page-turner” alright. 

               But don’t worry 

                                      if you miss the finale 

                                                of your favorite show, you can 

                                                   catch in on queue. Make room 

                                      for me and I’ll binge on this, 

                                                            the final season with you.

The first time I read this poem, I didn’t like it. But after listening to the poet speak it (which you can on and reading his blurb, it started to grow on me. I like the use of orange/cheese/cheese puff and what it references without directly saying. And I like his ideas about the form: “having the lines feel like eating cheese puffs—addictive, airy, crunchy, gone.”

march 26/RUN

4.15 miles
river road, north/river road, south/32nd to Edmund Bvld
35 degrees
346 confirmed cases of COVID-19

What a beautiful morning! Went out about 30 minutes earlier, wondering if that might mean less people on the trail. It did. Got a little closer than 6 feet when I was passing a few people, but was able to mostly keep a good distance. So many birds this morning! Geese honking. Woodpeckers pecking. Not sure of the others–probably some robins or cardinals, blackbirds. There are lots of finches near the gorge, so maybe some of those too? One day, I will be able to hear the difference and identify them.

The river was a beautiful light blueish gray. Greeted Dave the Daily Walker. Recited one of the poems I memorized last week (Auto-lullaby) a few times. Anything else? Noticed the chain was still up, blocking the stairs to the Winchell Trail past the trestle. Thought about how muddy it probably was halfway down. Enjoyed running above the rowing club on the part of the trail farthest from the road. I’m finding it difficult to pay attention to anything other than the people and how far away from me they are. Maybe this will change as it becomes warmer. I hope so.

Walked Delia the dog right after my run. So calm and sunny and spring-like outside! Hardly anyone walking through the neighborhood.

Small Kindnesses/ Danusha Laméris

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”

march 25/RUN

3.25 miles
river road, south/edmund bvld, north/33rd street, west/43rd ave, south
45 degrees
287 confirmed cases of COVID-19

Felt warmer today. Wore shorts with tights underneath and my orange pullover. No gloves, no buff. Started on the path by the gorge, but it was crowded. At one point, three walkers were evenly spread out across the path. I had to temporarily cross the road and run in the grass. What is wrong with people? Still managed to keep my 6 feet of distance. Decided at the 44th street parking lot, to cross over to the grass on the other side and then run on the road at Edmund. Much better. If there are this many people out on the trail, and some of them refuse to honor a safe distance, I might have to start running on Edmund all the time. Not as nice as being right by the river, but still a nice view. And still outside. Took a left at 33rd and ran through the neighborhood on the edge of the road, mostly in the sandy grit. ShShShShShSh. Love that sound and the feeling of my feet slightly slipping. Why? Not sure. Was able to greet Dave the Daily Walker. I’m glad he’s doing okay.

birds! birds! birds!

Even as I recognize that chattering birds have been here all along, there is something different about hearing them in early spring. So loud today. Heard a few mourning doves and my favorite: the bird who does a rapid fire of sharp noises, almost like a laser gun from a 1970s sci-fi movie. Pu Pu Pu Pu Pu Pu. What is that bird? update from Sara, 2024: I can’t resist chiming in here: a cardinal. Also heard at least one woodpecker. Will I ever be able to recognize and remember bird sounds? I think it might take years.


I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves
tremble but I am invisible, bloom without flower, knot
without rope, song without throat in wingless flights, dark
boat in the dark night, pure velocity. As the hammer is
a hammer when it hits the nail, and the nail is a nail when
it meets the wood, and the invisible table begins to appear
out of mind, pure mind, out of nothing, pure thinking.
Through darkness, through silence, a vector, a violence,
I labor, I lumber, I fuel forward through the valley as
winter, as water, I mist and frost, flexible and elastic to
the task. I am the hand that lifts the rock, I am the mind
that strings the worm and throws the line and feels the tug,
the flex in the pole, and foot by foot I find the groove,
the trace in the thicket, the key in the lock, as root breaks
moving through the stations of the yardstick. I track,
I follow, I hinge and turn, frictionless and efficient as an
equal sign. I flip and fold, I superimpose, I become
location and you veer toward me, the eye to which you
are relative, magnetized for your revelation. Hook and bait,
polestar and checkmate, I am your arrival, there is no
refusal, we are here, you see, together, we are already here.

5 Things I Like About this Poem

  • The flow and effortless movement forward
  • Assonance: rope/throat/boat
  • through silence, a vector, a violence
  • I labor, I lumber, I fumble forward
  • I am the hand that lifts the rock, I am the mind/ that strings the worm and throws the line and feels the tug,/ the flex in the pole, and foot by foot I find the groove,/ the trace in the thicket, the key in the lock, as root breaks/ rock, from seed to flower to fruit to rot, a holy pilgrim/ moving through the stations of the yardstick.

I just remembered why this poet seems familiar–I just listened to an amazing podcast with him! Episode 52: Richard Siken–Commonplace Conversation with Poets (and other People)/ Rachel Zucker A great interview and really intense when he talks about how fucked up his father was.

What is the significance of the square root of negative one? After looking it up (because I have forgotten any high level math I might have had 25 years ago), I know it has to do with imaginary numbers. But, what does that mean here?

I want to memorize this poem. update: Sara, 2024 — I have memorized it! It’s #4 on my My 100 list!

march 24/RUN

4 miles
river road, south/up and across Ford Bridge/turn around/river road, north/Edmund Bvld
41 degrees
262 confirmed cases of COVID-19

Warmer this morning. Cloudy. Leaving my block I heard some chainsaws–Oh no! Looks like they might be cutting down the big, beautiful oak tree at the end of our alley. I love gazing up at the tree. My kids and I named it squirrel city a few years ago because it seemed to house so many squirrels. Bummer. update, from 2024 Sara: they were not cutting down that tree! It is still here, still giving me a reason to stop and crane my neck and marvel at its thick branches!

A nice morning for a run. Very few people out by the river, which was nice. Was able to keep 6 feet distance with everyone, I think.

Things I remember:

  1. Running on the Ford Bridge and looking out at the river. So beautifully blueish gray.
  2. Feeling like I was in a trance, as I looked through the spaces between the railing posts.
  3. Running on the sandy grit and listening to it scratch and sh sh sh sh.
  4. Hearing some people and a dog as I ran on the double bridge. Wondering if they were down near the river or over in the grass near the entrance to the Winchell Trail.
  5. Seeing them in the grass and hearing one woman talking very loudly, shouting something about someone hiring a personal attorney. What was she talking about?
  6. Running on the road, on Edmund Boulevard. Checking out the houses. Noticing the one with lots of windows and an awkward deck on the front was finally sold.

After my run, went home and picked up Delia the dog for a walk. Walked by the house a block over with the over-the-top Christmas decorations and noticed that they had propped full length mirrors–2 or 3–up against the front of the house. To reflect the lights more? Does it work?

Only yesterday, I mentioned that the birds never left and have been around, making noise, all winter. Today, looking at an entry from December, I found proof: a recording. Just listen to those birds chattering!

water, 12-29-19

march 23/RUN

4.3 miles
top of franklin hill and back
35 degrees
5% slushy snow-covered
235 confirmed cases of COVID-19

Snowed last night. Only a dusting but enough to cover the deck. No snow on the sidewalk, only a little on the trail. Some people outside, doing a better job of keeping their distance. Very wet and drippy. The floodplain forest was the color of light brown sugar with a dusting of white sugar–I guess that sounds nice, but I prefer either brown or white, not both. A helpful run. I was able to forget about everything. Listened to headphones on the way back, after turning around at the top of the franklin hill. Ah, a few minutes of freedom.

the birds aren’t coming back, they never left

Had a thought while I was walking Delia the dog after my run about the birds. I’ve been reading/hearing people talk about how wonderful it is that the birds are back because spring is almost here. Perhaps this is (somewhat) true, but I’ve been hearing the birds all winter. Sure, some of them migrated and are now returning, but many of them were busy making a racket all through January and February, even when it was below 0. Most people stay inside with their windows shut tight when it’s cold outside so they wouldn’t be able to hear any birds. My (not so deep) thought: The birds aren’t coming back. They never left. It is you who is returning for spring.

some delightful sounds

When I hear dripping around my house, it stresses me out as I envision crumbling foundations and rotting boards. But, when I’m walking around the neighborhood, I love hearing the different drips and drops and trickles and gushes. Today I had to stop twice and record some sounds. Now I wish I would have recorded more!


Dripping in the gutters, 2 ways


water bubbling near a neighbor’s foundation

This was the poem of the day on poetry foundation. I have always found tolerance to be an awful word so I appreciate the condemning of it here. A favorite line: “neutral fellows/seers of every side” Love this reminder to be less ironic and distanced and more committed and passionate. I’m trying.

Goodbye to Tolerance/ Denise Levertov

Genial poets, pink-faced   
earnest wits—
you have given the world   
some choice morsels,
gobbets of language presented
as one presents T-bone steak
and Cherries Jubilee.   
Goodbye, goodbye,
                            I don’t care
if I never taste your fine food again,   
neutral fellows, seers of every side.   
Tolerance, what crimes
are committed in your name.

And you, good women, bakers of nicest bread,   
blood donors. Your crumbs
choke me, I would not want
a drop of your blood in me, it is pumped   
by weak hearts, perfect pulses that never   
falter: irresponsive
to nightmare reality.

It is my brothers, my sisters,
whose blood spurts out and stops
because you choose to believe it is not your business.

Goodbye, goodbye,
your poems
shut their little mouths,   
your loaves grow moldy,   
a gulf has split
                     the ground between us,
and you won’t wave, you’re looking
another way.
We shan’t meet again—
unless you leap it, leaving   
behind you the cherished   
worms of your dispassion,   
your pallid ironies,
your jovial, murderous,   
wry-humored balanced judgment,
leap over, un-
balanced? … then
how our fanatic tears
would flow and mingle   
for joy …

march 22/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.4 miles
treadmill, basement
169 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 1 death

It’s windy out there today. 20 mph wind. Plus, it’s Sunday so I imagine there are a lot more people on the trails. Decided to bike and run in the basement. Started the Joan Didion netflix documentary, “The center will not hold” while I biked. An interesting thing I learned: Didion’s family was part of the Donner Party but didn’t follow them when they made a wrong turn heading south. I read an excellent book about the Donner Party a few years ago (The Best Land Under Heaven) and remember reading about that moment when the party had to decide which way to go, and chose incorrectly. Listened to my playlist, Sara 2020, while I ran. Very glad we bought a treadmill last year.

I took Delia on a walk earlier today. It was quiet and windy and not too crowded. I don’t remember feeling the wind that much, but I could hear it rolling over my head. It wasn’t loud. No shrieks or howls or moans. But it was intense. A sudden rush of sibilance—-sssssssshhhhhhhhhsssssshhhhhhh. A crash without the boom. I encountered a few people, but we all managed to avoid getting too close. Reaching Edmund Bvld, just across from the river parkway, I heard and then saw 3 runners spread across the bike path. Talking so loudly! It’s amazing how one voice can spoil the silence. I can tell that I am going to have to try even harder to see the best in people. It’s too easy to be scared and irritated by noisy people who take up too much space and don’t seem to care about their impact on others. I want to focus on the people who pay attention and keep their distance–more of them exist, I believe.

Decided to cast a spell on the scary, awful word, pandemic. So I wrote it across the top of my notebook and listed as many words as I could think of using the letters p, a, n, d, e, m, i, c. Then I put some of the words together in little lines. My lines need more work before they become a poem, but here a few fun ones:


A dime a dance

Nice denim!

Ma and Pa
made camp

end pain
ice mice

Am I amped?

I am in Pac-Man pain

Damn, I can dance

Mince mead

A mad maid made ade

Me, panic?

End a nap, mend a cap
Cap a pen, ape amen

A pea, a pan
A man named Dan

Not sure if anything will come out of this wordplay, but it’s fun and pandemic doesn’t seem quite as scary as it did before.