march 8/RUN

5 miles
Veterans’ Home Loop
34 degrees

A bright beautiful morning for a run. Ran south to Minnehaha regional park, past John Steven’s House, over to the Veteran’s Home, through Wabun, then back north on the river road trail.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the river was open, the water brown, the banks glowed with white snow
  2. there were big puddles on the sidewalk, but the trail was almost completely clear
  3. one huge puddle covered almost the entire trail between 42nd and 44th
  4. bird sounds heard: the song and drumming of a pileated woodpecker; a cardinal’s trill; the fee bee song from a black-capped chickadee; a goose’s honk
  5. kids were playing at minnehaha academy; I could hear their laughter. Also heard the teacher’s whistle for the end of recess
  6. some of the sidewalks around minnehaha regional park were covered in sharp, crusty snow that had frozen again overnight
  7. at Wabun Park, I had to stop and walk in the snow because the trail was covered in a thick, slick sheet of barely frozen ice. A fat tire slowed way down to bike over it. I liked the crunching sound of the fat tires as they crushed the ice
  8. a traffic jam at the 3 way stop near the entrance to wabun: 4 cars went by before I could cross
  9. just north of the 44th street parking lot, something orange near the WPA stone steps down to the Winchell Trail caught my eye as I ran by. A jacket? Graffiti on the stones? Not sure, but I think it was the sign on a chain stretched across the railings to block the entrance. I couldn’t see anything clearer, partly because of my vision and partly because I was in motion. It was almost as if my brain called out to me, “Orange!”, and that was it
  10. a wide open, brilliant view over to the other side

vision check

At least twice in the past week, when I’ve been running south on the river road trail, this has happened: I see a runner approaching from a distance. As I get closer, I check to see where they are, but they’ve disappeared. I can’t see them at all. I look again and they’re back. I must be losing more cone cells.

an experiment

It didn’t last for a long, but I tried chanting in triple berries (strawberry/blueberry/raspberry), then counted my rhythms: 123/45 and 12/345. I tried matching a few words to the rhythms, but now I can’t remember the words. I tried experimenting with these 123/45s and 12/345s a few years ago. I’d like to try again.

Found this wonderful poem on Two Sylvia’s Press in the chapbook, Shade of Blue Trees:

FIG TREE AT BIG SUR/ Kelly Cressio-Moeller

Each day leaning
into morning,
five-fingered leaves
wave in unison,
beckon jays
for branch-play.
The youngest leaves
arch green faces upward,
devour sun off the Pacific.
The golden elders
bow closer to earth–
the perfect shape
for water to run
as rain, as fog
down to the root line.
When afternoon rays
light them just right,
they become a ring
of open palms
giving the last
of what they have.

march 7/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
28 degrees
trail: clear / roads: slushy, wet snow

Yesterday, we woke up to 4 or 5 inches of wet, heavy snow. Most of it melted during the day, refroze at night, then melted again this afternoon. The sidewalk and trails were okay, but the road was a sloppy mess. I ran in the afternoon and it felt harder. I prefer to run in the morning. Heard lots of chickadees, warning each other: “chick a dee dee dee dee” I don’t remember looking down at the river even once. Why not? I think I was distracted by my effort and all the groups of people and the puddles. Ran into the wind at the beginning of my run, at my back at the end. Even though it’s below freezing and there’s lots of snow, with the bright sun, and all of the dripping water, it felt like spring.

Here’s a poem I found on twitter (it’s in the latest Copper Nickel) that I love:


on a mat,
bent over a stone,
my mother washes
and washes
and washes.

My little sister
sleeps in a basket
covered in willow leaves.

Me? I am sitting
on piled straw,
watching how the water leaves
and how the river stays.

march 5/RUN

2.25 miles
river road, south/north
33 degrees

Raining today. Mostly a soft rain. I’m hoping it melts a lot of the snow. Just above freezing. Everything gray, gloomy, dark. Went out for a short afternoon run by the gorge. I don’t remember hearing birds or kids or music. Today would have been my mom’s 80th birthday, if she had lived past 67. So many years without her. Strange. I didn’t think about her or feel overwhelmed with grief as I ran. I guess I’m learning to live with it.

Earlier, as we drove on the river road, I had noticed how some of the trees never lost their leaves. A streak of brownish-gold, which became a smudge of off-gold later when I ran by. Encountered some runners, walkers, a biker with a bright light.

With all of my layers, I couldn’t feel the rain, but when I got home, my black vest was almost soaked.

A few weeks ago, I found a great essay about Longfellow and his reporting on the weather in his journals: ‘Day to be recorded with sunbeams! Day of light and love!’: Longfellow and the Weather:

Though some of his entries were brief or contained on a quick record of the day’s temperature, it was Longfellow’s more lyrical descriptions that set his reports apart from those of the typical diarist, offering a glimpse into the mind and process of a poet at work, consciously or not. Instead of a windless or light rain, for example, he writes on December 1, 1865: “A gentle rain and mist covering the whole landscape. The river changed to a lake. Not a breath of wind. The brown leafless branches all at rest. A day of quiet and seclusion.” The “gentle” rain imbues a sense of calm over the river (now a “lake”), the wind, and the “brown leafless branches,” which are not dead but “at rest,” suggesting a restorative benefit to the fallowness of the landscape. This restorative quell extends to Longfellow as well, who breaks from the demands of work and celebrity for “quiet and seclusion.”

I like thinking about weather — inner and outer weather — and how to include it in my log entries. I also found this master’s thesis on Emily Dickinson and 19th century meteorology. Very cool.

march 4/RUN

4.1 miles
marshall loop
31 degrees / feels like 22

First Marshall loop of the year. Last time I ran over the lake street bridge, up Marshall, over to Cretin, down to the East River Road, then back over the bridge was on November 13th. There were a few slick spots where the ice covered the sidewalk, but mostly it was fine. I enjoyed having a different route to run. Felt relaxed and happy, as always, to be outside and moving.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. running above the tunnel of trees and the floodplain forest, I could see the river. Brown, open water
  2. later on the bridge, looking down at the river, near the banks, it was all white, with a thin line of dark brown parallel to the shore
  3. on the east side of the river, looking at the lake street bridge, the distance between bridge and water didn’t seem that great, but on the bridge, looking down at the river, it seemed tremendous
  4. running past Black Coffee, noticed a person sitting in the window with a newspaper — were they reading about the war? drinking black coffee or coffee with milk?
  5. cretin, which runs past St. Thomas University, was thick with cars
  6. early in the run, on the west side of the river not far from home, thought I heard the bells at St. Thomas. Later, running down the hill above shadow falls, close to St. Thomas, I heard them again — the clock cycled through all four parts of the song — the parts that chime at 1/4 past, 1/2 past, 1/4 to, and on the hour. I couldn’t quite remember when I started running, so I counted the chimes at the end of the song cycle: 11. 11 am
  7. running back over lake street bridge, I looked down and saw 2 somethings in the water. Could they be ducks? I stopped, stood on my tiptoes, and looked through the railing. Yes, 2 ducks!
  8. at the start of my run, a block from my house, noticed a HUGE crow on someone’s lawn. I had to check again to make sure it wasn’t a turkey
  9. looking down at the steep slopes of the gorge, noticed veins of white snow in the cracks
  10. some new graffiti in vivid blues and greens on a lower wall of the lake street bridge, in a spot where’s no trail or stairs

Tried to chant in triples, but became distracted. Thought about some other things that I can’t remember now, except this random thing: when thinking about the value of moving for paying attention, and what experiments I might try with attention and movement, stopping and standing still can be a part of it too — like running or walking from spot to spot.

This was the poem of the day on I like the different look at something that, at first, seems miserable.

Drift/ Alicia Mountain

The gold March dawn
and below my window
a man carves his car
from the snow heap
plowed up around it.
So easy not to envy
the cold muscled task

but then imagine—
feeling your heartbeat
alive like a chipmunk
at work in your chest,
imagine the whole day
arm-sore and good
with accomplishment,

the day you begin
with heavy breath
and see it linger
outside your body
like a negative of
the dark air cavity
in you like the spirit
in you like the ghost.

And here’s Mountain’s description of the poem:

This poem is an exercise in re-encountering the familiar. Lately, I’ve been trying to take another look—at poem drafts, at circumstances, at assumption, chores, beliefs. More and more, I have come to understand myself as a draft of a person to which I return and try to see again, anew. Even in the line and intentions struck through, negation is a presence, too. This poem is about externalizing something internal so it can be witnessed. It’s also about allowing the grace and strength of others, along with the mysterious gift of breath, to change me daily.

march 3/RUN

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
19 degrees / feels like 10
5% ice-covered

Sunnier today. Remembered to notice the sky. High above me, a clear, soft blue; nearer, mostly wispy clouds. Not much wind, not too cold. The river continues to open, ripped seams everywhere. I felt good as I ran. Tried chanting in triples (strawberry/blueberry/raspberry), but it didn’t last long. Devoted some attention to feeling my feet strike the ground, my legs lift off.

Before my run, I felt weighed down. Is it because my mom’s 80th birthday would have been this Saturday if she hadn’t died in 2009? Or because winter doesn’t want to leave? Or Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine? Or the University of Wyoming voting to end funding for the Gender and Women’s Studies Department? The climate crisis deniers? Whatever it was (and will continue to be), it lifted as I ran.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. lots of crows
  2. on the way back from the falls, after I put my headphones in, a cardinal’s trill fit very nicely with Cee Lo Green’s singing in “Crazy”
  3. a few walkers done below on the Winchell Trail
  4. primary noise: cars’ whooshing wheels on the river road
  5. a crew was out, in front of Minnehaha Academy, sawing down some tree limbs. The chainsaw started as an irritating whine, then a bzzzz
  6. laughing and yelling kids out on the school playground
  7. the snow on the hill in the oak savanna is melting fast — I saw some bare patches
  8. the falls: still frozen, all the trails and the stairs are covered in crusty, icy snow
  9. conversation overhead: something like, “and that’s what your dad was doing…”
  10. all the puddles from yesterday were solid and slick ice today

Right now, I’m trying to put together a course proposal for a summer class on moving and being outside and noticing wonder. It’s fun and frustrating and very exciting. Just north of the 44th street parking lot, I began thinking about whether I should use the word habit or ritual. I like ritual, but writing rituals seem to have a specific meaning. When I think of rituals, I often think of things done to prepare you for writing/creating — sitting in this chair, drinking this tea, listening to this music, wearing this shawl, etc. While being outside and moving can do that, it does more too. The act of regularly being outside and moving not only prepares you to be more creative, but can be the repeated practice of being creative. Does that make any sense? When I have time, I think I’ll do some more thinking through the differences between habit and ritual, especially how it is understood within poetry.

Found this poem in the march issue of Poetry:

Peripheral/ Hannah Emmerson

Yes I prefer the peripheral
because it limits the vision.

It does focus my attention.
Direct looking just is too

much killing of the moment.
Looking oblique littles

the moment into many
helpful moments.

Moment moment moment
moment keep in the moment.

My first reaction to this poem is resistance: I don’t agree with the idea that the peripheral limits vision. It alters it, changes how we see, but doesn’t limit it. Instead, it expands and softens. Is this reaction fair? I’ll sit with it for a while, then return to this poem. When I finally begin work on my peripheral project, I’ll add it to my list of resources.

march 2/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
29 degrees
puddles + a few icy spots

Early this morning, or late last night, it snowed/sleeted. Only a little, but enough to make me wonder if I should run in the basement instead of outside by the gorge. Decided it would be fine, and went outside. Excellent decision. It was wet, occasionally slick, and great conditions for a run — at least for my run. Overcast, not too cold, uncrowded.

The river is no longer white but a few different shades of gray. I thought it was completely open/iced out, but running across the franklin bridge, I noticed a thin skin of gray ice. In a few spots, where the skin had split, it was dark. Later, as I approached the lake street bridge from the east side, the water opened up. As I ran across the lake street bridge, I noticed little ripples in the water from the wind.

The sky was mostly white-ish gray with a hint of blue. This light/color really messes with my vision and lack of cone cells. Looking up, the sky was almost pixelated, or maybe it was more like static? Not total static, like when tv stations would end programming for the night, but static sprinkled into the image, making everything dance or bounce or just barely move. All of this movement is so slight that I wonder if I’m imagining it, or making too big of a deal out of it, or if this isn’t just the “normal” way that most people see.

the delight of the day

Running on the east side of the river, lost in thought, or the absence of thought, I suddenly heard a loud noise. It sounded like a turkey gobble. I stopped and looked behind me. On the other side of the road, maybe 25 yards back, there was a small group of very big turkeys chilling out on someone’s lawn. I stood still and watched them for a minute, delighted and grateful that the turkeys reminded me to notice them. I imagined what the gobbling turkey had been thinking as I passed by, oblivious to its awesomeness: “Oh hell no, girl! Notice me now!” And I did, and now my day has been made. So often, it’s the wild turkeys that get me through the tough times.

Wild turkeys are probably my favorite. I also like woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, and geese. Crows are okay, so are cardinals. Today I heard all of these birds by the gorge — and more that I couldn’t identify. Because of my vision, and the fact that I’m in motion, I rarely see these birds. Instead, I hear them.

Some poetry people posted about a new tool that removes everything but the questions from a text. Here’s an article by the creator of the tool. Very cool. Hooray for questions!

Randomly opened up Arthur Sze’s collection, The Glass Constellation, to this beautiful, bewildering poem:

Unfolding Center/ Arthur Sze


Tea leaves in a black bowl:
green snail spring waiting to unfurl.
Nostrils flared, I inhale:

expectancy’s a seed—
we planted two rows
of sunflowers then drove to Colorado—

no one could alter the arrival
of the ambulance,
the bulged artery; I had never

seen one hundred crows
gathered at the river,
vultures circling overhead;

I saw no carcass, smelled no rot;
the angers radiating from him
like knives in sunlight; I sit

at a river branching off a river:
three vultures on cottonwood branches
track my movement;

surrounded by weeds, I cut
two large large sunflower heads off
six-footed stalks, Apache plume

blossoms near the gate; we wake
and embrace, embace and wake,
my fingers meshed

with your fingers. Nostrils flared,
I inhale: time, time
courses through the bowl of my hands.