april 26/RUN

4.25 miles
top of franklin hill and back
32 degrees

Full winter running clothes: black running tights, green base layer shirt, pink hooded jacket, black running vest, “black” baseball cap (well, it was black, but now has faded to a brown-ish gray. I imagine, although can’t really see with my vision, that it looks gross and I should be embarrassed to wear it — mostly, I don’t care, but I am looking for a new hat), pink headband, black gloves, dark gray buff. Brr. I am over winter-in-April. Normally, I’m not too bothered by the weather, but this never-ending cold is wearing me out. I want to sit on the deck in my new chair without a coat on! I want to run in shorts!

I was cold for the first 15 minutes, but once I warmed up, it was fine. I felt strong and relaxed and grateful to be outside breathing in fresh air, being with the birds. They don’t seem to be bothered by the cold. Thought about rot and noticed all the trees down just below me. How long does it take fungi to move in and begin breaking down the wood to digest the needed nutrients? Looked it up and found an article, How Fungi Make Nutrients Available to the World, which is helpful for understanding how fungi break down trees, but not how long it takes.

Running under the lake street bridge, I saw a few Minneapolis Parks vehicles, heard chainsaws down by the river, then noticed one of the trucks was filled with twigs and branches. I thought about the fungi and all the food they weren’t getting with the removal of the dead/dying limbs. I also thought about important it is to remove those branches so they don’t fall on my head while I’m running under them.

On the stretch between the trestle and Franklin, I thought about what it might mean to shift my values away from progress and toward the fungi, including thinking about motion/moving as not always producing something “useful” for capitalism, or aimed at progress (like running to be faster or better). How do we understand and value movement — making, doing, moving — outside of the goal of improving or mastery or being used by others?

I also thought about an article someone posted on twitter this morning about tapping into spinach’s ability to sense a compound that is often found in landmines by attaching censors to them that, when triggered, send an email back to a lab. The article was terribly titled, Scientists have taught spinach to send emails, and as I read it I thought about how often these pop science articles view plants (or fungi or “nature”) only as resources/assets for maintaining or improving the lives of humans. Fungi is only valuable because of what it does for us, how it might save us from the terrible mess we’ve made of the planet, not because it’s just amazing. How dreary to think of spinach having to send emails! And, this is not teaching spinach to send emails but hacking into their communication networks to receive the data they’re sending elsewhere.

I’ve written a lot about mushrooms and fungi, here’s a poem about lichen. Lichen is another big deal for poets.

For the Lobar, Usnea, Witches Hair, Map Lichen, Beard Lichen, Ground Lichen, Shield Lichen/ Jane Hirshfield

Back then, what did I know?
The names of subway lines, busses.
How long it took to walk 20 blocks.

Uptown and downtown.
Not north, not south, not you.

When I saw you, later, seaweed reefed in the air,
you were grey-green, incomprehensible, old.
What you clung to, hung from: old.
Trees looking half-dead, stones.

Marriage of fungi and algae,
chemists of air,
changers of nitrogen-unusable into nitrogen-usable.

Like those nameless ones
who kept painting, shaping, engraving,
unseen, unread, unremembered.
Not caring if they were no good, if they were past it.

Rock wools, water fans, earth scale, mouse ears, dust,
Transformers unvalued, uncounted.
Cell by cell, word by word, making a world they could live in.