august 31/RUN

4.15 miles
franklin loop
60 degrees

Since we’re driving FWA back to school on Saturday, Scott and I decided to do our weekly run today instead. We ran (most of) the Franklin loop. A beautiful morning: cool, sunny but with plenty of shade, calm. At one point the wind picked up and I had to recite one of my favorite wind poems, “Who Has Seen the Wind?” by Christina Rossetti.

Fall is coming: discarded acorn shells, glowing leaves, the light seems longer and softer, maybe a bit sadder too?

10 Things

  1. empty river — no rowers or kayaks or big paddle boats playing dixieland jazz
  2. 3 or 4 stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  3. waved at the woman who stopped me the other day to tell me about some other runner who had my same gait. I think she wanted us to go on a date — she kept telling me how cute he was. A new regular? I’ll call her, the Fixer Upper — talking with Scott, we agreed that Fixer Upper sounded like she needed to be fixed up, which is not true at all, so I guess I’ll call her the Setter Upper
  4. the porta potty by the overlook has been removed. Why? I bet the people living in tents down in the gorge really needed it
  5. the cracks in the path just past the trestle are growing wider and deeper. Is the bluff becoming too unstable? Will they need to abandon this part of the path?
  6. a steady stream of cars on the road — no soft moments when all I can hear are my footfalls and my breath
  7. the east river road just south of franklin is in terrible condition — so many potholes!
  8. played a game with Scott — was that noise down in the east flats wind or water? I said water, he said wind. I think he was right; it hasn’t rained for a while
  9. another game — what is that loud, strangled cry? Knowing I was being ridiculous I guessed, a giant gobbling turkey. Scott thought it was a man yelling. We were both wrong; it was a dog barking
  10. crossing back over the lake street bridge: shadows of trees on the river near the shore, soft ripples from the wind

the day made

Walking back through the neighborhood, we encountered a pair of dogs that I had run by earlier in the summer (june 10, 2023) and always hoped to see again. 2 tiny dogs, barking with little yips and snorts, especially the larger one. Scott thought the smaller one — a minpin chihuahua mix? — was so small that it could have escaped through the bars of the fence if it wanted too. It didn’t. Of course, I cried out in delight when I saw them. I might have even clapped. Scott started laughing and then imitating the yip snort whenever I asked. Would I love these dogs as much if I had to live next to them? Maybe not, or maybe I’d love them even more.

Earlier this morning, prepping for my class, I was thinking about being open to the world, letting it interrupt you. These dogs were wonderful interrupters. That glorious bark, those cute, impossibly tiny bodies! Before we saw them, we were tense — Scott needed to hurry home to fix a server, but when they suddenly appeared, everything else was forgotten. It was just those dogs and that moment of sound and blurry little bodies.

I’ve written about frantic dogs barks before (and how much I like them). A few years back, I also posted a poem that included some yippy yappy dogs.

from I Heart Your Dog’s Head/ Erin Belieu

Which leads me to recall the three Chihuahuas
who’ve spent the fullness of their agitated lives penned
in the back of my neighbor’s yard.
Today they barked continuously for 12 minutes (I timed it) as
the UPS guy made his daily round.
They bark so piercingly, they tremble with such exquisite outrage,
that I’ve begun to root for them, though it’s fashionable
to hate them and increasingly dark threats
against their tiny persons move between the houses on our block.
But isn’t that what’s wrong with this version of America:
the jittering, small-skulled, inbred-by-no-choice-
of-their-own are despised? And Bill Parcells—
the truth is he’ll win
this game. I know it and you know it and, sadly,
did it ever seem there was another possible outcome?

It’s a small deposit,
but I’m putting my faith in reincarnation. I need to believe
in the sweetness of one righteous image,
in Bill Parcells trapped in the body of a teacup poodle,
as any despised thing,
forced to yap away his next life staked to
a clothesline pole or doing hard time on a rich old matron’s lap,
dyed lilac to match her outfit.
I want to live there someday, across that street,
and listen to him. Yap, yap, yap.


bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
70 degrees

Biked over with Scott to the lake on a beautiful morning. Even though you might expect the opposite, it’s harder for me to bike with someone than biking alone. Sure, when biking with someone they can alert me to potential danger, but if I’m following behind them, I can’t get a clear view of what’s far ahead of me. And that’s bad with my slow reaction time. But, I didn’t care if it was harder today; it was nice to bike with Scott.

I wasn’t giving much attention to the world as I biked, other than trying to stay safe. Can I remember 10 things?

10 Things

  1. a bit crowded on the trail — most of the bikers were going the other way
  2. wind — it made the biking a little harder and yelled in my ears
  3. a single-file line of bikers riding north. I could see the headlight from the first bike from far away. Not sure, but I think it might have been a group of “silver” riders
  4. an even mix of sun and shadows
  5. more cracked and crushed acorns on the sidewalk
  6. the creek is low, almost dry in some spots
  7. the crack just past nokomis avenue on the edge of the trail near the tennis courts looks bigger — wider? deeper?
  8. a thwack from the pickleball court
  9. errrrrrrrr (the squeak from some bad brakes on a bike)
  10. arriving at the beach, admiring the glittering water

swim: 2 loops (10 little beach loops)
lake nokomis main beach
72 degrees

As I was walking into the water, carrying my small yellow life buoy that I tether to my waist, I’m almost positive I heard someone — at first I thought it was a kid, but it might have been an adult — say, okay we can go in the water now, the lifeguard’s here! I wonder how long it took for them to figure out I wasn’t a lifeguard. Why wasn’t I ever a lifeguard in my teens? I don’t know.

The water wasn’t too cold. As usual, it was opaque. Hardly any visibility. The only thing I could see were more of the ghost vines, haunting the bottom of the lake. Also, the faint form of the bottom of the white, cylindrical buoy — ghost buoy. I felt the ghost vines more than I saw them. Mostly quick sharp taps on my ankles, one time softly wrapping around my hand and wrist — Come with us, Sara, down below! No thanks. I tried staring down as I swam, but nothing appeared — no lake bottom, no fish, no ghost vines.

The water was very choppy on the back half of the loop. Difficult to see and to breathe, but not overly tiring.

I kept thinking I was seeing kayaks off to my right side, but it was only the tree line, or was it ghost kayaks? Yes, the fall is coming and I’m increasingly thinking about ghosts.

Swam for almost 45 minutes, but it felt like 5 minutes or no time or all the time dissolved into lake water.

10 Water Things

  1. a soaring seagull
  2. a circling plane
  3. flashes of pink in the water from somewhere — probably my brief glimpse of a buoy
  4. little waves smacking into me, from the front and the side
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left 1 2 3 breathe right
  6. the silvery white bottom of the safety boat on the other shore
  7. a kayak paddling by, farther out into the middle of the lake
  8. no ducks or geese or monstrous swans
  9. the gurgle or squeak of my slipping nose plug under water
  10. lining up my shoulders and swimming through the narrow opening between two pinkish orangish buoys

august 27/RUN

4.6 miles
franklin hill turn around
56! degrees

What a beautiful morning. Feels like fall and that’s fine with me. I’m ready for cooler mornings, softer light, crackling leaves. I felt good on my run. Relaxed, not sore, happy. Didn’t see the river much because of the thick leaves.

Ran north listening to my footfalls, the birds, a dog barking down below on the trail that winds right beside the river, the clicking and clacking of ski pools, someone talking on the phone in a language other than english. Turned around at the bottom of the hill and kept running until I reached the franklin bridge. Then I put in my headphones and listened to The Wiz as I ran back.

Before I started running again, an older woman stopped me and said:

You run just like this guy that I see near 40th. Same high arm carriage and erect posture. Looks like you run about the same pace too. He’s cute.


10 Things

  1. Mr. Morning!
  2. 2 roller skiers climbing the franklin hill — click clack click clack
  3. 2 piles of stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  4. a barking dog below the tunnel of trees
  5. one runner ahead of me wearing a bright yellowish-green shirt
  6. another runner approaching me in bright yellowish-green shorts
  7. overheard from a biker: riding in a junior peloton…they can’t control themselves
  8. shshsh — sandy grit under my feet
  9. goldenrod along the side of the trail
  10. a runner with a slow, shuffling step, carrying a CamelBak — marathon training?

august 26/RUN

3.75 miles
marshall loop
64 degrees

The runner who passed us on the bridge summed it up well: It’s a peach of a morning. Yes, those were the words he used and no, he’s not 90 years old. I’m trying to think the last time I heard that expression, and have I ever heard it as a reference to the morning?

Cooler, great air quality — easy to run, easy to breathe. Now, sitting at my desk writing this entry, I have the windows open and I can feel the gentle breeze. The spider outside my window is chilling on their web, waving in the wind.

Scott and I continued our Saturday tradition. Next week we might have to mix it up, if they’re doing as much construction then as they are now. One side of the bridge and several sidewalks closed. Maybe we’ll do the Franklin loop? Scott signed us up for the Halloween 10K at the end of October. Our first race since spring of 2020.

10 Things

  1. rowers on the river!
  2. a line of kayaks and canoes, too!
  3. certain sidewalks were treacherous: too many discarded acorn shells crunch crunch
  4. a funeral at St. Thomas — we moved out to the road to make room on the sidewalk for mourners
  5. would we hear the St. Thomas bells? Just missed them. 9:20
  6. a slow biker biking up the east river road, a pick-up truck following behind, reluctant to pass. Scott jokingly asked, is that truck pacing the bike?
  7. the lamps are still on on the river road — do they ever turn off?
  8. avoiding the same sprinkler, watering more of the sidewalk (and passing pedestrians) than the lawn
  9. a big crack in the sidewalk — the spot where Scott once witnessed a biker fly off their bike, then land unconscious on the path
  10. a woman fly by on her bike, her chatty kid riding in the back alerting us to her presence


bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
82 degrees

Hot. Legs felt sore, but just sore, not injured. Hooray! Last night my right knee and calf felt weird and I had some trouble walking. I thought about not going over to the lake today, but also thought that I would regret it and that my knee/calf would be fine. And they are.

What do I remember about my bike ride? Buzzing — or were they hissing? — cicadas. No turkeys or ducks or geese. Lots of cracks and potholes on the bike path. Ouch!

on your left — another biker, as he passed me
thank you!

bridges crossed:
the double bridge at 44th
mustache bridge
echo bridge (under)
28th street bridge (under)
bridge over creek, leading to lake hiawatha
the stinky lake bridge by the weir

roads crossed:
river road, entering the bike path
godfrey parkway
minnehaha parkway, at one side of the roundabout
minnehaha parkway, at another side of the parkway
nokomis avenue
river road, by Nokomis rec center

stoplights encountered: 0
light rail trains raced: 1
pickleball courts passed: 1
former tennis courts turned to bike safety courses passed: 1

swim: 1.5 loops
main beach lake nokomis
82 degrees

A perfect morning for a swim! Warm with no waves. Okay, maybe the water could have been a little cooler and empty — there were 2 other swimmers and lots of kayaks and canoes passing by — but otherwise, perfect. The water was opaque and dull yellow. Several times I passed by a vine growing up from the lake bottom, looking creepy and ghostly. I think I’ll call it, and others like it, ghost vines. I saw at least one seagull, dozens of little minnows. Felt a sharp rock at the bottom, heard someone say, anyone need a hairband? after picking one up off the sand. Kept thinking the tree line was an approaching paddle boarder. Mostly it wasn’t, but once it was. We raced each other for a minute, then they kept going and I turned at the buoy. Thought about kicking my legs and following through with my left stroke more. Wondered if my calf would be weird at the end (nope). Breathed every 5 strokes — 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left.

So glad I didn’t listen to the excuses I was making for not going and went. What a glorious 90 minutes of lake and air and motion and life I would have missed out on!

august 24/RUNSWIM

run: 5K
2 trails
72 degrees
dew point: 68

Cooler this morning than yesterday, but that dew point. Ugh! It felt good to run again after taking a short break. My last run was this past Saturday. I started at 7:30. I Listened to the gorge for 2 miles of the run, the put in headphones and started with Swift’s 1989, ended with The Wiz.

Another white-sky morning. I suppose the lack of sun made it feel a little coole, but it also made it feel gloomier.

Quiet. The river road was crowded with cars, their wheels whispering.

I ran on the dirt path between edmund and the river road. Heard some runners chatting across the road. After a few minutes, their voices drifted away behind me.

I don’t remember hearing any birds or acorns dropping, but I do remember the trickling of water through the sewer pipe near 42nd and the buzzy roar of a parks’ riding lawn mower above me as I ran below on the Winchell Trail.

I briefly glanced down at the river and thought: steamy, stagnant.

Haze in the air, hovering. Thoughts about my dying father-in-law hovering too. We went to visit him yesterday afternoon and he was asleep in a hospital bed in his bedroom. Quiet, dark, the only sounds the steady pulse of his oxygen and CPAP machines and Scott gently trying to wake him — Dad Dad Dad Dad. He had slept all day. This is it; we’ve entered the final stage. Another tender September is nearing.

Earlier this morning as I finished my coffee, I refreshed my memory on a poem I memorized a few years ago: Push the button, hear the sound by Helen Mort:

Listen to the lorikeet’s whistling song.
Can you hear the call of the mynah bird?
Can you hear the flamingos in the water?
Can you hear your small heart next to mine
and the house breathing as it holds us?
Can you hear the chainsaw start, the bones
our neighbor’s eucalyptus breaking?
It’s summer, high, emptied. Listen to the ground,
giddy with thirst. Listen to the dog shit
on the lawns, the murderous waterboatmen
skimming the green pond. Can you hear
the roses rioting on the trellis? Can you
make a noise like a cheeky monkey? There are
sounds your book lacks names for.

I recited it in my head a few times as I ran, recited it to my phone after I was done. I love how Mort moves back and forth from the command, Listen, to the question, Can you hear? In 2020, I made a list of her “listens” and “can you hears?” and then came up with some of my own: August 9, 2020

And finally, the Turkeys. I almost forget them — how I could forget the turkeys? Running the narrow dirt path between Minnehaha Academy and Becketwood (the gauntlet), I had to veer wide to avoid 3 turkeys chilling out in the grass. As I approached, the closest one trotted away, its wings flapping.

seen and read

Day two of the view of my window — not the view from, but the view of. Decided to go outside and inspect the spider web from the yard, looking through the window from the outside in. The web is still there and this spider looks even bigger up close. Wow, this spider! So big, especially the abdomen. Could she be pregnant? If I keep watching every day, will I be able to see her egg sac explode? How does that work? (Here’s a picture Scott took of the spider and posted on Instagram.)

Late morning, sitting on the HOT (feels like 99 degrees) deck, reading A Good House for Children, an excellent gothic novel featuring two of my favorites: a creepy house and the Dorset coast! One of the moms, Orla, has just taken a few polaroid pictures of her young, mute son:

Orla stood along by the window and watched the Polaroids develop in their enigmatic way, the images appearing as if through a clearing mist. Digital may have been sharper, but she generally preferred the texture of Polaroid, how it make everything look both blurred and hyper-real.

About this description, I wrote in my plague notebook (almost done with vol. 16!): digital photos, sharp images — illusion, saccadic masking, no movement, frozen.
Polaroids, the feel of things, a vague sense of movement everywhere, the illusion of vision made visible.

for my fall class

I’m teaching another addition of my “Finding Wonder in the World and the Words While Outside and in Motion” this fall and I might use this poem and Shira Erlichman’s introduction of it for thinking about the value of, and the problems with, naming:

I’ve recently fallen in love. She is fifty-five feet tall and her body is a hive of leaves where little birds zip and hide. She’s a tree. Whenever I round the particular corner toward her emerald and chirping body, I can’t help but give Esperanza a little wave. I didn’t realize I’d named her until, one day while walking our dog, I mentioned to Angel, “Oh look, Esperanza!” Her head up in the sky, she is way too cool to notice me. I admit, when passing her staggering height and chattering trunk, her ivy coat permeating that endless confidence, I get giddy. Like I’ve spotted a celebrity.

Then there’s Bernadette, another celebrity of my block. The little Dachshund-Terrier mix belongs to an older gentleman who dons coke-bottle glasses. When I see her golden-brown body wiggling down the block I actually shout, like paparazzi, “Bernadette! Bernadette––over here!” Her kind owner is used to this by now. Bernadette throws me the look of a seasoned starlet on the red carpet, then flops onto the ground and offers up her belly.

There are more neighborhood stars that catch me swooning. On one Wednesday night per month, my closed windows can’t keep out the raucous karaoke flowing from a nearby bar. At the first hint of a wild note, my heart’s flashbulb pings. “Zo-om-bie, Zo-om-bie,” spills into my living room, poorly, enthusiastically. An auditorium of cheers and laughs trails behind. “You guys,” I mutter to the disembodied voices of strangers entering my living room, “You’re crushing it.” Someone with an extra heap of chutzpah careens screechingly through Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ and my heart flutters.

What makes someone famous? The dictionary says it’s the “state of being known or talked about by many people.” But Esperanza, Bernadette, and a boisterous Wednesday night karaoke choir all feel like celebrity sightings. Did I mention the daffodils? When they all of a sudden poked their heads out this spring I could hear my neighbors gossiping, “Did you see them? Did you see?” It’s not fame that made them famous. Today’s poet resituates our cultural obsession with stardom and flips on its head who gets to be fanatically revered.

Episode 947 of The Slowdown Show

Famous / Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

Maybe think about this poem in relation to my poem, “The Regulars,” and Emily Dickinson’s “Nobody”?

swim: 4 loops
lake nokomis open swim
86 degrees

The last open swim of the season. Not enough lifeguards for a full course, so it was another there and back with 2 orange buoys and one green. Swimming the course, I realized 3 things: I can see the green buoys much better than the orange ones; I am much less likely to encounter off-course swimmers almost swimming into me when the course is a wide loop, than when it’s a there and back (several near misses last night); and because of the shortened course, I’ve missed out experiencing my favorite stretch one more time. It’s the stretch between the final green buoy at one end of the big beach and the first orange buoy past the other end. There’s something strange and dreamy about this wide stretch: it seems longer than other stretches; it’s the one stretch where I am usually able to see the orange buoy looming ahead of me; often, when the water’s choppy, the waves are behind me here, pushing me along, almost as if I were on a people mover; and it’s comes at the end of the loop, so I’m in a state of relief (another loop done!) and recovery (preparing for the next loop or slowing down for the shore).

I would love to craft a poem that might capture a little of the strange dreaminess of these moments — probably around 10 minutes?: vast, wide, open — not endless because I can see the orange buoy end, serene. This moment comes right after the intensity of rounding the final green buoy: the traffic jam of swimmers, the way the current pushes me forward, the changing of views from shore to water, water, everywhere. Yes! Maybe I’ll try.

august 22/SWIM

2 loops
lake nokomis open swim
100 degrees

So hot! So windy! Such choppy water! There was a lifeguard shortage so the course was a line instead of triangle — to the little beach and back again. When I started, the water was so choppy that I thought I would only do one loop, but I managed to do another. 2 was enough. I had to breathe on my right side the whole time and watch out for swimmers swimming way off course. One was heading straight toward me and only stopped just before ramming into me. Yikes. I noticed a lot of other swimmings swimming a few strokes of breaststroke then a few of freestyle.

The water was rough; I was jostled around a lot. Mostly I didn’t mind it. Not sure I’d call it fun, but it wasn’t too bad.

For most of the season, I haven’t encountered many vines. Today I did. They wrapped around my shoulder, my head, my wrist. I think I swallowed a bit too. Bleh.

The air was hot, but the water was cool — 74 degrees. No ducks or seagulls or swans. No fish. No airplanes. No dragonflies. Probably some of these things were there, but I didn’t or couldn’t notice them.

seen and heard

Today’s view outside my window is of a giant spider web, stretching from one side of the house to somewhere I can’t quite see — the top of the hydrangea bush? the pussy willow tree? Several threads of the web are illuminated in the sun, something or somethings are wrapped up in the center, bobbing in the breeze. How long will this web stay intact? What’s going to happen to the somethings? Where is the spider, and how big are they?

I called Scott over to look and we realized that the somethings in the center was actually the spider — Holy Shit! That’s a big spider! I’m glad it’s outside and not in here with me.

Listening to the third Peter Wimsy mystery from Dorothy L. Sayers, which is delightful (minus the anti-semitism which plagues Agatha Christie’s mysteries too), this line struck me:

Now it is easy to be mistaken in faces, but almost impossible not to recognize a back.

from Unnatural Death/ Dorothy L. Sayers

Yes. For me this is especially true. Usually I struggle to recognize faces (or even see them), but I can often see gestures and how forms move — the distinctive way a person walks, holds their shoulders, swings their arms. And it’s easier to stare at someone’s back, when they can’t see you staring then it is to stare at their face. I’m not sure if it’s always true, but I worry that people think I’m rude if I stare at them as long as I need to in order to recognize them.


bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
degrees: 71/75

Gloomy this morning, not gray but white. White skies are the worst. Gray, blue, even green skies are interesting, but white skies are flat and empty and no fun. They’re strange, but in a way that feels oppressive instead of mysterious. One good thing about this overly white light: unlike gray skies, the white doesn’t make it a lot harder to see and make sense of things.

A good bike ride. Didn’t need to pass anyone. No asshole bikers yelled at me. I’ve memorized all the cracks and curves on the path, so I knew where I was going.

The bike ride to Nokomis is only 20 minutes, but it feels longer because you bike through so many different areas — the tight, winding river road, the edge of the crowded and hectic minnehaha park, beside minnehaha parkway then near minnehaha creek, past lake hiawatha and up a big hill, over minnehaha parkway, around a stretch of lake nokomis. As I biked, I tried to remember how grateful I am to still be able to bike — to have this independence — and tried to forget all the places I had to bike through before I reached the beach.

swim: 2 loops (9 little loops)
lake nokomis main beach
71 degrees

Because it’s the last week of open swim and because of sore IT bands, I’m doing more swimming and less running this week. Today’s swim was wonderful. Even though it was windy, the water wasn’t too choppy. No other swimmers or ducks or geese, one seagull, 2 or 3 kids, a boat. Every so often the arm that was that pulling through the water would touch a vine reaching up from the bottom of the lake. I had a brief flash of imagining the vine was evil and wanted to wrap itself around my wrist to drag me under. I didn’t feel freaked out by this thought, just curious.

10 Things

  1. watching my air bubbles underwater — We calmly trailed over them/and under them, shedding/air bubbles, little white/ balloons
  2. pinkish orangish buoys, faded from years of use, bobbing in the water — lining up my path to swim-while-barely-seeing through the small gap between them
  3. looking at the white buoy under water — its lower end covered in greenish brownish muck, the rope tethering it to the bottom of the lake barely there in the cloudy water
  4. one seagull standing in the sand at the edge of the water
  5. hearing only a steady slosh as I swam, then stopping to hear the almost of the world above the water
  6. that quiet being occasionally disrupted by a kid’s voice
  7. buzzzz — someone’s constructing/reparing? something at painted turtle, I think. Are they building the structure they need to be able to serve beer?!
  8. the water is shallow almost all the way to the edge of the swimming area
  9. my yellow backpack, sitting alone, propped against the lifeguard stand
  10. opaque water out by the white buoys, clear water near the shore

Came across this poem by Robert Frost this morning. I’d like to put it beside May Swenson’s bird deep in the woods in “October” and Emily Dickinson’s purple woods in “A lane of yellow led the eye” and darkness in “A murmur in the trees to note”:

Come In/ Robert Frost

As I came to the edge of the woods, 
Thrush music — hark! 
Now if it was dusk outside, 
Inside it was dark. 

Too dark in the woods for a bird 
By sleight of wing 
To better its perch for the night, 
Though it still could sing. 

The last of the light of the sun 
That had died in the west 
Still lived for one song more 
In a thrush’s breast. 

Far in the pillared dark 
Thrush music went — 
Almost like a call to come in 
To the dark and lament. 

But no, I was out for stars; 
I would not come in. 
I meant not even if asked; 
And I hadn’t been. 

a few more things I forgot (added hours later)

First, I forgot to mention how I recited 2 poems in my head as I swam loops 5-7. During lap 5, I recited “I measure every grief I meet.” It was a little awkward trying to match the rhythms of Dickinson’s words with my breathing every 5 strokes. In loops 6 and 7, I recited, “The Social Life of Water.” I get hung up a little on the line, Thunder throws itself on estuary. At first I forgot it altogether, jumping straight to Waterspout laughs at joke of frog pond. Then I couldn’t remember what thunder did to the estuary. Finally I got it sorted out and made it to the end — not able even to guess what you are excluded — by the end of loop 7.

Second, on Sunday I decided I was too tired and sore to swim. Instead, Scott and I took Delia on a walk. We let her off her leash in the field at Howe School and as she ran I noticed wings all around. Monarchs? No, Scott said, dragonflies. A dozen dragonflies! I’ve never seen so many at once. Whenever I see a dragonfly, I think of my mom, who loved them. What a gift to be reminded of her so much! And how cool to see so many wings zooming about!

august 19/RUN

3.5 miles
marshall loop (cleveland)
71 degrees / 71% humidity

The Saturday tradition continues. Running up the Marshall hill with Scott. Today we barely stopped. The goal for next month: adding a few more blocks at the top and turning at Fairview instead of Cleveland. We talked about Spirit Island and visiting dying grandfathers, maybe for the last time, and old lady assassins and doing a survey of how many people greet with morning vs. good morning.

10 Things

  1. half a dozen thin white streaks on the water under the bridge left by rowing shells
  2. a single rower
  3. the coxswain’s bright white boat, first below the bridge, then parked at the dock (moored?)
  4. red — a passing runner in red shoes and red shorts, no shirt
  5. DING dong DING dong DING dong — 8:45 from the St. Thomas bells
  6. a woman walking with 2, or was it 3?, white dogs
  7. thump thwack falling acorns
  8. green — all the traffic lights we encountered — no need to stop!
  9. the light on the bridge steps was off today
  10. no sprinklers on Summit to dodge


bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
63/70 degrees
air quality: 127

A little cool this morning biking to the lake. Canadian wildfires have made the air quality index rise to the “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” Not sure if it was that or something else, but my nose started closing up mid-bike and I had to breathe mostly through my mouth.

The ride was fine. I had some difficulty making sense of what I was seeing but because I’m always cautious — biking relatively slowly (11-12 mph) and making sure I stay far to the right in my lane, it didn’t matter that I couldn’t totally see what the bikers approaching me were doing.

Some rodent — probably a squirrel but maybe something else? — darted out of the bushes as I biked by and crossed the path just in front of me. Jesus! I exclaimed. Then I stewed over why squirrels seem to have a death wish. Or, do they like messing with humans?

On my bike ride back I had to go around 3 bikers (possibly kids) who had stopped and were spread out on the bridge at the bottom of the hill. They were looking over the side at something in Lake Hiawatha. At first, I wondered why they were stopped at such a dangerous spot. Then I wondered what they were looking at down there? Was it something strange?

swim: 3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
68 degrees

All the buoys were up this morning. Hooray! Bright sun, some wind. By the third loop the wind had picked up quite a bit and there were more waves then I’d like in the water. Hard to be buoyant, to breathe. Today is the last Friday swim of the season. I’m sad that it’s almost over, but I’m also tired and sore and my body — my back and right shoulder in particular — are ready for a break.

10 Things

  1. passing over the rope that tethers the green buoy to the lake floor, looking pale and dim in the opaque water
  2. more flashes, some might be fish, but others might be rays of light
  3. my favorite part of the swim: the stretch between the last green buoy and the first orange buoy
  4. a plane hovering in the sky
  5. reciting the line, It is time now, I said, for the deepening and quieting of the spirit among the flux of happenings, and feeling a deepness and sense of quiet briefly before losing it in the effort to stay high in the wavy water
  6. seeing the first green buoy without any problems — steady and bright
  7. not seeing the orange buoy — just water and sky in front of me — then briefly seeing it in that same spot, then having it disappear again
  8. instead of lining up their backpacks around the safety boat, most of today’s swimmers put their backpacks in the boat
  9. 2 kids swimming and playing near me at the end of my swim. One was obnoxious and was irritating the other
  10. a taller tree in the tree line on the far shore loomed in my periphery. I kept thinking it was a person on a paddle board

overheard: 2 swimmers near the shore, one coaching the other
coach: saying a bunch of stuff about streamlining and force and pushing through the water, then kick kick kick! Now swim to the orange buoy!
coached: I can’t do it! You’re pushing me too hard!
coach: Okay, swim to the white buoy instead

Did he swim to the white buoy? I’m not sure; I started swimming again before I could find it.