june 19/RUNSWIM

2.5 miles
2 trails
64 degrees

A quick run before meeting my college friends for lunch. Cooler today. Heard the rowers. Spotted: at least 2 bright yellow shirts, one bright pink. City (or county or park?) workers were out re-tarring a few more spots on the trail. Hooray for less craters! Last week, they finally filled in the big crack that had white spray-paint around it, making it look like a tube sock or Florida (I’ve written about it before). I wonder if they’ll finally fill in the hole that’s been getting deeper every year? The one that would definitely twist your ankle if you stepped in it. I hope so.

I don’t remember hearing any birds or roller skiers or laughing kids, but I do remember the squishy mud on the winchell trail and the bug bite I got as I walked home.

color in/on/under water

Listening to Alice Oswald’s lecture, Interview with Water, I came across this great passage about color. First she’s mentions that poets performing The Odyssey always wore blue robes, then she mentions a line from book 8:

with his strong hands picked up his heavy cloak
of purple, and he covered up his face.
He was ashamed to let them see him cry.
Each time the singer paused, Odysseus
wiped tears, drew down the cloak (8:84-89)

Then she references something she said a few minutes earlier —

I keep a bucket of rainwater under my window and it delights me that green leaves reflected in a black bucket are not quite green. I don’t know what color they are. At certain moments, early in the day, they might be called pre-green, but then the clouds change or the wind moves the surface mark and all at once they seem bright dark and blind silvery then foggy emerald.

— and says this:

To go back to that bucket of water — to wave a blue gown above it and ask, What is that color which Homer calls porfurium? It is not blue exactly; it gets translated as purple but purple is a settled color whereas Homer’s word is agitated. It derives from the sea verb porfurion which means to roll without breaking, so it is already a fluid word, a heaped up word, a word with underswell, not a pigment but an emanation from the nature of water. To get a true sense of porphyrion you need to see the sea in it and for Homer the sea is unhuman full of strange creatures missed colored unplowable and this is my favorite word it is a peritone meaning unfenced. If you want to imagine the colour of Odysseus’ gown you will have to swim out into the unfenced place, the place not of definitions but of affirmations. Yes I’m afraid you will have to find your way to the p volume of Johnson’s unwritten dictionary. There you will discover a dark light word an adjective for edgelessness — a sea word used also of death smoke cloth mist blood between bluish purple and cobalt mauve. It appears mid-ocean when the wind perhaps makes a network of backblowing glitters that the underswell moves sideways as when a big sea swells with noiseless waves. It is used of the heart meaning his heart was a heaving not quite broken wave. It indicates a surface but suggests a depth a mutation of flatness or noiseless sheen, a sea creature, a quality of caves, any inlet or iodine or shaded stone, a type of algae or rockfish, anything excessive or out of focus or subliminal — for example: a swimmer seen from underneath, a rotting smell, a list of low sounds, an evening shadow or sea god, a whole catalogue of simmering grudges storms waves and solitudes or deep water including everyone who has drowned in it. To be purpled is to lose one’s way or name, to be nothing, to grieve without surfacing, to suffer the effects of sea light. to be either sleepless or weightless and cut off by dreams — find yourself in the silence underneath an overhanging way that or thereabouts is the color of a bluish violet ultramarine gown so the great poet sang.

Interview with Water

Wow! So many wonderful things to do with this passage! For now, I want to think about how color works underwater. In an hour, I’m heading over to deep (at least, deeper than Lake Nokomis) Cedar Lake to swim across it. How will color work as I swim? Below water? Above? Is this agitated, moving purple similar to how I see all the time? (Yes, I think.)

swim: 4 cedar loops (= 2 nokomis loops)
cedar lake
72 degrees

The first swim at Cedar Lake! As I’ve mentioned here before, Cedar has a very different vibe than Nokomis. Hidden away, at the end of a gravel road. A small beach. No buildings, the only bathroom a port-a-potty. Chill lifeguards. Today the water was cold but (mostly) calm. Not too many swimmers. 2 lifeguards on kayaks, 2 orange buoys, too much vegetation growing up from the bottom of the lake. I overheard another swimmer mentioning the vines too.

color: Inspired by Alice Oswald, I tried to think about the color of the water. Cloudy, not clear. I could see the vines and the bubbles from my breathing and my hands entering the water but not much else. Not purple or blue but green — not dark green but pale green. Maybe some pale blue — yes — and light gray. Occasionally a shaft of light from above, a dark vine below. Textured bubbles. Not much to see, but not nothing there. Instead, everything small, packed, too dense to decipher. No color and too many colors. Impossible to pin down with “green” or “gray” or “blue.” Not grief, but uncertainty.