Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 26, 2009, journal entry

14 miles.

There is no place prettier for an autumn long distance run than my route through Lincoln, Manito, and Cannon Hill Parks. The golden hue of the Goddess-y sun gives the kingly oaks and the fall foliage a sepia-colored treatment, and I bask in the Sun’s powerful presence that assures me of my survival, even thriving, through the changing of seasons. Snow is sure to fall this winter, but this same Sun will reveal the burgeoning Earth below in spring. Acorns line the streets, the green of the newly fallen joining the experienced brown on the ground, and chestnuts are dropping as though their trees in an animated posture are undressing, their spiky capsules spilling their rich chocolate contents.

The squirrels are numerous, too, busy now as the sentinels of their homes, not daring to rest in the trees’ fruitflesh harvest. I have always loved squirrels, and, even as a girl, when in spring I collected robin’s eggshells of light blue-tivity, I was enamored with the squirrels of fall and their fluffy tails, thick reddened fur, and the magical acorns they collected. I would pocket a few of the acorns myself, treasuring them as my own private amulets. Nightly, this past summer found me sitting poolside with my stack of books and pile of pencils as my boys played and splashed in the water, reminding me of when I was their age sitting poolside as a child, not allowed to swim because of ear infections yet unexpectedly finding comfort, joy, and creativity for one of many times within my fragrant box of Crayola coloring crayons and yellow-covered coloring book devoted to pictures only of squirrels.


Earlier this week, as I sat in a park, my books at hand and a veggie sandwich from the courthouse cafeteria at the ready for an impromptu picnic for one, I watched squirrels scour the sprinkler-wetted ground. One selected a thin green acorn dropped from the branches of a variety of white oak, nibbled at it, and, gesturing its distaste with its body, spit it out. Taking a second, he tasted it, only to discard it, but found the third to his satisfaction, running up the tree’s carved stories of a totem pole. Perched in the underarm of its branches, he ate enthusiastically, pieces falling to the ground, like showers of cone bracts.


So during my morning run’s incantation, I continued to feel the Sun’s light heating the top of my head, melting away any stress I might be feeling. This week saw the departure of my beloved Summer runs and the arrival of anticipated Autumn’s, and, although Fall arrived officially this week, I have been feeling and seeing her on and off for quite some time now, beginning with my visit to New York City’s Central Park in early August. With the warm temperatures as of late, under the guiding passage of the Sun, I continue to experience the sensual leftovers of Summer mixed in with the cornucopia of Autumn, leading me to wonder about the way we have gone about measuring seasons in calendar days, time, and hours. Perhaps these measuring cups are not the most accurate of seasonal tools.

Personally, I like the idea of looking at time through a kaleidoscope of color and glass: the turning colors of trees, flowers, and vines, Nature’s patterns and fabric that shift like light dappling on mirrors, and the tumbling beads of fruit and leaves, all in the revolving wheel of seasons.

GL, 9/26/2009. Prevail.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 19, 2009, journal entry

12 miles.

The sun continued to shine this morning though the rain that was predicted for the afternoon did eventually arrive. I have several favorite routes, and I decided to combine several today to bring me to 12 miles: the loop where I have watched the covey of northern bobwhite quail chicks grow, the path that takes me by Hazel’s Creek with its red-winged blackbirds lighting on the spread of cattails and its own slow and steady march to becoming dry land, the steep hill of Lincoln Park with the pond perched at the top like those red-winged blackbirds on grasses, and the hundreds of sunflowers that have drawn the sun into their gardens. Weaving through these roads that stitch my run together, the grasses, flowers, and insects of summer that have captured my imagination were very much on my mind, and throughout my run, I could see they were not letting go without one last gasp of breath. Straggly lavender reached out in a last ditch effort, and a single pink lupine in a nearby garden rebelliously bloomed, weeks after its turn. My eyes stung from the tears, my senses quickening as the great wheel of seasons cycled before me in the deepening days. Autumn, escorting the companions of letting-go and gathering-in.

So also on my mind were the things I hope to see this fall, like the cocoons of moths. Relying on the cues of shorter hours of daylight and cooler temperatures that alert the coming of winter, caterpillars, after fattening on summer leaves, spin cocoons in which they will become moths during the winter months and in a spring eclosion ceremony, emerge winged. I am looking forward to discovering where birds have hidden their treasure nests as leaves fall away from the trees that guard them. (Will my guesses in summer be correct?) The honesty plant’s sprays of flowers have given way to the purple watercolor outlines of its flat papery seedpods, mimicking those nests. Gardens and trees haven’t completed their harvests yet while hearty pumpkins begin to grow and crisp apples continue to ripen. And even though the sun continues to shine, its slant of light through trees, groves and solitary, has changed from summer’s cant in tint and in shadow.


I saw a spotted pine sawyer on a cement sidewalk and unsure if it was alive, I grabbed an amber pine needle to gently poke at it. Twice as long as its body, its black antennas moved, reminding me of my own thick eyebrows lifted in a quizzical expression.


Winding back and forth through streets, I passed a split-level house with its driveway covered by an ivy-dense trellis. Grapevines lingering on metal frames that, from a distance, looked like gnarled fingers reaching up in a grasp, but up close, the vines became smooth braided cords like a tree’s radiating roots just beneath the surface of the ground. As the wind blew through, the berries, held by the thick web of ropes, trembled like apples in boiling water. As I looked up, I felt drawn into the orbit of those indigo sacs, the almost-black of the deep-blue night sky, their purple embodying balance, poising the energy of red with the peace of blue, though the slant ran toward blue so I felt no discord. I wanted to touch the smooth grapes while I considered how these beautiful, perfectly shaped grapes will become wine after being crushed, skins and all, for an intense flavor in the long run. Another magnificent Autumn harvest fruitflesh.


And the fruitflesh of my own body. The elongated firm roundness of secret muscles under my skin that moves my legs, step by step through my run. After 12 miles today, I will probably be sore tomorrow, as the muscles continue to repair themselves from the tearing that needs to happen for strength to grow. I will probably feel each and every one of the 12 in my five tomorrow.

(But it will be a good kind of sore, and one I will relish.)

Grapes and Pine Tree, 9/18/2009

GL, 9/19/2009. Prevail.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

How Some Things Are Made of Flesh

In fields muscular and rolling
spongy with the itch of hay
a half-wrecked old Thunderbird
sits in tired tracks of scarred movement
hidden by blackberry bramble.
Its body, thick with rust,
holds dry smells of peeling paint
the way skin holds fragrance.
The front fender dangles into dirt,
like a gate with its hinge broken.
Revealing the soft, red interior,
torn tissue ever dependent on good thread,
the driver's shattered window
becomes a spider’s web of cracks,
the back seat choked with Bud cans.
Grey cobweb dust flutters at with nearby movement:
a pulse slight in the throat of a bird.

LL, 9/19/2009. Prevail.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 13, 2009, journal entry

10 miles.

This morning, my BlackBerry alarm chimed at six, so I rolled out of bed like I do every morning, turned on the coffeepot, and put on the running skirt Goddess Schawn gave me and laced my Brooks running shoes. With my supplies at the ready in my 7.5K waist pack, 45 minutes later I headed out the door for my daily morning ritual.

My breathing was deep and steady as usual after a couple miles of warm-up, air covering the full length of my lungs, and I wondered what today would bring as, once again, I opened my posture in a position to receive. As I ran, I continued to contemplate trees, the trees that save me daily. Instead of thinking of the individual trees I have loved and named, however, I began to think of their collective body as a sacred space, much like the collection of an artist at a gallery showing, how it becomes a village for all the vegetation and creatures who inhabit it. A forest. Drooping cedars with their bony folded wings, douglas firs, wonderfully messy-shedding oaks and maples with their leaves’ edges curling like torn cuticles, and black cottonwoods surrounded my chosen route along the water in not so much a line but rather, like the path of an uneven fault crack, still providing comforting shade in the hot, early-fall morning. The abundance of ponderosa pines, like crisp ribbed stalks, that marks the Eastern Washington forest brought to my mind John Muir’s comment that “of all the Pines this one [the ponderosa] gives forth the finest music to the winds.” With amber needles as a bedspread for my path, brown upright pinecones mimicked robins, tricking my mind’s eye, and turning red ivy, like crimson veins that run just beneath the surface of skin, twined their way up trellises of trees and the shapely shoulders of rocks.

Feeling the creative Life force in this landscape of Elders, like all of life, I recognized that the duality of either/or does not exist as Truth in these forests. True, I was experiencing the protection and healing generosity of Spirit from these trees in my unguarded and unveiled movement, but I also knew that Life struggles in these forests. That predators and prey, mammals and insects, trees, bushes, plants, and weeds, all seek balance, like the balance of light and dark in Autumn’s Equinox.

So I continued to run, as the unwavering Solstice continues to approach, with each long stride of my legs touching Earth and with each inhale and exhale of my lungs in balance as well, my attention devoted to intention and mindfulness, making THIS one run another mystical experience like all the others. As Thich Nhat Hanh suggests when speaking of his own intentional, mindful walking, “We generate peace within our body, our consciousness. We embrace and heal the pain, the sorrow, the fear in us, and that is the ground for helping peace to be a reality in the world.”


But I have to be honest. Today, I TOTALLY kicked ass.

My run? Bloomsday Road Runners Club’s Sundae Sunday 10 miler, through Riverside Park, in 1 hour 20 minutes, watch-less and ALL right-brained with several stops to mark thoughts in my small journal…and I didn’t hold back on the glitter, either…including a thick layer of glitter lipstick.



Right-Brained Running Supplies on Canvas, 9/13/2009

Right-Brained Running Supplies on Glass, 9/13/2009

GL, 9/13/2009. Prevail.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 10, 2009, journal entry, and Mary Oliver's birthday

Four miles.

The morning air was chilly, but the sky shone the brilliant blue of peace. My hands squirreled away, tucked in my long-sleeved pumpkin-colored Cool-Max shirt for warmth, I started north on my way to Lincoln Park to visit the marsh pond atop the hillside’s steep slope. I know my hummingbird is well on her way to South America as she was probably just visiting for the day when I saw her, but I still find tranquility in the water and surrounding trees. (I have marked on my BlackBerry the date I saw her so that in 2010, I can visit often, on and around this day in an effort to meet her again.) Up the hill I ran once more, the cement path, a beautiful tapestry weaved with amber pine needles, and the bluff’s huge rocky, crag-like surface cushioned by moss in green and purple-brown. Pine trees resemble huge folded bats, and the foliage that neighbors my feet is starting to turn in colors of red and yellow.

When I reached the pond, I was alone, although I have encountered bird-itionalists and early morning risers who sometimes throw sticks into the pond for which their dogs to retrieve. Not even the ducks were awake even though they usually are ambling to the shore, quite talkative when I arrive as though giving me the news of the night’s events over coffee. But even when I am the only human, rarely is my run silent, which is one of the reasons I discarded my headphones years ago. Today I was surprised to see two chattering red-winged blackbirds flying around, landing on the intricately intertwined tangle of cattails and sedges that never seem to bend under their perch. The aspens’ leaves continued twittering in the slight breeze, but what has captured my attention over the past week or so are the grasshoppers.

I have listened to the brown grasshoppers by the small cattail-padded marsh, Hazel’s Creek, two-ish miles south, clacking as they jump and fly sounding like a jacket’s zipper closing over large teeth, the sound of which I associate alongside the whishing and whooshing of tall dried grasses in a hot late-summer wind. I’ve seen them along boulevards that wind past undeveloped lots, and at Lincoln Park’s “track” pond. Grasshoppers are not unfamiliar to me, having grown up in the boonies of Kentucky, but I decided to give a closer inspection to this critter, so down I crouched to peer at him on a rock-quilted patch by the water. Startled, I jumped back as he jumped, snapping, opening his wings in flight which were a vivid red color, surprising me as I had expected to see the bright splash of yellow in his expanded wings. (I wanted to know the names of these creatures, so I later consulted the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America and the internet, but I am still only guessing when I write that I think they are the speckled rangeland grasshopper and the northern green-striped grasshopper.)

Running back through the trees, their rounded crowns of foliage and branches mirror those huge juicy tomatoes ripening in their gradient colors of green to red. After Spring and early Summer, the twigs’ upward growth halted in order to reroute the trees' use of light to thicken the trunk in support of the branch scaffolding that reaches for the Sun. Past still more colors, I again reflected on Autumn’s march to Winter, steady like the driving 7/8 beat of a song.

As I write this, pencil in my right hand, my left fingers the heavy Tree-of-Life pendant that hangs from my neck on its twisting-and-turning silver chain, reminding me that I, too, can stand strong through the twisting and turning of seasons with grace and compassion, as I do every year. Yes, at times, my leaves are exuberant and new, taking in Sun’s light like the sunflower for its garden. At other times, though, like after Autumn, a harbinger of Winter’s storms during its time of harvest, and throughout Winter’s preparation for rebirth (their Magic equal in value to the aromatic Magic of Spring and Summer), I am also a tree stripped of its leaves. Even so, I know I can stand tall and confident, trust my own steady roots, for they have also grown thick, strong and deep from the drifts of previous winters.


It’s the birthday today of my favorite poet Mary Oliver, born in 1935.


When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

(from Thirst, Poems, 2006)

GL, 9/10/2009. Prevail.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Haiku 12


Trembling orange and gold;
Diaphanous veil of webs.
A leaf senescence.


Branches’ latticework
Gives leaves to pungent humus.
Honor Winter’s time.


Shadows deepening
A cocoon’s folded blossom.
A quiescent pose.

GL, 9/3/2009. Prevail.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

August 27, 2009, journal entry, and Tomatoes and Peppers on Canvas, 8/27/2009

Six miles.

I started Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, A Year of Food Life, a week ago, sitting poolside while my boys swam and cannon-balled. I have found the tranquility and Zen I seek in the blue of the water that calms my mind in readiness to absorb the books I am reading. I began my new-book ritual where I briefly remove the paper cover to inspect the binding and hardcover, read the front and back flap summary and author bios, bringing the volume to my nose to inhale its new book smell, and look at the back, thumbing through the pages, when a woman walked passed and remarked that she thought it was a good book although slow at times. In my current frame of mind where gardens have been huge for me on my right-brained runs, I thought, “SWEET!” This is the perfect time to read this book.

Lately, I have been admiring the gardens in the suburban safari in which I run. Corn’s stiff stalks growing tall with its secret silk sheets, tomatoes in gradient shades of green to red, string bean ivy plants climbing chain-link fences like squirrels clamoring up a tree. I’ve been sorely tempted to pluck a plump green string bean dangling through a chain link fence as though it were attempting an escape from a grey penitentiary.

And the sunflowers are HUGE, following the passage of the sun with their faces, drawing its light into their gardens. Running by sunflowers of yellow, orange, and red, I paused to admire those beautiful big yellow, orange, and black bumblebees in their important work while warblers flit about to drink flower nectar, all the yellow, orange, and red colors moving my eye about as though the scene were a painting in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. I peered closely into the interior of a sunflower, looking at the seeds in its center and taking its huge blossom in my hands as though holding the face of a beloved child, tempted to kiss his beautiful cheeks.

I wonder at the taste of these seeds, vegetables, and fruits. Do they taste as rich as the mineral-filled carrots I pulled as a child from farm dirt and ate? Is the sweet corn as brilliant as the sunflowers it neighbors? And the tomatoes. I am sure nothing matches the intensity of flavor of my grandmother’s garden grown juicy red tomatoes.

This morning, I passed a favorite garden (where the string beans were planning their escape) and saw its steward bent over, working the soil. Impulsively, I stopped and said, “Excuse me, but I run by your garden frequently and think it is just beautiful.”

She spoke no English, but she was so lovely and gracious in her response. The only thing I could gather from her speech is that she is from Italy and taking classes to learn English. I’ve not thought myself skilled in think-on-your-feet games like Guesstures and Taboo (surprising, I know, as I am a sign language interpreter), but I pointed grandly to her garden with both hands, made the kissing motion of myah!

“Ah! You! Here!” she exclaimed as she walked the length of a row, waving me along, although I was on the opposite side of the chain link fence. After a few minutes, she placed in my hands as though bestowing a consecration, three beautiful tomatoes and two peppers.

After giving blessings to each other, I carried those treasures in my hands, not trusting them to my 5k pack or the bags I carry for collecting my finds of acorns, leaves, and pinecones, and happily I did so for half a mile! (And yes, so much richer they did taste with their minerals than their store-bought counterparts. The sliced tomato on cottage cheese with a sprinkling of locally grown-and-made lavender spice was a delightful brunch!)

Anyway, in reading this book, I have grown thoughtful in my express ways and decided to shop for locally grown foods in my own Safeway supermarket until I could visit the local downtown farmer’s market. New in this, I floundered until I spotted a man moving deftly and swiftly through the vegetable department despite his girth. From local product to local product, he moved like the bumblebees I admired in the sunflowers, so, inconspicuously as possible in my bright pink paisley sundress, scarf, and strands of jewelry, I followed him, pretending I was in Philadelphia’s colorful Reading Terminal Market, bagging each item that he bagged, green and red lettuces, chives, onions, radishes, and string beans.

Proudly, I stood in the checkout line, my canvas bags at the ready (Safeway labeled as I have garnered austere looks in Fred Meyers where I filled my Albertson’s canvas bags with my groceries) and locally grown, organic vegetables when I noticed a display of bulk Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Crackers and Ritz Peanut Butter Crackers in snack-sized bags, perfect for my boys’ poolside munching. SWEET! I thought, so I snagged those, too.

Oh yeah. Right. Sigh.

Sigh. Baby steps to more organic and local eating. Either that or two steps forward and three steps back. Or is it three steps forward and two steps back? Sigh.

OH WELL! At least I’m going in some direction, even if it is in circles and towards an unknown destination! SWEET!


Oh, the picture. My boys are such good sports! When I finished my run, tomatoes and peppers in hand, I HAD to take a photograph with my GrUBB.

“MMOOOMMMM,” they said, “are ya gonna take ANOTHER picture of ‘Blah blah on Canvas’ and post it on your blog?” to which I said, “YES! ABSOLUTELY!”

They know the many pictures I have snapped that I have spared my readers.

“MMOOOOMMMM!” they say.

But this one…I have to post.

Tomatoes and Peppers on Canvas, 8/27/2009.

GL, 8/27/2009. Prevail.