Running for Your Life: What’s Nest?

One day on a recent run I came upon a small, perfectly formed bird’s nest. Like the leaves I catch when the situation presents, I carried my nest treasure carefully in my hand during the balance of my run. I later sprayed it with a light coat of varnish in order to keep its intricate shape and beauty. I collect barkskins, nests, etc., for what is becoming a visual arts project I call “Dawn Times.”

That has altered my running pathways some. On a second strangely mild day (Dec. 5) I was drawn to the sound of a blue jay, who was making an incredible racket on a Prospect Park hillside. I followed my “noise,” and came to the base of a thirty-foot tree, freshly bare of leaves. Near the top in a crux of thin branches was what must have been the cause of the commotion, and the impetus for this poem:

December, Be Damned

The sound of the blue jay
in December
from above and
below the way
she defies
throws me,
looking up
to yet another small but perfectly
formed nest in
a barren tree
jog jog jog
toward it and
so yeah
stay the fuck away
December, be damned.

Next: Running for Your Life: Renaissance Reverbs

Running for Your Life: The Republican Social Theories *

I can’t recommend more highly this exuberantly written book on physics by Carlo Rovelli called “Reality Is Not What It Seems”

In it, Rovelli, the scientist-storyteller, follows on after Albert Einstein to explain the great man’s contributions to human understanding.

While running today (Dec. 7), I had a thought: US Republicans – ie, Trump, McConnell and Ryan – are architects of their own social theories in a manner of which parallels Einstein’s work.

As Rovelli explains, Einstein’s genius was in how he shaped his thinking from those minds who had come before: namely, Democritus, Newton, and Faraday-Maxwell.

Suffice to say, Einstein, in 1905, took the discrete definitions of space, time and particles of Newton to join spacetime, fields (Faraday-Maxwell) and particles. Then, ten years later, he would boil that down to just fields and particles.

Elegant, eh?

Einstein’s contributions are magnificence in simplicity. Answers to the very existence of the world were right there before our noses, and Einstein had the vision to see them.

Similarly, before the first Republican theory of Trump/McConnell/Ryan, the social contract was divided into three main spheres: government, business and workers (unions). In those relatively ancient times, the theory held that outcomes were calculated by interchanges between these three distinct powers.

Ah, but it is the Republican Einsteinian elegance to boil that troika down to one seamless force: business.

Oh, and as Einstein instructs us, the universe is always in motion. Behold the freshly minted Republican social theory courtesy of Alabama GOP senatorial hopeful, Roy Moore: that business ally with Christian orthodoxy in all matters of the social contract.

* With apologies to Einstein’s family and the wonder of his genius

Next: Running for Your Life: Renaissance Reverbs

Running for Your Life: Curling? In Brooklyn?

Last Wednesday (Nov. 29), during an early morning walk in Prospect Park with T, our hound dog, I came upon a small group of dog walkers who were familiar to me. (And T too, for that matter. When I say the word “Friend,” he’ll stare at me, then scour the vicinity, spot the folks and canines I’m referring to, and high tail it over to them. (It could have as much to do with the Liv-a-Snaps that more often than not “friends” will deposit into his mouth but that’s splitting hairs.)

It’s a cold morning and one of the walkers is wearing a Roots wool cap that I don’t see around Brooklyn very often, and prominently displayed on her jacket a button that says GO CURLING.

On closer inspection I could see the Roots cap had some serious curling decals on them; the 2002 Olympics Women’s Curling cap, when the Games were in Salt Lake City.

Curling? In Brooklyn?

She said, yes, at LeFrak.

My, where is that? I replied.

At the skating rink, not far from here.

(I didn’t know the nearby skating rink was called LeFrak.)

Really? Curling?

Yes, every Wednesday night and Sunday night.

I thanked her profusely, and began to think that when I retire from The Post (I currently work late on Wednesdays and Sundays), I’ll be able to curl. Just like I did throughout my childhood and young adulthood in Owen Sound and Brockville, in Ontario.

(That is, if I’m still in Brooklyn when I retire; these days that’s not necessarily a given. Back in Ontario, senior curling leagues are as common as free medical clinics … )

Next: Running for Your Life: Renaissance Reverbs

Running for Your Life: Discovering Jon McGregor

Jon McGregor is an author new to me. 

In the 2017 Betty Boop flasher New Yorker (Great cover!) you’ll find a piece about McGregor by James Wood.

So much of what Wood said (and quoted) from McGregor’s latest novel, RESERVOIR 13, sent shivers through me.

Like hearing the surprise rattle-clang of a cow bell, or the rush of soft soles through a long pile of dry leaves, the ribbed red oak leaf between my thumb and forefinger …

I bought RESERVOIR 13 at my local book shop and it was the last copy on the shelf. The man who collected my money, whose taste I respect, said he was reading it himself. “Very good” was his welcome critique.

On the cover’s back leaf I saw that McGregor (I like to use his name because the protagonist of my as-yet-unpublished pseudonymic  novel is called McGregor) edits something called The Letters Page.

I went online to look for it – and loved what I found. (Try it here )

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt the urge to send out new work to journals, but this one edited by McGregor put me in the mind to come up with a letter and send it along to him. If nothing else, I’d be thrilled to think that a writer as talented McGregor would be sitting down and reading my work.

With that, I think I’ll go for funny. In writing letters to friends and family I find they (the letters, not the recipients) are at their (same, the letters) best when I think of my reader being tickled enough to laugh.

Yup, I’ll be sending a letter to McGregor soon. Definitely something to look forward to!

Next: Running for Your Life: Curling? In Brooklyn?

Running for Your Life: Caught One!

It happened around 12:40 p.m. (Nov. 29).

I was hoping to get out for a long run, say, an hour. But time got away from me. You see, I’m paper-chasing the documents, photos and legal signer I need in order to renew my Canadian passport, something I’ve been meaning to do for months.

(Well, since a year ago November, when a certain someone was elected president of the United States.) I renew my passport, and, well, that gives our family escape “claws.”

Busy work like that always takes longer than you think it will – AND I took it upon myself to try to improve our home music situation, which is a jury-rigged array of playing devices that root in a “system” I bought in the mid-1980s while I was employed as the assistant night news editor of the Windsor Star.

I had a sudden hankering to hear tunes from Sean McConnell’s “Sean McConnell,” especially “Queen of St. Mary’s” and “Beautiful Rose.”

All of which reduced that long run to a half-hour scamper up and into the park: 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m.

It takes me 10 minutes running to a park access route near what is known as the Litchfield Villa. Up I went on the path, leaves falling in front of me on this mild day of intermittent breezes. Hands out as I run along, off-road trailing in the way I like to do it, and then, just as I veered south, a darting leaf appeared to my right, just above my head, and with a swipe I managed to snatch it by its “lower body.”

It didn’t hit the ground before I grabbed it – my first caught leaf while running in I don’t know how long.

It was a red oak leaf. From the same type of tree as the magnificent one that for 25 years was a glory to behold in our backyard before advanced disease forced us to cut it down earlier this year.

Next: Running for Your Life: Discovering Jon McGregor