Here’s a thing about living in the intersection of climactic zones: the seasons are wrong. For instance, because this area of North America has been colonized by Britain, Canada, and the United States, it calls this month “summer“, in a calendar divided into four seasons, because that’s, well, English, and Canadian, too. Even so, it doesn’t really fit a location where ancient grasslands meet older glacial water at the point where new forests meet volcanic, mid-Pacific rock and where water is moved up into the high country and back down by lightning storms in the evening. Time and space are different here, but summer it is. Here, for example, is the beach and estuary on the Okanagan Indian Reserve at Okanagan Landing, yesterday morning as the sun was rolling over the hill like the open end of a welding torch …
All the Attributes of Summer
Water, sun, beach, leaves … it must be summer, eh. Sea-doo hour has not started yet, either. I mean, look at that retro wind-powered watercraft. Whoa.
Now that much of the earth is colliding with shifting climactic zones because of a warming climate, it is time to get the seasons right. For one thing, it’s a lot easier to describe the living processes of a landscape when the seasons are right, rather than to have them turned on their heads and winter lumped together with summer, dry with wet, spring with fall, and all in the name of (got a headache yet?), ta da!, summer. For another thing, it’s a lot easier to integrate new experience with indigenous experience in this space, if the terms used are as accurate as deep, ancestral physical knowledge. For another, if climate boundaries are moving some thirty kilometres a year (they are, and often more), it sure would be useful to get a handle on how the system worked before it became a moving target. But, for the moment, with a nod to convention, let’s call the image above summer, if we like, but, ah yes, then the troubles start. What’s this one, pulling back a bit on the zoom lens and looking to the right?
A Different Season
Altitude matters. This season is occurring a hundred metres or so above the lake. Let’s call it Fall. In this season, water that evaporates from the lake (and boy, it does, to the tune of some 351,000,000 litres a year) is shifted into high country forests by thunder activity. It doesn’t make it back to the grass. Not yet.
And this one, turning around?
Fall in Subdivided Land
In the winter, this terraced, stabilized cut in the post-glacial clay was rich with lush fungal growth and bright green grass. Now that it’s summer, so to speak, almost the last of its energy has left. Spring will come for it in October and will last through March.
And to make it even more confused, there’s this:
Grassland Beetle Crossing a Road to Get Back to Its Life
The greatest desert here, in a landscape that sells itself as a desert, is human made. That’s another problem with naming seasons for purely social reasons.
Here’s another problem with seasonal naming …
The Approved Form of Landscaping for Humanly Inhabited Environments in the Okanagan
In this way, water can be conserved for the summer environment down on the lake. Well, I think that’s the idea.
The water can also be conserved for this aesthetic splash, carefully inserted between gravel deserts:
Weed Seed Collection and Germination Device
This wild chicory collector is maintained for absentee investors from the Oil Patch by automatic sprinkling and a community landscaping (Um, mowing) contract.
This is silly. We need better terms. The ones we have seem to tend to draw the landscape into simpler and simpler relationships. So…….(deep breath) ….. What does the landscape offer by way of terms?
Hoary Marmot Guarding His Rock
Otherwise known as a complex mix of climates and seasons.
This land is the intersection of new water (rain, snow, dew) and old water (post-glacial meltwater lakes), the intersection of dry and wet environments (and seasons), including forest, grassland, and tundra, and the intersection of very hot and very cold climates (and a lot of foggy temperatures in between, where they mix in complex ways.) That gives a series of interleaved seasons existing in time: dry, wet, hot, and cold. Because it is a mixed environment, many of these seasons can be in the same place at the same time, as the marmot above knows. The intersections between these seasons (and not the main part of the season in itself) are particularly productive spaces. It is where energy can be moved from one form (and one time) into another.
Butterfly on Chicory
Wet season water becomes a dry season flower, which supports a dry season butterfly. If we just said, oh, look, summer flowers, we’d miss the way water flows through life.
I’d rather water flowed through life. I really like living on a living planet, rather than on an asteroid. The living things of this earth have that figured out, as expressions of this earth. So are humans. It’s about time that the cultures that we have made by rather accidental processes of history started to live here. If we don’t make the adjustments, our deserts, green, blue, and brown, will just spread. Oh, yeah, and concrete, too, in between the weed collectors and the rocks …
Beetle Turned into a Nomad by a Monocultural Understanding of Water
This is what is called Winter.