Water is sacred. It tells the story of gravity. If you want to read the pattern of the stars, look to water. It’s telling you about that. I’ve been trying to follow along, and to unravel what happens to this story when its telling gets heckled by a crowd with other things on its mind. First there was the way in which water moves down through the hills and how the interruption of its flow contributes to global warming, then there was the poverty that results from infilling the wetlands it was meant to flow into, and now there’s the story of where the water goes, now that certain humans have lifted it to the surface and got it flowing in the open air. It’s also the story of why they might do that.
Leaving the remains of the wetlands and pouring into Okanagan Lake.
The estuary, as you can see below, is flooded.
Vernon Creek Estuary in Full Flood
There really was no need to divert all this water from the land into the lake, but here it is.
Now what? Why, maybe the heat is getting to you, right?
Water Fun in the Flood Lake
Note the beach in the background, where the caucasian people of Vernon are turning their bodies brown.
You don’t have to enjoy this water alone…
A Swim with the Dog
Dog fetches stick. Human fetches dog. Or is it human tries to fetch dog. Dog tries to get to shore? Complicated!
That’s the Okanagan today, to most people in Western Canada: a lake, the sun, a place to get to an elemental earth made out of pure substances, and to forget that you have to spend your life in a world that is all thought out. You get to be a body, you know. Nice. It is this impulse that has led to the misunderstanding about water in this valley.You don’t have to personally get wet, either, to wander down this path. Look at the traffic game you can make out of this ancient impulse.
Shrimp Boat, Ski Boats, Personal Watercraft, Sailboats
We need a traffic cop out there.
And while all that is going on, the hills, that need this water, are being overtaken by red cheatgrass, that has stolen the spring water, and, oh no, there’s no water left to help the native flowers hold on through the summer, because, um, the surface water is just sooooo nice for humans and their dogs.
Tronson Point Hills
Clouds of water slowly flow down through the soil beneath the grass.
Oh, heck, though. This water thing is just too good. Here’s the impromptu parking lot at the estuary…
Estuaries are Traditionally Points where Wetland Nutrients are Exchanged with the Lake…
…and where young fish, amphibians, and birds can get a chance before entering the dangers of the deeper, open waters.
Here they are places where young humans can be trained in the joy of their bodies and in the primacy of elemental elements, water, instead of Okanagan Lake water, sun, instead of sacred heat, and so on. These are important lessons, and people who have learned them find them totally compelling, as this quick park job illustrates well…
Vernon Creek Estuary
Some people make the mistake of buying petroleum gick and bringing it along for a bit of training in colour and cultural belonging, but the kids have other ideas. The lesson about the water is so much more compelling…
So much for Chinese-Canadian trade, eh!
Soon, in this language of body and water, humans grow up, et voilà!, they find new, more sophisticated ways to get out there and write their sentences across the face of the stars…
Star Writing in Okanagan Landing
Back in the day, the steamships that plied the lake were launched into these waters. Now people blow off steam.
Here’s another way to do that. This one is even more effective at launching water into the sky…
Personal Water Craft!
An invention from the atomic city of Kennewick, Washington, where Plutonium was, ahem, manufactured for decades. Tons of it. Talk about a language of the stars!
The personal water craft are, of course, poorly named, as the whole thing is not personal at all. No one plays around alone with these chainsaws on floats. You have to be seen. That’s the point. In fact, that’s a large part of the point…
Within this large, social environment, people stake out private-public spaces and lie down in their skins and turn warm. The scent of coconut oil wafts through the trees.
And that’s why our water management is just a little off in these parts. The 20th century tradition of getting in touch with bodies and getting out of heads made a mistake along the way, and forgot that the land is the human social body, too. Humans are part of a web that is far more specific than the elemental web that has been set up in its place. When the global world collapses it’s the grass, and the water there, that are going to sustain us, and we will be ready if we’ve learned a second language in which our bodies can write themselves across the sky. That way we will slowly learn not to divert all our water to the surface and dump it into ancient glacial lakes, where it cools us beautifully in a Scandinavian aren’t our northern ancestors beautiful kind of way but at the cost of warming the earth.