That Old Watery Moon: A Year of Walking and Learning

Moon’s hanging around all day now. Frost in the tomatoes by the lower fence. Potatoes in the cellar. Light everywhere.

Earth and Moon with Human Signature

Humans are life. They love views over dry country, down to water far below (a trick they picked up in East Africa, millions of years ago) so much so that they like to get above it sometimes and look down on themselves looking down. Such are the delightful problems of visual critters.

Aircraft Part Way to the Moon (Or Beyond It)

The moon was once believed to have seas, on which the wild geese of Northern Europe overwintered. Now it’s dry as dust. To heck with Global Warming. Global Drying is maybe more to the point.

Humans live on a tiny planet in the midst of vast space. As far as the Solar System goes, much of the water is here, on Earth, homeland of humans, bone of their bones, heart of their hearts. Humans, however, despite their elaborate valve and pump technologies and cunning desalinization plants do not use it alone …

 

Knapweed Root Weevil Negotiating a Sidewalk

Winter is coming and all the knapweed is dry as dust. What is a poor bug to do? Go to the moon? Such are the tribulations of a parasite introduced into a foreign climate, to control a noxious, invasive weed. For such a creature, every moment is a moment of vital decision, that means the difference between life and death.

Water is the signature of this planet. Humans are water, but only when it is embedded in the context of life. Otherwise we’d be puddles. This, for example, is a human self portrait:

 

Human in the Afternoon

No, it’s not the puddle that’s the human, or the bullsnake cooling itself off, or the photograph. It’s the moment of attention, at which a biological human makes no distinction between his self and the earth. That is not meant as a metaphor. When the Syilx ran this place, this was a commonplace thought. I hope that some day it will be commonplace again.

All the conceptual purification that turns living water into elemental water that you can run out of a tap or play upon in your summer toys, does not erase the fact that every use of water embodies an ethical choice.

Party!

A bit of Canada floats through the water of an ancient lake, containing the molten remains of the great ice sheets that once covered this land. In terms of White Canadian Culture, this is a time to have a party, hopefully in the thanks that our water stewards have so far managed to convince people that human desire for water does not mean that we can pump the lake out to water lawns and golf courses and designer apples and stuff, but more likely just because the sun is shining, the water is cool, the world is beautiful, and one is among friends, with a cool drink in hand to lubricate things.

I’ve said it before that there is no “place” here. What I mean is that place is not land. It is a social, ethical story, through which humans (myself included) walk (and which is called “land”). It’s more like an entire library of stories, actually. It’s like a vast, open air art gallery. It’s such a great journey to make together that it can be easy to forget that everything, all human technology, all human social structures, languages, traditions of ideas, water planning processes, roads and houses, hair styles, and family and tribal configurations are art works, designed to represent images of humans, for human viewing pleasure, and why not. Humans can be beautiful creatures.

Human Self Portrait…

…breaking the natural flow of water down the slope. That is an ethical choice. Does the human need to look out over East African (or Okanagan) water trump that of the chain of organic life that passes water down the hill? These are the discussions we need to have. By discussing them, we create better lives for ourselves.

Currently, water plans for the Okanagan Valley rely on huge volumes of water that flows through the soil, down off the hills, without ever reaching the surface. If that water did not flow in such large volumes into local lakes, human appropriation of entire lake, stream, and wetland ecosystems to provide agricultural, industrial and domestic water would have to be reduced dramatically. As it is, there is already no place for salmon to spawn, should they be allowed to return to this ecosystem, should that even be a human right to deny. One ethical question that haunts me after a year tromping through these hills is this:

 

Does human interruption of green water as it flows through chains of life in order to create self portraits trump the rights of those chains of life as part of the earth?

I’m not advocating introducing such ethical dilemmas into water policy. I’m saying that they’re already there.

Next: The Role of Land Claims in This Discussion. One Valley for Everyone.

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