About Harold Rhenisch


Garage Sex, Okanagan Style

The marriage bed.


Go away for 3 weeks and the neighbours move in, with each other on their mind. Madam came first.


Yeah, she didn’t pose very well, but there was all this, um, mosquito netting in the way of my lens, so I did what I could. Notice how she has learned to blend in with the black “Tuck Tape” background, to stay out of my way. She’s grown about 30% since I came back home. The gentleman arrived 2 weeks later …


He’s about 25% of her size. The black sheets don’t help him. He is, as you can see, going for red, the colour of love. It’s a slow dance. Well, that’s what’s going around here with the black widows. How’s the action at your place?

Veraison or The Time of Ripening

The green balls of malolactic and citric acid are turning to tartaric acid now, and depositing sugars as water flow into grape berries decreases. The skins of the grapes are beginning their mysteries, adding the flavours that will define the wine, through CAM photosynthesis (such as you find in pineapples and cactus and cabbages). CAM plants make malolactic acid during the day and convert it to sugars in the night, when they don’t have to lose their water to breathe and take in oxygen. In grapes, CAM synthesis only takes place, slightly, in the skins, but it is enough. The mysteries of fermentation begin here, laying down the compounds that the yeast will transform in their intestinal tracts during fermentation, and which we know as the flavours of wine. Actually, they are the art that yeast make.P1470615

These are the deep mysteries. Note how the yeast is beginning to form on the skins of the grapes, in preparation for the transformations of winter. It is all one event, based on this one magical moment: the moment of ripening, when the grapes transform their nature entirely, and before the angels of the yeast reveal it (and the human tongue receives it.) This is an ancient sacrament.


Try This on Mars, I Dare You

Life in the sky…
bee…  vanishes (This is a form of ripening.)

subtleAt first it is nowhere to be found. Bones are everywhere. The sun has burnt everything away.P1470323Not everything. There are bee caves.



And this year will come again.


Hang on!

Beautiful Tent Caterpillars

It’s the time of year when tent caterpillars are in their glory, making art out of the choke cherries in the roadside ditches, along the walking trails, and in the creek beds running down through the sagebrush. They are looked on as pests, but I think they are exquisitely beautiful. In their honour, I share them with you. If you click on any image, a larger image will open up.

Pretty amazing, eh!

Garter Snake Fishing

Meet the fisher.

headupLook how beautiful she is. (About 3 feet long.)


Inspect her fishing tackle.


And her hidey hole. She looks like a beaver peeled stick lying in the shallows.


Note the two 3-inch fish in the foreground. They are edging quickly closer.

Note the expanded technique. She (he?) held this position for 30 seconds. No luck. Note the fish edging in from the left.

twofishTotal time underwater: about 4 minutes. Fish caught: 0. But it was very close. Amazing!

All pictures: Conconully Lake, Washington


Beautiful Green Apples from Russia

You can see why Adam just had to bite.



Transparents, Second Picking (in my milk pail)

The greatest contribution of Russia to world civilization. The name comes from the transparent skin, if you peel it as finely as you can with a sharp knife.

The things are sour, though. Great for pies and applesauce and juice but for fresh eating, well, Adam, my boy, they’ll make the eyes bug out of your head. When the Okanagan had a fruit processing industry, there was a demand for these beauties. Now, you’re lucky if you find a tree anywhere, and that’s a crying shame, because I can imagine a few hundred acres planted in transparents, with juice and sauce and pies to put all others to shame. Instead, we have fast food service jobs. Can you imagine a civilization [sic] in which flinging burgers in an industrial kitchen smelling of fry grease is preferable to celebrating one of the delights of life on earth? Talk about poverty. Tonight in this house, we had apple crisp with the last five of these, just in time for the first peaches. Apples before peaches. Adam, you should have waited, man (but I’m glad you didn’t.)

Life (and chipmunks)

Fire comes from the centre of the solar system. fire1Water comes from the edge of the solar system. waterThey meet on earth. P1410986You would think they might extinguish each other, but no. P1420013 Here on earth, they are both the same thing. weeds2 That’s our planet: a meeting ground. weedsThat’s what life is.

dragondrPhoto: Diane Rhenisch

The voice of the solar system.



P1420004And sun.

chipmunkAnd chipmunks, bless them.


Why Good Science Matters

Yesterday, I wrote this:

It is time to stop taking the world apart and to acknowledge that what we seek is what we will find. It is that kind of universe.

I would like to clarify that. When I said “what we seek is what we will find” I did not mean that what the Christians, let’s say, in Iraq, are seeking under an invasion by the Islamic State. Broadly speaking, those people are seeking security, peace and even life itself. All are perilously close to collapse. That is serious, even heart-breaking, business, as all things are when one is dealing with top predators (homo sapiens). My heart goes out to people being preyed on by other humans, in the name of spiritual principles, or for any other reason (and there are many). What I was speaking about, however, was the dominant spiritual and cultural force in the human world today, the world of science. I was pointing out that the dominant Western scientific tradition was not a representation of “reality”, as it wishes to see itself, but, rather, of a cultural reality, and that is quite a different thing. Scientific philosophy is not a trivial thing, but if not acknowledged and challenged it can in extreme situations lead to such horrors as the chaos of contemporary Iraq. To be fair, as far as cultural realities go, contemporary North American cultural ethics are not bad ones. We can, however, make them better, and it is the duty of every citizen of any state that wishes to call itself civilized to work towards the ethical goal of improving the operation of its state, because states and their belief systems determine to a large extent the lives of their citizens. This is serious stuff. The states that govern (a term loosely applied at times) my part of the earth (the intermontane grasslands of the North American West), namely the United States and Canada, can and must do a better job. The alternative is the chaos of Iraq, the Ukraine, the Gaza Strip, Liberia, and… really, the examples abound (for which these states do carry some blame). This is just one of the many reasons I argue for a re-imagining of science and a re-ignition of the relationship between humans and the earth. In social terms, worse will follow if we don’t get it right. In ecological terms, the situation is even more clear. To that end, let me restate my comment from yesterday:

The universe appears to be arranged on a principle of energy, that enables any conception that is brought to it. If one wishes to see an empirical world, one will see that, one will be given proof, and one will be given a society based on empirical models. If one wishes to see a spiritual world, one will see that, one will be given proof, and one will be given a society based on spiritual models. These are just examples. The principle is infinite. Because of this energy flow, all attempts at codifying reality should be viewed with caution, and that includes, even, scientific principles “proven” by mathematical and experimental procedures. They are true, but they are only one of many truths, and the real truth is beyond them.

That is, more or less, what I meant to say. For the sake of my companions on this earth …

deerdr … and its waters …


… I just wanted to make that clear. (Photos by Diane Rhenisch)