Spring is Way Too Early

The choke cherries are waiting for the bear to come.P2080575

Not all of them, though. The tent caterpillars had their way with many of them in July. Ate all the leaves away, they did. Here’s a photo from back then.


Now, roses (and cherries are roses) like a nice winter before they start growing again, but when you’ve lost all your leaves for months, it’s kind of like sort of the same thing. You sprout, you bloom, when you should not be doing any such thing at all.

P2090170 I tell you, no good can come of this.P2090173

Spring is going to be rough, I think. Oh wait, it’s spring now…or is it?


Cascadia: Land of Fire

Cascadia rises out of the seabeds of the continental plains, where a hot, conductive current rises from deep in the earth and shears and curls around the impenetrable ancient rock of the North American Craton. We call this column of fire Yellowstone.P2040102It is a wave of energy and resistance that creates mountains.


They rise from fire and create zones of cold, commonly called snow, in the ocean they made into the dry prairies of the Upper Missouri River. So are rivers born out of mist.


So is winter born out of summer air.spill It too pours in rivers over the plains.livingston It reaches out.fog1

Rivers are everywhere in this ripple in the sky. They squeeze the sky onto the dry earth.


Just as they are squeezed by rock that is still rising in a massive wave.


Not all leave the fire mountains, having molten the sky, or at least not yet. First, they pour through the caldera of the volcano, in a country of fire.


The fire here is green, but it burns just the same. These are the great fire pines of the North West. They are born in fire and die in it.P2060570And are born in it again.


They live on the caldera wall.wall Look at them lick with flame among the bones of their mothers.P2060583 Look at them drink the molten sky.P2060606 Look at them grow on the ash of old volcanoes.P2060622 The fire is not still. It still drives hot water out of the deep earth: snowmelt and rain and water squeezed out of the beds of ancient seas.P2060527 Here, too, fire pines burst into flame from the soil…


…and the water …


…grow old in the sky…P2050485

… and return to the fire.


It is not a linear wave. It is happening all at once.

P2050346 The fire does not consume.P2050370


It is the fire. We who walk here are in the fire.P2060276 It is the water. We who walk here are burning water.P2060145 And it is the sky. We who walk here stop, as the land has stopped, and give ourselves over to new forms.pool Some volcanoes erupt very slowly.P2050790

This is one. In it, water and fire are one.


In it, we live, who live in Cascadia.


Nature is a foreign word in this fire country. As soon as you see nature, you know you are not here.



As I was making an image of the pines below …


… a woman walking past looked up and said, “I don’t see anything there. Just a whole lot more pines.” She didn’t see this…


… or if she did, she didn’t see that this lone aspen is this hot pool…


… or these splashes of magma…


… or that there are creatures …


… who eat this fire …


Calling it nature makes it random and wild. Look at it…


… it’s not random. Look at it …


… it’s not wild. Humans have the capacity to be this energy.

pool2 When they are not this energy …prismatictres

… they invent nature, where, before, the fire rose up…

P2050800 … and rose up higher …P2060145

… and sang.


Without poets, we would be living on a dying earth. We would be dying and contemplating turning ourselves in to machines. That is the age that abstract culture has made in its own image. This is the world that humans live in…

P2060042 These differing worlds are equally abstract. They are equally simple.P2070086

But you do have to choose.


I have. I hope you can find your way to the earth, too.

The End of the Road of Diplomacy: the Bear Paw Battlefield

Here’s the Bear Paw Battlefield in the rain. P2030856

It’s here that the hunt to eliminate a people from the face of the earth was called a war. It was just a hunt. That tree you see is Chief Looking Glass’s camp, a name received mistakenly from Lewis and Clark. The image below shows how that is looking now. It shows the hole Looking Glass dug on the top o the ridge to protect himself from cavalry fire while the cavalry was shelling the women and children below. And it is here he died, as the offerings witness.


These offerings…

The Hunt for the Nez Perce came about because of some cynical politics, that started with the protection offered to the American spies, Lewis and Clark, in exchange for a government-government relationship with the United States. The offer was never genuine. For the Nez Perce it was a s’lahal game, a sacred game, called a gambling game, which binds spiritual and temporal worlds. To the Americans, the game was poker. In poker, you can lie. The Bear Paw Battlefield is 40 miles south of Canada, and freedom. The Nez Perce never made it. They were dragged off to the Cherokee Reservation instead. The failure of 100 Nez Perce men in gun pits like this (with shells exploding among their tipis below) to stop the U.S. Army led to them being turned into Indians — a form of property.
Prayer Flags at Looking Glass’s Camp
Before that, they were the Nimíipuu. Looking Glass was not part of this hunt … that is until a group of vigilantes bent on genocide fired on his camp, killing women and children, 1300 miles to the west, although in the eyes of the U.S. Army and Government it was a legal camp within the boundaries of the so-called Nez Perce Indian Reservation. He had no choice but to flee as well. His trail ended here, above the willows of Spring Creek…
…which I walked through yesterday morning in the rain, thinking. Battles based on protecting military authority in foreign territory will never make that territory less alien. Racial slaughter under the guise of law will never strengthen the law. Such huge failures of intellectual, human and spiritual tradition can not be resolved. There are no butterflies anymore at the village of Lapwai, on the Nez Perce Reservation, although “Lapwai” means “the place of butterflies.” It was there that the non-treaty Nez Perce were to be settled after being forced off of their homelands to the southwest. There are no butterflies at Spring Creek, below the Bear Paw Mountains anymore, either, but the milkweed are still calling for them, here at Chief Joseph’s tipi site, in the battlefield.
And the battle? The men of the band could have shot their way out of the cordon and fled to Canada. The battle was fought to protect their wives and their babies, who were under cannon fire for 6 days — fire designed to force the mens’ hands. Think of this: in contemporary terms, the shelling of innocent women and children is called terrorism. As a boy, my own father was subjected to bombing of this kind. One American pilot even spent a half hour in his Mustang fighter, trying to shoot him for sport. He was 11 years old. I am pretty clear about this. The Bear Paw Battlefield is my battlefield. And it was a hunt. The process of humanization is not directed at removing the stain of “Indian-ness” from the Nimíipuu. They were always human. It is directed at removing it from anyone who stands behind the law. The law is a transparent shield. Anyone standing behind it is visible. And the guns which they must continually use to maintain its veil are visible, too. So too is the spiritual world, which completes us and makes us truly and fully human.P2030632

Just Like Feeding Grain to Chickens!

Lichen: 400,000,000 years of two-species partnership and counting. Fir needles: 280,000,000 years and counting.P2010981

That’s a gap of 120,000,000 years, when lichens got their acids from rocks, rather than from trees, which got them from rocks. But after those lonely days, it’s often been a three-way partnership. Or four. Wolves and coyotes no doubt mark logs like this. And from time to time a bear comes along and gives the whole thing a whack.