Balance

Today, words in praise of bunch grass.
P1230555The roots of this blue-bunched wheatgrass fill the space between the plants.The soil is their sky. They reach out into it for the clouds of water that flow down through the soil, and still it. They then reverse that gravitational flow and let the sun draw the water in to their new spring leaves and stretch them up into the air. In this act, they reverse the direction of sunlight. They climb it. At the same time, they move water between the atmosphere below the soil and the one above it. The sky is their soil, as much as the earth is. They reach out into both and feed, using the energy of gravity to draw them down into water and the energy of the sun to lift themselves with it. This is what balance looks like. The particular distance between plants on this hill is the result of the steepness of the slope and the correspondingly quick flow of the water down through it, coupled with the damage to the soil’s protective crust by a population of deer trapped into repetitive motion by the constrictions of housing and fences, that allow for few areas of downward and upward motion on the hillsides. The grasses are so efficient at capturing water, that in this, their wet season, the soil is dry powder to a human hand and serves as a barrier against evaporation from the roots, enabling the plants to concentration the inevitable evaporation of this climate into their stalks.

 

Industrial Agriculture is Unethical

Earth, or machine. One increases diversity. One reduces it. P1220995Or is it so? When the Syilx managed these grasslands with fire and selective harvesting methods, they increased species diversity. The species-rich landscape that the first Europeans found here was created. The settlers called it wilderness and set out to tame it, perhaps in the way one would break a horse. Now that it is domesticated, or broken, as one would say of a horse, most of the species are gone in the wild land and the tamed land produces energy only with the input of fertilizers, water, capital, labour, petroleum and poisons. Two notes on that:

1. with the removal of one year’s intervention, the tamed land reverts to weeds and a desert — the true wilderness; with the removal of Syilx attention, the land is still reclaimable after 120 years.

2. making the survival of the land, which gives food for people, totally dependent upon the banking and petrochemical industries is to cede the power of the people to those industries; a people which has done that can only survive if the power of those industries remains unchallenged; any break in the chain leads to the poverty and starvation the first European settlers encountered on this land when, surrounded by hills literally covered with food, they proceeded to starve to death.

In this light, the vineyard above and the royal gala apple planting below are unethical behaviour.

P12200403 Species out of 1000: Grass, Dandelions, Apples

When the apples die, that leaves 2.

Such behaviours are reckless and are based upon structures of profound disrespect. Nothing good will come of that. Sadly, once the capitalized farming model collapses, as it has done here numerous times in the last 150 years, the land is broken up into smaller pieces, resulting, eventually in its complete removal from the earth-sun cycle and its use as housing. That, too, is a dead end. Currently, the food and water deficit created by this removal and the resulting overpopulation in the Okanagan is supported by the import of food from Mexico and other areas in the so-called developing world, which are currently transforming their earth into industrialized agricultural land, while the people harvesting the crops largely go hungry. Such behaviour (the use of the earth’s energy to amass power for humans and their social structures) is unethical. It has an end-date. In the short term, it embodies an ethical trade-off: a living earth for huge volumes of food now. However, since it retains no capacity for renewal after its inevitable collapse it is as unethical as the Battle of the Somme. It has a certain beauty, though:

lineVineyard Gravel Pit with Water Line

Does a vineyard need a gravel pit? The question is a red herring. They are the same thing. They are both forms of desertification and erosion.

 

 

 

The Ethical and Environmental Role of Poetry

Here’s an image of one ecological niche filled two ways, both of which move water into light. One creates biological life. The other creates electricity, in support of a custom of social life called “Public Safety”. One creates new social and biological niches. It is called “ponderosa pine”. It lifts ants up into the wind and draws deer and birds for shelter. And the porcupine. Each of its cones is an earth on its own, flush with species that live nowhere else. The other relies on the the drowning of millions of social and biological niches and the semi-annual slaughter of millions of others to keep its transmission lines clear, to have the power to create social niches in a non-physical sphere. It is called a street light. One creates the earth. One turns away from it. It is a contemporary belief that they can co-exist. No. Not really. The effort of passing from social technology to biological life and back again eventually leads to the belief that the biological life fills a social niche within human society. Sure it does, but that’s not its primary role. This is what medieval discussions of the knowability or unknowability of God or his manifestation in time and space in the body of Christ look like today. They have been cast into the subconscious for too long. It is time to bring them again into the light, for Christians and non-Christians alike.

P1220014The Price of Hydroelectricity

It is also time to bring in understandings of this niche between earth and sky, or water and light, in terms that come from non-Christian culture, such as that of the local Syilx culture, to which lone trees like this in the grasslands are seen in a shamanic context, as bridges to the sky world (and the setting of many a randy story and much good laughter). There is the real power: the one that both the Cross and the Hydroelectric system draw from. Poetry has the ability and tools to make these connections. The marginalization of poetry within contemporary Western culture is one of the reasons that the flow of power between such images is not better managed and why the efforts of civic planning and environmental protection often go wrong. Somethings need to be repeated over and over again, gently, and in a multiplicity of living contexts. This is one: landscape is ethics.

 

Walking With Coyote and Looking at the Stars

Walking through the bunchgrass.P1210816 Walking through the sagebrush. P1210803Walking over the bed of an ancient sea. P1210820Looking at a supernova. lupinstar Looking at planetary clusters. lupinstar2 Looking at the solar system. lupinstar3 Looking at the starry carpet of the night sky.P1210802 Meeting a red dwarf on the path. Stopping for a moment. P1210823Meeting the sun beside Coyote’s trail. P1210504 Spider lives in the sun. P1210168 Walking an old story. People call it poetry now. It’s not. Neither is this an insect. P1210633People call this nature now. P1210620 It’s not. You can’t walk with Wasp if you call it nature. P1210621 You can’t walk with the earth if you call her Nature.

desertparsleyDesert Parsley Between a Rock and a Sage Brush Stump

And yet there are all these words.

P1200245They’re not Nature. This is Nature:

P1190860Here at the bottom of Coyote’s trail is the Milky Way.

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That’s not poetry. This is poetry.

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Human Version of a River

That’s not Nature. This is Nature:

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Pigeon Guarding its Barbecue Along the Rail Line

Nature is beautiful.p1210118So is poetry.

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What a Lot of Words in One Place!

This, though, is an older story. This is the star road. Here’s a star being born.

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Here’s the sun. We are within him, yet he has shape.

spikes

And words.

flybeeAnd children.

P1210126There’s the moon. Really. There she is. (Click to enlarge, if that helps. It could be that the technology you are using is not very good at seeing the moon.)
P1210474The earth is dying, because the words are about people now. Oh, she’s not dying all at once. She still feathers.

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She still stars.

P1200878She still yellow bells.

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In all the green cheatgrass stealing her water, stealing her words away, she is still among the stars.

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Still standing still. Ancient.

P1170423Here’s some images of her I made early one morning in March, when I mistakenly flipped the wrong switch on my camera, and found it was the right one. Here she is among the stars.
P1170547Here’s one of her words there.

P1170514 There were human words for this once.

P1170489Ancestors in the Rock at Vaseaux Lake

 There still are.

Why Art Matters

Refraction is the process of light bending when it strikes the edge of a translucent medium, such as glass or water. What you see below on the lupines in my garden is refraction, if you wish to limit the world to those terms. If you wish a broader sense of the world, then it’s not refraction but the nature of materials to echo their form in water and of water to amplify materials it touches. That’s not precisely refraction. In the pre-scientific world (which was, by the way, no less complex than the scientific one), the spirit of water and the spirit of lupine touch and form a new combined energy. This is, of course, the spirit of art, and was why training in art and poetry were essential parts of a courtly education: the administration of people, land and states was done on these artful lines. It is also why art remains important and why the scientific world view alone will not bring about a living world; it is artful energy that brings two things together into a new form. As the things to be brought together become ever more complex and distant, the need for art increases rather than decreases, and not just any art, either, but art that can touch the earth as well as contemporary human and urban concerns within a scientific, technical and bureaucratic apparatus. It is also why I have linked nature and ethics in previous posts on this site. Every photograph is an act of ethics. Every moment is an act of artfulness. When not, the failing is not that of the moment.

waterWater and Lupines Remaining True

For more on truth, please see my post today on earthwords.net. Please click here.

 

Oh To Be a Heron in the Springtime

The Okanagan hosts the world’s only urban heron rookery. Things are full of action there at the moment.

P1210113

The Rookery, Vernon

The rookery, however, is on private land, surrounded by tire dealerships, a walled housing village, and various mechanical shops. Currently, the “owner” of the land is protecting the herons’ right to this, their space, despite the protests of neighbours about the danger these trees present. If life is to survive the industrialization process in the Okanagan, land ownership rules will change to give priority to these birds, in the way that agricultural land uses are currently protected. When all thrive on this land, all thrive. Blessed be.

The Language of Crows

I feel this language in my bones, but it’s not in words…
P1180726 … or mathematics, as is this one, but what different mathematics they are! (And they’re not about numbers. You have to read them with your body, with the same aha! you have when in the presence of a lover, or with art. P1180794And, yes, it’s art. And love. So too is this complex mathematics laid down by waves driven by the turning of the earth, which is driven by the creation of the solar system, which is ultimately driven by the creation of the universe ….

streakThey call it a Big Bang, but, sheesh. Look at it. It’s a turning and a flowing, that’s what it is. It’s music.
P1180803That is the power of water, of course. Fish came from the scale-patterned mathematics above. Trees, with their roots and crowns, come from the one below.
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Crows know all this.

P1180569DNA works by providing precise places for chemical strands to be laid down in sequence. This geometrical mathematics, or music, began in the sea, as this shell attests, following the same energy.

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The earth is alive. A definition of life that excludes that is a parlour game. You cannot, however, write equations for this mathematics.

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You don’t need to. Your body knows.

~

All images were taken on the beaches of Tofino on Vancouver Island.

 

Snails Like Drops of Rain

Sometimes water flows. Sometimes it pools. Sometimes it absorbs light. Sometimes it bends it. Sometimes it sends it back into the sky. Because life follows water’s energies, it does all this too.

P1180303Seaweed and Snails, Tofino, Vancouver Island

Dear Readers, that includes me. That includes you.

 

Beautiful Red Water

Yellow and orange, too. In braids. Running over shells on its way to the Pacific Ocean.

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Stream Soaked in Red Cedar Roots, Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island

I don’t think we know enough about this stuff. People have been calling it a resource. I dunno. I’m beginning to think that we are the resource.