Canada and the Okanagan

Canada does not deserve this land. It burns it…

P1420057 Forest Fire Smoke Over Okanagan Landing

… it tries to make it hotter than it is …P1420206

 

Plasticized Soil (Weeds, plastic, clay), Bella Vista

The goal is to increase the heat of the season.

… it xeriscapes it, for maximum water efficiency …

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Note the fireplace ashes.

… it allows wild creatures to survive in road ditches alone …

P1420064Waiting for the Mower Man

This is where the water collects, hence where the life will be, but the mower comes, like clockwork. Gotta protect that infrastructure.

… it creates drought …

P1420086Invasive Cheatgrass Drought

(And the high country water that might have staved off the forest fires. Note the smoke.)

… it disrespects the gift of life …
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Ponderosa Pine Cones in the Garbage

Here is some sign of a badger cleaning up on the gophers invading abandoned orchards …

P1420084Here is the abandoned orchard, gone feral …

P1420076A country that sustains its land values for only one generation does not deserve that land. Its days are numbered.

 

Frankenstein, Humans, Art and God

There is a seed in the pile of broken glass below.

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To put it another way, humans see. The earth seeds. They are the same thing. See?

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Making Seed: Male Sumac Flowers in Full Glory

Only in human sight do they look like spiritual energies, like this.

The spirit above is a human signature. When it is absent, humans say they are in the presence of the dead. Still, there is the seed produced by the action of bees on these flowers, and then on the female flowers on sumacs down the path and around the corner and the other corner a ways. That is a different kind of tracking from a human one, but not one that a human cannot follow. How it is followed, ah, that’s the rub.

p1320414

Female Staghorn Sumac?

No, It’s the Big Bang

Humans often seed the earth with human-ness. There’s a human mouth in that pile of art studio raw material I showed you above. This human mouth was shaped out of sand, filled once with sweet Rhenisch (from the Pfalz) or Rhenish (from the Rhine Gorge) wine, and then broken down into raw material. Not into sand, though:

P1370780

What it was broken down into is human raw material. This is what “seed” looks like in human language. This is ‘seed human’.  From it will be made a human social product called art, which is a way of honouring human history, just not in Herodotus’s long-winded stories of the self. It honours it in the unfolding presence and interactions of objects and a certain kind of energy that is commonly called “wildness” today (more on that below). This is one way in which humans see the earth in themselves. It’s like this show at her Headbones Gallery that artist Julie Oakes has made out of the glass I showed you above:

julieblue

Julie Oakes’ Blue Toronado http://www.julieoakes.com/Awestruck_Calendar_of_Ecology/Blue_Tornado/blue_tornado.htm

A complex scripting of beauty and violence: the same, separating, coming together, and exploding in blueness. This is the way to make human self images into piles of broken glass and then to guide them by touch into new forms. The “touch” is inferred, but no less felt for that. Contemporary humans would say that all this happens through the visual cortex. Ancient humans, the ones who started the art processes that Oakes is keeping alive, would point to non-visual forms of perception.This, too, is part of the tension within these pieces. Much is being honoured here. Breakage is part of the honouring.

Another way in which humans see the earth within themselves is in the echoes of water and sky within the ruins of industrial and social process (below). There’s no water in the following image, and no sky, but lots of human-ness, in many forms: industrial processes, trade, fullness, emptiness, bling, breakage, beauty, violence, and so much more. It’s a powder keg of undefined human form and connection.

P1370769

This pile (and its re-creation into new tracks) is how humans talk. They make paths through their perceptions and memories of earth and sky and water. They do this by tracing their interactions with each other and examining the spoor of their own feelings and cognitive and biological attention as rigorously as they would the tracks of a leopard and a springbok. Then they make maps of what they “see” (to accent the spiritual component within the “modern” visual process). Like this:

12-bowriver-suite-640x291-1

Katie Brennan Gives Us 32 Views of the Bow River (Or Is It Just One?)

http://oook.ca/2012/02/this-oookian-makes-art-too-katie-brennan-at-headbones-gallery-opens-tomorrow/

It’s not a map. It’s not a quilt. It’s not a human. It’s not the earth. It’s not a deconstruction, because it’s also a reconstruction. One could go on, playing the old Monk’s game that by name what God is not, in the end the un-nameable God will be present by default.

In the end, reductions like Brennan’s come to this: maps of (or moments of attention to) perception and intuition are, really, humans. They’re not biological humans, but they’re humans nonetheless. In other words, the image below is Frankenstein (who was cobbled together from corpses and blasted with electricity so that he’d get up and walk and talk [in Frankie's case, with bolts in his neck.])

P1370786

Frankenstein 2014!

In this case, the ‘electricity’ is human. To make art that isn’t just a mirror, or isn’t a substitute human, an Adam or an Eve or a Book of Noah, that’s a most difficult thing, and usually it’s just not going to be art, because art is that human-ness.That pile of blue glass above, for instance, is the dead from which new life springs. It’s not a pile of human ancestors, such as exist within each word we speak (for more of this, do check out www.earthwords.net) but human meta-ancestors, those artificial humans — those Frankensteins — that other humans have made before, such as this:

P1370024

Frankenstein, Downtown Vernon

Looking for friends, he is. I mean, beyond his Sancho Panza, that bungie cord to the left.

And yet, if you remember, there is that seed.

seed

And, well, this:

P1370767

Headbones Gallery Parking Lot Installation, Swan Lake

 The cart that was full, which is now empty, the cart that is in the shadow while the blue, perhaps it’s former load, is in the light, the ruined Eden surrounding it, the blank canvas of gravel before it, and the shock of all that blue. “Painting” would reduce this.

Another human! Just a bigger one, that you can walk around on and in and through (you can even pull up your artificial human, your Honda, let’s say, and leave it there, so dead without you, while you huffed up the steps to the gallery, sensing yourself getting ever further from it, feeling the line of energy that binds you). The one thing, though, that you can’t do, ever, ever ever ever, is walk out of that artificial human. Here, for example:

P1360826

Frankenstein 2014 (aka Yellow Dock Seeds), Bella Vista

(Yellow for the root, not these pink and mint beauties)  This invasive weed is taking over swatches of old Syilx “medicine” hillsides, where the activities of humans (trail making that cuts into the soil atmosphere of a syncline slope) make more room for human followers (weeds) than the plants that humans followed (medicines, or traditional ‘wild’ crops). Note: not a bit of nature in sight.

Here, too:

P1370010

Frankenstein Allium, the Vernon Queen

She’s a fun type, for sure. What a party girl Frankenstein, she is! Note the beige artificial humans in the background and the herd of metal frankensteins resting ‘dead’ in front of them, plus the carefully channelled and regulated track for moving these frankensteins from place to place.

The trees and flower in the above image are called nature. They represent a non-human life drive, that makes biological humans less ill-at-ease within their maps of the dead and artfully made, and provide as well the potential of a continuously available source of energy outside of the social. That’s comforting, and humans, being mortal creatures, need a bit of comfort, now and then, in the face of oblivion. Mind you, those “plants” are, of course, socially planted, as manipulations of human states of mind. See: http://earthwords.net/2014/04/23/grow/

three

Three Points of the Energy of Growth …placed there to mine it.

(From earthwords.net)

That’s art. This artwork, this Frankenstein, is ‘nature’. Or, to put it another way, in the industrial era, Nature became Frankenstein. Like that blue glass, transformed by fire from sand and gold, there’s no way back. You have to go forward, eh.

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Frankenstein, the Grass Version, The Rise

This Frankenstein (Nature) has a crown, as befits a goddess.

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This is Not a Grassy Field

This is alien grass sewn to prevent erosion, after creating house building lots (for the visual view) by moving vast amounts of old glacial till around with a bulldozer. This is pretty much a one species environment, fulfilling its intended goal, with the illusion of being nature, because nature is the point of views. These are pure signs of the presence of Frankenstein. 

Nature (Frankenstein seen through the looking glass) is very big, but she’s not the earth.

p1080363

Deer and Geese at Daisy, Washington

This Nature. She is the intersection of impounded waters of Lake Roosevelt, behind the Grand Coulee Dam, with the old Inchelium world the reservoir (in the parlance of Nature, “lake”) replaced. Whatever the earth is, she is an energy outside of this. 

Nature is a created artifact. (That’s not the same as saying that the energies that, in the Western tradition, flow through Nature are not vital. They are.) This, for example:

P1370026

“Nature”, as Humans Call It, Making Her Move

In this world of interlocked artificial humans, Nature is much like a mosquito, that you want to swat, to get it off of yourself, or a spider crawling down the neck of your shirt, eeeeyewwwweeeeeeee! It takes some acculturation to see this wild lettuce as both art and child, to be nurtured, but there she is. (Note as well the discarded bouquet of flowers. Seemingly, this space of “nature” viewed as garbage was deemed the appropriate receptacle for some dead “nature” after it served its purpose as a human social gesture.

It’s quite a thing to be human, to have consciousness, of a sort, and to have to deduce the living earth from tracks of your own body and mind. It’s not the earth that humans see, or work with, but the effects of their working with the earth, and somehow, humbly, or with flaming pride (or, as usual, some muddle in between) humans sometimes task themselves with bridging that gap and becoming all facets of that moment at once: human and earth together. It is one solution, to be the moment of these interactions all at once, but it is, of course, not sustainable (Note: Heaven, as humanly conceived, is the deferred state of final attainment of this unity.) Humans call that art. It is a way —a path. It is not a destination, because you cannot stay there.

P1360949

The Art of the Syilx, the People of this Place, Was to Make Rich Tapestries of Life

This “life” bridged human and non-human energies. It was not called Nature.

At other times, humans call art the use of the materials of the earth to intentionally create physical maps of human social and cognitive states, like this:

mbhg

http://www.headbonesgallery.com

You could call this the tattooing of the spirit or the dancing of the leaf within the mind, but then you’d be talking like a poet, one who walks between worlds carrying material back and forth and breathing with the earth, and that’s a different way of paying attention.

plink

The Poem Formerly Known as Harold Rhenisch Speaks

Ah, even for the poet on the edge of the human and the flame, there is a tantalizing sense of wildness that is called the earth, even within human speech. You could just as well call it life. Dylan Thomas did. He called it “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower…”

P1370989

Yes, That’s Dylan Thomas Gathering Pollen on His Fused and Exploding “Poem”

Forget Freud! This is a female structure.

Whatever humans are channelling in their tracking and art making and travelling between worlds is that force. Contemporary humans often call it “wildness” or “presence,” if they don’t just give up and call it “nature”. These are just words. There’s an energy there, of course, despite that. It’s a bit of a maze, which is one reason we have art, to guide us through it in pre-verbal ways (or, in poetic terms, in ways in which the words are spirit). To define that wildness against the background of human activity, however, as is common contemporary practice, is a sure guarantee that one is not talking about wildness. At that point, one is talking about relationships and interrelationships of human power. One is talking about this:

P1370994

A Linear Garden of Eden Designed for Viewing at Speed by Car

If you walk this trail it just looks so completely impoverished. It is not meant for viewing at biological speed. To do so is like standing in front of your big-screen TV with your face 2 inches from the glass.

At that distance Angelina Jolie is going to cease to be an illusion and start to be a grid, like a bee’s eye.

yellowbee2

Angelina Jolie, Up Close

Closer:

pixels

Angelina Jolie as a Pile of Yellow Glass

Art as speed, written in mathematical vectors across the living Syilx earth, is also the face of art. Here, once again:

P1370996

Vrroomm!

Notice the crushed bedrock (from below the floors of ancient seas) used to decorate the sidewalk (and to keep down weeds… um, yeah, sure.)

This kind of art-making uses the same basic materials as Julie Oakes’ pile of blue glass, but rearranges them towards a different line of energy and power, one which negates the past and creates a present out of the intersection of civic regulations, Frankenstein technology, and human biological perception. (In comparison, Oakes’ pile allows for outcomes that dip into the past and into the future… each a new organization. It is a giving away, as opposed to a capitalization.) Frankensteins themselves would find this roadway artwork looking much like Oakes’ pile of blue glass does to humans: the broken shards of Frankensteins, to be built into post-Frankensteinian dreams. This, maybe…

P1370965

A Home for Frankensteins? Or Just Another Frankenstein?

High country water funnelled through petroleum tubes and called “life”. Such art installations are the purpose of the road above. It is meant to convince humans to feel safe within them. It appears to work very well.

Humans are spiritual creatures. That they see themselves as practical ones is sheer hubris: a transcending of ethical and spiritual norms that leads to the state of tragedy. As an illustration of where that can lead to, here’s Satan in his moment of hubris:

800px-Paradise_Lost_12Falling, Falling, Falling, Falling from Unity to Earth (Doré’s Paradiso)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris#mediaviewer/File:Paradise_Lost_12.jpg

There are many ancient guides to hubris, most of them spiritual. They come from the ability of humans to set up a very special type of artificial human called a god, to which humans then give a large part of their cognitive ability. In other words, these guides come from a time in which humans allowed for their consciousnesses to exist outside of their biological bodies, and were comfortable with that. I should say “are”, because these guys still operate like that, although in a recognizably cynical contemporary way:

image

ISIS at Work in Iraq

The whole artifice of rationality was meant to be a work around against distortions such as the one above. Well, it’s a world in which humans don’t always have the above form of comfort. Societies still resisting the transformation of rationality into irrationality, as evidenced in the image above, have the university tradition and its work at deconstructing human biological motives in favour of cognitive distances, on the one hand, along with industry, which mines the earth for energy, so that humans don’t have to be mined for it (a treacherous distinction) and, on the other hand, art, poetry, and other forms of attention to tracks laid down in pure energy, and their interactions with matter. The latter attempt to manipulate the social processes within the blue glass heaps of the other two approaches. Poets and artists have been comfortable in their skins, as representing those parts of tradition that stand apart from or against exploitation, violence and power. Hardly so. The question is not how to stand apart from artificial humans but what kind of artificial humans one is going to make. The faculties of attention one uses in work at human-making goes into the humans one makes. A combined stop sign and street sign, perhaps, for organizing and regulating traffic?

P1370990

(Note the shadow.)

Or an early Christian cross?

P1370992

Or what? There’s no use asking “What is art?” The question is absurd. It asks “what is the abstract generalization I have made by observing human-making” by viewing particular instances of human-making. It’s like saying, “I will measure my actions by a particular class of artificial human called “reason”, in place of the old one called “God”, by creating a class of actions which are not “reasonable” but are biological, and then comparing the “reasonable” ones with the “unreasonable” ones. Well, you can have a nice philosophical debate with yourself that way, but in the end, there is, still, a seed.

seed2

It catches something unseen, called ‘wind’. While some people put it to use (or dis-use), some people keep it alive and blowing. A society that does not keep this dynamic alive will die. Rationality (or irrationality) is no defence against that.

Abandoning Wildness

Mourning Cloak drinking at the mud hole (leaking pipe)…P1370725 Western Swallowtail in the vetch (feral forage crop). P1370738 Old one at the watering hole (irrigation leakage and trail flood.)P1370759

 

Things have come to the point that the wild ones appear to be surviving on our mistakes alone. Isn’t it time to give up on the idea of wildness?

Like Sky Like Earth

The energy and pressure effects that create these clouds in the depressurized and repressurized zone west of the coastal arc volcanoes of the North Eastern Pacific create in their image grasslands that follow the same patterns of water.

p1260224Bella Vista Hills

What’s more, should any water escape from the pressurized system of the sky, it is immediately captured by the mirror image of the land. They are one.

The Non-Wage Economy and Creativity

I spoke about the non-wage economy yesterday, and how it operated by trading work for the opportunity to do more work, rather than cashing out on work produced. Such an economy draws a profit from human effort, rather than by transferring environmental energy into a social sphere. I think this image below makes that clear. Here is my garden, two weeks ago, with the resident dove. You can see rhubarb, raspberries, garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, lettuce (the quail got the spinach), a few rescued trees heeled in, a transparent apple tree (with a  mystery graft), and some grass grown for mulch. The stump is a mountain ash that up-and-died. To create this garden, I spent many, many hours carting away landscape cloth, gravel, sand, a child’s playhouse, which I sadly don’t need, and hauling in soil, manure and peat moss. The neighbours in behind, operating in the wage economy, have spent many hours to reduce their work load with the earth. There are, after all, only so many hours in the day. They have stripped out the overgrown junipers and are replacing them with shade cloth and gravel. The productive capacity of the earth has been removed. You can see which yard the dove (behind the stump) prefers.P1250410Here’s another example. Here you can see my nectarine tree in flower, and my grapes budding out, as well as sugar snap peas, oregano, self-seeded radishes, perennial green onions, chives, and an apple tree I grafted a year ago. Note the blossoms. It takes two years for an apple tree to blossom, but I encouraged this one to blossom in one year, through a couple techniques of  mechanical summer-time manipulation of the flow of its naturally-produced hormones at bud differentiation time (soft-pinching and the weighting down of branches.)

P1250412I think “Work” is the wrong word for what is going on here. “Life” might be a better one, or “enrichment”. Through the giving of my life to this tree, it gives me more life back than it would have without my care. Its capacity to sustain me and my wife and our friends and family has been increased. I would call the reserve of productive capacity within the earth creativity. It is what has been given by human effort, and which can be drawn on without being exhausted, as long as that effort is still given.

 

 

 

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.