The Cougar, Found at Last!

For four years, I have been looking for a cat. I found the eagle, and the turtle. I found a swan, a goose, a duck and a dog that might be a horse. I found all kinds of animals out of the Dreamtime, written in the rock, from Palouse Falls, in the Snake River Watershed, to Grand Coulee in the dry post-glacial bed of the Columbia, to the Wenatchi and the Okanagan in the north of the Columbia Plateau, but the cougar eluded me. Oh, it was plain to see. Up here in the north of the Plateau, there’s a Cougar Point, right next to a Turtle Point, and a Cougar Canyon, but where on earth is the Cougar. I looked and looked. I found a Coyote!

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Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park

But a cougar? A very elusive cat. I walked along the far shore of Kalamalka Lake. No cat.park1

I looked more closely. No cat.

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I peered into the distance, from a viewpoint above the old pit house site on the north end of the lake, under the Mountain Goats (stone) of the bluff.

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Not a cat. I hiked to Cougar Point. Nothing.not

I snuck around from the back side (this took a couple years). Hmmm… of the two heads below, the upper one is … a lynx, for gosh sakes. Not a cougar.

head

 

So, why Cougar Point? These things have to fit together into a story, and the story has to be a map, because I don’t think the people who were here 8,000 years ago weren’t smart as all heck. I thought I could look across the valley from Turtle Mountain (another part of the lost story), but I got distracted.

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Who wouldn’t! Still, it was no help. Really no help.

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Sneaky tricky turtles, or what! Messing with my head. I circled around from the west, across the lake.

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I found other bits of the story.

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I went to the far side of the next lake over (these lakes are big, up to 135 kilometres long) and peered across.

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A second Turtle Point! My house is on the slope in behind the isthmus. That cloud shadow is where much of this blog has taken place. Still, no cougar. So, I went back. I decided I had to do this on foot. Here are some of the rocks on the way down through Kalamalka Lake Park to Cougar Point. Lots of story here, but, yeah, I know, no cougar.

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So what is this Cougar Point thing? And right across from it, god bless us, a Cougar Canyon? I kept walking.

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No, not a cougar. That’s a Western Yellow-Bellied Racer! Nice. Finally, I got to the base of Cougar Point, and what do you think I found? No, not a cougar. This is a cougar.

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Source.

When pressed, a cougar will eat critters like me, and won’t even pick its teeth afterwards. No, I found this.

 

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Yeah, rocks, right. Well, yeah, but if you click on it to blow it up, I think you’ll find it’s a tumbled pile of skulls, just like you’d find outside a cougar’s lair. I easily count 9… how many do you find? And the cougar? Ah, what a lovely irony. I found it today at last! I’ve been looking at it for years. Here’s my view, from the street in front of my house, over the shoulder of the city to the East.

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Mountains, right? Not so fast. It all depends on the light! This is a story dependent on the season.

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A sleeping cougar…but isn’t that the best kind? (The right hand part of the mountain is the cougar’s head.) The valley leading down to Kalamalka Lake and Cougar Point is behind the foreground mountains (Middleton Mountain in the front an Kalamalka Mountain behind it.) OK, so, new question: why does the cougar look like a clown? Ah, that is a question best answered on another day (In other words, I have a hundred thousand photos to sort through to find the right one! I need a professional curator! Help!)

~

As a closing note for the day, I think it’s possible to read the land as a story, the way it is currently read with maps, with no loss of accuracy or predictability. I have some specific ideas about how this works, which I will be sharing with you over the week to come. Until now, no one has made a map of the old stories. I think it’s about time.

Beautiful Biscuit Root

High above Kalamalka Lake, it is gathering time.P1760015

 

Biscuit Root

In this old garden of sacred stone (I found an elderly Syilx couple sitting in their car, staring at this, reading it intently) …

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… I found a flower I have never seen before in this grassland.

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It likes shade and well drained slopes, in the till above the scree that biscuit root finds so desirable. It’s mighty handsome, especially before it fully opens.

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Hydrophyllum tenuipes, Pacific Waterleaf

The rhizomes and leaves were also greens. It makes sense in an old roadside garden like this, surrounded by many old campfire rings. I’m pretty sure this was an old gathering camp and that people, not so dazzled by huge romantic lakes as people are these days, spent many weeks here in the spring of each year, with a small stream below, deer in the hills…

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… and a view of this…

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Well, without the highway. Ancient trails would have led to that image of birth though, and the winter village below. They still do, even though the old trail would have followed the water.

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And the biscuit root still grows, although, as I figure it, women took one look at sacks of Hudson’s Bay Company Flour back in the day and realized that it was a lot easier to scoop up a cupful of that stuff and make bannock than it was to pound roots for half a morning. Still, the food is here.

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The guy who ran the chipper that did this…

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Even lifted his blade to leave it behind.

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Wouldn’t you?

The Rowans of April

Remember the rowans of January?

Well, it’s not like that now!

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Remember the rowans of St. Brigid’s feast day?

Things have changed around this place.

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The rowans are uncurling.

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They are opening now.

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Such a mystery!

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Such beauty.

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So much to wait for.

Like this.

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Climbing The Waterfall

On Friday, I talked about The Moods of Colour. In short, I argued that the different plants, lichens and rock in the image below were all different moods of light, different levels of energy excitement, for instance, which humans like you and I can read very precisely. Notice how the red oregon grapes, the yellow lichens, and the green mosses are all tracking water across the face of the rock and in its crevasses. cliffred

 

The water, in other words, has taken on moods as well. We can talk about the diversity of plant life here, or the diversity of water, its moods, or that the oregon grape is climbing the water, rather than being washed down with it, as are the mosses. The latter sounds good to me.

Next: more on the tricks of water.

 

 

The Moods of Colour

Look at the colour of this water.P1680668

Pretty nice stuff, for sure. Look at the colour of this water.

lakeFun stuff, isn’t it. And this water.

bottomWhy, it’s hardly there! And this…P1670546It’s coming to life. And this …track

Glorious! We could go on all day with this kind of fun, but think of this: that’s two stretches of water, not five, on two separate days. Here, I’ll show you…

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three

Of course, in the cultural manners in which we’re all trained today, I’m being poetic here. I assure you, I’m being something more than that. To begin again, my moment of awareness looked a bit like this …

P1660987and a bit like this …

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… all at the same time! I realized in a flash that the images, of oregon grape (upper) and poison ivy (lower), were the same colour.

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To unravel this odd (to scientifically-trained eyes) colour shift, maybe it’s best to go back to the water.

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Ah, that’s better.

I know, I know, what we’re looking at here is light not water, and all of it interpreted by our minds, too, and by a camera, AND by an electronic screen set to parameters that pleased a designer in a cubicle in California one day, or perhaps that was India, but it’s still water, even so, or an image of it. Standard physics will talk about angles of refraction and reflection, clarity of water, wavelengths of light, electron excitement, and so on, which all add up to what we see above. Pretty brilliant series of deductions, really. Goethe was onto something different, though. Maybe this image will help get at that …

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 Winter Grass and Water Cress in Mid-February

This image shows two moods of the colour green, or to break that down further, two moods of the colour blue. In the bottom one, blue is in a yellow mood (blue + yellow = green, right?)

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Note: rather than speaking of moods of colour, classical physics talks of this:

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Note how the colours are jazzed up to give our brains a good kick. This is just one of the many ways in which physics and psychology meet.

In the bottom image (below), the blue and yellow have faded to pale pastels. Both have shifted together into a red mood.

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In other words, it’s like the sun casting shadows, or ever-changing ripples of light.

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Perhaps, though, that is all illusion. The poet-scientist, Goethe, said as much in his treatise, “A Theory of Colour” (Die Farbenlehre) in 1820. Colour, he pointed out, is not light. Light, he pointed out, is white. When you break it up into a spectrum of colours you are projecting an emotional image of the device by which you broke it up. (Physics would call this “vibrations of energy” and would dismiss the “emotional” term as poetic. Both, you will note, however, are poetic terms.) Goethe’s version of the above image, in other words, would look like this (without the frame):

white

Except, of course, Goethe wouldn’t have made such an image in the first place. What he wanted to do was make images of those emotional states, and he wanted to do that to show the link between perception and God, as he conceived of God to be. That was, mind you, also the approach of Newtonian physicists, with their talk of wavelengths of light. To Goethe, the light was not colour, but illumination itself, which came through the human mind and saw its emotional states cast on the world, and the emotional states of the world cast within itself: a unity, in other words. To Newtonians, who used physicals tools of measurement, it was all physical. This drove Goethe to distraction. He stressed again and agai nthat Newtonian physics looked at qualities of light that had been technically manipulated, whereas the goal was to consider light in its totality, as no colours at all, only the effects of light upon the receiving apparatus (whether that was eye or cantelope), which caused certain vibrations, depending on the mood of the object. By ‘mood’ of, say, a hard-backed chair, he didn’t mean its psychological state. He meant the amount of energy it contained of a person in the world, as a radiation of divine energy. Now, you might be particularly interested in divine energy, fair enough, but Goethe was. Whereas the Enlightenment made a science out of folk knowledge by structuring it in a hierarchal fashion predicated upon objective, experiment-based measurement of physical phenomena, Goethe wanted to extend the Enlightenment, to include the part it left out as being too poetic to measure: God, spirit, emotions, what-have-you. The Enlightenment left that to art. Goethe was only pointing out that it stopped too soon, and that a fully ‘modern’, self-aware consciousness did not have to discard the knowledge of the past, or the dignity and power of human observation, or relegate them to other forms of investigation, such as religion or art. He went even further, in fact, to suggest that colours themselves were created by the human mind, but that is, perhaps, splitting hairs. The moods, though, can be read precisely. So, to look again …

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The grass and the cress are the same. They differ to perception and measurement because they’re in different moods, recorded not by a camera (a device proficient at recording precise measurements of the spectra of light and thus registering them as difference colours, in accordance with the science used to envisage the camera) but by an emotional, water-based, organic creature — a human, in other words. Moods are what we have. Goethe pointed out that people are the absolute most powerful technology for measuring and viewing light, but he never said why. I think this is what he meant. When the grass is growing, it has a certain energy. When it is dead, it has a different energy. All colours are present, which is to say “light” is present, or illumination, but they vibrate differently, displaying the ‘state’ of the object struck both by the light and the observation of the light. Classical physics hands this one over to classical biology, which points out that these are effects created in a long series of incremental evolutionary changes, and do not, in and of themselves, have ‘meaning’ or ‘significance’. They are tools of manipulation and survival. Again, a brilliant series of deductions, based on millions of hours of observation, experimentation and deep thought. Nonetheless, we are the product of that evolution, and have a complex ability to register tiny nuances of energy in the landscape. Any discussion of their evolutionary purpose, to aid with hunting and gathering and survival, is secondary to that truth. We can do this. Here, I’ll put it another way:

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All parts of the ponderosa pine above, bark, needle brushes and cones, are moods of blue. The needles are in a yellow mood. The cones are in a red mood. The branches are in a nearly purely blue mood. The differences in colour that I see in the image (I presume you do, too, unless you are a Google robot checking up on the humans today, in which case, Hi.) are contrasts. They’re like shadows of black and white. This observation doesn’t negate Newtonian physics and the marvellous world it has revealed to us all…

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… but it has added this …P1660612

 

Think of the image above as a dark field, illuminated by a colourless “white” one. The boundaries between these energies, the points of intersection between them, creates an expression of the substance and state of the smooth sumac bushes here, the cliffs, the lichen, the moss, but also reveals characteristics of linearity, angularity and extension. Like the moods of the colour, those are moods as well. In those terms, the cliff and the bushes have the same linear (and angular and extensional) energy, but the way it manifests itself in them displays different tendencies, which are corollary to the moods of colour. Any tools we use to measure or analyze these effects are always going to be lesser than the mind that sorted them out of the world in the first place. Here’s another example:

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Oregon Grape? Or water, collecting at the base of the cliff, rising up again, drawn upwards by the sun? In other words..this is a mood of water. I hope to suggest that this way of thinking has the ability to present as complex a model of the world as conventional science, and that it should never have been hived off of it. Our earth would be in better shape if it hadn’t. What’s more, socially it seems that by controlling the tools by which humans, such as you or I (Sorry, Google Robot, but I think you’re up to something different, but, hey, Hi.) individuals can be channelled into certain forms of social behaviour and political organization, to the exclusion of others. I don’t particularly like that. Do you? (Yes, Google Robot, I know how you feel about this, shhh, don’t scare the humans, would you?) Social parameters aside, there is still considerable ability in the human measurement tool, to precisely observe complex relationships, like this:

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Colour, mood, linearity, extension, time, edge effects of myriad kinds, life, angles,and so forth, are all instantly perceived above by the human mind. Forget for just a moment about the social cues placed upon them, that see them as “beauty” or “water” or “gas effects” or “refraction” or “gravitational effects” and so on, and look at them. You see it all, instantly. That’s what Goethe meant about light. And so the four images of sumac below, display different moods. You can read them as well as I.

smoothshore smooth2 Remember, the only difference (in this line of thought) between these images is their mood …wall2 … the boundaries between forces, and their energy…P1660803 smooth

 

… and, of course, how you receive them, and what you do with them. Whatever it is, though, it’s not ‘nature’ and it’s not ‘science’. Goethe was trying to point that out, too. So was I, when I showed you this…

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… and said, so to speak, hey, it’s this:

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Put it this way, the difference between the energy of the bottom image and the top one, or the difference between its colours, which are the same, because they receive the same light (and absorb different parts of it, reflecting the rest), is what I mean by mood. Out of that mood (in the guise of reflected light), physicists can measure the precise chemical composition of either the poison ivy berries or the oregon grape leaves, and Goethean scientists can measure particularities of life energy within them, to the same degree of precision, or perhaps greater, because of the ability for creative interaction and inspiration. Here’s an image for next time …

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I’ll be extending this discussion into “paths of water”.

 

How the Mind and the Earth are One

Thatch and sod grass rising.newgrassBunchgrass rising.

grass Water bunch grassing.

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Sky bunch grassing.grasssky

 

Lichen following the gaps between the bonds of water (which are part of water.)lichen

Balsam root lichening (in a tension between gravity and evaporation, which is one of the bonds of water).P1680716

 

Light balsam rooting (following the bonds of water, which are a form of light.)ripply2

Light bonding with water in tension with gravity (the race is to catch the coming rain, not with thatch but with dead, upright stalks not crushed by snow.)

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Gravity and shadow are one.

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Their alternation acts as a pumping mechanism.

balsamsproutsBalsam Root Rising

It’s a vertical equivalent of the way air is caught along the stalks of the dead, water-soaked grass below. In both cases, gravity is being denied.

grassbubbles These ecosystems of gravity, carbon, water and light, which mine the lines of tension between them are complex.P1680677 We have eyes that are formed from the same process, and which are capable of measuring them to a high degree of refinement, not outside of the process but within it, as part of it.

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Culturally, that gift is called “an appreciation for beauty.” We say “I have found my creativity” when we tap into it, but it was there all along.

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Only words hid our selves from us. With a new vocabulary, we can follow more complex conversations, although built on the same grammar. Look how light is laid on the ground of the mind in tension with gravity and water!

cliffred

 

 

 

 

Blackbirds Singing Under the Moon of Sap

A moon ago, snow became the light and light the snow.P1640275

Female Staghorn Sumac, January 31, 2015

That’s the moon in the air behind. It fills it.

It was a beautiful time.

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The cedar waxwings came and the rowans became them.

cwx And the poplars burst into cedar waxwing flames.P1630940Yeah, that’s the snow moon in behind again. There was no sky in those days.

But time did what time does, with lots of light and cloud and tricks and flashes that span the sky and it set its dogs loose to hunt a new moon.dog2

Sun Dog, a-Hunting, Yesterday

And it’s here, chased right out of wherever the moon hides when it has other things to take care of.

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It’s not a very big moon. But look what it has brought from its travels.

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They’re not very many, but their trills and calls flood the air. It is a moon of music and joyous song. The red-winged blackbirds are here, even as the poplars open their wings.

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They just came today, the males, the singers, seeing who can make the best tree-EEEE-eee-rrrrrr and trill. And look what else the sap moon has brought.

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Blackbirds So High

That’s right …

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Sagebrush Buttercup

They have brought the sun. All that in one moon! Look below, at Kalamalka Lake. That’s where the moon was hiding yesterday.

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Oh my.

 

 

Sun Dog in the Morning

The sun brought one of its dogs out this morning.
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It was a trickster dog.
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High over town.

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It barked through the trees.

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Then slipped away.P1680787

An hour later it was swimming in Kalamalka Lake.

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But you see…

crazy

Even the earth is going a little crazy today. Woof!