Yellow Jacket and Ant

Ah, Yellow Jacket and Ant had a fight long ago, and just would not stop, no matter how much the trickster Iceyeeye (Coyote) tried to get them to stop. So, in frustration he turned them to stone. The Nimîipuu set up camp below them and stayed for 12,000 years. The area of the arch from 9 o’clock to 5 o’clock is the wasp. She’s biting the ant’s neck (Ant is from 6:30 o’clock to 9 o’clock). The story is a warning against greed. Here it is: click!P1870919

 

But that’s not the whole story. Here’s an image of a parasitoid wasp laying its eggs in an ant.

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You can see it all unfold in video by clicking here. Yellow Jackets, however, are not parasitoid wasps. Seemingly, a Nimíipuu observer a long time ago watched parasitic wasps and made the connection that yellow jackets were the leaders of the wasp family.

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click the photo to enlarge

Well, yeah. Are you going to argue with her?

Spirit Eels in the Grassland

A few weeks back I went to Asotin, where the Moray eels used to come up from the sea to spawn. Chief Looking Glass’s camp was there, at the fishery. Here’s the creek, again.

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See how she flicks her tail out into the current of the snake, like an eel? For reference,  here’s a moray eel.

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During my time in Nimíipuu country, on the Clearwater and the Snake, in early June, I learned that every village is backed by rounded hill formations, and faces expressive, jagged ones in which it is easy to read animal forms. So I made the trip across the Snake to stand at the mouth of Asotin (eel) Creek to see what I could see. To my surprise (and joy), I saw an eel, facing the stream mouth from the Idaho shore.
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Such mysteries.

Note: An imagined eel is no less powerful in determining human relationships to the environment, and hence the sustainability of the environment, than a physical one. “Nature” is an idea imposed on this spiritual space.

Environmental Consciousness is Not Optional

Goethe, the poet, pointed out that all plants express one single energy, that opens through the life cycle of each plant as well as through the diversity of all plants. In his spiritually-inspired Science, colour was an edge effect, between vision-in-darkness and vision-in-light, and displayed not light but the mood of the observer.
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What a gorgeous mood!

To accept such a means of thought, it’s necessary to accept that human thoughts aren’t particularly individual, that they are, in effect, part of the air, and flow through us.

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My Evening Mood, Yesterday

It’s an elegant theory. It binds light with plants, and both of them with observers. It places humans not on the outside of Creation, but at its heart. It means that when the red root pigweed takes on defensive action against the heat …

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… humans are the heat. It’s not that there is a high pressure zone holding over this valley, or that some form of global warming is doing its thing — both are true — but that those are less than the ethical responsibility to be this heat now.

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Only by being the heat can you see.

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Wild Bee Burrow

Only by being the heat can you know yourself. Yes, when you are the heat, this is you: a part of yourself long separate but meeting now, after all this time, with the wisdom of differing experience.

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It’s called respect.

The Beautiful One Digs a Hole

Here she is.red

 

100 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s what she likes. That’s hole digging weather.

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First you drag a few boulders out of the way (note the upper legs doing just that.) Then you get right into it.

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And more…

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And haul more boulders out of the way…

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Fly around a bit, come back, take a rest…

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And go at it again…

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That’s how to dig a hole when it’s 100 degrees out.

From Clipboard

 

And I thought it was a walking path!

 

Growing Food Without Water in the Hot Okanagan

Well, it’s dry, eh. And hot. Whew. P1960593

This is 9:30 A.M. The afternoon was 38. (That’s 100 for you folks down south.)

Forests are burning up. Smoke everywhere. P1960538 All the upland water still being evaporated by the city on the dry hills. Surreal. P1960611 People in town are being asked not to water their lawns. “The lawns will come back,” the officials say. Yeah, right. P1960603 Shrubberies are toast. Wait. Aren’t those coastal shrubberies? What’s with that? I count 7 dead ones at $30 a piece. Crikes! P1960616 And look at this hill, eh. Nothing will grow here without irrigation, that’s for sure. (Those are irrigated trees around a house up top.) P1960687 But, wait, what’s that in the centre of the picture? P1960688 Ah, asparagus growing wild. Without water, except what is shed by that rock. So, maybe not that dry, eh. Maybe it’s a matter of getting one crop off and then having a rest. How many crops come off an agricultural field in a year, anyway? One, usually. Whoa, what’s this, two months back? P1810242 Flax! P1810232 That’s two crops! And, blow me over, what’s this, just to the left of the asparagus, growing on no water but what is shed from the rock? P1960690 Feral plums! P1960696 That’s three crops. Oh, and on the rock? Yeah, watch your step. Again, two months ago. P1830598 Prickly pears! And what grows in cracks in these rocks? P1950621Saskatoons! P1950619 That’s five crops. How many is enough? They are growing with no water. This land isn’t dry. Inappropriate agricultural and water technology is dry. The land is fruitful. It’s close to the end of the year. In a couple weeks it will be the dry season here: effectively winter. People will be on the lake, splashing around in their summer, but that’s all in their heads. So, are those the only crops? No, not exactly. In a ditch down the hill, where it’s even hotter, there’s this:P1960559Feral apricots! And in the ditch just around the corner from our asparagus, cared for and watered by no one, there’s this: P1960626 Feral apples! I could go on. The only drought is a drought of knowledge and technology, coupled with an insistence that food must be grown on private land and then either sold for a profit or donated to charity, by people who have paid for it, to be given to the people who can’t afford to pay for technologically-produced crops. It’s insane. To take productive grasslands, with a dozen or more food crops across a season, and reduce them to farmland for two generations and then let them go to this, on a principle of private ownership is a betrayal of the common good. It is theft. P1960705 You see, that’s not hay. That’s weeds being baled and sold for whatever marginal amount of nutrition there’s in it, to maintain low farm taxation status. Oh, and this…P1960666 No, that’s not a fallow field. A fallow field isn’t weed-killed from one end to the other and let to bake to nothing. A fallow field has a rejuvenating crop on it, to build up its microbial environment, which is the real soil. That’s a dwarf apple orchard in the middle of the picture, and a field of decorative pumpkins in front of it. This is not farming. This is farming:   P1800658That’s the fall crop. (The sagebrush are the result of unethical over-grazing by cattle.) By the time the deer can be harvested in October, early spring’s crop will be sprouting. When the sunbathers by the lake are skiing on the mountain, spring’s crop will already be growing under the snow, which is not, by the way, cold. It acts as a grid of tiny lenses, creating a greenhouse 5 millimetres high. That’s enough. In mid-March, it will look like this, on what are now the driest of slopes. p1600207   Lambs quarters! Better than spinach. This is not a dry country. If there is dryness, it means someone created it. That means it can be reversed. The real global warming is not an effect of smokestack and tailpipe carbon emissions. It is the effect of 19th century technology and thought applied in ignorance. It’s time to apply what we know and start over, in earnest, with open hearts and open eyes, and to listen to the robin wait. P1960557   Everything in its season. rowan1

The Mystery of Buffalo Eddy

One of the significant and unique forms of rock art at Buffalo Eddy on the Snake River looks like this:
P1920127A human figure with a triangular body. It looks like a buffalo standing on two legs to me. Now, look at this rock form above the Nimíipuu village at the mouth of Lapwai Creek, also in Nimíipuu country..
P1860057This time it looks like a womb, with ovarian tubes. Might they not be the same thing? Might not the force that combines them be like this?

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Note that this abstract mathematical form has two legs, like the “human” figure above, but no other body other than a feminine pubic triangle. Only a person completely out of touch with the earth would say this is not a spiritual image. Back at the mouth of Lapwai Creek …

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… we see it again. Contemporary documentation says that no one knows the “meaning” of the rock art at Buffalo Eddy, and that its significance is that it’s there. Yes, that’s significant, but as for the meaning. Look at the stone figures dancing in the scree above, and the ones below at Buffalo Eddy …

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Meaning is the wrong thing. There is no “meaning” here, but there is enormous presence. Another element of the Buffalo Eddy pictographs that is claimed to be obscure is the dumbbell-shaped article held by the main upper figure above. Note, however, that the large figure to the left embodies the same shape, with its arms, however, and with the circular forms at the end of their span empty rather than filled. Can they not be the same? Is the upper figure not a bear? Can body parts not be abstracted? Or dissected? Can they not have their own power? Are fullness and emptiness not powers of their own? Of course they are. Is the series of figures below (click to enlarge if you need to) not as powerful as the mathematics of subatomic physics?

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Of course it is. Nonetheless, there is no saying that these are images written for humans to read. Drawing narrative from them, in our age of the world, the age of narrative, is likely self-mirroring. We can say: these are images written on rock, as are we. Whether we are the humans in these images, or spirit, ah, that is a more profound question. The answer, of course, is yes.

Mother Earth

Mother Earth has often been equated with womanly power. That’s not really it. Here she is above the Clearwater River in Nez Perce Country, lying on her back, with her arms outstretched and her head staring up at the sky. Her arms are wings, in part, and what she offers to the earth. That’s not a human image, but not a non-human one, either. That the Idaho Government has built a road aimed directly at the gap between Earth’s thighs is, I hope, a source of humour for the Nez Perce.
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Lapwai, Nez Perce Territory

It’s not just about humans. There were forms of human knowledge that predate the Anthropocene. That also was an age of men. It is still here.

Matisse and the Nez Perce

Reading the sky, I’ve just realized, is not a matter of translating the dramatic movements of clouds and light into words or ideas, but reacting to them in the manner of responding to art. This moment, in other words…

P1960203 … is like this one …

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Henri Matisse (1869–1954), Open Window, Collioure, 1905. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The differences are ones of culture, not differences in kind. Translating this kind of knowledge into words is not going to lead to understanding, but it does lead to windows, which can be opened. However, they’re not the only ones. In the Matisse, the contrast between the two-dimensionality of the canvas, the scene that is rendered on it, the three-dimensional techniques of the painter and the three-dimensional brush work opens up entire universes of body-mind-spirit experience. You don’t have to translate it. You just have to enter the edge of those brush strokes. There’s life there. The same with the image below, from the Snake River in Idaho.

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Note the depth of the palette of the dune forms in this ancient medicine plant field, from the sand dunes on the hill (brought to view by light-coloured weeds brought on by over-grazing) to the bunch forms of the wheat grass in the foreground, to the domed form of this sacred rock (like a sweat lodge with a mouth). The patterning opens many doors which can be apprehended and read without language. It was this presence in the earth that was one of the things that made it so hard for the Nimíipuu to accept agriculture when Henry Spalding, the missionary who tried to lead them to a gentle image of Christianity by whipping them, tried to bring them to in 1836. Putting a plow to this would have been like slashing this …

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André Derain (1880 – 1954), Mountains at Collioure,1905. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

… with this…

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It is an incredible degree of violence, that Henry David Thoreau equated with slavery. It was industrial agriculture which he saw as the threat to the success of democracy in the United States. In the image below, we are on the Fort Bethold Agency in North Dakota in 1941, just months before the United States entered the Second World War after pushing the Japanese into a corner with sanctions.

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Source.

The image below, also from the Snake, which shows the moon trapped by a road cut (inhabited by swallows), an abandoned fence and a community of weeds, is the view from one of those windows I mentioned. This one is the window of history.

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Walking back is not possible. Walking forward is. Art is a path with great potential. Hey, it might lead us here…

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… to Buffalo Eddy, where Matisse would feel at home.

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I do.

When Quail Leave the Grass, It’s Time to Party

P1950598Ah, the sweet berries of June!

P1950621This is the best year in a decade for saskatoons. They are so sweet.P1950619 And so juicy. Even the ground birds have left the cover of the grass for these ones.

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Ain’t that the truth.