Try This on Mars, I Dare You

Life in the sky…
bee…  vanishes (This is a form of ripening.)

subtleAt first it is nowhere to be found. Bones are everywhere. The sun has burnt everything away.P1470323Not everything. There are bee caves.



And this year will come again.


Hang on!

Beautiful Tent Caterpillars

It’s the time of year when tent caterpillars are in their glory, making art out of the choke cherries in the roadside ditches, along the walking trails, and in the creek beds running down through the sagebrush. They are looked on as pests, but I think they are exquisitely beautiful. In their honour, I share them with you. If you click on any image, a larger image will open up.

Pretty amazing, eh!

Life (and chipmunks)

Fire comes from the centre of the solar system. fire1Water comes from the edge of the solar system. waterThey meet on earth. P1410986You would think they might extinguish each other, but no. P1420013 Here on earth, they are both the same thing. weeds2 That’s our planet: a meeting ground. weedsThat’s what life is.

dragondrPhoto: Diane Rhenisch

The voice of the solar system.



P1420004And sun.

chipmunkAnd chipmunks, bless them.


Why Good Science Matters

Yesterday, I wrote this:

It is time to stop taking the world apart and to acknowledge that what we seek is what we will find. It is that kind of universe.

I would like to clarify that. When I said “what we seek is what we will find” I did not mean that what the Christians, let’s say, in Iraq, are seeking under an invasion by the Islamic State. Broadly speaking, those people are seeking security, peace and even life itself. All are perilously close to collapse. That is serious, even heart-breaking, business, as all things are when one is dealing with top predators (homo sapiens). My heart goes out to people being preyed on by other humans, in the name of spiritual principles, or for any other reason (and there are many). What I was speaking about, however, was the dominant spiritual and cultural force in the human world today, the world of science. I was pointing out that the dominant Western scientific tradition was not a representation of “reality”, as it wishes to see itself, but, rather, of a cultural reality, and that is quite a different thing. Scientific philosophy is not a trivial thing, but if not acknowledged and challenged it can in extreme situations lead to such horrors as the chaos of contemporary Iraq. To be fair, as far as cultural realities go, contemporary North American cultural ethics are not bad ones. We can, however, make them better, and it is the duty of every citizen of any state that wishes to call itself civilized to work towards the ethical goal of improving the operation of its state, because states and their belief systems determine to a large extent the lives of their citizens. This is serious stuff. The states that govern (a term loosely applied at times) my part of the earth (the intermontane grasslands of the North American West), namely the United States and Canada, can and must do a better job. The alternative is the chaos of Iraq, the Ukraine, the Gaza Strip, Liberia, and… really, the examples abound (for which these states do carry some blame). This is just one of the many reasons I argue for a re-imagining of science and a re-ignition of the relationship between humans and the earth. In social terms, worse will follow if we don’t get it right. In ecological terms, the situation is even more clear. To that end, let me restate my comment from yesterday:

The universe appears to be arranged on a principle of energy, that enables any conception that is brought to it. If one wishes to see an empirical world, one will see that, one will be given proof, and one will be given a society based on empirical models. If one wishes to see a spiritual world, one will see that, one will be given proof, and one will be given a society based on spiritual models. These are just examples. The principle is infinite. Because of this energy flow, all attempts at codifying reality should be viewed with caution, and that includes, even, scientific principles “proven” by mathematical and experimental procedures. They are true, but they are only one of many truths, and the real truth is beyond them.

That is, more or less, what I meant to say. For the sake of my companions on this earth …

deerdr … and its waters …


… I just wanted to make that clear. (Photos by Diane Rhenisch)

Vertical Rivers and Walking on Water

Just look at this aspen pouring up into the sun.


Aspen Copse with Beetle-Killed Fire Pine, Big Bar Lake 

My sister.

To Newtonian science, this is an image of organized physical processes viewed by means of light. To Darwinian science, it is a moment in a process of continuous change and adaptation. To Goethean science, it is an image of spiritual energies, arranged in forms commonly called life and colour. To the poet Rilke, at the end of the war of 1914-1918, it was “this tree in front of me now, and nothing else.” This observation, in the poems Rilke wrote in the Rhone Valley in the last years of his life, make Rilke a leading 20th century scientific philosopher, and even a leading 21st century one. In the next image, for example, are these water striders making use of a physical adaptation to walk on water, or are they making use of a spiritual one?

strideThey are spirit walking on spirit, or, as Rilke, Newton, Darwin and Goethe would put it, they are these water striders right here, right now, and no others. The observation has largely lain dormant since 1925. It is time to stop taking the world apart and to acknowledge that what we seek is what we will find. It is that kind of universe. I find that very energizing.

I Love Water


Big Bar Lake, with Damselfly

The green colour comes from the bright lake bottom, which is the remains of the bed of an underground glacial river, made of tiny, flat, oval pebbles ground off the uplifted seabeds of the mountains just above the lake. The river flowed 10,000 years ago as the continental ice sheet was melting, then flowed around a 5-kilometre-long block of ice, no doubt encasing it in blue-grey gravel, which kept the sun from it. Eventually, the ice melted, the gravel became the lakebed, and the ice became this water, which is replenished with every winter’s snows, with its waving underwater leaves and that damselfly, moving between the dimensions. 

Who would pump this stuff into the rock to extract oil, and remove it from life forever? Only an agent of death.

Teaching Children the (Hard) Way

When water systems are used as reservoirs …

N0000295.RAWRosemund Lake, Flooded

… people move between the trees, and are dwarfed by them.N0000303.RAWHere’s how we teach our children that…


Children’s Playground, Chief Joseph Dam, Washington

The plastic is the way a petroleum culture can talk about natural forces. Here, children get to be the water flowing over the dam (at least in their minds). Then they land on the artificial volcanic cinders (in a  land of volcanic cinders) made out of petroleum-based rubber and bounce. That is what they experience. Children learn this lesson well. When they are adults, they are likely going to have to find a way to undo the damage.Maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll get in a kayak and pass among the trees and be small…

N0000299.RAW… and suddenly realize that they are approaching something they have no words for, and for which symbolic representations don’t exist. They might choose to keep moving into that realization. I hope so



Irony in the Garden

Here’s my front yard. Note the flowers I have planted instead of a lawn. It has been a very exciting place lately. Dozens of species of bees and many species of beetles have been working it for weeks. They’ve all come down from the grassland up on the hill. A big neon-green toad has made her home here, and seems to be getting rich on it. Today, though, was special. Check out the pair of American Gold Finches feeding. They were there for an hour.
P1420041Now, here’s the thing: they were eating catnip seeds. Perhaps they were getting a nice buzz from it, I don’t know, but, um, the neighbour’s cats hang around this stuff. I’m not sure how wise all this is. Still, no harm done, and an hour of beauty. No mowing. How many acres of denuded grasslands have I replaced for these birds and insects in 300 square feet? Lots! Here’s the environmentally approved way of reclaiming grassland after invasive road construction. Note the species diversity.


People aren’t meant to live alone on the planet. We’d all die of grief.