The Beauty of Spring in November

In November, in Cascadia, it is springtime, whether you are in the wetlands on an island  in the ocean …


Oyster Bay, Vancouver Island

… or far inland, in the grasslands, where we are expecting snow.


Abandoned Orchard at Turtle Mountain, Looking Down Priest Valley towards Okanagan Lake

No soil is needed to grow a garden here.
P2130759Soil would reduce fertility. Stone helps, though.P2130760 Where water flows and life flows with it, life pools.P2130761 It might freeze at night, but these domed shapes are warm.P2130769 Rocks, too.P2130779 Cozy!

P2130786 The pools within the pools are great places for seeds to catch and flow and sprout. It’s much like the folds of hydrocarbons in protein strings.P2130807 To flow, water doesn’t have to be liquid. That’s because it’s energy. It can be held in a matrix, which can become it.P2130810We call this matrix life. We call it green water. Green water can even drip and splash.P2130815 Life reaches out its tongues to stop gravity and opens its wings to the sun.
P2130821 It’s down to as much as 5 Below these nights, but only in the air.P2130822 Not here.P2130845 On volcanic earth.P2130878 Here, spring ice breaks the basalt apart, and life becomes the frost in fall.P2130889 Is it rain? Is it frost? Is it sun? Is it air? Is it stone?P2130906 It is all of them together. It is earth. This is earth… not soil.P2130936 This.P2130947 Life.

P2130948 Now. 55.000.000 years in the making, along the seam of two ancient island chains.P2130963 Once the stone crashed in a volcanic tide. Now that energy is a surging wave. Still.P2130986 It is still a splash of surf.P2130988

On Turtle Mountain, it is happening now. And not just here. On Rattlesnake Mountain, too.

moss Life is not built on the bodies of the dead. Not here. To come here in summer to see green lawns is to be poor beyond belief.P2120777

Here life is made within the bodies of the living. All are welcome.


None are turned away.


Is it the sun? Is it the earth?


It is both at once, where we are.

Worshiping the Dead

In an earth that looks like this…


… humans build large cellular structures, which they then inhabitat, to turn them into wombs, that they can leave every day to teach their children the arts of cell-making and war and to go to a “grocery store” …


… to purchase foods grown in other cellular structures …


… which are representations of human will, sculpted to allow machine access. In this case, it’s an apple orchard. This world of body-imagining is represented most clearly today as communication. A better word for that within this world of inhabited matrices is transportation.


These are all images of humanism. What a strange culture it is that sets human ethical concerns apart from the earth in such a way that when there is a balance it is often one that is neither ethical nor of the earth.


Cultures that worship the dead live like this — cultures that use their bodies to animate the dead and keep them alive. Often, this process is called a financial return on capital investment. It doesn’t matter what it is called. In this world, nature is displayed, as something to be observed in cellular structures called parks. The people who tend nature there are called gardeners.


What they are are practical ethical philosophers, the front line fighters working to keep the boundaries between human ethical and social concerns and the living world separate. It takes a lot of work. It’s work that would be better spent bringing people and plants together outside of representations of human bodies and will. It would mean greening cities and recognizing mountain ecosystems as exquisite urban spaces.


Until then, the game of fighting to contain the earth within the image of a human body will remain — a fight that will never be won.

Talking with Rilke Talking with the Earth Talking with the Sky

Here’s an image of a fairly typical hillside on the west side of

Earth is fire: not just her core, but all of her. The steam, the wetland sedges and reeds, the cloud, the exposed clay, the volcanic rock beneath the pines, and the pine themselves are here all fire. That the pines can burn later, in a more open fire, doesn’t take away the fire they are now. That Earth has dense gravity at her core, doesn’t mean that at her surface it’s not fire. Look what happens when this fire is expressed as height and pressure. One moment, water is cupped between two mountains …. cupped … and  another moment, a mountain draws it from the air.grove

And look at it: it’s not fire, or gravity, or altitude or pressure. It is a grove of pines, and cloud on a morning mountain in Yellowstone after night snow and freezing rain which still gloves all the grass. That is Earth’s way. Her creatures speak like this as well. Only humans have the choice to speak differently. It is a profoundly bad idea. What there is this:


Explain her away by deep psychology if you want, give her alienness and separateness, call her “Cistern Spring”, do whatever you will do, it makes no difference at all, because there is only one thing, this thing: her, now, here. Rilke said this in 1923 in the Valais, scarcely differently. After a lifetime of chasing symbols and angels and sensitivity and women and love, he found the high clear air of the Rhone, and became a poet at last: this tree, he said, right here, right now.

Better Than a Zen Garden

Imagine if hills were opened to create this instead of roads or shopping malls.P2120301

Drilled and blasted bedrock in a quarry, with a limestone spring from the seabeds high above, a young chokecherry tree, various salt deposits from evaporation, grasses, flowers, and the low, Autumn sun.

What Do You Call a Photograph When It’s Not Made With Light?

Photography: writing with light. A more anglo-saxon suggestion is sun print. There’s more to them than prints on paper.


See that? That snow buckwheat is light written or (im)printed on metamorphic bedrock, or, actually, drawn out of it. You could also view it as a drift of light, much like a snowdrift. That view might be clearer in the image of moss on Turtle Mountain below.


Snowdrifts, of course, form on the lee side of objects. They are physical shadows. In that sense, the image of an ingrown grassland in Ellison Provincial Park shows tree drifts.


Those shadows are virtual trees. They are tree graphs. They are also grass writing, because they are holes in the sun that have drifted in with reflected light from the grass and bushes around them. Like this:


In the above case, the holes have been filled with grass, but following the logic, that grass is a shadow, a hole in the sun, a photograph drawn out of the earth. They are spirit prints. The image below shows an entirely different kind of writing:


Dust graphs! This earth here is swirling, invisibly, in the air, like a solar corona. It’s an earth corona. The dust storms we see, the ones that are thick in the air, are earth flares. Everywhere, this earth is blowing through the sky. It takes little to stop it. You could say, its will is to stop.


Its will is to write, to solidify, to print, and to form, out of the swirl, drifts, not of light, but of earth. Look at the footprint left by a human who walked right through this magic, above on the right. That’s charming and mysterious, too. Down the centre of the image below are what look like coyote tracks, passing through the art work, too.


For the earth, this is not a linear event. It is not a walk, but to humans, and no doubt coyotes, it appears as one. It imprints as one. Humans ‘read’ it as one. That’s who human are. And coyotes. We are the ones who see this unbroken series of writing as linear stories created by our walking through them. Humans call that fate. They call it god. What does the earth call it? Nothing, but it thinks, like this:


And like this:


And like this:


And this:


These are stories of gravity, the heart of the earth, working its way through matter into the light, and then, with the light, creating life. You could call that life a sun print.


You could call it an earth print.


Montana, Looking West

It’s not a footprint. Life is not just contained in biological entities. What are they but a series of earth prints and light prints and water prints and sky prints?


Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump

Thought is not just a product of humans. Or coyotes. (Always include the coyotes.) This is all thought. This is all thinking. The robins below, gathering at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, getting ready to migrate, are thinking, and they are also the thinking, as is the stone, the orange lichen, the wind, and Harold who made this light print, but didn’t have a camera that could take all these other images.


The earth is that camera. She focusses the sun. You can see her doing it in the three images from Yellowstone below.




And she does it everywhere at once.

What We Need to Talk About, Darling

The land I live on was an island that crashed into a continent. It buckled and smashed and was pushed up into the air by the collision.


The old seabeds of its foreshore we dragged under the ground, pressurized, and their water, turned to steam, turned them to lava, and they rose and splashed over top of the ruins.




These landscapes were broken by glaciers, which lie now in long inland freshwater fjords in beds that sink far below the surface of the offshore seas.


There are many of these islands.


They stretch from Oregon to Alaska, all broken up…

P2100867 …, all welded together with old volcanoes from their deep stone seabeds.P2100825

Many are stilled rimmed by water. Many are still seabeds.


Many still have tide pools.


Many are still given to shoreline grasses…




… even though the skies, torn by newer uplifted islands to the west, are the reverse of ocean air.


We are still at sea. Storm still drains off of the rock.


Generation after generation …


… the creatures of the water have adapted to living in the air and making a living from the cracks in stone …


… that catch the sea the mountains, the old islands, strip from the sky and give back to them. Even a stone can be a tide pool in this ocean.


Our birds are sea eagles …


… that come from India.


But so do many of us. My ancestors did, long after the ice melted here.  We are travelling, among islands.

starlings We are gathering and giving away.P2100521 We are falling and rising up.P2060603

As humans, it is our gift to see all these things as one. All creatures have this gift. It is called being present.


Humans have developed a science that takes apart this natural ability to see, in order to create stories of causality. It is a positive and powerful tool, as are one of its products, photographs such as these.


This is not the human faculty, this science. The human faculty is to see all these images as one, as physical things in the world, and simultaneously as spiritual forces and as forces of energy deep in time, and to experience in something as simple as a breath of air or the movement of an arm, or a moment that humans call beautiful …


… because it too is profoundly present, which is to say, all its energies are combined at once. Awareness is a word, not a human faculty. The faculty belongs to the earth. The word is us. This is awareness:


The photograph is the word.


Humility is the gesture. Again, it is a faculty of the world, not of humans themselves.


We are given this gift of putting things together. Don’t accept it that science must take them apart.


Our bodies know more than that. Of course they do, they are of the earth.


And she is of us.


This is a different thing altogether:


The people who build a golf course like that, on a rich, living grassland, are not of this earth. This is their habitat.


They are now dreaming of going to Mars. They are practicing.


They are building their space ships.


In many ways, they have already left.


They are almost wordless now.

P2000484 They have become their words.P2000542 When someone becomes a word, and writes it in the world of manifested words …P2000506

… they erase it.


The world is a weed to them.  The people of the world are weeds to them.


They are shadows.



They are grand romantic shadows, physical spirits who use their bodies as puppets, cars, and other machinery of transportation and communication.


Their ancestors were trees…


…  living on islands on the sea.


These islands are still here.


We are still here.


Our bodies, which are of this earth are still here.


We need to speak of this.


Creating a Science That Includes the Earth

Science is a powerful tool. It’s built on a couple of foundational principles:

1. there is someone watching,

2. only what that person sees can be studied, and

3. only what is analyzed in a structured way is real.


Everything else is emotion (this discussion is punctuated with images from Yellowstone, for you to respond to emotionally and contemplate as we go along)…

P2050197…until it’s studied in a structured way, which might be through fields such as chemistry, biology or physics. Then it is understood.


By “understood” is meant that the emotion is explained away, the weakness of bodily experience is dispelled as an error, and the observer is reunited with his or her true self, a kind of mathematical intelligence, or God. It’s a beautiful conception.


Those are the foundations. Scientists today are often a very secular group, of course, with little interest in God, working to find practical applications of natural processes, which can be used industrially. Sometimes, they work to expand the body of their type of knowledge.


The rules of the process, however, remain, secular or not. There is, however, a bit of a glitch in this system. It is the act of observation.


Simply, what is observed is not necessarily emotional, and the observer is not necessarily separate from what is being observed. Those are just basic foundational blocks for this system, but, truthfully, this system can say nothing about those things, because they have been removed from it right from the beginning.


Here’s one example. Yellowstone’s Back Norris Geyser Basin (below) can be viewed emotionally by this system, but can only be understood once it is analyzed.



There are some difficulties with this approach. First, watching is participatory. I am the tree I observe above. This puts a bit of a snag into the first rule, that there is someone watching.  There is someone ‘being’ present, that’s for sure, but not separate from what’s observed.  It follows that the observer is also the observed object — not in the measurable technical ways demanded by scientific knowledge, for sure, but in a real enough way, in which the measurable technical ways are actually merely the expression of the separation of the observer and the observed. That’s a foundational bias. It’s based on the assumption that humans, the observer, and the world are separate, and that tool making is a higher order of intelligence than body imaging. It’s militarily true, certainly, but it’s not entirely true. If you doubt it, please look at the image below.


Look, Ma! No Tree!

A little rough-and-ready fun with Photoshop, sure, but that’s not my point. The absence of the tree changes the scene. That difference in balance, and even in presence, is a reading of the your self, the observer in this instance. If the tree had not been here I would have made a different image, as I scanned the basin, waiting for my mind to come to focus within it, as it did with the tree.


This effect is definitely what scientific thought wants to dispel. The problem is that by dispelling this effect, the subtlety of the viewer, and the connection between viewer and earth, are broken. This is marginally OK if you’re hoping to survive this Vale of Tears in order to have a better life in Heaven, but otherwise it leads to illness. Another weakness of the scientific method is that understanding is not the only goal. If understanding blocks other goals, it is not, actually, understanding. For example, a portable, disassociated intelligence such as most people are trained in in the West today, can view this scene in the Norris Back Basin …


… but the actual experience of observation can’t be observed with this tool. Does that matter? Yes, because in the scientific paradigm only what is analyzed an “understood” is real, which is to say that a response to the above scene as a moment of beauty is going to be read as an emotional response, leading to other emotional responses, leading, eventually to a vast network of social responses, and the contemporary state of affairs, in which the world is viewed as a human social construct, in direct opposition to the state goals of science for objective, non-humanized knowledge.


Don’t get me wrong. Those are all good things. It’s just that this system has forgotten that it is embedded in context, and immediate consequences are not necessarily the same as long-term ones, on the same principle that subatomic physical processes are not the same as ones at the level of peanut butter sandwiches. On a day to day level, I heard many people at the Mammoth Hot Springs and at the Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone explain the colours in hot springs …


… as the result of various communities of microorganisms living in matted communities in the hot, mineral rich water. “Look at the mats!” they kept saying, already separating their bodily and emotional responses from learned ones from the biological sciences right at the beginning of their explanations— already separating them from the scene, even though it was their bodies, and how they were reading them in the landscape, that was the actual attraction.


This continual sacrifice of bodies and what bodies know and how, in the natural world, they unite with the mind (which is a bodily organ as well), is unhealthy. It leaves bodies with nothing to do, except to keep moving, in the hope that something observable will turn up, even though the refinements to identity created by the biases within scientific thinking pretty much ensure that nothing is going to show up. Here is a selection of a crowd of many hundreds of people at the Grand Prismatic Spring, the eye of the earth herself, walking, walking, walking right past because they did not do the single most important thing.

P2070199 They did not stop.P2050641 Seeing is stopping.pool

It is “being present”.



It is being there. It is “being there.”


Our ancestors called us “human beings” not “human thinkings” for a reason.

P2070167 A renewed science would do well to reconsider its Descartian foundation (I think therefore I am) with one from Indigenous experience, which would be more like (I am part of this therefore I am.)P2050541

Understanding that intellectually, however, would only be an initial, first step. This science would have to go further than understanding. Without dispelling it, because understanding is important. It would go further, though.


spring Human capacities would be returned to us, and strengthened.P2040490

And the earth at the same time.




Next: expanding the social group to include non-humans.