When is a Wasp a Flower?

Here’s a wasp on some desert parsley two days ago. Check out the scaly covers of her wings.WSM

 

Here’s a willow on the same day. Note the scaly covers of her catkins.pw

 

Our ancestors saw these as the same thing. It was a principle of the world, in the way Newton’s Second Law of Motion is today. What remains beautiful about it is that it is an abstraction created using the stuff of the world itself. Stuff like, well, this:

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Beach Rock at Ozette, Makah Illahie

… or this …

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Mount Hood at Horsethief Butte, Yakama Illahie

Over the last 3.5 years of this project I have learned again what I knew as a child in the Similkameen: to think as the Earth. Look at all the little wasps in these young ponderosa cones!

pine Look at the force cracking the wasp’s wings open on the willow, written in the stone below!P1660676

Every day I grow more humble at what my ancestors knew and passed on. It’s here…

P1680415 … and here …P1680310

… and here.

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I am walking with them. Not in the way of a ghost story, though. We’ll leave that to Mary Shelley. More like this…

P1650635 … and this…P1650850

Aging can be humbling.

This is Not Our Planet

Imagine if this pussy willow…
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… was your world …

P1720193 …and not just yours …P1720184

… but a world of many creatures …

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… namely a wasp…

wasp1 … and a different wasp ….wasp2… and a third wasp, coming up over a white horizon …wasp3 … and a bee, and a moth …beemoth … and a little fly.tiny

 

… and that’s just on one twig on one willow. Forty years ago someone planted this willow. It costs nothing to plant a willow. It costs thousands to plant rocks, the new fashion for responsible gardening. Please, stick a stick into the ground for your grandkids, and all the insects of the world, or they’ll be living on an asteroid.

The Mystery of Leaves

Look how much more brightly the one leaf glows than the grass, which is eating light.

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Leaves in a Small Wetland on the Grey Canal Trail

Its light-eating days are over.

But look how dull the leaf right next to it is. These are both leaves that have lain for a couple months under deep snow. Seemingly, leaves go through a process of dying, which continues long after they have fallen, and long after they have lost their colour. The fall colour for cottonwood leaves like this is a rich yellow, not a red, and yet red it is. Perhaps leaves have a life outside of photosynthesis? They have gone as abstract as thought. Perhaps our thoughts, too, are leaves.

 

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!

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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.

 

 

The Future of Life

Life is the ability of self-replicating organisms being able to react to the environment. Life is also a quality of an environment. When an environment is said to have life, it means it is energized, which is a way of saying it holds enough energy for dynamic growth and change. It is an older use of the word “life”, but not a use that has been superseded, and not one which is purely the business of poetry.

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A Living Landscape

Spring runoff after a frosty night.

I think it is possible to join the two senses and to say that environments are alive.

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As the German philosopher Martin Heidegger argued in the 1920s and the anti-nuclear activist Jonathan Schell argued in the 1970s, life is future potentiality, and only secondarily present realizations of it.

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Lichen and Moss on Sagebrush Trunk

(Steep hill.)

In the image above, the future of the living sage is its current ‘dead phase’. It has shed one form of life, but retains another, which is expressed environmentally. There’s only one thing that separates such life from individual biological life, and that is independent action. The action is there, but it comes from without, often by accumulation.P1680298

Black Birch Twigs After a Night of  Spray

In biological science, accumulation is not “life”, because individual life forms can move into the environmental space and out of it, while the space remains. Yes, but the environment does not. What’s more, this characteristic of life as “individual action” is a reflection of a science based on individual observation, which is based in turn on Christian faith, which places an individual, Christ, at the meeting point of heaven and earth. At that point, neither one thing nor another, Christ bears witness, as do all others who follow him. The German philosopher Gottlieb Fichte put this relativizing sense of the individual awareness at the core of scientific procedure in 1793, at the University of Jena, in what is now Germany. I am neither a pre-Romantic German philosopher nor a practicing Christian, but I respect the power and integrity of this belief and recognize the profound structural force it has in Western thought. Christ, however, is only one manifestation of God. The environment, surely, is another.

P1670865Grassland Dirt Actually Does Look Like This, When It Is Healthy

Is it not within an environment that an individual can be an individual? I mean, if we took away the environment above, we would all be dead. Surely, then, it’s appropriate to say that it is us.

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From an individual point of view, the seeming three dimensionality of the above image, the framing of its elements, the relationship between them, the qualities of light caught by the camera, all these things are human signatures on the environment. From an embedded, environmental point of view, they are the way we fit into an environment: seeing the thin-ness of the grass because our minds are coded to track thin-ness and to see in it the mind and thought; seeing the roundedness of the water because our minds are coded to see in it bodies and movement; seeing the intersection of these forces, because our minds are coded to notice boundaries and difference and have the capacity to either unify or divide them in complex ways. Collectively, we have created complex systems of science, including profound and dynamic systems of psychology, which map out many of the dimensions of such mirroring, yet, even so, they are all based on Fichte’s replacement of Christ with the critical, empirical, individual self, on which the definition of life is based. The neatness of that correspondence is troubling. Being in the world can be an antidote to that.

P1680415 Literally: being in the world …P1680098

 

The images above were made in a riparian zone one kilometre west of this one.

 

… not just in an individual body.

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Taking Back the Earth

The air is colder than the earth.P1680080

 

The sun burns right through it, yet does not touch its cold.

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But that sun is caught by the earth, and all my beautiful sisters, the blue-bunched wheat grasses.

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When this blog was young, I would have pointed out these grasses and talked about how thin devices like this could be used to harvest water or watts of energy, but now, after 920 posts, I just want to say, Look!P1680069

These are images of my mind, and yours.

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It’s the same mind.

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And it’s a body.

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The same body.

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And look at the thoughts that fly through. Trickster magpie on the run!

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Deer have been walking through us, too.

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The coyotes live up this hill. P1680076

 

Some men have blown the earth apart.

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To build roads.

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Why? We already have roads.

P1680140Look at  you shining up there. Look at the road of light you are making at the base of the cloud! And all of it while standing on the floor of an ancient ocean lifted into the sky. Look at the earth fall like rain.

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Men tried to scrape this ocean floor away. But look at us catching the water here…

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… and turning it into light.

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There’s hard work ahead, and intricate machines to be built to capture water without stopping our rivers in their tracks or turning our grasslands into deserts, but right now…

P1620084 … the time of frost is still here.P1620066 Spirit can’t be measured, and is thus often ignored or is labelled as a sentimental, foolish, emotional attachment, something worthy of fiction but nothing to build a world around, but have you noticed that these plants that have followed humans for thousands of years…P1620371

… are mostly the sacred plants of the Celtic world?P1610980I think that means we are our ancestors.

filberts I think that means that the world is now.P1640794All of it.
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Right now.

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The philosopher John Locke proposed that men had a claim to land when they had put their labour into it. After that, any other man who lived on it without labouring had to leave. That is the principle by which this land was colonized. We are decolonizing it now. Look at us collect water in the philosophy of John Locke.

P1670970 Look at us begin.P1680226