The Voice of a Great Cascadian River

Chapman’s Bar: a gravel bar in the Fraser River.P2000130As the heat breaks, the rain begins in the ancestral homeland of the grassland peoples.

P2000161 Some rocks never dried out. The spring river made a nest around this one.P2000171 The rain washes off the muck of logging that has come down the river from the plateau.P2000177 Rocks are life. If you think with the earth.P2000174 Beautiful life!P2000223

 

Beautiful rocks!

P2000146Volcanic rifts, volcanic islands, subductions, stratovolcanoes, plutons, island arcs, metamorphoses, uplifted seabeds carved by glaciers and all rounded by water: ah!
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This is the river talking and taking us home.

Creation is Now

Water flows.waterSometimes this flowing takes 100,000 years. Here’s the bed of a glacier from 12,000 years ago, under the deepest part of the continental ice. This was the divide. 2 miles of ice reached up from here. The last of it formed this lake at the foot of the subglacial rivers this tree is growing upon. Look at the tree. It reaches up. It’s stiff, because it’s made of carbon.P1980188

But carbon, that is bound with water, bends, not like the water, and not like the straight arrow the fir aspires to above, but like that fir, and these sedges, half way between hydrogen and oxygen molecules and carbon itself, it bends, it flows, it sways, it springs back and it climbs the ladder of carbon chains, up and up and up.P1980005

Look at these spruce and pines, citizens of fire between the flowing of the sea through the air and the winter’s snow, molten and rippling with the energy of the turning earth.P1980379

 

The fire will come, and take its carbon, but for now, ah, now it is the time of water talking to light.

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Last image: Bowron Lake.

Other images; Big Bar Lake.

All images © Harold Rhenisch 2015.

Cascadia’s Flower

In Lewiston, Idaho, the mariposa lilies are beautiful.P1900393

In Chelan, Washington, they are different altogether.

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And here in the North Okanagan, they have two shades. First, the lilac, slightly brighter than in Chelan, a bit more translucent and with brighter pistils…

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… and this (about 5%, on the hill above my house), which brings that intense colour out to the petals…

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One very useful map of Cascadia would layout the variations in mariposa lilies, and then map that to variations in human culture and language. A parallel map would follow the changes in the scents of rabbitbrush and big sage, which grow harsher and sharper with every drainage north. Here’s a mariposa lily growing in the shade of a Big Sage. Note how deep the colour is when the sun is off of it! Note how the sage stays bright.

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These are deep mysteries.

Where the Heart is Home: A Celebration

I love this land. I guess you know that. I am this land. Other writers might talk about identity and ego and alter ego and personality, but I just want to take you out to the bitterroot, to the old ones, and help you to see what I have learned to see. Look!

bitterroot

Straight out of volcanic ash 55,000,000 years old, way down south in the John Day Hills. This is the land itself. Look at her. I don’t expect you to understand. How could you? But if you want to know why I keep at this, look.

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Isn’t my country beautiful? Aren’t I blessed to be a part of her? Isn’t this a great responsibility? I used to think my country was the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada. Now I know it is a collection of tropical volcanic islands that are continuing to collide with North America, stretching from Yellowstone and the Giant Redwoods, north to Alaska. I live in the middle of all that, but way in the south, ah, my heart is there as much as it is here. Others who live in my country, who call themselves Canadians and Americans, as I did before I began these journeys of close attention to the red earth, have their universities and their literatures, their psychologies, their economies, their arts councils and business investment banks. I just have the land now.

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Ah, but look at her!  Today, it has been 1000 journeys into the grass for us here on Okanaganokanogan. I have learned to read the land’s stories. Look.

turtle3That’s an ancient story, in the bed of Dry Falls. Most of the fresh water of the world, when the world still had fresh water, flowed over this stone turtle, and made it in its shape, out of basalt cliffs like the one you can see in behind. Now I get to walk through it at 45 degrees Celsius, which is about the right temperature, if you ask me. I’ve learned to see gravity, too.

gravity

And good friends have battled up against it with me, in a kind of dry land surfing. Oh my. I’m still the farmer, though, although I’ll never have a farm. I’m the man with his roots in 10,000 years of a conversation with the land, or is it 20,000 years, or 50,000? Look below. This is the place. It’s on the John Day River. It’s seen better days, sure, and has been replaced now by the industrial farms of the Columbia Basin, but look at her. I could live there, if borders didn’t cut my country into bits. The junipers on the hills, with my grandfather’s spirit in them. The volcanic rock, the only rock for me. The bunchgrass, that drinks the sun and the rain. The willows on the river, that speak the wind, the river running over tumbled stones, that sing, the sagebrush that drinks the heat, the heat, the mountain’s shadow, that is always moving, and the trees, with their peaches and cherries for Portland, all grown in conversation with the land. It could be ancient Persia. It could be Afghanistan. It could be Iceland, but it is here. This is my rock. The reward for working here is just the chance to be here, talking to the earth with my hands and my eyes and the heart in my chest. Go ahead, click on the picture. It’s wide. It might not speak to you of the coming together of forces it speaks of to me, but then, perhaps, you didn’t learn the world first from peach trees, as I did, and only then from books and people, in that order. These are my people. Look at them, thriving there in the sun! Look at them catching it in their arms.

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A thousand posts! Look at my people, soaring above Umatilla Ridge.

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So what now, eh? Well, there have been efforts to turn me into a salesman, to sell this story. There have been efforts, to take the vision out of me and replace it with arguments of utility, for the building of new agricultural technologies, but, come on. This is my real story. This is why I’m here. This stone raven at Peshastin. Click on it. Look at the head that’s in its eye.  Someone has to tell the story of how to live on the land, and how to be it.  Someone has to say, we can do this. It’s easy. You just have to give yourself away with a full and open heart.

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Oh, I have new crops and new technologies here. I have a history, that starts here, not in London or New York. I have a book about the sun, and about rethinking nuclear fission, using this land and its sun. I have all that, and you soon will, too. The books are in the works, but it’s a huge job. After all, I don’t have the university to do this work, and my brothers and sisters, the writers of this country, they’re largely writing for Canada and the United States.They might not want to be, but we have to walk this path together, step by step, with the bunchgrass brushing at our thighs. We’re getting there. By the end of the year, things should look pretty grand. Look at what I’m working on now…

When I raise my arm to point out a hawk diving on a quail in a field of wild grass, I am plunging my arm into the sun. It’s all sunlight, right down to the surface of the soil. I walk through it. It flows over my skin.

I love that. I love living in the sun. It’s like that here. I can’t explain it. I’ve tried. But, hey … it’s a big job. Look, I can take you there, if you like.

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Yes, that’s right. The sun is the earth. The earth is the sun. They complete each other. They were never apart. That’s Mount Hood above there, to give her a traditional name, if that helps. Beautiful, isn’t she. In my country, the earth is within the sun. I can’t explain it. But I can take you there. That’s what I can do. Here’s where I found my heart in the land.

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That’s my self portrait. That’s Palouse Falls. Does it look like a man? Of course not. But it’s where I am now, after 1000 posts on Okanaganokanogan. We’re not done yet. We’re still walking. There’s still so much to love here. Thanks so much for walking with me in this grass, and through this rock. I could not have done it without  your encouragement. A thousand posts. 30,000 photos. 20,000 hours.That’s just amazing. This, though, just below, is what it’s all about. Look at the goddess of this land, the cicada, shedding her skin.

Isn’t she beautiful? Isn’t she worth living for? Isn’t she worth great praise?

 

Beautify The World for 2,000 People For $20

Orchard with flax in the ‘hood.P1820273

Orchard without flax (3 kilometres down the road.)

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Currently, flax fibre goes for $10 for every 50 grams. Plus, once you’ve made a set of wedding sheets, you can have a healthy breakfast, with flax seeds. You can share with the birds, right?

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It’s perennial. The poisoning in the next image has to be done over and over again. I mean, if that’s your thing.

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$20.

P1810242That’s a big bag of seed.

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$20 to rebuild the world. No irrigation required. (The stuff is indigenous.)

P1820269$100 for a light-duty weed eater, plus $12 for every replacement monofilament spool. No wedding sheets, either.P1810524Plus gas. And hearing protection. And steel-toed boots. And a leaf blower to “clean up.” Starting at $150. Plus the same additional costs. And noise. Lots of noise. Like an Apache Longbow Attack Helicopter taking off inside your head. Unit cost $45 million. US dollars.
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No contest. Spend the $20.

linen

Lamp extra. Um… you need a lamp? OK, here’s one.

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Calliope

(Click on him. He’ll catch your eye. )

Cascadia: Where the Sea Breaks on the Land

Cascadia is the place where water, air and land meet …P1790797 … in waves …P1790671 … and boundaries.P1790695

The stones here …

P1790702 … are also part of the mixing of water and light ….P1790681 … in foam …

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… just as the mountains are the foam on waves of stone…

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… or cloud…

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This is life on the Cascadia subduction zone, where the seabed dives under the land and lifts it into the sky. Even the smallest stones hold this energy …

P1790700 … created as they are …P1790654 … out of chains of widely varying, volcanic tropical islands …P1790774 … that have crashed like stone surf on the North American shore.P1790783They are as varied as each wave is varied..
P1790729 … broken and welded together time and time again as each wave is broken and reformed.P1790726 These are the mysteries.

P1790708 This is how you know you are home.P1790661 Here the elements are brought together in a roll of eternal energy.P1790674

On the other side of the mountains, this roiling surf becomes the story of time, or gravity, which is to put it more clearly.

P1800583Here, all life is jumbled together, just as on the stones on the beaches hundreds of kilometres to the west, but they follow each other, each using the water, the stone, and the light in turn.

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Already, in early May, the lichens and mosses have finished their half year in the light. Now their winter begins. Their spring was in October.

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The cheatgrass that started growing then, is also finished. Look how red it is between the native bunch grasses, which also began growing in October, and are in their glory now. In a few weeks, they will retreat to smouldering green cores, while the lilies shoot out of the soil and catch the bees in the air.

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Plant by plant, water is used in a  balance with the changing pressure of the air, and so the breaking water of the Pacific is stilled. The wild sunflowers have already put out their seeds, before spring has properly begun. The mule deer have already grazed them off, while the choke cherries flare in the arroyos and the lupines turn the yellow sunflower hills blue.

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Wave after wave after wave, that is the action of the sun and the ocean crashing on the continent’s shore.

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Those of us who live here …

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… make trails, like this mule deer and coyote (and the porcupine in winter) track…

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… that flow like water over the land, always finding the easiest gradient, always going to the interesting places. If you don’t follow coyotes and deer in this country, you will get lost. It’s all topsy turvy, in a balance of gravity and wind…

burn … and water. This is the Farwell Canyon grassland … as much a part of the rainforest as the giant, moss-hung cedars of the Coast, where the winds off the Pacific, and the Pacific’s stone, first strike the shore …middle

… but here, where they break in foam. This is Cascadia, where even winter and summer meet in waves…

moses … and mountains speak ….umatilla … and shore dunes are hundreds of kilometres inland and lifted hundreds of metres into the sky.dune It is a sacred land.wenatchi It is not breaking. It is opening.P1770653

There is work to do here.

P1740106 Good work.

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Sacred work.

bonneville

There are many misunderstandings to be healed. Here is a buck swimming across the Hanford Reach to the plutonium reactors. In a minute he’s going to climb out and walk among them.

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Yes.

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Cascadia is the greater reactor.

stones P1680668 grasssky grass It has its mysteries.ripply2 It has an owner.

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We are the children here. We are the new ones. The land is old.

P1680996 It covers our errors, if we give it a chance.white It is watching.

P1650635 It is waiting.

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It is on fire.

P1640386 There is no time at which the fire is extinguished, and not time at which the fire is only fire.P1640324

There are words for this.

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Beating the Heat

The water comes to the rock faces of Turtle Mountain under the snow. It’s gone now ….P1760945 … but it intensifies the sun and creates an early season for the arctic plants of the Okanagan, the mosses and lichens of earth’s youth, when it was cold …P1760939

… and the beautiful sedums. Now, the mosses have withered. Without the snow, the water has gone. The year is over. P1760930 The sedums, though, haven’t even flowered yet! They do this by holding their breath all day, storing the sun as acid, and then breathing at night, drinking in carbon dioxide, and making the sugars they need to survive, in the dark.P1760919 Pineapples do the same thing.P1760894But pineapples don’t wash up in the first surf of the world like this!
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There is more than one Okanagan. This is the one of the sedums.

P1760903 The most up-to-date bit of plant engineering on the planet!succulent

 

This global warming thing? They’ve seen it all before.

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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