The Big Picture

The big picture is vast and complex. Maybe not. Take a look.

Mullein watching over the Bella Vista Valley towards the CommonageMullein Overlooking Bella Vista and the Commonage

Hint: the Mullein is not a weed here. It is a native plant that seeks to heal damaged ground.

The green hills in the back of this photograph would be as dry and full of weeds as the grassland in the foreground if they were not irrigated by the treated effluent of the City of Vernon. The area remains a part of a 28,000 acre land claim by the Okanagan Indian Band, which has been outstanding since 1899, predating the orchards in the middle ground of the photograph, now abandoned and gone to weeds, and the urban areas in the valley bottom, also decayed and going through slow renewal.

Look at the weeds.

In almost a century and a half, this land was been transformed into a set of images that we called Canada, and then watched  vanish. The ranches, orchards, and natural grasslands, and the society that lived from them are all gone. The land is new and unknown, with a new mixture of species, and new stories, yet remains as it has always been: a land simultaneously claimed by multiple peoples and multiple cultures. It bears the record of the struggle. As the mullein shows, it remains part of the healing. (Here it is trying to heal the disturbance of a natural gas pipeline.)

Consider this: after all this time, the two cultures may not be all that multiple anymore. The land provides an image of where we’ve come from and, I think, where we can go.

Tomorrow: one culture. Friday: a thought about healing.

Categories: Agriculture, Industry, Land

2 replies »

    • Wow! Let me know how that goes! It has been a real voyage of discovery and wonder for me. Right now I am working on one of the three manuscripts that have come out of this project. For the second and third manuscripts, I am going to have to comb through those posts one by one, too. Good luck on that journey. If you see me there, I’ll pour you some tea out of my thermos and we can sit in the grass for awhile and watch the sky.


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