Agriculture

A Science of Colour and the Art of Science

I’ve been walking around these last couple days as the earth turns its shoulder away from the sun and the sun comes in lower and lower angles through the grass, sometimes just over the surface of the hills and I feel like I’m wading through a broad river. Every day, there’s less of the stuff, and yet this is not a time of darkness. There is a fullness to things. What if, and this is the way I’ve been thinking, what if Newton had worked just a bit harder and had found a way to incorporate the way humans perceive light into the language with which he described the physical world? What would science look like then? Well, in my stumbles and bumbles out there in the half light, I’ve come to a conclusion: that mood, colour and energy were closely related, and the distance between psychology, biology and physics would be negligible, at most.

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Just Your Standard Fare of Bad Land Stewardship.

Give it five years at this rate and it’ll be a ravine. 

But, no. There’s another story. Painters know this one. There are purples in the soil, for example, although in other light there are no purples at all. There is yellow in the stalks of bunch grass, and green in the cheatgrass. There is black in the burnt sage stumps, and, of course, pink in the snow, except where it picks up the green from the grass. And as for the grass, that’s no yellow. That’s sand. Each of these colours in itself is a range of energy, and a mood. It draws forth a specific human response, which can be used to map it. The palette of the above image, which includes all of the colours together, is linked and provides as accurate a guide to the land as any tables of hydrological measurements, erosion statistics, weed infiltration, and so on, which are the stuff of contemporary science. This human-based science requires, however, one thing: humility.

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Deer Nests in the Sagebrush

It’s not about us.

Like the deer, humans are the land and the land is humans. A science can be developed that separates the two, but it comes at a price: the earth. It comes at another price, too: integrity.

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The Man Who Makes These Ruts on Land Given to His Care

Is making these ruts in society. It’s not just the land he’s eroding, in his big pickup, cattle king feeling his wealth. It’s the future for the community’s children. This isn’t an image of individual wealth. It’s an image of poverty.

Another word for that future is the Earth. It is one thing. We are part of that one thing. If we separate ourselves from it, we die. What could be clearer than that. This has been a domain given to artists and writers for a couple hundred years now, as if it were decorative. It is not decorative.

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