We are at sea. There is no solid ground. It’s time to stop thinking about soil. Here’s one ocean. It is an ocean of air.
The ground-up refuse of glaciers keeps this junk from settling into the underground sky. It is an ocean of oxygen, complete with clouds, in a rich bacterial community. That’s what those weeds are growing in. They are rooting in one sky and leafing in another. The rock the truck knows is only there as a shore between atmospheres, where humans, the shore people, live.
This is another ocean of air.
This Pacific Ocean shore on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is an ancient story of the Makah people. Under this water, a rich community of plants, animals, and fishes thrives. To many coastal peoples, this undersea world was their native home. In contemporary terms it was the subconscious. When Indigenous peoples today lay claim to the land, it’s really such stories they are laying claim to. The Haida people, who lived on the shoreline, considered themselves, wisely, to be intertidal creatures.
Oceans of air are called the sky. Here’s one sky …
The sky here is under the surface of light on the surface of the lake’s water. Fish and shrimp swim through this sky. Mussels live on the ground beneath it. High above, there is a surface of light. Above that is a sky of nitrogen and oxygen. Above that is a sky of stars. If humans lived in that underwater sky, they would call the airy sky above the water and below the stars the land of their dreams.
Here is another ocean.
Here on the bed of the ocean of the air, bottom growing sea plants, like wild cherries, saskatoon bushes and poplars, reach up to catch the light. The light has its own sea, high above, which breaks in waves, again and again, over the earth.
Does such a universe have a centre? Yes. In many places, including this one …
A group of Buddhist monks searched for the centre for a decade. They found it. Here.
Tomorrow: What it means to be indigenous.