A Walk Through the Grass or The Goddess Takes Many Forms

Tra la la, I go up the hill. Ah, people are already here, I see.

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It’s good to have company and good to go on alone.

P1210667Bella Vista

And it’s good to stop to take a look around, too. Ah, that’s where I am!

P1210668Eastern Arm, Okanagan Lake

Lakes have arms? Looks like it!

More tra la la. Oh, hello. You again!

P1210654It pays to keep the head up.

Ah, I see. Guides, too!

flying3smBest to follow. Tripsy traipsy tropsy doodlee-do.

P1210830The Other Side of the Hill

Okanagan Indian Reserve, Okanagan Lake

What’s this? More guides!

P1210823Bear Sign

No ants for me, though. I’ll pass. Ah, here’s mettle more to my liking.

P1210888Wild Black Currants

Well, almost wine, actually.

Curiosity leads me down through the trees.

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The Lee Side of the Hill is a Different World Entirely

Zippity do da, zippity day.

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Even Without Water Ponds are Pretty Neat!

The southern slopes are always full of grass. It’s like waves.

Ah, Madame.

mantis4Prey Mantis Giving Me the Eye

Trip, trap, trot. Oh, pretty!

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Tra la la. Oh, more pretty…

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Oh, MADAME!

superbugNice Sunglasses

At about 5 cm, with a 4 mm spike on the butt…

sharp… in this form, the Goddess is NOT to be messed with. But the road is long …

P1220147Old Boot Nailed to a Fence

… and the road is distracting …

P1220187 Snow Buckwheat Being Snow Buckwheat

… very distracting.

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The Goddess, A Little Drunk on All the Flowers

But the year is winding to a close now…

P1210894Brrr.

It’s a good thing we’ve been this way before…

P1220082The Glaciers Did a  Little Job on it Too

… and know the way home.

P1180812Our reward waits. And work waits, too.

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Blessed be.

Zombie Apples

I don’t want to eat zombies! It used to be that the apple industry was based upon creating industrial activity around the harvesting, processing, packing and shipping of apples, which grew in the sun and the wind. In those days, a red apple meant one that was sweet and grew out in the light. You could taste the sun. You could eat apples like that. See…

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No Matter That There is No Ogopogo, Especially in Vernon, Pshaw

Especially one imitating Smaug.

Then things got out of hand. Eventually, the apple industry became the business of creating industrial apples, that were part of the sorting and packing and storage and marketing systems. They taste like plastic.

P1200869 Royal Gala Apple Industrial Production Line

Each tree is a single stem, grafted to a dwarf rootstock that also gives jumbo-sized fruit, and is a carefully balanced creation of finely-measured fertilizers put through the watering system. No wonder they taste like plastic. As for the colour, well, all those fertilizers suck at bringing colour to fruit, which needs cool nights and lots of sun. See…

P1200867Royal Galas That Are Definitely Losers in the Industrial Game

At this point they taste like crunchy sacks of rather bland water.

What is an industrial manager to do? Why, prune the branches off of the tree, all of them except for the ones at the top (those come off in the winter, to force sap flow in the spring, to get those large fruits), so that the sun hits the shoulders of the apples and makes them turn red day by day.

P1200866Royal Gala Apples Pretending to Be Real

Yup, they turn red, and you know what? They taste like apples that were given 2 weeks of sun at the end of their time on the tree, not like ones that grew in the sun’s sweetness for a season. And here’s the thing: no one buys apples like that. It’s not worth it. They are only good enough for apple sauce, and you could grow sauce apples for 1/10th of the cost, with 10% fine red apples for people to eat growing on the outside of the tree. That this is not the contemporary model is just such a disappointment for a guy who just wants to eat an apple. And then along comes this guy …

2012-12-17-ArcticApple1Neal Carter, a Genetically Altered Organism Fan with His Zombie Apples

Genetically altered apples that don’t turn brown? For God sakes, Neal, what about an apple that tastes like something? Neal says here on the Huffington Post that people buy apples with their eyes. Canada could use clearer thinking than that. The planet could use clearer thinking than that. People want apples to taste like something and when they don’t, they don’t go back. To hell with the eyes. People are looking for something, with their hearts. Industrial apple farming, that uses the byproducts of the chemical industry, blew it. And who invented the chemical industry?

winston-churchill-with-the-kaiser-and-a-german-officer-military-uniform-german-helmet-cloak This Lot

Churchill and the Kaiser Before Their Men Started to Gas Each Other. Really, the Germans invented the whole chemical schmozzle. Sigh. I can say this. My family did its, sigh, part.

I call this post Zombie Apples because apples taste wonderful largely because of the hormones that evaporate from them in the first days or at most week or two after harvest. It’s the smell we taste. These fruity gasses evaporate from orchards and industrial storage facilities long before apples, even the stupid Arctic apple, hit the shelves. The result? The living dead! Any man who would sell you an apple stripped of flavour under the adage that you only want one that looks pretty is not a man you should trust. Trust the Kaiser. He had something in mind.

The Kaiser at the Kyffhäuser Monument, Harz Mountains, Germany

When the monument was opened in 1896, the military officers who were going to perfect the idea of gassing men took the train from Berlin with their wives, by the tens of thousands, and walked up the avenue in full ceremonial uniforms (and parasols for ladies) to the monument to the new monarchy. Along the way, there is a small monument, on which are set the words of the emperor, including these:

“I hope that this monument encourages the people to die for our new state.”

It looks like the whole world is going to die if we don’t stop this madness. I just want an apple to eat! If we keep on along the chemical model, humans will be an endangered species. The zombies will win. Neal, do the right thing. Chip those trees!

A Joyful Day for the Spirit of the Land

Choke cherries, beloved of the sky.P1200859

 

And in my kitchen!

chokeLots of choke cherries!

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What a lovely meditation they are for the fingers.  And the eye, too…

P1200848 And the mind. P1180821 As a human, I’m charmed by the chance to look up to sea the earth ripening in the place of the stars. Or is it the stars falling?

P1180822 Or the stars, caught?

choke4And embraced? Look at the dark inside them, just waiting to come out and be born as light.

choke2

You see, some days are days for, well, this:

P1210562Mmmm.

 

 

 

Jezersko Village

My friend Tamara in her botanical garden in Slovenia noted yesterday that some of the images in my post a few days ago about Big Bar Lake on the Cariboo Plateau could have been interchanged with hers on the old Roman path across the mountains. You can see her  haunting images by clicking here. Those are a follow-up to her first set of images on the theme: Jezersko Village Flora in August. To tempt you to have a look at what she saw there, here’s a teaser:

What Tamara Saw at Jezersko Village

After seeing those, I wrote that compared to my original images, such as this …

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Big Bar Esker

… hers placed people right in with the mix. I asked for more information about that, and she volunteered, generously, with her observation that there at the conjunction of humans, stone, water and wood, culture thrived, and has remained as it developed in place over thousands of years, and that what made the images appear similar was that both landscapes were carved by glaciers and water, and humans seem to be following in their ancient flows. And then she asked, “What do you think?” Well, I think that’s beautiful and wise. I also think this:

P1200750Wild Lettuce Waiting for the Wind

I think it’s not just people who find life in these points. I also think we can add wind and air to the mix. I also think (Whew! what a lot of thinking!) that that’s the signature of this earth.

P1200722

The Earth, Signing Her Name

Yes, there are people on the Cariboo Plateau in British Columbia who are indigenous to the place, but none living in the kinds of houses they invented on this land, which were underground pit houses for the winters, and houses of rushes for the summers. Still, I’m intrigued by the idea that those of us who inhabit the colonial space made out of this landscape have a chance (now that that experiment has been going on for 150 years or so) to bring our indigenous sense of water, stone, air and wood, the one buried in our languages, to this place. We could change history.

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The New (and Old) Face of History, Big Bar Lake

Are not our languages the voices of our ancestors? Of course they are. That’s where words get their meaning, and where languages get their structures. They, too are houses that we live in.

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Voices of Our Ancestors

Damselfly and Driftwood

There are Secwepemc and Tsilqh’otin languages for this place, but there’s also just the languages of wind and water and stone and wood, that we speak with our bodies.

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Moth, Grey Canal Trail, Bella Vista

I think now that book culture is on the wane and a culture of imagery is taking hold, words are at a powerful moment in their development: they have sculptural tools again, once again publishable in the world, rather than in the substitutes for the world, called books.

P1200847Choke Cherries in a Tent Caterpillar Net

The words and their visual representations are very close right now in the Spirit of the Age, in the Zeitgeist, in the present presence of time, just as they are Jezersko Village. I’m sure glad to have friends like Tamara who have run ahead of me down the path and call back, “Look! Look what I have found!” Thanks, Tamara, and look at what I found:

P1200809

A Botanical Garden for Tamara!

This is what you get when a farmer’s wife teaches French Language and Literature at the university down the road. And again …

P1200813 … and again …

P1200814 … and again! P1200816I should put a table out on a road, with a bucket and a sign:  Words, $5 a bucket! And just fill it up with words. Maybe a coyote will stop and have a sniff, eh!

Writing With Light

The blue sky? The yellow bird? The green pine?

P1200192Female American Goldfinch in a Lodgepole Pine the Beetles Missed

Big Bar Lake

Hardly. Those are properties of human sight, and of American Goldfinch sight as well. We are creatures of the earth, on Earth. Should we ever leave Earth, we will still see with the earth’s eyes. What does that mean, to see with the Earth’s eyes? Ah, this, I think:

P1190850Pond and Aspen, Big Bar Lake

Because of the earth-based properties of human sight, the nature of the universe can be worked out in terms of colour just as powerfully as it can in terms of logical processes. Both are science, which is nothing more nor less than the creation of knowledge out of experience. There’s nothing in that that says that the knowledge created has to take the form of a set of universal laws, or that the creation of a vast intellectual pattern superseding physical perception is the only way of thinking. That’s only a cultural bias.

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The World Turning Blue Late in the Day, Big Bar Lake

Photographers and painters have known this for a long time. Now that culture has gone visual, writers are freed from texts and can start sculpting the world again.

P1190822Walking on the Big Bar Eskers

This is our book now. What an exciting time to be alive. That’s the observation. Now, to publish in that space.

 

 

This is Why People Are Afraid of the Dark

Remember those beautiful pictures of the night?

P1200671The ones I showed you yesterday because I got spooked by noises in the night on the hill and wandered back home and discovered my garden for the first time?

P1200674Yeah, well, I went back to the trail the next day, to get away from my canning pot. This is the spot I turned around at the night before, because it was all blackness ahead of me.

P1200743What is that? And how big of a critter made it? Well, here’s some scale.

P1200742And another angle on that …

P1200741Sheesh!

 

 

 

The Garden at Night

Ah, the August Moon, with her old face above the black hills, riding clouds as she has since humans first looked up to the night.

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Nectarine Moon

I used to walk out with her for hours, night after night, and even run with her in the wind. I kept doing it, too, for forty years more , until I came upon a bear in the dark one night, that had come down from the Black Sage Hills to eat  peaches by moonlight.

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Red Haven Peaches, Still Warm in the Dark

The bear woofed from a couple metres away, and bolted into the trees with a crash of cat-scented leaves, and I returned to the farmhouse, its pale green mercury light, and the dog who had abandoned this walk just behind the shed when the wind curled down from the peach block and the hot asphalt road.

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Sunflower Hiding the Moon

You have to trust a dog, I guess, it would be foolish not to, but I don’t have one now and it’s August and the sweet grapes are ripe, and hips, and the wild nuts in the ditch.

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Filberts Breathing the Dark

When I was a young man, I would walk out under that moon and pick grapes in the dark, then walk up to the soapstone and sagebrush and eat them in the cold desert wind as the scent of apples blew out of the orchards into the sky. So I went out last night, for a bit of that, with grapes picked from under their big black leaves, like leather laid hand over hand. As I walked under that big white moon, I tasted the sweetest summer sun and stopped now and then to marvel.

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Rose Hips in the Night Wind

The dark soon got to me, though, over by the choke cherries on the hill, in the crack of cottonwood leaves and the wind blowing up through drying branches and inky shadows, that lay over the bunchgrass like water. It was as if anyone stepping in there, would drown.

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Red Havens, Waiting for the Bear to Come

If I were a bear up on the mountain, I thought, I’d have been there last night, in the cherries, where the scent of peaches blew up the hill like coyote song, and I remembered what Chief Willie told me at Tsatsicknukwomi, in the Broughton Archipelago, outside of the big house he had built the old way, with hand tools, when he had brought his grandchildren back to the village his people had left when he was five years old, seventy-five years before. “Trust a grizzly,” he said. “They think, like a man. But don’t trust a black bear. They’re crazy.”

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Crazy Old Sun, Staring into the Dark

So I went back to the garden, and I saw it with the eyes of the night, like I had never seen it before. It was like a gift given to me by the memory of a bear that touched me with its breath so long ago that it is still present.

P1200650Gloriosa Daisy and Icelandic Poppies

During the day, the garden doesn’t look like this.

P1200675But then, during the day, it’s facing the light. In the night, it’s facing the dark.

P1200672And what is in the dark? Life, of course, and death.

P1200685 And sometimes both at once.

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Life is a sculpture made out of time, with its tides and flows, and long bouts of just being present.

P1200674I was present, last night, under that old moon that Dionysus carried in a wine sack out of Turkey all those years ago and then threw up into the air above the pine trees, to light the dances of people who had come out into the light.

P1200682What a beautiful thing he did, leading us like that away from the sun just far enough that we can find our way back.

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Water, Time and Loons

Ah, what great stuff water is. When the sun mixes with it like spiritual smoke, you can sort of see through it…P1190551 It looks a bit like a polaroid photograph of the sun, taken over hundreds of millions of years and developed right now …P1190433In contemporary fashion, lakes are known as environments. If the earth is viewed with time rather than with space, it’s a source. It’s not just light that sets over time. Life does, too.

P119043737 Million Years of Time Rises from the Water

Common Loon, Big Bar Lake

And goes back…

downLoon Chick Diving Into the World it Is

Big Bar Lake

If a lake is an environment, let’s think of it as one — not as a home for individuals, but as one unified thing. One living thing.

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The Living Lake

It is a definition of life that it is independent and self-replicating. What if that were just an eighteenth century cultural bias, and this were a form (or a stage) of life …

P1190782 Or this?

P1200383Big Bar Lake at Dusk

Physicists have demonstrated that time and space are one. It is a common belief of scientific commentary that these effects are not observable in everyday life. What if they are? P1190470Loon Taking Flight

Living Water on the Chilcotin Plateau

 Some landscapes are made by wind. Not these ones in the Chilcotin Basalt, inland from the glacially-carved volcanic arc of the Coast Mountains.

P1190824 Big Bar Eskers

This is where the glaciers melted 10,000 years ago, leaving the land in an exotic covering of river patterns. Look at the water that has taken the place of some of the last ice, like a tidal pool after the moon has pulled the sea away …

P1190898 Eroded Eskers, Big Bar Lake

Here, too, in between the flowing eskers…

P1190850 The land, as you can see, was not so much carved by the ice as laid down around it by vast gravel bearing rivers …P1190851The life of this land will forever follow those ancient flows.

P1190886Big Bar Eskers, with Droplets of Juniper

In this land, life is a continuation of the melting of the ice.

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Young Loon, Big Bar Lake Wetlands

A good place to rise from the water and practice flying!