A Meditation on Respect

After 150 years on the Plateau, the struggle between the Syilx commons and the private property of Settler culture has become institutionalized. On the foundation that cities are representations of historical and social space, and especially of social relationships between levels of power over time and a kind of artwork painted on the earth by inter human struggle, take a look at how far we’ve come.

P1340377 Barbed Wire 4 Metres Up a Wall

That’s the military technology which was considered as barbaric in its time as chemical weapons are today. Early cattle ranchers adopted it wholesale, and it has, well, stuck. Here’s how the financial industry is getting along.

P1340406 Office Desk at the Old Bank of Montreal

The staff moved out but couldn’t be bothered to clean up after themselves. Seemingly, the way power goes in the battleground between public and private space it was no longer their problem.

Same here:

P1340392 At One Point in History, People Wanted to See Out

Then other people wanted to get in. Now there’s the jerry-rigged thing called the Internet.

The one thing that has some cultural currency is the idea of public safety. Take a look:

P1340395 The Abandoned Bank of Montreal, Vernon

Notice the barricades, and the power post done completely to code, as well as the wooden power pole in the foreground, tested regularly for rot (the little white circles plug the test drill holes.)

Through these devices, the public is protected from private error, but, and this is a big but, it still has to look at it. Some people have figured out to reply in the spirit of the visual assault, and to return the intrusions of private absorption into public space back into a form of public utility. See?

P1340375 Mind You, It’s No Better than the Original Disrespect

In the cultures of the plateau, respect was something mutually given and received. In settler culture, it was something determined by wealth and power. To settler culture, the Syilx culture, suddenly with neither wealth nor power, became the public space that a settler culture erected its provisional monuments within. This temporary situation has become permanent.

P1340371 If anyone asks something like “What on earth does the colonial process of suppressing Indians have to do to me? I’ve done nothing!” They’re right. But they live within the impoverished world that was created by racism and invasion. The only way forward is to admit that we are all Syilx now.P1340379Except, of course, for the invaders, who try to lure us in …

P1300914 … and then chase us away.

P1260279That is the opposite of respect.

 

 

Northern Oregon and the Cold War

Here’s a map of Oregon from 1846. The line that divides it in half is the proposed border along the 49th parallel, that became law twelve years later and separated British and American territory.1846_Oregon_territory-2Here it is again with my country roughly outlined in its heart. I live very close to the top of that oval. The entire oval is very roughly the central body of Syilx territory, but the northern reaches of it are its heart.

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Here it is in a larger sense. This rectangle very roughly maps the salmon territory of regional interest, and even more roughly the geographic region which speaks to the hearts of all of us who live here.

threeThe formation of the border led to many gold rushes just north of the 49th Parallel in 1858, which led to British takeover of the unorganized territory north of the line, to prevent its absorption into the United States. Canadians effected a rather hostile takeover in 1871, and because of that takeover Canada eventually occupied the land from sea to sea, tied together across empty space by a new railroad.  Before that, however, local trade and settlement ran north south, as if the border wasn’t there. After all, you can’t put a wall through the heart and expect it to last.

P1170639East German Guard Tower on the B4 Road to Eisenach

The first tower erected outside of Berlin when the Wall went up in 1963. No man’s land was the strip of green grass to the left of the wheat field.

P1170660

 

Former Electrification Station for the Electrified Fence Dividing East from West

Artificial divisions can only last so long. Some day there will be no Canada or United States. We need to lay the foundations for that future, even if it is five hundred years from now.

For one thing, that means to stop mining the land for wealth but to bring wealth to it. A people who intend their great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren to live on a land do not deplete it and do not intend to profit from it. The future is their profit. I mean, what on earth other kind of profit can there be? Anything else is a loss. We had to fight this with the anti-nuclear movement in the 1970s. We were very clear about it back then: if there’s no future, there’s no past and all acts are meaningless. It seems we aren’t done combating that paralysis yet.

The Ethics of Living on the Earth

Canada administrates half of my land as a nation state. The United States administrates the other half. Within Canada, the region called British Columbia administrates half of my land in terms of regional issues. Within the United States, the region called Washington administrates half of my land in terms of a separate set of regional issues. The national border lying between British Columbia and Washington ensures that most citizens of my country are unaware that their country extends south or north of an imaginary line. It gets more bizarre. The regional government of British Columbia serves the city of Vancouver, which lies in British Columbia but not within my land. The regional government of Washington serves the city of Seattle, which lies in Washington but not within my land. Both Vancouver and Seattle are important port cities in their nation states (Canada and the United States), and are their respective links to the nation states of Eastern Asia. These two cities manage my country for the purpose of maintaining their power as city states within separate nation states. What’s more, the national governments of Canada and the United States manage British Columbia and Washington, including my country, for the purposes of maintaining their identities as nation states. The cultural identity these constructs were created to support lie on the Eastern half of North America. This is done deliberately. Truth is, my country is an ancient volcanic region east of the stratovolcanoes of the Cascade and Coast Mountains of Western North America, which, bizarrely enough, are the same range. As for politics, the southern half of my country is divided  into several voting regions, represented by different politicians. If they are to discuss the affairs of my country, or at least of their half of it, they have to meet independently of the governments of which they are a part, as there is no mechanism for their meeting together. The same happens in the northern half of my country. In both cases, the affairs of my country become through this process subordinated to the affairs of distant cities, with foreign cultures, and must be conducted through the desires of those cities and the states they serve, if they are conducted at all. It is remarkably inefficient. Negotiations are cumbersome and involve large-scale national and international negotiations and treaties. A huge amount of energy goes into this work, which is work conducted not to support my country and its ability to bring forth life and to sustain it, but to control (or foster, it all depends) the aggressive tendencies of humans. These are the practicalities of human life, which is social, complex, and rather mad. The only thing is, my country is poor, where it was once rich. More people live here now, but the land produces less and sustains fewer species in fewer numbers. You could say that in the main the people who live here do not live here. That is an ethical definition I would like to place on the table. If one lives on one’s land, one works to sustain it, not to rebuild it in the form of a distant place. You have to plant something. You have to support something. You have to make something more connected to the earth. You have to enrich the physical country and its people, or you are only living in a nation state, in a state, in a province, in a city state and its hinterland, or some other combination of human social networks. They are vital and important things to humans, but they are killing the earth. Something is missing, and that is as obvious as anything in the world. The earth is missing. It has to be given a seat at the table. When we sit down to talk, as we must, because we are humans, we need to sit down with the people with whom we share common interest, and we need to have a place at the table for the earth and its other creatures. Without that, the earth will continue to die. Every view of land or landscape is an ethical act. This is ethics:

P1310905 This is ethics:

P1310402Meyer Family Vineyard, McClean Creek Road, Okanagan Falls

It is not a business. This is ethics: P1300361Rail Line, Kalamalka Lake

It is not a transportation link for industry. This is ethics:

P1300323 Redroot Pigweed, Bella Vista Hills

It is not a weed. This is ethics:

noducksWetland, The Commonage near Predator Ridge

The turtles who live here must sit at the political table, or if they can’t we must change the table. If we don’t, we don’t live here, and we won’t, and the lake will continue to die, and this place, here, won’t be hospitable to human life. Thing is, though, I am from this place. I am this place. This is my country. My family did not come from here, but they came here, with the intent of becoming a part of this place — not a part of its social dynamic, but a part of the place itself. And it worked, and here I am, watching the citizens of distance countries and city states move in and transform the place in their own image. It is a profound forgetting. The work of Okanagan Okanogan has been a profound remembering. As humans, our place in the world is small but our effect is large. It is large because people forget, because people often choose to remain only within their social affairs. The very forms with which contemporary society is organized in this place, right down to its political divisions, ensure this outcome. All people are responsible. All landscape is ethics.  This is ethics:

yellowbee2

This is not a bee. It is an image of a bee. It is human social act. That means it has an ethical dimension. Is it beautiful? Yes. That is an ethical judgement. Art is not aesthetic. Its purpose is not to beautify. Its purpose is negotiate ethical relations between human social networks and the planet, or God, if you will. It has always been that way. That it is not seen that way, is an issue of ethics and memory. What does it mean to remember? It means to put back together what has been broken by passing time. That is an unusual thing to say in a society that measures itself by a present that is never here, a past that has ceased to exist, and a future that will never arrive. “The moment is all,” is the slogan of contemporary times. Well, yes. It is. But it is not an insubstantial moment of time. It is all time and space in the world. It is all here. Look at it:

P1220890

Swan Lake

This notion of time moving, that’s a human artwork. It is opening into itself, which is already here. It is a story. For the past two years, Okanagan Okanogan has been about learning to read it again. A pleasant task in front of me for this winter is to lay down the grammar of that reading and to lead to practical, ethical conversations and acts, ones which include the world. Much of this has passed through these nearly 700 posts. When it comes together, I think it will be astounding. It will be a country, and a map to that country, and a way of being in the world. Onward!

 

 

 

Holding Light in Your Hand

You can hold the sun in your hand. Really. Just pick a leaf in the fall. Once photosynthesis has shut down, the photons of the sun stay there for a short time, before passing on.

P1330943Thimbleberry Leaves in a Pine Tree a Half Hour Before Dusk 

It is the goal of our universities to train people in critical thinking. What do they do to teach people to see? Lots, but it’s often to separate groups of people. As the poet-scientist Goethe pointed out, the human body is the most sensitive instrument there is. He said that 200 years ago, but it still holds. Do scientists have the capacity to try to understand that? Do artists and writers? Why not? Posing, contemplating and answering these questions is also a form of critical thinking. For example, which use of a light-capturing apparatus best represents the earth? Which represents best the earth viewed by humans? This?

P1340156Wild Rose Hips at Dusk

Or this?

P1340153 Or this?

P1340151Or are they all the same? On fall nights, it is often better to suspend answers.

 

The Beauty of Fog

The Okanagan Valley markets summer. Summer is an ancient European idea that has a lot of currency in Canada, where there’s a lot of winter, and very little in Guatemala, where there’s what passes for summer pretty much the whole year long. But then the lake begins to cool and fill the valley with the first winter fogs.P1330370

These are the ones that keep the Arctic cold from the valley, and let it roll on down south to the Pasayten Wilderness in Washington. These last few days, many people, drunk on summer, have been complaining about the fog. Complaining? Why, just look at it!P1330365 P1330361 P1330362 P1330363

 

You couldn’t get light like this in a million summers. This place is a photographer’s dream in the fall and winter, when the light fills the air and the sun and the fog together act as a focussing and softening lens. Here are some ancient peach trees, soaking up the fog that has kept them alive all these years.

 

P1330415

 

What beautiful light. Here’s some mullein and wild asparagus shining in it.

P1330387

 

In the fog, the sun is in everything. It is focussed, there to plainly see where it always is, but hidden in the glare.

P1330478

 

Bean Garden in the Fog Months

This weather is a good antidote to all those electronic cameras that ramp the colour values up in order to hit people in the visual cortex. All that is like shouting. This, though …

P1330416This is light whispering in your ear.

Celebrating the Apricot

Today, a moment of joy. Remember the apricots of a year ago?

cots

Tilton Apricots, Lower Keremeos, Similkameen Valley

The great preserving cot of the West.

And remember the ones of this August, which ripened while I was kayaking with the turtles in the Sinlahekin Valley?

p1180564

 

Seedling Apricots in My Backyard

But not my apricots, if you know what I mean. Photographers, please forgive the overexposure, but I had reason to get out of there quick!

Well, look at them now:
P1330648 The Bella Vista Japanese Orchards’ Second-to-Last Apricot Tree

The sun is shining right there. (Note: I have the other remaining one.)

That colour is just consistent through and through. Look at it again.

P1330657What a beautiful circle she paints, with her shadow of light.

That’s it for today. Just happiness.

Haig-Brown and the Energy of the Universe

What if these yellow asparagus ferns in the fall were not wild? What if there were no wilderness?P1330394 That’s no far-fetched, really. In Nu-chal-nuth culture, on the long beaches and rocky islets of the West Coast, between the uplifted sea beds of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and the uplifted volcanoes of Alaska, there was no word for wilderness. There was only one word, really: home. There still is. If you have a language like that, then this old woman’s peach tree, the one she fights a bad hip and failing health to maintain, because this is her life, to live freely with trees on this land and to bring life and a living from them, would not be a ruin. It would be a place worthy of tending, and not just be a lone woman and her memories, as contemporary Canadian culture might put it, however compassionately.

P1330401

In the speech I gave to the  Haig Brown Society in Campbell River three weeks ago, I talked about language and its capacity to change resource policy. Here’s some of what I said:

In English, the words for the physical world are ones in which the earth is alive and its energies are transferred into things and back into energies. The place they pass through, like the shared relationship between men and women, or between women and their children, is the commons which I’m talking about. Without that space, the energies wouldn’t pass. Without a language for it, that space would be invisible.

Much like this, I think:

P1330018

Smoke Bush Burning in the Autumn Light

Yes, the light, the decorative beauty, all these things have a voice in Canadian life, but the old name for smoke bush, Valanidh, the smoke of the dragon that created Albania out of the ancient wars between Athens and Turkey, at the beginning of Western Culture? The healing herb of Bulgaria? Economic potential? Not imaginary potential. Bulgaria manufactures this stuff into all manner of products. Those are all invisible in Canada, because the light of beauty is just too divorced from action and is just too bright. We who are artists bear some responsibility for this, and at least in part responsibility, for returning human life to the earth. Maybe it’s up to us to reunite science and art, and to once again make the earth a place of doing rather than of contemplation. Maybe we need to choose life.

P1320975

It’s Not a Weed in a Roadway

It doesn’t need eradication. That is just a cultural language. This plant is showing us the future, as well as how to grow outside of the warm season.

When I say we need to humanize the wilderness, I don’t mean obliterating the natural world. I mean re-entering it. I mean including it in the family of humans, and according it the ethical rights which naturally accrue to it. As I mention in the essay:

Life does not find living channels if spoken of in a language not its own.

I’m not, however, talking about anything complex or pie-in-the-sky, here. I’m talking about words. This is not a word:

P1330046

Okanagan Lake on an October Afternoon

It is an image, though, carved from a living lake and living hills.

As my essay explains (with a little space, in respect of this electronic medium):

To begin to give the earth a voice, then, consider these important words: lift, flow, fly, run, bridge, stream, blow.

 

Now, consider them again, with their Old Norse voice revealed:

 

the air that enters lift lifts and is a wind;

the water that enters flow begins flowing and flows;

the insect that enters flight flies, becomes flight and is a fly;

the man who enters running, runs and is on a run;

the man who takes a breath has a breath and is breathing breath;

he blows it out, and his blow, blowing, blows above the sea.

 

Hundreds of words like this exist in English. They move energy, concentrate it for a moment, animate objects with it, and then dissipate again into the universe.

That is our language. It has that.

P1320989

Earth Evaporating into the Sun; Sun Condensing into the Earth

No, that’s not scientific or artistic, but such language can live where the people are, in a way in which science or art on their own can only create wilderness and alienation and beauty, because that’s what they are for: to divide, to contemplate and to study in pieces, at great technical depth. 

Against that, though, we have the physical, unified gift of our ancestors, and as I point out in my essay, Land for the People,

That’s a good place to be — a place in which breath is not a thing a man or woman or horse takes (that is to say possesses, makes private, harvests or owns) but a quality of the universe, like cadmium, hydrogen peroxide or gravity. Such a breath is something you pass on. It gives the universe’s energy to a thing for a moment, brings it to life, and then passes to another life. Instead of humans being the centre of this universe, they are a commons, in which the energies take on living form, and from which they then leave to go back into the world and more living forms. A resource policy based upon this principle wouldn’t be one that sees the earth as a pool of elemental, abstract objects which can be turned to profit, with the accompanying risk that they won’t be returned to the commons to recharge.

 

And here, the essay refers to a long section which you don’t have before you, about humans and dogs evolving together, above humans becoming human in the process, and about the four women in the deep human past, who accepted four neanderthal-homo sapiens mixed-species children as human, and their tribes who accepted them as well and made humans who they are today.

meet

The essay continues.

Rather, in the spirit of those ancient homo sapiens mothers who made us human, such a resource policy would see the earth as a storehouse of elemental energies, to be drawn into social space and then returned unharmed, then to be drawn from again, in the same way an Icelander keeps a pile of rusty farm equipment beside the road, where its creative energy can be harnessed (not harvested) again and again.

Ah, that equipment. Here you go:

farm3

Creativity Bank (Not a Capital Bank as Known in Canada) in Iceland

Until the last bit of creativity is mined from this created object, its debt to the land has not been repaid.

That’s an economic system based on humans in place, rather than humans exploiting place. So is this:

easterhorse

Horse Facing the Sun at Dawn at Easter, Skriðuklaustur, Iceland

Where men spend the summer making hay, to keep their women’s horses through the winter, because everybody knows that the horses are their souls. It works. It is work.

Back to the essay now:

To create such a resource policy through words won’t happen overnight, but if many people use such words, change will be inevitable, even if managers and lawyers try to bend it to different ends. As an example of this principle, I offer the State of Washington, which administers the other half of my valley, the Okanagan. When Washington Territory began to be settled after the American Civil War, the generals of the US Army enacted a two-part program to ensure that the new territory would follow the political structures of the New England states. First, indigenous peoples (such as the Nez Perce) were removed, so their forms of egalitarian social organization wouldn’t contaminate the new settlers. Second, the earth was cut into private plots — turned into land — because once it was subdivided and privatized no other outcome than an Eastern American model would be possible. And so it has been: no matter what forms of politics have washed over Washington, they have all flowed through those words for the land. However, it has only been 140 years. The process is far from complete. We can still reverse it.

Well, in fact, some parts of it are still here.

OIB

The Horses of the Okanagan Indian Band on the Communal Reserve Pasture in April

When US settlers came to the Yakima Valley, in Washington, in the 1870s, they found huge herds of horses like this, and captured the lot, sold them or butchered them as pet food, because they considered them wild. They weren’t. They lived in a free relationship with people. The Yakima Nation.

The essay continues by mapping out English (as I have done here in the last couple weeks), as a community of languages, including Old Norse, as described above, and this one …

The second language in English is Anglo Saxon. Anglo Saxon was a language of things. Sun, moon, life, death, man, woman, pig, cow, rock, earth, house, home, love, birth, and thousands of other words that we speak daily, the words we use to speak of world, are largely Anglo Saxon. Combined with Old Norse, it gives us a language with two capabilities: in one, verbs move energy; in the other, things are solid and have their own identity.

And importantly for the discussion here today, this administrative language, the one that gives us the language of contemporary Canadian and American resource policy and social policy, the kind of thing that leads to this …

rhb images.069

The Proud and Creative Botanical Garden of the University of Jena that Created the Modern University …

… becomes a salt-poisoned decorative garbage pit at the University of British Columbia, due to a failure of knowledge, language and intelligence.

And that leads directly to this, because young people aren’t stupid, and learn their lessons well …

rhb images.070

 

Flower Planter at the University of British Columbia …

… given a contemporary use.

This distortion of language through the lens of private ownership, like this (you are looking at a short series of images from the slideshow that punctuated my talk):

rhb images.071and through that idea of the common land of the people given private monopoly to enable the creation of wealth in the public good, comes this …

rhb images.072… Monsanto GMO Canola test plot on wasted crop land, tended by graduates of the non-living university. I’m sorry to use such hard words, but look:

rhb images.073

 

Do you want to live on a poisoned planet? This farmer earns money from fees for GMO tests, and poisons nearly all living things to death in support of the contract. If you think that’s too personal an example of how the language of resource policy is influenced by the language in which it is written and learned, how about this:

rhb images.095

Rainwater, the vital stuff of life, captured not to be used but to be removed from the living community. You can go to university for years, or be embedded in the traditions of a government bureaucracy and work honestly and with dedication for your whole life, and this can go on for generations, and what comes out of it? This:

rhb images.067

The Smoke Pit in the Alley

This is called “The Outdoors.” It’s where you go to keep air inside buildings clean  — not where you go to keep outside air clean. 

Against all of that, though, we have a language that falls in three levels. Here, let me essay take it away…

The third language in English is French. In 1066, it was the language of a new administrative class   — but not the language of the commons. The French weren’t numerous enough in England to mingle. Nonetheless, under French influence the language gained structures of rationality, administration, government and logic. The resulting hybrid, English, is one in which Old Norse energies move Anglo Saxon objects within French administrative structures. Because this three-level process needs conversation to hold it together, the English invented a shelter for parley, a parliament, a talking house — a tun — as the doing, the fertilizing dung through which objects, administration, and energies could join in the body of the people.

 

When that tun is turned into a management, as is the case in British Columbia today, the people the tun represents are reduced to the viewpoint of the French legislative level. Common rights become social rights. Humans begin to be seen along Darwin’s model, as lone individuals, defining their society through a random process of aggressive competition. Such a separation of governmental language from its commons allows for people to speak one meaning of a word and means another, or to shut down debate about sea lice…

 

Oh, that’s a touchy point in Campbell River, because of the prominence of salmon farming in the region, as well as scientists and environmentalists who maintain that the sea lice populations in crowded net pens of Atlantic salmon are obliterating the common resource of the people, the wild Pacific Salmon. Back to the essay …

…by changing mid-speech from Old Norse to French, or French to Anglo-Saxon, or to prorogue parliament one too many times. Such energy directed against the foundation of the language makes everyone frustrated. Everybody knows that something’s fishy.

Lawyers make their living by shifting the language around in this way, and most poetry in English today is mostly about negotiations between these levels of language, rather than about living things in the earth and finding a way in which to directly speak to them or of them, as our ancestors did, and still do through the words we speak. The thing is, though, if we, the common people, with our heritage, the common earth, which is the foundation of our system of law, use our Old Norse language again, and replace governmental regulations with the language of the people, change will be inevitable. It may be slow, but like the paradigm set up by the Generals of the US Army after the Indian Wars of the Columbia Plateau, it will continue to develop, despite any effort of government or industry to subvert it. We, the people, have that power. This is where it comes from …

rhb images.027

 

 

Big Bar Lake, September

That’s right: our power comes from the energy of the universe. It doesn’t come from government regulations. Rather, it gives them life. Here’s how I put that in the essay:

Roderick Haig-Brown spoke of the health of a resource policy being measurable from the health of the people. I think we can take it further. We can speak of the health of the people being measurable by the health of the language. Even further, the health of the people and the environment can be measured, and transformed, by improving the health of the language. In the case of English, that means that whenever we speak of the land in parliamentary processes, we need to return to our Old Norse and Anglo Saxon vocabulary. We, the people, have this voice for the natural world. If we don’t use it, we will lose the earth it represents. Nobody wants that.

The essay continues with an experimental revision of some British Columbia Governmental Resource Policy. If you would like to see some of that on these pages, let me know. And do, please, drop me a note if you’d like a copy of this essay in full. Until then, here is a pink salmon, come home to the Eve River on Vancouver Island…

rhb images.039

 

Energy, Alive

and at home on the earth.

 

The Green Green Grapes of Home

Last week, I was speaking about the potential of the various languages within English for creating a new language for science. I think there’s something I should have explained, so let me get it out of the way. Without words for something, it doesn’t get developed into agricultural and scientific possibility. Here, for example, are some grapes grown for wine above my house…

p1240113The image was made in September. They’re off the vine now and fermenting in a shed in Kelowna, to the south. Here’s another image from September, however, in which I wondered out loud what was going on. These are wild grapes…

p1240246As you can see, they have a wide variety of maturities. What does it mean for wine? I wondered. What does it mean for the plant? There are no answers, because scientists are concerned about very practical issues around the story of wine-making and these, being wild grapes, are outside of that story. Or are they? Look at them now…

P1330538

Not much left, is there. Oh, but there is. Let’s poke around in this canopy of vines on top of this black hawthorn tree…P1330551 Yeah, the birds got the ripe grapes, leaving these green ones behind. They’re going to get through the winter in much this shape, I expect. There’s a lot of them, too…P1330549 Now, earlier in the year, back in July, let’s say, these grapes would have been exactly this colour, and would have been nearly 100% citric acid. Then came the magic of transformation, the skins built up malic acid, and the fruits replaced their acid bit by bit with sugars, and out of that comes wine. This isn’t July, though. Now these grapes are only half as hard as they were back then, scarcely sour, and, well, look at them in the light …P1330542 Beautiful, aren’t they. They’re scarcely sour, their seeds are mature, and they’re going through a complex process of maturity that is nothing like that which their sisters went through in July. Where will it lead? Well, for the moment, to a cool climate environment of slow maturation with little sunlight, in the shade, yet cleared of the competition of tight clusters.P1330541 Some of those early purple grapes remain, and will live off of their sugars through the winter…P1330540… just as these will live off of their acids. It’s like wine, actually. The best wines, the ones that keep the longest, have strong, complex acids, which they digest slowly over long periods of time, in the dark. Well, here it is, happening right on the vine. The point about language is, if fermentation is understood as a process that goes on in barrels, in the juice of dark berries picked out of the sunlight, the contribution of this other type of maturity is lost to the wine-making process. Similarly, if this wild grape plant is called a weed, it will be ignored, and if we’re using language of heat and sunlight to describe wine grapes, the blend of maturities within these grapes will be lost to the wine-making process. In short, we will be telling a story by making wine, but one far diminished from the one we could tell. I’m all for telling good stories.

~

Tomorrow: details on what language can offer to science.

 

Fooling Around With the Seasons or Plant Sex 101

It’s October 20th… that’s Autumn, right? Best to ask the sumacs. They know. Here are the males, in their finery of feathers.
P1320631 And the females just down the road.

P1320545 Not just plumage, but drupes, too, this time. Yeah, those berries. Drupes. Say it out loud. Yeah, that’s how they taste. D..r..u..p..e..s. Nice, eh. But, um. (Yeah, um.) You see, sumacs don’t just live on their own, bolting wild and making a mockery of fence lines and the plans of landscaping architects. They have co-conspirators in this important work. I mean, the filberts. (For our European friends, that’s a great big version of a hazelnut … very tasty, but not near so tasty as a hazelnut, which is definitely the queen of nuts.) Here, have a look-see:

nutStill feeling like fall here. Very fine. 25 degrees Celsius. Sun coming in almost horizontally. If you turn around, it’s right there in your face, too, as if you were stepping into it. That’s a cool feeling. It’s like you could walk between worlds! Magpies chattering away. Raven and hawk keeping their eye on my wanderings (and their backs to the sun, so they don’t go blind as bats and bump into stray children), but, um. Well, look at this…

catkinSpring!

Male filbert flowers starting their year.

They’ll still be there through the snow, when all the leaves are gone. Faithful, ever-hopeful guys, aren’t they! Love, they say, makes the world go round. This is, I believe, a very good thing.

 

 

We do Not Have a Food Problem

We do not have a food problem.

My Magic  Tomato and Her New Icelandic Friends

We don’t even have a production problem.


Black Krim Tomatoes

Mmmmm.

We don’t even have a farming problem.

P1320462U-Pick Tomato Field at the End of the Year

What we have is a succession problem, compounded by land speculation.

P1320453Aging Farmer Cutting the Vines Away In Preparation for Plowing.

And a distribution problem, exacerbated by the lack of an adequate social language for these concerns.

P1320446Good Food Becoming a Burden and a Waste

The point is not that this food should be donated to a food bank, but that the distribution system, which includes the system of creating value to allow for this food to be harvested for compelling wages, is completely inadequate. This food should be in the jar and on the shelf and in kitchens and smeared on the faces of children.

P1320463Ridiculous. I am totally ashamed to live in a society that considers this normal.

~

Next week: what a change in language can do for us.