Okanagan Okanogan: The View From Here

Friends, it’s a happy day. Today, just over 35 months since I began with an image of the grassland (6 hits that day), and a gut feeling that a blog might prove a useful writing process, and 47 months since I had a vision of a new way of living on the earth, I have a manuscript. It’s about this land I love and all its stories and surprising histories, and it’s about the salmon coming home and my coming home with them and getting down to the real work, of remaking the land. I’ll finish it up in the next few days. I have a surprise, too: a second manuscript, which I thought was just going to be a short blog post today. I thought it was going to lead into another three years of writing. To my delight, it is largely written, scattered (and I mean scattered) throughout the posts on this blog. It’s rough, and stretched to encyclopaedic length with photographs, but I can feel its body scattered in space around me. It’s not far off. So, on this 800th post, on this journey of discovery from the Fraser River to the sea, from the Okanagan Valley to the Columbia Plateau, from Palouse Falls to the John Day River and East Iceland to the Mosel, the Rhine and the Rhone, deep into East Germany and back again, following the thread of a story like a salmon following a thread of scent up its birth river, in a sea of over 17,000 images (and another 200,000 in reserve) and about a half million words, it’s with excitement that I can show you a bit of my desktop today while the canning pot burbles on the stove and the scent of peaches fills the house:

working

 

Harold at Work

Cool!

Environmental Poetics

If sun …P1480038

 

Trembling Aspen

… or shade …
P1470783

 

Jerusalem Artichoke

… were continuous …

P1470791

Saskatoon

… or even divided …

P1470919 … there would be no life.P1470912They act as a pump. They pump time…P1470842

Saskatoons in Summer Drought

… together …
P1470771 Staghorn Sumacs (Male)

… and bring fruit …

P1470490Star King Red Delicious Apples

… and allow the mind to see itself …

P1470473Summerland Red MacIntosh Apples

… out in the world.

N0000303.RAW Poplars, Mud Lake

Poetry was once the language that could mediate these energies. Environmental science needs its tools, because within it the body is the earth and the earth the spirit.

P1410986Blown Salsify

Just blow and the wind catches it.

~

In the next few days I’m going to try to assemble my posts that support this idea, to have something special for our 800th post together here.

 

 

Julia’s Sunflower Has a Visitor

Julia Aleynikova is a young poet from the north east Ural mountains, who gave me six sunflower to plant while she went to Minsk for the summer. Her poem “Lady Fallen to Earth” is one of the finalist’s for this year’s CBC Poetry Prize. On the day the finalist list was announced (Monday), this American Goldfinch visited her flowers, that watched over my wildflower garden and greeted visitors for the summer.P1470959

I am saving seeds from one of the heads. If you would like a seed from Julia’s sunflower, let me know. I’m hoping you might plant it, to pass Julia’s gift along, but, hey, if you’re small enough and have the right beak they’ll make a meal.

P1470942That’s pretty good, too!

 

 

 

The Unity of Plants vs. Human Hate

The science based on Darwin holds that plants evolve over time to fit various ecological niches. This bunchgrass, for example, evolved to take advantage of hot, windy climates.
P1470833 The science based on Goethe holds that plants have an essential nature which exists in potentiality within plants and expresses itself in response to varying conditions in a manner similar to the evolving relationship between the first rounded leaf of spring and the long, deeply cut leaves of Autumn.

P1470912

Dandelions, or Lion’s Teeth

Note the rounded leaves at the left and the older, deeply cut leaves in the individual at the centre of the image.

The difference seems to be an attitude to spirit and time. With Darwin’s science, time is a line, that is always pushing forward. With Goethe’s, time is a continuum, that opens out of itself, like this arrow-leafed balsam root, a gorgeous yellow sunflower, at the end of its season.

P1470855 Diversity is certainly key. This Scotch Thistle expresses the same tendencies to leaf as the dandelion or the balsam root, the same sense of extension, and the same tendency for individual stalks. Like the wheat grass, which lays down seeds in a balanced pattern and at set intervals, it lays down spines. It expresses these tendencies differently, but as Goethe might have pointed out, they are the same tendencies.P1470693 They are the same ones in these old, twisted sagebrush stalks…

P1470827 … and in these jerusalem artichokes…P1470779

 

Where Darwininan sees a ladder of being, Goethean science sees an opening of potential in response to conditions. Neither is wrong, but perhaps it would be good to give Goethean science a real try. Through exposure to it, society might transform itself into a field of energy in which, say, Sunnis and Shiites, or Ukrainians and Russians, have the ability to express their common potentiality, rather than their differences and their points of historical divergence. The thought that this yellow clover …P1470857

 

(Yeah, yellow! Go figure!)

… is essentially the same plant as that sagebrush above gives me pause to marvel, and to consider that the great philosopher of potentiality (He called it “being”.), Heidegger, has often been dismissed as a Nazi (He was, for a time.), although his philosophy held within it the potentiality to diverge from Nazism (which he did), while the deterministic philosophies of those who have dismissed him hold within them the potentiality to grow into rigid, top down societies, such as was the 1930s German Nazi state, and such as is the IS state in Syria and Iraq, which is currently dividing and killing people on the basis of points of rigid, evolutionary diverge of social forms. To talk about Nature is to talk about ethics. Maybe it’s time to take the long view, like this:

P1470768A Photograph of Being

aka Dandelion

Gravity is Relative: The Wisdom of Wasps

To humans, gravity means you keep your feet on the ground. Not so for wasps.P1470539

 

For them, it’s all fine to act that way when flying, but when you stop flying you react to what presents itself to you.

ladyNot Just Wasps!

Sounds like space flight, doesn’t it. It is. To effect it, don’t have bones, that require gravity to settle out and rise up like the towers termites build out of sand. Have an exoskeleton! Thought of the day: perhaps we should send our sisters to Mars.

 

Garage Sex, Okanagan Style

The marriage bed.

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Go away for 3 weeks and the neighbours move in, with each other on their mind. Madam came first.

Mrs.

Yeah, she didn’t pose very well, but there was all this, um, mosquito netting in the way of my lens, so I did what I could. Notice how she has learned to blend in with the black “Tuck Tape” background, to stay out of my way. She’s grown about 30% since I came back home. The gentleman arrived 2 weeks later …

mr

He’s about 25% of her size. The black sheets don’t help him. He is, as you can see, going for red, the colour of love. It’s a slow dance. Well, that’s what’s going around here with the black widows. How’s the action at your place?

Veraison or The Time of Ripening

The green balls of malolactic and citric acid are turning to tartaric acid now, and depositing sugars as water flow into grape berries decreases. The skins of the grapes are beginning their mysteries, adding the flavours that will define the wine, through CAM photosynthesis (such as you find in pineapples and cactus and cabbages). CAM plants make malolactic acid during the day and convert it to sugars in the night, when they don’t have to lose their water to breathe and take in oxygen. In grapes, CAM synthesis only takes place, slightly, in the skins, but it is enough. The mysteries of fermentation begin here, laying down the compounds that the yeast will transform in their intestinal tracts during fermentation, and which we know as the flavours of wine. Actually, they are the art that yeast make.P1470615

These are the deep mysteries. Note how the yeast is beginning to form on the skins of the grapes, in preparation for the transformations of winter. It is all one event, based on this one magical moment: the moment of ripening, when the grapes transform their nature entirely, and before the angels of the yeast reveal it (and the human tongue receives it.) This is an ancient sacrament.

 

Try This on Mars, I Dare You

Life in the sky…
bee…  vanishes (This is a form of ripening.)

subtleAt first it is nowhere to be found. Bones are everywhere. The sun has burnt everything away.P1470323Not everything. There are bee caves.

beecave

 

And this year will come again.

P1070652

Hang on!