Look how simple these high European landscapes are, how swept by the sea, how chewed by cows, how much the earth has been given over to the sky. Now, compare with the Okanagan, where overgrazing by cattle leads to bushiness.
Look how high European oaks root in that sky, in a world without colour, but with exquisite shades of light and dark, in a weave of time.
And compare that to the Okanagan, where there are no oaks.
Here it is the land that moves in time. Here a walker passes through the hills the way a celebrant (or a cow) passes through the oaks of the Jura. Friends, these hills are our trees.
Autumn isn’t a season. It’s a mood within a cultural tradition, that views life as a flow out of the earth during certain degrees of tilt of its northern shoulder towards or away from the sun. In other words, it’s the mood that a certain group of humans have come to use as a means of reading that quality of light. Previous groups of humans used standing stones, moons, stories, songs, or the amount of water falling from the sky.
Leaving seasons behind is liberating. The flow remains. It exists in the image above, which is traditionally read in Canada as a falling away into a time of rest before the life force springs forth again, combined with a sense of ripeness. This is an ancient world that Europeans brought from Asian millennia ago. In the Okanagan, though, it says that the land in the image below is dead from the effects of summer, since it isn’t springing forth, and is waiting to be returned to a watery state by winter before springing forth again.
That’s simply not true. That dry scene has already sprouted with mid-August thunderstorms and is soaking up October’s rains. This is spring, just before the great time of growth under the lens of the snow. Life here is not about a springing forth, but about a holding. And that’s the beauty of it.
These plants have gone wild from a garden above them. Not one is native here. They are native to Eastern North America.
To survive in its illusion of seasons, White culture requires extensive plantings of this colour. It is taught in school, even. It is even called “fall colour.” It is the east in the west, really. This is history, written in a story of loss and longing, of the pain of separation and an attempt to heal it with physical gestures of care. Let’s praise that care.