How the British Columbia Government Looks After the Land and the Water

It doesn’t. If I look from my house towards the western shore of Okanagan Lake, I see this.p1430520

The land has been burnt, slashed by logging roads, scarred by development and turned into an ugly sore that will take a few centuries to recover. A government would work to heal the land. The legislature that we have administers public land, on the principle of making it available for industrial uses, as long as it doesn’t interfere with certain, assigned protected values, including special reserves for rare plants or animals on the model of the Indian Reserves of 1871. The principle is set out in the provincial land use plan, as follows:

At no time is the use of land governed or planned, other than in this process of setting aside reserves; at all times, the government promises that reserves will accommodate all possible uses at the same time, unless one so contravenes the requirements of a specific, limited protected area that it can’t be allowed. Walls are like that: Indian reserves placed all people outside of common community and gave privileges to a certain class of land owner and degrading poverty to another; environmental reserves allow a certain class of land user to maintain privileges while placing common people and their land outside of community. It would be better if we all decided to live here and started looking after the place. Whatever problems we have with each other that have led to these convoluted hierarchies of selling our land without governance …


… we should settle between each other. The land can’t afford to pay the price for this ideology any longer. Nor can we.




The Canadian Invasion

How do you make a country out of a series of industrial art works?


You take the sun and all that it does out in the red medicine willows …p1430345

… add some myths about the cold North left over from the expulsion of English patriots to Indian Territory after the American Civil War, and get Kelowna…p1430254

… a kind of Martian colony in the grass.


It is a safe place for people who are a long way from home. It is a fortress.


Oh, did you think that space colonization was fiction? Why, meet the life forms of this place, invisible aliens picking the snow out of the air. Well, invisible to some.


It is a form of breathing. We live among wonders and artificial suns.


We have all we need to find the light on our planet among the stars.


What stories we could tell the Canadian-Americans…


… if there were just a language we could share!




Christmas Rejoicing on Turtle Mountain

Let us praise even the cold.
The terrible, iron cold.



Let us give way and accept the story no more …


… that the cold holds the land in its grip.


Oh, iron cold, we love the emptiness in you.



We love the way you cannot hide the small grasses that will bring the emptiness within you to fulfilment.


We love how it is not your presence that is your strength but your acceptance.


Oh, cold, your language is not  your own. We know that. We know your language is only the silence at the core of the earth talking to the sun and the stars.


And you will give way.

And we are all joyous. Summer is here already.


Accept fullness.



Bunch Grass: the Beavers of the Grasslands

Look at the wonder that is bunchgrass. In this country in which snow falls and soon evaporates into the air, the amount of water a plant can keep from either flowing away in the sun or evaporating in the dry air is crucial. The bunchgrass in the image below, taken today on Turtle Mountain, is preventing both evaporation and flow. Effectively, on a forty-degree slope it is holding water in place and changing the seasons. Have a look. This is technology that we can develop further and put to extensive use.p1430045

See that? The grass has two aspects: uphill stalks that climb up to the sun, and downhill ones that follow gravity to the earth. The sun that catches in the grass lying on the snow…p1430079

… melts the snow to water …


… ever further and further back. It soaks through the snow on the downhill side of the grass …


… ready to be captured there by the extensive root system of the plant and delivered back, uphill, to its core under the lifting power of the sun.


Effectively, each bunchgrass pumps water up hill to a distance of the length of its stalks, in a process that uses cool weather melting to store water and the drying effects of the sun to keep water from following gravity to the valley floor. Water only flows downhill here in any volume when the grass is broken. It’s no different with beavers.


The Old Tourism Industry Hits the Water Again Rag

Look at how the wind and water are building the land at the mouth of Vernon Creek.p1420765

Look at how little Canada deserves this lake.



Yup, it’s the time of shame again. That’s the invasive waterweed chopper, set out with water care funds not to care for the water but for the business of selling summer in Palm Beach, which this isn’t, but it’s all that people could think of. With my water care taxes, yet.p1420749

What a dishonouring of spirit.




Do the Rich Have All the Fun?

p1420726You tell me. That’s their houses up above, and some beautiful ice drifting in. Below, is Okanagan Lake the next day after the wind did its thing all night long.


I have no answer to the question, but these nests do manage to privatize public water, wind and sun, don’t they. I wonder if that makes the nesters happy. With any luck they’ll be down there composing poems and music for the ice right now.


Ancestral Water Knowledge

Look at the shapes water freezes in when it freezes over pebbles.

The pebbles create an image of themselves on the underside of the ice…


which melting follows, and air, which re-freezes in gaseous shapes.p1420491

Gas is not uniform however. When it blows as wind and breaks the weak ice up, it slides it against itself in wind sheers. Water freezes to hold these shapes as well. Water is very accommodating.p1420449

These are solidified forms of what it does with light and wind, instead of cold and wind.p1420618

Still, of course, beautiful, which is the word we use in my language to indicate a physically-apprehended balance that is right for life.p1420613

It’s no surprise that life freezes in those watery patterns as well, or that it gives them back to water.

It’s that kind of place.


Water takes on the shape given it.


It would be wrong to say it has no shape. It even has negative shape, that space where it is not. It is very accommodating. That is the nature of flow. That is a power in itself.


This taking on of a shape, that is water. The substance water is made of was not water until it did. Before that, it was the stuff of old stars.





There was never a Big Bang. There was an opening of potential into itself.


There is its folding back at its boundary, into its depths.


Okanagan Lake Shore, Vernon

Our ancestors had words for this, which means so did we. We should talk. Here’s what they knew.


Look at it closely. You know it too.


The hard part is to forget what we don’t know, but we can do that together.


So, what have your ancestors taught you about water? Hmmmm?



Plants Always Stare Into the Sun

They just don’t see in colour.p1420366

Darkness, what’s it to them?


What’s it to us?



Everything? Do we look into the light to see its boundary with darkness?


Plants react to our quirks.


These choke cherries are for us, not for birds. Well, for us and the bears.


We can share, right?