At the mouth of the Okanogan River, which begins with snow melting on the rocks above my house in mid-winter, water is privately owned, whether flooding the old Hudson Bay Company potato fields in the background right above, or the southern flats of the Colville Federated Tribes’ Territory (foreground left). That’s the way things work in this stretch of my valley: the bounty of the earth is transformed into individual wealth, which is then leveraged for profit. The only land-based health comes through the process of flooding you see above, which is called wilderness, a term to indicate the romance that silences native land in the West. Strangely enough, fires on private land alienated from water, are fought with public funds, just as the use of fear and public funds were used to fight imagined native aggression in 1858 and 1891 at the site in the image above. When there is talk of wilderness in this valley, it is talk of the dispossession of people and water, which are the same thing.
The cinder cone is gone, but the bones of the land remain.
This is my city, Vernon, viewed from its northeast rim. In the center left of the image is the old cinder cone that anchored the ridge coming into the center of the image from the right. The high points on that ridge are broken chunks of old seabed, lifted in tilted slabs into the sky by a thrust of hot, or even molten, rock coming in from the direction of Terrace Mountain in the distance. The deep Okanagan Fault, and today’s Okanagan Lake, runs through the centre of the image, in front of the blue ridges. Crazy geology! Folds upon folds of the land are here, and in their centre, the volcano around which they pivoted. There, all this pressure of collision was released into energy, expressed as clinker and ash, which the glaciers took away. Want to stand in the middle of the earth? It’s an easy climb.
It’s right there. Up you go. Oh, but first, remember, this earth has many centres. The one below is only five kilometres away, and part of the Turtle Mountain story.
As you move from centre to centre, you are still there. That is one of the lessons the earth teaches.
The ancient salmon forests of the Pacific Coast were felled long ago. Well, most of them. Hoh
Some of the lost ones went to houses in Vancouver and Seattle. People still live in their bones. Others, though, still stand.
Others, with long grains of clear cedar, which might have been used for fine cabinets and ceremonial screens, were turned into fenceposts, to herd humans and cattle and to hold grapes up to the sun to create jug wines, but that’s all in the past now. Now, the quail come.
Hooo- HooOOOOoooo! Don’t our forests have new life now!