I tell ya, have a look. Life forms growing wild. Pine, alfalfa, big sage, red dogwood. All tangled. Wild.
Or maybe not. Have a gander at the image below. Just a half metre from the image above. A clutch of cottonwoods and red dogwood. Crazy! Some syilx elders call her red willow, for the way she bends and gives way. That’s very good. You’d expect that from a syilx elder. Look how she branches, then sets a bud at the point of diversion. Look how her lateral buds combine pairs. Look at her big breathing pores. Look at her blend of stiffness and suppleness. And her eyes. That do not see out but in. And the colour! My my. Not only does she catch the warm spectrum of the sun but she catches your eye. “My blood!” you say. Yes. You know how clever this is. You don’t say what this “blood” is. It just is. That’s enough.
Red willow is a medicinal creature, that changes her colours and medicinal concentrations with light, water and temperature. In other words, she reacts very precisely to minute changes in the environment, which can be read from it. Do you see what I’m getting at? This: what an experienced seer can see in one glimpse of the bush below is greater than the computations of of technicians in entire chemical laboratories. You see it bodily, mind you. You who are this moment see yourself as this moment. You see the way you bend, colour, divide, endure, gather, give way and bear. That’s right. Your eye bears fruit, not light. Not images.
There are complex processes at work…
Medicinal uses (Warning!)
Red osier dogwood was widely employed by several native North American Indian tribes who valued it especially for its astringent and tonic bark, using it both internally and externally to treat diarrhoea, fevers, skin problems etc. It is little used in modern herbalism.The bark and the root bark are analgesic, astringent, febrifuge, purgative, slightly stimulant and tonic. Drying the bark removes its tendency to purge. A decoction has been used in the treatment of headaches, diarrhoea, coughs, colds and fevers. Externally, the decoction has been used as a wash for sore eyes, styes and other infections and also to treat skin complaints such as poison ivy rash and ulcers. The bark shavings have been applied as a dressing on wounds to stop the bleeding. A poultice of the soaked inner bark, combined with ashes, has been used to alleviate pain.
Warnings, yet. Whew. Luckily, all that complexity might be a distraction. Let’s look again.
Over and above everything, this bush is reacting to gaps, room, and breadth or brightness, three powers that work together to draw the bush’s growth, or will, into a complex relationship with other plants that react the same ways, according to their natures and their aging. It is this web of gaps, and their filling over time, that is the active force here. The plants support it and deliver nutrients to fill it.
We could call that timing: each species (such as the alfalfa and cottonwoods below) filling space in turn as they move among each other, continually entering bright energy in different seasons and laying it down as memory and thought. Yes, memory and thought. Those can be physical. They are here. To conceive of them as intangibles, well, that’s very human, which is nice, but in a multi-dimensional web of gaps we are more than human. We are, well, cottonwood and alfalfa, for example.
Look how the cottonwood creates just enough breadth for its giant leaves. That lasts, however, only for a half year, and then they fall away…
…revealing the complexity of draw and reach, of a narrative line across wide space, that is also an energy in this room.
It is life in depth. Conventional science sees competition here, thrusts into emptiness. Aggression. Survival strategies. That’s colonial thinking, or what. Whew. Let’s try something new: the 19th century is over. That felt good, right? We can remember that, right?
This is not aggression. It is a space in which, across species, the energies of extension and making room across time are one. Look how the red willow above warms itself in the spring, to fill this space. It evens it out, just as the water in Okanagan Lake does in the image below:
They are both doing it out of snow. They are the same image.
It is in the nature of wide space to flatten, to translate depth into presence — well, in a human universe. That is no trick, though. It is how the body is of the earth. In other words, the difference between the two images is a human signature. To restate it again (because there are always other doors) in the world of gapping energy they are the same. Certainly, they are far more similar to each other than the eye of the dogwood, that is a bud, that sees as flower and then embodies its seeing as fruit. This is called metaphor, in contemporary academic and artistic thought. With all due respect to the power of that tradition, in the concept of gap energy and the lines that pass through it, that is beside the point.
And now we are ready to talk about what it is to be wild. Stay tuned. Until then, love the sweetheart you’re with: