If you go to the Earth in the Thompson Valley…
and ask for water…
… she will give you an answer.
It will, however, be in the language of the earth: a language of stone, gravity and time.
Where is the water? Why, look again. It’s in a post-glacial lake, long gone — and yet still filling the air in potential.
It’s in volcanic rock, melted by water, thrust up by gravity, and eroded by water again, and in the sagebrush that lives off the clouds that concentrate on its bluffs and still run over it.
It’s in the angles of rock eroded by ice, water, weather and wind over 55,000,000 years, and in the plants that have followed their flows before you.
And it’s in the shoals of the Thompson River.
And it is in old post-glacial river bars, now exposed yet still running with water turning to salt when taken away by the air.
It is in the driest sagebrush…
… and pours directly out of the stone.
The point is simple. If you have a question and approach the Earth as a human body, you will be answered in a language a body, but not a mind, can understand. The answers do not have to be simple. After all, not all water is for drinking. I don’t suggest you drink the exotic minerals that ground water creates out of volcanic ash, or the water that erodes the ash and minerals away, but you knew that just by looking at this stuff. You knew how to accept Earth’s answers.
If you had to build a technology for turning water into a liquid you can scoop with your hand, the Earth can show you the way, in her own stone. The answers can be subtle…
…or even more subtle.
Or a complex of time, sugar and birds interacting with gravity and porous slopes, as this siya? garden shows.
It is always like this. If we go to the Earth and ask a direct question, such as “What can I eat?” she will answer. The answer is not “eat this lichen, you poor kid,” but “here’s a map,” in a language in which you have to define what kind of map you are using.
The map can be as simple as a rockfall, and its lesson about technological solutions for grinding food — to let your hands and the earth do the work instead of your teeth.
Your body will always answer the Earth’s call, but it will answer in its own language.
It has nothing to do with words. Any words that get attached to it represent paths that someone walked.
Over time, the paths tell stories, even as they are being renewed.
The paths lead you to water, in both space and time, and to water in thought.
If you ask with an idea in your mind, you are only asking that idea what it knows. Lately in Canada, a way of joining ideas together to mine the answers other people’s bodies have followed after asking the Earth has been invented. It is called creativity: the joining of ideas together to make something new. No, it is not new. It is what you get when you ask ideas. If you ask the Earth, however, you get answers.
Of course, you have to learn to read them, and in a process that is not developed through ideas, classrooms or stuff like “how do I use such-and-such existing technology to harvest water there.” No, those are not the kind of answers Earth gives, or the kind of asking that can be asked of her. The learning is long.
But of course, to learn to ask questions of ideas is a long process, too: up to twenty years for a full university program. You could have quite a conversation in such a length of time.
You would find water.
You would live here. Quite literally. Rather than locating here, your life would spring from here. You might look at the bones of the Earth and see dryness as a profound watering.
And be led by it.
And farther again.
Essay writing, scientific writing, and fiction are not the tools for leading you here. They are graffiti.
Whatever question you ask, however unknowingly, the Earth will answer, even ones never answered before. In thought, this is called ‘evolution’ or ‘chance’ or, yes, ‘creativity.’
Watch out for poison ivy.
The answers are not what you think.