Towards a New Cartography 8: Robin Did It

Maps are power. We could look at the hill in the snow.

And map the slope angles and relationships of the hill (not the contours but flat planes), or those parts that are volcanic, those parts that are seabed, those parts that are glacial riverbed, those parts that are wind-blown loess from the post-glacial times, and those parts that are broken down by frost and tumbled with gravity down-slope. Expanding that map to the whole valley would very accurately tell us where we were. We could also map the lay of the sun here, or where water lies in the soil, and not the hill. Or we could map the saskatoons alone, especially in relationship to their size and how the bushes spread by the actions of birds. It would look kind of like these coyote tracks, but with bird sense rather than dog sense to it…

… or the bird version of this gopher map…

… or, even better, much like this balsam root, which is also the map that ants make around their hills.


What’s more, look again:

See the magpie sitting there mid-picture? Magpies use the bushes scattered across these hills by robins as perches. They row themselves uphill from bush to bush. Without the bushes, no magpies, no magpie calls mapping out pesky humans walking across the land in real time, and no chance for the other creatures to get out of the way so they don’t wind up on this blog. For example. We could then apply this map everywhere, such as a kilometre west of the one above…

… and know where we are in magpie space, and all the relationships that follow from that. Notice as we physically shift our orientation to this map …

… the land moves us around it in specific shapes, an arc, really, following old water…

… and we enter hawk-space, because hawk uses this map to cover its approach to small birds.

First from one side, then the other.

And up high.

That’s part of the map, too, and we use the map’s contours as much as hawk. Saskatoon is the anchor point for them.

It’s like taking this map of brown-eyed Susans and expanding it across many, many kilometres.

Conversely, the whole slope of saskatoons, scattered here and there in robin and magpie space…

… can be shrunk down and still follow the same pattern in brown-eyed Susan space…


… and hold the same pattern. In other words, you could use a patch of brown-eyed Susans, or even mulleins…


…as a small, portable map to the landscape. You wouldn’t have to fold it in your pocket, though. It would be there underfoot. Once you knew how sagebrush buttercup grew, you could use that as the same map.

There’s another neat trick about this saskatoon mappings as well. Here’s a hill, just to the south of the one I showed you before. You can see Saskatoon’s map here as well.

Notice the very top of that hill. Now we’re going to shift you around to the view from my front yard two hundred metres in altitude and a kilometre laterally below, months later…

Mule deer is now saskatoon! Which means that saskatoon…

… is now mule deer.

And notice how I’ve circled around that same hill, like hawk, to gain this perspective. There is a linkage of energies in this kind of mapping, in which stillness and movement change in relationship to each other, with stillness becoming movement and movement stillness, materializing and turning into energy in series, in relationship to other nodes doing the same thing. The words you just read (look at them again) do the same thing. We can go deeper into them, and note that the lift of the hill becomes the loft of the air or as the Germans put it, Luft, or the air itself, leaving the deer still. They are left there, stilled out of their movement, in relationship to our own upward (lift-ward) movement. We both still, and are saskatoons. The linkages are beautiful here, and, what I would like to point out, the interwoven nature of this land informs syilx culture, the indigenous language of this place, while the energy transformation comes from indigenous languages in Northern Europe and Western Eurasia. There’s no reason for cultural appropriation of any kind if we read the map of the land. If we write a different map over it, well…

… we’ll have to leave a mercury vapour street light on in the gloom, because we’ll be way out there in the middle of nowhere, totally exposed to the wild universe. Scary stuff? No. Here’s the mastermind:


5 replies »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.