I was formed by the water, soil and air of a mountain valley. One of the consequences is that, to me, the mountains are not “in” the sky, do not “block” the sky, or stand up “out” of the Earth. The mountains are the sky. What’s more, they are a form of weather, a kind of cloud.
What’s more, just as you can read the atmospheric weather from aerial clouds, you can read the earth weather from these clouds. If I turn around from K Mountain, above, and look north towards Central, this weather reveals itself.
Otherwise, it’s called Puddinhead Mountain, but these names are silly. K-Mountain, Puddinhead (not to mention Sugarloaf)… what a funny bunch of things to call the sky. As you can see from the ridge to the west of K-Mountain, you can also read last summer’s fires set amidst last night’s snow and the new snow of the afternoon. The clouds and the mountains are not separate.
A little journey into the next valley, the Okanagan, might illustrate that point well. Here is Squally Point on Okanagan Mountain. If you weren’t one with these valleys, you might say the fog (and snow) are obscuring the mountain, but that would be to miss it. The fog is revealing it as a materialized form of fog. It too is the sky.
And there she is, the mountain herself, a cloud.
This is weather written across vast swathes of time. The trees that spring from it are weather, just as lightning is. They last longer than lightning, and longer than the fires that will take them, but nowhere near as long as the weather system (the cloud of Earth, the Earth of sky) they are rooted in.
Here’s an image of last summer’s fire scene just to the north of the above image, with snow and cloud mixing with, well, snow and cloud, plus a lightning-and-fire system otherwise called trees.
And yes, future weather can be read from these weather systems, very precisely, including weather and fire storms. Maps of these valleys are weather maps. One could say “sky maps,” but that’s not exactly it. The sky that touches the surface of the soil and that we walk through here every day, like fish in the current of the river, is not separate from these maps, and is not replaced by them. The challenge has always been how to transfer to others the knowledge of how to read such a map, without immersing them in it from childhood, or at least over many, many decades. Part of the answer is to stand inside it. You can start with a tree. What you experience within the tree (or bush) extends outwards from your body, and you can read it with all the subtlety with which you know where your hand is in the dark or where your body is in your completely darkened house, or the way in which (eeyew) you wake, reach up in the dark in the spring time, touch your head and there between your fingers is a wood tick. Hey, it happens. There might be a robin.
There might be the darker, more medicinal weather of red medicine willow.
You know where you are, but just remember that it’s words that can fool you. “Medicine” doesn’t exactly mean pharmaceuticals here, anymore than “mountain” means rock. Still, to go further, look at the siya? bushes in the image of Turtle Ridge in Bella Vista below. Look at how they are telling the underground weather.
Because there is an atmosphere, and clouds, and whole weather systems down there, too. There would be no bushes and trees if there were not. They root in that underground atmosphere. They breathe it. In the same way, the snow below is not in the air but it is aerial. As for the fence line, well, nobody uses that old thing.
The deer have busted it down and the cows are too lazy to step across, and as for the bear, he walks straight through it. Well, yeah. He could probably walk straight through you, too!