cartography

Rising With the Trees

On the grasslands of the Similkameen, where the mountains are the sky, one forgets, at times, to pay attention to distance, but here is a reminder.

Notice the remnants of a lakebed in the foreground, growing a crop of wild oats in a golden pool, and the white mountain blending the sunny and shaded slopes on a hot spring day into a white shell. But don’t forget the trees! They are rare down in the grasslands, so each one is significant, while up at the crown of the mountain, they speak in a group voice, and they’re always looking over the hill. I forgot that last week when I showed you the image below, so let’s look at it again.

Look! After three hours of walking through the grass with the rattlesnake, the white mountain rising behind the mountain has given us its spirit form, the moon, but look far below on the hill, too: one fir has run ahead; instead of looking into the grass from the cold, it has entered, and now is standing absolutely still. This is no fancy, either. The seed that brought it forth comes from high up there, carried down, perhaps, by human hands and dropped by mistake or in some kind of play… just like the way I missed the story of this hill the first time and then, playfully, found it. That’s the way it is when a mountain is the sky. So, let’s look even more closely:

What do you think? Was it frost that broke this moon-white quartz apart, a violent fall, or human hands, perhaps with a secondary stone to drive the point home? Prospectors combed these hills 160 years ago, so who knows. It’s like the corona of the sun, the way the splinters lie in a circle around a central gap of our unknowing, and yet the rock gleams still and, like the white mountain, draws us through these draws. We are not the first to walk in these clouds.

 

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