A Cascadian Symphony

At Rialto Beach, you make a musical instrument.

It plays you, and you are the music. You might have left it as a message for the sea, but the sea will take it away.

And then there will be birds. And there you will find the music, in the zone between water and land, where dreams come alive.

And a stone, the beginning and end of the performance. You will find that, too.

But not the beginning or end of the composition. You won’t find that.

Far to the north, in Boundary Bay, instruments are stacked up again.

Thinking their work done, the stage crew leaves. So impatient!

It’s then that the musicians move in.

And play.

You see, when Coyote trades his eyes for pebbles like Crow’s below, he can’t see a thing.


It’s very funny. Each pebble is the world.


Hard to choose! Each one really is the world.


In each, the world appears to a differing degree of purity, but each one is the world.



With an eye like that you can see the forces of the universe. Nebulas, star clusters, black holes, dark matter, that kind of thing.


But you might not see the audience.P2290460

Crow, who’s telling this joke is happy about that, because he’s having a bad hair day. A really bad hair day.



And, really, he wants you to see him like this:


In my country on the north eastern Pacific shore, this is funny stuff. The world is a joke here. It’s not something to deflate human pretensions. That’s a human pretension. Best just to laugh. You can’t hide here.P2290166

So, which one is it?


A pair perhaps?


One note: you can’t tell this story, because you’re in it. Here’s its author.


As for human pretensions, they’re not funny. Oh, wait, yes they are.



Even when they get away from themselves they do it together. Now, that’s a joke worth sharing.


Bad hair or not. The music is close. I feel crow’s language in my bones, but it’s not in words…
P1180726 … or mathematics, as is this one, but what different mathematics they are! (And they’re not about numbers. You have to read them with your body, with the same aha! you have when in the presence of a lover, or with art. P1180794And, yes, it’s art. And love. So too is this complex mathematics laid down by waves driven by the turning of the earth, which is driven by the creation of the solar system, which is ultimately driven by the creation of the universe ….

streakThey call it a Big Bang, but, sheesh. Look at it. It’s a turning and a flowing, that’s what it is. It’s music.
P1180803That is the power of water, of course. Fish came from the scale-patterned mathematics above. Trees, with their roots and crowns, come from the one below.
Crows know all this.

P1180569DNA works by providing precise places for chemical strands to be laid down in sequence. This geometrical mathematics, or music, began in the sea, as this shell attests, following the same energy.


The earth is alive. A definition of life that excludes that is a parlour game. You cannot, however, write equations for this mathematics.


You don’t need to. Your body knows. So do the bodies of crows.


You can see which pebble he used for an eye, I suspect, and if you pop a pebble into your eye, like that stone in the first music …

…yes, that’s the one, that moves from one socket to the other, well then I think you’ll see the music that crow always plays…

… and play along. But, hey, this is Cascadia. There are many pebbles. All might give you a different performance of that music. I hinted at that in an earlier post. I think now that it belongs here, deep in the music. Have a look:


If your country started out as a chain of volcanoes …P1790654 …very exotic volcanoes…P1790660 … in the tropical Pacific, very different volcanoes ….P1790674 … in five different island chains over 150 million years …P1790692 … and if they then drifted across the sea and crashed into North America, lifting new volcanoes up into the clouds …P1790700 … and welding the bits together …. aP1790726 … and then if super-cooled, subglacial water had blasted all that away and the sea had a go at it for 10,000 years ….P1790729 … why, then your beaches might look like this, too.P1790764 All beaches are beautiful, of course, but these are the beaches of Cascadia.P1790782 To be more specific, these are the beaches of the newest chain of islands to crash on the shore, Islandia.P1790786 And if you lift your head and look across the last water to the previous chain, now uplifted and ice-carved and creating rain, why it might just look like this…P1790797

…and if you lived there, and if you knew that, you would never see a mountain again. You would see the earth, alive. And that, make no mistake, is the music. This winter scene in Vernon (for instance)…


… is the music. It matters not hot far it is from the sea (not far, as the crow flies), you are still being played, and the audience is still listening. No, not a crow.

Lolo Lake

The big guys. OK, look, Lolo Lake is the heart of Nimiipu’u culture. It’s here that Joseph and his people spent their last weeks of freedom, before being driven from their ancestors forever, the ultimate death. But not quite. It’s here that the ravens remain. Lolo Lake’s buried (and dredged up) mammoth bones date to the Nimiipu’u period. You can be sure that ravens, likely the ancestors of this bird, were picking at bones lying around camp. So, yeah, they are the audience, and have been so for some 30,000 years. You won’t find ravens where people are not. We are one. In our relationship, we carry more than we have all forgotten, which is to say that we haven’t forgotten.

Raven or crow, it’s all in the balance. You can lay this music down in the world. Then, when you come back to it — after a long journey — you’re ready to sing your whole body at once.

Coyote Rock at Lone Pine

But that’s a different performance of the Cascadian story.

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