The Power of Words in Environmental Perception and Change

Look how the light of dawn …

… draws itself in at sunrise.

And then reveals the story of water ,,,

… and air.

Are not water, air and light one single story?

Only seen separately because of the characteristics of human eyes?

And don’t we see it all day long, yet call it an illusion? Is that not the words talking?

Giving it different names?

Is such forced separation working for us? The image above shows Earth, water and light in three distinct zones. Isn’t that a human effect? Those creatures who pass between them on trudging feet? Even at dusk, after sundown, human eyes make this separation.


Indigenous people, and that includes. Eurasian ancestors, see (and saw) one force, differently manifested. Obviously, we who are alive today can see it, too, if we set aside the words that call it an illusion.


If water moves through states (ice, liquid and vapour), are the others states of the same energy?  I mean, air….

… water …

… and earth …

… are, at least in a lake environment, one, in three different states. Interest, and life, comes from their points of meeting. It is language that comes from their points of differing. The stone above, for instance, is a lump of glacially-broken, peri-glacially rounded, basalt, formed from subducted seawater melting rock at pressure deep under the Earth and extruded as a flood of liquid, then cooled in the air. Look how after ice and flood it has worked with wind and water to shape a bowl around itself, in its own image, and how it is covered with ancient lichens, which are cross-species communities, not individuals.

Have things not been given the wrong names? Do water and earth both rise into sky and sun together as wood…

… and crest …

… and settle …

… and shine?

The English word “spirit” has been reserved for effects like this, as in “the spirit of water,” “the spirit of air,” “the spirit of Earth,” and so on, but is that not the way of a people who have lost their words and found a way to get along without them? Is calling this one-thing-in-many-states “beauty” sufficient anymore?

Might the work of keeping the land alive be not the work of an elaborate governmental bureaucracy and a vast education system, but the work of setting the colonial language, English, aside, and humbly learning the names of being-together?


Big Bar Lake

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