First Peoples

The Snow Buckwheat Game

Look how we got things wrong with our cool scientific thinking. Great thinking, but still, look how we got things wrong.

What I mean is, scientific thinking has allowed for close study of beings, so that their particular qualities can be appraised, and their relationships put together. The snow buckwheat above was used by the Syilx people as a children’s game. Children each selected a stalk, linked the branches, and pulled. Whoever’s branch broke lost the game, but you could play it again. That’s a profound affirmation of (and lesson in) Syilx relationships of woven lives. The lesson was taught by the snow buckwheat: the game is shared; if you pull too hard, the game is lost. That’s not the sort of thing that can be affirmed by scientific thinking. So, anyway, the other thing about buckwheat is that it colonized disturbed soils …

Some settler tugged too hard at this land. Snow Buckwheat to the rescue!

… and, by blooming late, blends summer and autumn, which is really great if you are a wasp. What’s more, if you’re a deer, and walk uphill from the snow buckwheat, which you will do, because you’re a deer …

… pretty soon you will be at the lowest reaches of the sky.

Swallow Resting Pits, Each the Size of a Swallow

Think of it. This wind-blown layer of soil, a thing of the air, that settled in drifts like snow, is where the wind-blown beings of the grasslands, the swallows, touch the earth. And uphill from the snow buckwheat, the deer walk among them. In the sky. It’s the same for you. If you walk uphill from the snow buckwheat, that is weaving the seasons together, soon you will be among the deer and the swallows in the sky. The seasons will be off, and for you who are minding these threads some of it will be memory, but you will be there nonetheless. And it’s in the mind. Along the way, there’s lots to look at.



There is also the time it takes you to walk there, which is not time lost or spent but time lived. This is just one instance of the weaving that makes a grassland, and which science cannot touch, because it can’t be measured. You can, however, should you wish, measure how people feel about these relationships, and even measure, over time, whether the grassland responds favourably to positive human attention of this kind, but, alas, no matter what you prove by this, and it ought to be pretty interesting, you will have lost the game.

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