The Artwork that is the Similkameen Valley

The cliff above Keremeos, which burned 2 years ago, is showing faces, long-hidden, watching over the valley.

K-Mountain in Mid-Afternoon Light

Not to mention a mysterious rock fall among the burn patterns. Isn’t that enough to make a poem from? A covering screen, half-removed, interlocking faces oriented around a pattern of bold lines, and patterns that become more complex the longer one spends on them? The tapestries of European tradition were similar.

One of the Valois Tapestries of Catherine di Medici at Bayonne

In both cases, narrative is created by the scanning interest of the eye and the brain, working together at a sub-conscious level, and seeing is a journey. You could say it is a pause outside of time, or time continually being created out of the same space, not flowing in a line but in a deepening. Narrative is continually recreated, in such moments of poetry that the Germans call Dichtung, from die Dichte, the thickening, which English knows as tightness (say of the staves of a barrel) and, more appropriately, dough, which, under kneading, becomes quick with life.

Tricks of the eye, contemporary thinking would say, in its poverty, following its demands that narratives have arcs and conclusions. I tell you, as I prune fruit trees day in and day out beneath this mountain, among birds pairing off into mating pairs and as the day warms and cools under passing clouds and the rising and setting of the sun, I’m glad to have these companions to work among. It is the same tapestry, written in air, light and life. Being in the valley these days is equivalent to walking up the mountain, and up the dark ridge beneath these storied cliffs. You can’t walk through a novel like this. Intriguingly, novels were originally maligned as a dangerous technology, capturing the minds of the young in the same way that smart phones are often maligned today, for doing the same thing. At the same time, in both of these spans of time, these technologies have been praised, while their opponents have been successfully dismissed. The mountain reminds me that in these turnings away and turnings toward as much of human identity is lost as is gained.

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