Agriculture

Beyond Truth and Reconciliation

Let’s put this simply. It’s about land and water.

Sunrise

And about the life force interwoven with them.

Orange Fly in the Herb Garden

And how people interweave with that. Interweaving is not just about commercial potential. Here’s my front flower garden, with a lily for remembrance, a poppy for Iceland and for my wheat patch in the Cariboo when the kids were young and I made cupcakes from scratch (and fed a lot of mice and blackbirds along the way), bindweed because it’s bindweed and goes where it likes, some grain from the winter’s bird seed, some Cariboo mint, for memory of the Marble Mountains, and a marigold, for memory. All in all, a lot of binding of the present and the past, with seed for the future.

Weaving can happen in many ways. Below is what settler culture calls wild, or feral, asparagus. Something that you can pick, if you can find it in the spring, but, really, why? The seeds are for the birds and, as you can see, the deer do love to munch these things off. Is that a shame? Such a reduction of spring vigour? Such a loss of a crop? Not at all. The point of weaving is that the deer are fed, too. They don’t like that crested wheat grass. To them, that feral runaway from a failed cattle industry is a desert, but they sure do like asparagus.

The alternative might be a feral elm tree, that broke and fell across a walking path. Someone came in the night with a chainsaw and dealt with that.

That was a year ago. One might claim that this is good weaving, with the creation of habitat for birds, but no birds are using this brush pile. Those species don’t live here in a grassland. It would be better to plant some asparagus, for the deer. Boy, they’d like that. And there are choke cherries, with fruit for all…

…except, oh no, they’re on the same walking path, and thus illegal to pick, as it’s a city park. It’s illegal to cut trees in a city park, too, but, darn it, someone wanted to walk on that path, so they, well, did it. It’s a good illustration of the priorities of settler culture, I think, because the law could also be broken to pick these berries, but it isn’t. I suspect it has something to do about preserving wild values, even though 95% of the species here are feraland some humans aren’t. It would be a good bit of reconciliation for us to reconcile ourselves to that. Public land is not the private property of public administrations. Not always. Not in this case. Reconciliation would honour these as Syilx berries, and provide the Syilx with access to them. It would encourage us to plant more, as a gift. That would be in the spirit of my flower garden. Here’s one more illustration of where reconciliation must take us. This is big sage, losing some leaves after a stressful summer.

In these parts, it’s called a weed. A wild weed, but a weed nonetheless. It is out of favour, because it reduces pasture for cattle, which makes agricultural land worthless for agriculture, which allows it to be taken out of agriculture and used for building houses, where, suddenly, it is valuable again. Thing is, though, big sage is only a weed because of the cattle overgrazing the land, following a simple bit of weaving: to control fire, we have to control big sage; to control big sage, we need songbirds; to have songbirds, we need insects; to have insects, we need flowers; to have flowers, we need birds; cows eat flowers. From there, a new kind of weaving takes place: without flowers, there are no insects; without insects, there are no birds; without birds there is too much sage; with too much sage, there is fire. So, really, it’s our choice: fire or flowers.

3 replies »

  1. Are you aware of Lumby artist Robin Ledrew & the Monashee Arts Council? They are coming at things from a slightly different but congruent place with you.

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  2. Re: your front flower garden: I share the delight in seeing the things that show up no matter how diligent I am in exercising my “cultural control.” Mainly, I find it fascinating to look carefully at things and then try to somehow nudge others to the value of contemplation.

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