Siyaʔ Gives Her Sisters Space

Look how this group of serviceberry bushes have spaced themselves out so that their farthest branches, laden with berries, will just fill the space between them, and no more. Note as well that they are all the same age. They didn’t hand down this space in a line. They all grew in the same year.

What the fog hides is that in the gulch behind them are their mothers, bushes twice their age and size, running in a line down a seasonal trickle of water. The line here follows the line below, which each bush directly above bushes below, just far enough away for birds to drop them as they fly away, always in the same direction, southwest. It must have been a good year for birds, after a good July, in which the bushes set a heavy crop, and a gentle winter and spring. It’s all remarkable, as if, all together, they took a long step uphill. Note that this configuration happens only on this wet, shaded side of the gulch. On the exposed north side, the bushes root more rarely and are ravished by deer, who like the clear, snowless spaces over there. But why the spaces between the bushes? My hunch is that they have agreed on this, root-tip to root-tip, or the birds have, responding to their mothers, who are doing it in the gully below. Whatever the case, this is a common dance pattern for these saskatoons. We would do well to listen.

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