The Eclipse of the Peach

The sun was too bright to look at, even in 90% eclipse today, but I got a couple images for you. First, a peach in my garden taken at full eclipse, against the sun, with some peach leaves for a filter. Look at how strong the shadows are and how crisp the edges!
Second, a leafhopper walking across the uneclipsed crescent of the sun, totally unfazed, through a pinhole projector made of a sheet of tinfoil, casting an image on a sheet of paper.

If you’re going to see an eclipse, earth’s the place for it, I say.

Indigenous Land Ownership Rules

The Snow Buckwheat Country:

All at Once

The Grass Country:


One…

…by…

…one.

It’s not indigenous if it isn’t expressing the energies of the land.

The energies are there for all to read, all together or one at a time.

Water in the Land of Fire

Smoke has replaced the sky. It is the way of things.

Here are the dry hills. Overgrazing, a reduction to three species, one native and two of which are as flammable as gasoline. Nice.

Water: forestry nursery in the distance, sport fields  below, and a royal gala apple orchard. Nicer yet.

Below are the old wetlands that used to store water. Note the recent disperal to high evaporation house plots. Exquisitely well planned.

European culture sits uneasily but orderly upon this smoky land.

 

 

Water in Fire Country

The Okanogan River (left) Entering the Columbia

At the mouth of the Okanogan River, which begins with snow melting on the rocks above my house in mid-winter, water is privately owned, whether flooding the old Hudson Bay Company potato fields in the background right above, or the southern flats of the Colville Federated Tribes’ Territory (foreground left). That’s the way things work in this stretch of my valley: the bounty of the earth is transformed into individual wealth, which is then leveraged for profit. The only land-based health comes through the process of flooding you see above, which is called wilderness, a term to indicate the romance that silences native land in the West. Strangely enough, fires on private land alienated from water, are fought with public funds, just as the use of fear and public funds were used to fight imagined native aggression in 1858 and 1891 at the site in the image above. When there is talk of wilderness in this valley, it is talk of the dispossession of people and water, which are the same thing.

The Centre of the Earth

The cinder cone is gone, but the bones of the land remain.

This is my city, Vernon, viewed from its northeast rim. In the center left of the image is the old cinder cone that anchored the ridge coming into the center of the image from the right. The high points on that ridge are broken chunks of old seabed, lifted in tilted slabs into the sky by a thrust of hot, or even molten, rock coming in from the direction of Terrace Mountain in the distance. The deep Okanagan Fault, and today’s Okanagan Lake, runs through the centre of the image, in front of the blue ridges. Crazy geology! Folds upon folds of the land are here, and in their centre, the volcano around which they pivoted. There, all this pressure of collision was released into energy, expressed as clinker and ash, which the glaciers took away. Want to stand in the middle of the earth? It’s an easy climb.

It’s right there. Up you go. Oh, but first, remember, this earth has many centres. The one below is only five kilometres away, and part of the Turtle Mountain story.

As you move from centre to centre, you are still there. That is one of the lessons the earth teaches.

 

The Beautiful Angles of the Grassland, or Baby, We Love You for More than Your Curves

Those of us who talk about grasslands, talk about their rounded curves a lot.

Hey, Glaciers, thanks for that.

This is a land held in tension against wind and light, using opposition to it to create tension, which is then harvested in spring growth …

…or the dispersal of seeds.

But this is summer now. It’s the time for  of the most beautiful angles. In this landscape of wind off the distant Pacific, mountain ranges away …

… ranges of glacially-cut, angular, uplifted-peaks of ancient, fractured continental collisions…

… arrow-leafed balsam root, swaying in the wind in spring…

…shifts in angles to the other plants nearby to catch the sun, and dries in place, like rain spread flat. This is rain lifted to a whole other plane of experience.

Move over, Picasso. You ain’t got nothing on this.

No More Wild Fires Please

It is a catastrophic summer in the Interior of British Columbia. Close to 15,000 people have been evacuated from their communities. Indigenous communities who refuse to leave are isolated. Read about the grim situation at Anaham here: http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/first-nations-community-holds-on-as-fire-threatens The question of why these people have chosen to stay in the face of catastrophic fire, isolation and great danger can be answered only in troubling ways. They are, however, simple enough. The tsilqhot’in are this place of fire. There is no evacuation. A lot of this has to do with a century and a half of great cultural hurt, but there’s a positive story here as well. Perhaps this image from the height of this land, at the crest of the Yellowstone Plume, in the great caldera that is the heart of winter …

…and fire on this continent and which anchors our country, Cascadia, like the eye of a pool in one of her rivers displays something of the answer:

A pine rooting on the face of the cooled molten plume, from this post about my journey to the height of the land: https://okanaganokanogan.com/2015/09/28/cascadia-land-of-fire/

If we call these uncontrollable and violent fires “wild fires”, we are participating in the environmental destruction that has created them rather than in the solutions that will control them. Until then, they will remain gothic and destructive, like the nineteenth century creations that they are. At the moment, of course, we must protect our homes and our loved ones, with all the vigour we can bring to this terrifying and important work, but let’s do it in a way that leads directly to the future that must follow this catastrophe of environmental mismanagement. Let’s call these fires by their correct names. They are not wild. Fire lives in this plateau. Smoke, such as obscured Okanagan Lake below, is the natural form of summer here.

Through neglect to honour fire’s primary place, it has been called into violent incarnation by excess fuel. The explosive sage below, above my house, is a bomb waiting to explode, and it’s the creation of bad resource policy. It can be fixed. We will have to be doing this in the next few years.

 

 

To say these horrific fieres are wild, is to say that an abstract notion of fire is fire’s base state, and that fire that escapes the boundaries of the controls of intellectual understanding is “wild”. That’s insulting. In Cascadia, wild fire control began a bit more than a century ago, to protect the nationalized forests made out of depopulated native space for the benefit of industrial and recreational use. This management regime was a replacement for indigenous fire management, in land forcibly removed from indigenous control. The indigenous understanding was based on living within space. The replacement, modern civilization, declared the land wild and foreign to human consciousness. That was a lie. Fire remains far bigger than any human or any collection of humans. Perhaps the image below of when the grassland hill above my house burnt a few years back and the fire turned to life within a few weeks can illustrate the edges of the tsilqhot’in resistance to evacuation. Within a few weeks, this:

Nootka Rose Sprouting from Cooked Rock

Let’s bring the irresistible force of living and destructive and creative fire within our social group and develop strategies to tame it. It’s coming to us anyway, horrifically. Yes, let’s save our homes, our farms, our communities, our forests, and our lives with all the effort we can bring to it, but let’s then move on to build a society that recognizes that fire is the natural state of this place.The failure to create civilized, or artful, fire within organic environments such as grasslands and forests, except at moments of catastrophe when fire sweeps in waves across the land due to being ignored for too long and its potential disrespected, is also a created state, but not one of which we should in any way be proud. And I want to be proud of how we live with fire. This work can wait until the crisis is over, but we can start now in a small way, by throwing away that awful racist term: wild fire. The time for that was 160 years ago, two weeks ago, today, and tomorrow. Fire is here to stay. Let’s hope we are too.