Sustaining the Okanagan 14: Plant Tech

We exceeded the valley’s population carrying capacity 25 years ago. Our issue is water. You’d think it would limit human population expansion, but humans are socially clever and limit social access to water instead. To forestall an inevitable class revolution, it’s time to develop new water technology now. The plant world offers many examples of what can be done. All that is absent is the application of human cleverness to something other than social manipulation and IT. For example, the beautiful weed, Bladder Campion…P1180659

Silene latifolia

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Look at how the flower forms around an open chamber, with a spray of petals around its lips.

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This arrangement is not designed to capture water, but no matter. We have the technology to use this example to create water collection devices, which could stand inert until it rained, catch the rain, and store it by funnelling it from their petals into their bells. At that point, the water could be drawn down a hollow stem (tube) into a larger collection device, or when the level in each bell reached a certain weight the bell could tip, the water would pour out into a trough, which would then deliver it to a collection or distribution point. Alternately, little collectors like this (or banks of them) could be placed beside individual plants. They could collect rain, just as the plant, its root systems and the soil do, with this exception: when the water evaporated out of the soil with the sun that follows rain these little bladders could release more water, slowly, to make up for the loss. I’m sure devices could even be built that could be laid out as sheets, or which could be laid out in banks like solar panels. We have the technological intelligence, we have the manufacturing ability, we have a university, we have the thunderstorms, we have a great need, we have burgeoning social pressures, and we still have the possibility of a bright future. Bright futures are made. We would do well to get in focus.

focus

 

The Mystery of Surfaces

Do surfaces have edges? Or do edges have surfaces? Is an edge the limit to a surface? Is a surface the space between two edges, that is given substance because the edges separate it from the nothing around it?P1180691

Cat Tails

And that nothing around it, that is called “air” or “space”, what is that stuff? Is it a surface or an edge or, as our ancestors put it, a room? Is that why we say “children need room to grow?” Is the lack of such a room an edge? If so, does that make a room a surface? Is a three-dimensional surface a room? Is a two-dimensional room a surface? Is a one dimensional surface an edge? And what about the surface of water? What’s with that? 

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I ask, not because I want to unravel the mysteries of the world (I love them just fine) but because these are really questions about the human mind and how it sorts the world, which is a unified whole and, I suppose, not a room. Look how complicated edges and surfaces can get.

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Mustard in Her Finery

And yet we can read them perfectly. Why not. We are looking at ourselves. What the world  looks like, well, that’s the wrong way to approach it. It doesn’t look like anything.

Kelowna: The Inhuman City

At a certain point, when physical and social urban space is continually built out of practical considerations, usually the manipulation of people for purposes of efficiency and budgetary accountability, the city becomes an anti-human space. Witness this image from downtown Kelowna…P1150381

Anyone Waiting for a Public Bus Has to Stare at … Garbage. 

(And walk past it to board the vehicle.)

… the city that defines itself as “The Okanagan,” i.e. the city that defines this …

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(Okanagan, Not Kelowna)

… as itself. We can’t keep making excuses. The city attempts to humanize the space just around the corner from its insulting bus stop with this pretty image:P1150383

Notice how the landscape is portrayed as clothing on a youthful goddess figure, presumably Mother Earth, with apples (pine cones?) for breasts and a waterfall for a vagina, and a sacred rose spilling out of her fingers. Presumably, this …

red

… is viewed in this depersonalized view of Earth-Human relations in the Okanagan as clothing on Mother Earth. This city has a problem. Clothing is a human social affair. Dressing the earth in it is as much as manipulating people. I think it’s the city …

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… that needs to be manipulated. Not this:

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Creating parks is not the answer. It is only an opening proposition in an ethical conversation, and wealth held in reserve until the city can unify with the earth. We need to have that conversation. We can’t keep making excuses.

Land of Beautiful Water Without Name

Lake, right?P1050165

Big lake, big fun!P1050170

Pshaw. 150 metres above that lake.

P1150539 Rocks! Not just any rocks, either.P1150538 Lake rocks, river rocks, and rocks that have fallen off a cliff, all together. We’re talking shores.
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Glacial lakes the size of seas, rivers flowing beside glacial arms, and debris carried by the glacier and dropped here when it melted, on the ancient floor of the sea…

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… which the ice rounded off nicely into waves. The image below would have been deep underwater 11,000 years ago.

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The land looks dry. With red-tailed hawks doing lovely fly-bys.

P1140386 But it’s water.

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On the Coast, water flows.

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P2280228 P2290243Here it causes flowing.

bloom p1010342 P2310454

red toe kal

Same thing. Same water. Same presence, just falling there as rain and lifting into the air here and carrying you with it.

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Some call this land Cascadia. That’s only the half of it.

~

I left names off of the images here in the hope that it would help you see them all as one.

 

The Mysterious Surface of Water

When the tension of light on the surface of water is randomly broken, the water no longer looks like water.P1050323

The random patterns are more attractive to the human mind.P1050321

It’s because they’re worth figuring out. They can’t be. What can be achieved is a sense of beauty.

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And beauty is a point of balance — just a different one than narrative or understanding. The solution is not about material and its designs.

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Seeing the water is absolutely the wrong thing. In fact, seeing is the wrong thing.

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Being present on earth is to be in body and mind together. In Western tradition, this is the end of art.

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Here on the Columbia Plateau it is only its beginning.P1050469

It is a beautiful dance.

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Even light breaks itself to it.

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Everything completely open.

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Everything moving across boundaries.P1050475

But remember: these images aren’t the goal.

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They are what is broken and, being broken, creates balance. Even the wind  breaks it.

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Even the water itself.

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Even a grass blade.P1060398

Even the light …P1060423

… and the rain.P1060288

I could say “Welcome to your mind,” but that’s the wrong thing, so I’ll say “Welcome to your life.”

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You can call them your thoughts, but they are, of course, only ducklings.P1060625

They have the capacity for flight.

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Little Green Apple Ghosts

When flowering plants came on the earth they raised their blossoms into the air, and coloured them brightly with light, so that insects, the creatures of air and light, would find them. Together, these two groups developed in potential together, yet no matter how far they have gone on this joint journey the original gesture of lifting the point of renewal into the light remains and is one of the strongest, abiding characteristics of (for example) the rose and all her daughters. Even the apples (a very robust rose) below retain the gesture of the flower as their stems swell around the growing seeds in the ovaries, fertilized by the bees that came to the flower’s light.
apple

Humans, too, contain these ghosts, or spirits, of the original gestures out of which we have grown, and of the environments we have grown with, which includes the world of apples, for whom all of history has been no time at all but is still opening, beautifully, into the light.

Green Algae + Yellow Pollen + Rain + Beaver = Beautiful Life

Pollen in the rain is nice.P1060499

But without rain, it’s nice, too.P1060501 You’d think these currents might be created by the wind.P1060502

Nope, they run with deep flows of water. The wind doesn’t touch them.P1060503

Waves slosh them a bit. P1060505

Some kind of electric thing happens around logs.P1060507

This is the Conconully Reservoir in the springtime. The entire lake is blooming with these tiny round algae. When you hit a thick patch your kayak slowwwwwws down.P1060508

But who would mind?P1060509 Ospreys, that’s who. It’s hard to see fish in this stuff. P1060515

See what I mean about the logs? Thanks to the beaver.P1060516

The white haze on the image below is the sun, filtered out of the sky and laid on the edges of waves of energy.P1060518

Amazing!P1060520

In Praise of Great Basin Giant Rye Grass

It would be beautiful if we taught the children of the Okanagan and the Okanogan that in our country grass doesn’t compost and make food for worms. Actually, this is a story that stretches from California to the Boreal Forest, in the channel of fire between the mountains. Look.
P1050036That’s Great Basin Wild Rye, three years of it, perhaps four, standing tall. No composting. No humus. No soil building from the leaves. No worms. None of that. Those things come from Europe. They don’t know what to do with a grass that lives in the sky.

P1050017Notice how it holds seeds for years. P1050037

They only fall when you, or someone with four legs or two wings, rustles through them. The concept of years, or the cycle of the seasons, is nonsense in the vicinity of Giant Rye Grass. We should tell the kids.