A Practical Experiment in Applied Grassland Meandering

We had an inspiring discussion in Kelowna the other night.  https://okanaganokanogan.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=35870&action=edit

One of the things that came out of it was a conversation on the work being done to bring back the threatened languages of the grasslands. Much work stands before us, and I drove home in the dark thinking that perhaps one way that those of us neither syilx nor secwepemc can contribute to this vital rebuilding is to advocate for adequate resources and funding for it. Another, however, might be to build public support for it in terms that a technological civilization, and its technological universities, can readily and quickly get behind financially and at heart. What follows is an example of my thinking in this regard: an adaptation of the beautiful ecological balance of blue bunch wheatgrass to technological solutions, on the foundation that understanding the grass requires a knowledge of the relationships within the grassland, which are capturable from very close observation and even more deeply understood through indigenous language. I’m not saying that rebuilding languages should be done for technological reasons. I’m merely pointing out that public support is required for any large expenditure and that building up technological interest might be a way to drive a desire for the salvation and growth of these languages and their ancient repositories of families and their deep wisdom. Plus, the technological solutions should be able to build up a right relationship with indigenous grasslands, that corrects the capital-ownership model inherited from colonial times, and its costs in grassland and social deterioration. Such a strategy wouldn’t be isolated from other strategies. The bottom line is that this work must succeed. In a spirit of inquiry and support, I offer a few thoughts below.

Wheatgrass water collectors.

Wheatgrass offers models for aerial water collectors using thin sprung wires, tubes or fibres tipped with water-collecting combs harvesting rain, snow and fog. The mechanism deposits water through weighted tips to non-evaporative, subsoil fibres or mats, or down the wires or tubes to central cores. In both methods, the combs at the tips of the grass stalks hold water in place due to capillary tension and release it when they knock together in the wind or when disturbed by passing deer.

Blue Bunch Wheatgrass Directing Water to the Tips of its Root System.

The harvest of water stored in the plants’ fibrous root system is powered by solar evaporation, which uses thin tubes to draw water vertically by means of its natural capillary tension. Adaptations and extensions of this technology could be used to create scalable and linkable collection stations to sculpt and harvest water regimes. Volumes would be low for each plant, but ample for many uses, especially when linked millions of times in series. Possibilities exist for drip line systems to move water to required zones for crop growth or collection in ditch networks mimicking deer trails, water transfer through microtubes, solar pumping models, and much more. In all cases, models can be created through organic planting or extensions of principles through mechanical engineering.

Blue Bunch Wheatgrass

Power Sources: Sun, Atmospheric Pressure, Molecular bonds, Atmospheric disturbance, gravity, mechanical disturbance.

Figure 1. Components

Atmospheric collectors (top), fibrous storage (bottom), solar pump system (centre).

Figure 2. Stalk Transfer Mechanisms

In-tube transfer (left), surface transfer (right).

 

Figure 3. Gravity Transfer Mechanism

Combs at fibre tips collect snow, rain or fog, transform it to water and deposit it on the storage mechanism below. The combs resist atmospheric theft, delay transfer to prevent overcharging of storage fibres, and hold water as ice during freezing cycles to extend water harvest over time for continuous running of the system.

Figure 4. Mechanical Transfer

Weighted fibres planted on a slope transfer water to a downslope collector.

Figure 5. Multiple Capture Mechanisms

1Subsoil water moving by gravity is slowed by pumps before being deposited in 2holding ponds of subsoil water, which is augmented by 3precipitation and 4gravity fed water. This mechanisms allows a crop rooted in region 2 to have four water sources.

Figure 6. Integrated Pumping and Storage Nets

Fiber collectors and pumps on a slope (left) are interspersed with bulb collectors (See following entry.) and deliver water down slope to bulb (and tuber) collectors. In an organic model, on-slope bulb collectors (see entry below) can seed those on the horizontal plane below, which can be harvested for food or water. In a mechanical model, all bulb and tuber collectors can be used as micro-storage and harvested in series or through mechanical collection.

 

I have at least a hundred other ideas to sketch out like this, a great need to actually learn how to sketch in a comprehensible way (thanks for your patience), and all of them to work out in detail against the background of western physics, chemistry and biology. Linking these hypotheses to the knowledge within indigenous grassland languages and culture would form part of a complete approach. The ultimate goal is restoration of right relationships with the grass and all of its creatures, and the restoration of the knowledge, language and culture of its people. I think we can do this. I know we have to try, with all that we have.

A Starvation Winter is Coming

Ah, the ripening grass of Autumn.

Yes, but this winter will be a hunger winter. Most awns and glumes are empty of seed. They look find, but the vast majority are empty. The others have very tiny kernels.

After the last bare-handed tomato picking, the stained man goes forth…

The young doe below is walking through the tinkling bells of the grass, but the tinkling is empty. She is eating weed, and the birds are all gone. Still, there are dogs up there. It’s worthwhile to keep eyes, ears and nose on dogs.

A hard winter is coming. That is the face of summer’s drought. Or, look, this is winter, here, now:

Or, put it another way: “Nuclear Winter” is a term used to describe the lack of a growing season through a summer, caused by clouds of dust in the stratosphere caused by nuclear war. We could as well say that right now we have passed halfway through a smoke summer, with the hardest months yet to come. 

May the birds find shelter and food where they can. May the deer people find weeds and scrub where humans have lacked the energy to remove them.

May the human people be patient and help them through.

May we get through this together.

The Bounty of Water in a Dry Country

This is water.

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It is called Okanagan Lake. In Icelandic, where indigenous European language survives, it is a vatn, specifically a space of free water. Of that, it is a special form, called a læk, or a lick: a domesticated space of water, of agricultural use. Metaphysically and socially, it is both of those, but in terms of its own essence and how it works in this dry landscape, it is neither. This is water.
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It is also called a weed, or an unwanted growth. It grows on disturbed land, or land set aside for agricultural use but then abandoned and left in this state of abandonment, which is called wild, after the Old English (essentially Icelandic) wildeornes, a point (nes) for wild (wil or wild) beasts (deor.) In this dry country, such a space is one that is removed from agricultural space and given, generously but purposefully, to our brothers and sisters. This is water.

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It is an industrial orchard and garlic field (in winter ground cover), irrigated by industrially-supplied high country water along the model of the California Gold Rush of 1849. It is not vatn and is fenced against wild and other humans. It is, thus, as constricted as the flow within the gold rush technology that supplies its water. It is a form of sluice box (a hand-mining technology that harnesses water and gravity to separate gold from gravel.) This is water:p1410838

It is also known as crested wheat grass, an introduced pasturage species to replace blue bunch wheat grass, the native grass of this grassland, which doesn’t suffer well the predations of cattle. It is not vatn, læk or wildeornes, but because it has chosen to escape the rather loose boundaries set for it it is known as a weed, and is called wild, or nature. It is none of those. It is water. This is water:

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It is also known as grazing land, a kind of dry læk, although it has been grazed down to cheatgrass (an invasive weed, green in the image) and big sage (which is covering land denuded of blue bunch wheatgrass by cattle, in the land’s attempts to stop water from seeping out of life as vatn). This is water.p1410538

It is also known as a deor trail (or path, from pad (tread), from pfot (foot)). It passes through a mixture of weeds, big sage and blue bunch wheatgrass, like a river. A dry river. This is water:

This is the Columbia at White Bluffs, the great river of my grasslands, in the smoke from a grassland fire. It is what is known by the mouth, the throat and the lungs as a RRRRRR! A roar, a run, a river. It is known by them at the same time as an OOOOOO! A Strom (or stream), a roar, a flow. It is a flow, not a substance. This is water:

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It is known as blue bunch wheatgrass in the fall sun, waiting for the rains that it will gather and hold through a season, keeping them from leaving the land as vatn as long as they can. It is water doing that itself by climbing a ladder of carbon and hydrogen towards the sun. Look at it catch the sun. Look at it re-create it:

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Each drop of water is now a tiny earth called a seed. If one places, or plants, this seed, it will respond with a gesture of growth equal to the intention of the planting, whether that is done by the wind, a bird, a deer knocking through the grass, or the intention of a human hand. This is water. That’s the way it is here.

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That’s what you know if you live here.

Blue Bunch Wheatgrass and Gravity

The blue bunch wheatgrass of the West, the signature grass of the Intermontane Grasslands, the beautiful one herself, stands straight and tall, until her seeds grow heavy and weigh her down, but even that is not enough to spread her out far enough to catch the rain through the winter and the next year.
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To find the perfect arc to catch the rain, the thunderstorms of June are the thing.

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The tension between the fibbers of blue bunch and gravity, find their perfect arc.P1180276

But only with the seed, that holds the water, as it will find it again, when it drops to the soil, at the new extension the rain has given to the plant.

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What a beautiful and balanced world!

Daughter of Fire

She lives in the sky.P1030714 Daughter of the earth.

P1030724Born of the wind.P1030875

Flowering one.

P1030893Weaver. P1030897

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Maker of needlepoint.P1030902

With skeins of light, all atangle.P1030905

Spirited one.P1030912 Everchanging. P1030938 P1030961 P1030975 P1030999

At one with the water. P1040048

And with shadow.P1040057

Light whisperer. P1040065

Wind talker.P1040072

She is blue-bunch wheatgrass.P1040075

Ancient daughter of fire.