The End of White Privilege in the Okanagan

For about 125 years, my valley has been the setting for the creation of a White homeland. It started in a British Empire that was largely Asian, looking for a racial state for a Britain driven to overpopulation by industrialization: the same force that drove Americans west across the continent to dislodge native peoples there. After the First World War, the whiting of the Okanagan continued by embracing other Europeans, after the British population was decimated by insane class-based military bungling in the trenches in France. During these two seminal generations,the indigenous population was confined ever more tightly to tiny “Indian Reserves” and the land that it had cared for for 6,000 years, was now approached out of european ignorance as “nature.” Its wealth was soon drawn down ecologically until now it is a ruin of weeds and burning forests and smoke. Well, it’s all over. It ended this summer. It is the end of White privilege in the Okanagan.

“The Rise” Development

Government ecological-protection legislation allowed for the legal ruin of essential grassland here in Vernon, through, in part, its replanting with native bunchgrass. This image shows how invasive cheatgrass is rapidly making inroads. It will soon replace the bunchgrass with a one-species wasteland of drought, because no one is minding the show. They’re not doing so because this is “nature”, and hence outside of human control. What nonsense.

Sure, land will continue to be abused, indigenous people will continue to be excluded from decision making processes or land use, but it’s all done on borrowed time now. Still, white culture continues to build for its views (all that foreigners can understand of a landscape) and continues to play, even when the valley is full of the smoke of burning forests caused by a hundred years of forest mismanagement, in general, and 25 years specifically. The smoke is “nature”, the pillar of whiteness, burning up.

Okanagan Lake, Below Bella Vista Road and Okanagan Hills Boulevard

 

White culture is so affluent that even in the smoke it can continue to offer elite views to the working class. Working class? Yes. The wealthy part of it. You can be sure that the elite white classes have already packed up for their second or third homes in Maui or Bermuda or Portugal or are the colonial elite teaching English in China.

As it was in the beginning, White settlement in the valley is fortress culture….

…and every view of smoke and shame is for sale, on the bluff that it is still a view of “nature.”

Even a view of smoke and shame. As I said, White culture has so much power it will continue for a long time here, but it will do it out in the open now. It does not own this land. That’s not to say that the syilx, our indigenous people, do. No-one does. But we all do together. Fire certainly does. At the moment, we all own the shame and the smoke. We could all own the pride. This couple just over the mountains at Willow Point already do:

 

Gymnasts in the Lavender

Oh, hello.
It’s a thing. With legs like hers (she is, let’s say, about 7 centimetres from tip to tip ), you can jump from twig to twig, in three dimensional space. It’s not like a bee in the flowers, though. This is hunting.

There were four in this bush, hunting together. So, here’s the thing: there are regulations for protecting indigenous landscapes, for the planting of bunchgrasses, mostly. These improvements are welcome, especially in disturbed lands in housing developments, but when the mule deer are locked into them and eat all the wild flowers down to their roots, and it gets on the middle of August, the place is close to a desert. Planting lavender and  Russian sage helps, so does the dill in my garden, not to mention a bit of queen anne’s lace and some red orach, while we sort out how to make deer corridors, hack down the sagebrush, and replant the wild flowers, especially thistles and all the species  that used to grow along the borders of valley bottom wetlands that are no more. Our wetlands are our houses now. The survival of wasps, like these beautiful gymnasts, is up to us. “Wildness” does not come into question. That’s just White thinking, and we don’t need that any more. Or maybe just some wild lettuce. We could manage that.

Or just some smokebush. Look at this tiny wasp below. She likes smokebush.

And, hey, smokebush, that’s a pharmaceutical plant. We could do our lungs some good at the same time.

People of the Wind

One after another,the grassland opens further. Something is ripening here.

It’s easy to share space if you are thin, and working on rhythms of opening and closing that intersect at the point at which one species needs water and another needs to release it.

It is the way a trout holds still in a flowing pool.

It helps to signal your presence.

Even petals can rise and fall in the rhythms of this pattern. Look how they are falling out in the bloom below in the opposite sequence from which they came in.

Going to seed in sequence helps. There are no clear seasons here.

It’s all one-after-the-other here. For humans, it’s all-at-once. That’s how a migratory, predatory species thinks through individuals that come together into groups by releasing its defenses and including the other within the self. That’s profound, but so is the grassland that thinks together. Every space that is closed opens.

This is water’s journey. It falls from the wind, opens into life, and then, when the wind is a closed space, opens again into the wind: opening after opening after opening opening openings.

Only a grassland thinks like this. Only water thinks this way here.

This is the spirit of a grassland. Here, and this is the big secret, humans can let down their boundaries and live in the sky as well, by extending the social group to these ends.

We are not just a predatory species. These grasslands are our ancient homes. Much has been forgotten, but much has been remembered, too. We are remembering it now as we put a close to the closings below.

 

 

 

 

Flittering Beauty

You know, swallowtails are striped so pretty. It makes for camouflage, when you’re in among the leaves… but is that really the whole deal? Have a look …

It’s a motion blur! The wings are separating into many wings, but only in motion.

That’s how to vanish in plain sight!

Gorgeous. It’s a “mind” carefully calibrated to bring butterfly and bird together into the same ladder of light.

Look at that tail. It has become a wing looked at on edge.

Now, that’s beautiful, given how they flitter and all.

Gorgeous beings!

Apples Make Their Own Heat

Here’s my Spigold opening up last week. Note how the sun drew the leaves out quickly, but the flowers take their time, drawn out more slowly by the heat their fur traps close to their skins and the heat the red spectrum of their first show of petals gathers from the sun. What tiny worlds. What tiny energy effects!

This isn’t global warming. It’s local warming!

In the end, 500 gram apples are the result. It takes time. We have that.

More Than Ground Cover

When the weather is cool, spring is what you make of it.
The red oregon grape leaves among the poison ivy berries I found growing along Kalamalka Lake, are attracting warm light, invisible to my eye, while the yellow berries of the poison ivy (a form of cashew) keep humans and other predators out, even while signalling their presence to birds, who survive the spring partly because of this selection. As a result, both species are able to spread and take in more of the spring, effectively intensifying it — for all.

The Grasslands and Free Will

I saw something beautiful today. Want to see? Just follow my footsteps. Trudge trudge trudge. Here we go…

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Before the snow comes, the grass is dense. It sways in the wind. Just watch what happens.

It snows.

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Mule deer…
p1450573… make tracks in the snow. On a golf course, where there is nothing to guide them, they follow each other, in single file.

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On the grass itself, they let the grass show them the path.

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Then the wind comes.

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Then the wind keeps coming.

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There’s a lot of wind here. There’s nothing above us except the universe. It makes the wind. Nice.

That wind keeps coming.

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Well, the same happens to the grass.

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The bunchgrass.p1460278

It directs the wind, too, just like the mule deer. I promise, if you’re going to go walking now, you’re going to walk where there is the most wind, which is between the snow. Free will here means you have the free will to choose what has already been chosen for you, to flow.

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Spring’s growth is determined now, in this world of footsteps: footsteps of deer, and footsteps of the wind, and yours, if you like.

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The grass sculpts them all.

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And the wind sculpts the grass.

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This is the path.

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