What is pale and drawn out by light and cold is not dead. The life is within, or, rather, it is concentrated, or distilled.
When you walk through the cold, every twig is power. If you grasp them, you can feel their line down to the roots, bound by ice to all of the earth and through ice to sky and stars. Now that you have found their power, come back in the light and find its concentration.
Welcome to the poetry of the earth, and the open secrets of red osier dogwood, medicine for body and soul.
The image below shows an old síyaʔ (saskatoon berry) gathering ground in the Thompson River Gorge, across the river from an ancient village site. Notice the advantage of growing fruit this way: no irrigation is required as the cliff above delivers rain and snow to the talus slope, which delivers it underground, where it is kept away from the sun. The rocks store heat for early ripening, which is tempered by the red bark of the saskatoons, which radiates it out again. The scourge of síyaʔ, berry-bush munching deer, is no issue here, as the stones provide a sufficient barrier to reduce their numbers. The bushes are closely gathered to facilitate picking by hand.
A slow waterfall in the Thompson River Gorge.
A culture that treats agriculture as a foundational economic crop, concentrated in monocultures and farmed by horse or tractor rather than human labour and using water piped down from the high country at great cost, would see no value in this land, as it could not be adapted to mechanization. Nonetheless, a village has lived off of it. I find this inspiring.
Imagine taking a drum, lifted into the sky at the heart of a people, a place of woman’s power for 800 generations, where women and girls gather bulbs in the spring to see their families through the coming winter, bulbs given from the body of the earth to the body of women and the body of the community. Imagine plowing it and turning it into wheat ripened with weedkillers proven to be carcinogens and proven to render sterile the granddaughters of cows fed on plants in which this weedkiller has been merged with their DNA. Imagine doing that. Imagine you’ve been doing that for 2 generations, or 4 generations, or 6. Imagine calling that farming. Imagine calling that health.
Camas Prairie,Nimíipuu Homeland (Idaho)
Now, imagine not doing that anymore. Imagine you are beating that drum. Imagine you are lifting it into the sky at the heart of a people. Imagine you are lifting the heart of a people. Imagine it was always within you to both give and receive. Imagine, you are one of the people. Imagine that.