When glaciers lay in the valley, rivers ran along the side of the ice, high up, 170 metres above today’s shore. They tell a tale still of eddies, currents, and washed-out and red-deposited lake beds and sand bars, laid down in an exquisite pattern, how exposed and wicking salt to the air.
These river beds are now the home of wild bees.
Sometimes, it is a river stone that falls from an old sandbar that provides the beginning of the bee’s burrow.
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.
If your country started out as a chain of volcanoes …. …very exotic volcanoes… … in the tropical Pacific, very different volcanoes …. … in five different island chains over 150 million years …. … and if they then drifted across the sea and crashed into North America, lifting new volcanoes up into the clouds … … and welding the bits together …. a … and then if super-cooled, subglacial water had blasted all that away and the sea had a go at it for 10,000 years …. … why, then your beaches might look like this, too. All beaches are beautiful, of course, but these are the beaches of Cascadia. To be more specific, these are the beaches of the newest chain of islands to crash on the shore, Islandia. And if you lift your head and look across the last water to the previous chain, now uplifted and ice-carved and creating rain, why it might just look like this…
…and if you lived there, and if you knew that, you would never see a mountain again. You would see the earth, alive.
This is no ordinary planet we live on. I think it’s best to walk outside and take a look …
There are many flames, new and old, in this photograph of Middleton Mountain in Coldstream: the spill of lava across the cap of the mountain, too hard for the glaciers to take it away completely, and which drops water onto the fir tree near the mountain’s crest, the rising sun itself, the autumn aspens in their yellow and gold and the choke cherries in autumn red, the dried wisps of the rest of the summer’s trees and grasses, burnt away, the sun caught within the dead chloroplasts of the grasses, bouncing back and forth and amplified, the sky on flame with light and turning blue from agitation, and that fir tree, which is water drawn into the sky by heat and the tree riding along with it and rusting into green flame. Under it all is the rock, cold now, but still directing water and light in the channels of its old flows, which came from the sea bed diving deep under the land and giving off pressurized steam that dissolved the rock and sent it up in flame into the sky.