This Beautiful World (And how not to lose it)

Look what this lavender bush has done.

P1360148She has sieved leaves out of the wind. Or is it …

P1360147… she has stopped them from blowing away? Everywhere the earth is trying to get us to stop.

P1360197Snow Buckwheat in November Light

Long past the season of blossoming.

We stop just like the leaves in a bush of lavender and then a moment of wonder and balance comes, one of those moments we humans call beauty and the earth is.

P1360194Cottonwood Sapling

Such a young one at the beginning of a long career of giving up her leaves to whoever will have them.

Things are connected in place. That is a form of intelligence, written in a physical language. It’s not randomness that’s the active principle here. The principle is balance. It contains randomness but is not contained by it. Otherwise there’d be only death. So, a thought, today: when you go out into the grass or the woods or the rocks with children, don’t say it’s to satisfy their natural curiosity or to allow them their sense of wonder or for recreation. Be the wonder. Be the creation. Otherwise you aren’t.



English is a Body Language at Heart

At the heart of our language, things are what they are. Whatever that is, it’s pretty clear. For instance, this is antness.

P1090249 Young Queen Ant on Her Flight Day …

… embodying the ant property of the universe.

And here she is (look closely) giving me a warning to keep my humanness to myself…

P1090248At least, in my humanness, that jaw-pincer thing sure looks like a warning. 

She is, you can see, making great use of the grassness of the universe (a form of frozen sunlight) to get closer to the sun for her first (and only) flight.

Well, it’s a pretty cool language that can do things like that. Here is some more neat stuff. Welcome to the cloudness of the universe…

P1090929No, Not Clouds, but the Principle of Cloud Energy …

… materializing over the Commonage and Kalamalka Lake (behind the hill).

See how this works? Here’s some life …


What Kind of Insect is This? Anyone?

I don’t mean that the grass or the insect are alive (although they are), but that the “lifeness” of the universe is present in this spot, in two quite different but related ways extended over vast stretches of time. Here’s another:


Swallowtail Butterfly in the Bella Vista Hills

It’s not that the butterfly is flying, but that it has caught the flight of the universe and rides it. This means of thought likely sounds poetic to contemporary ears, but remember this: the language holds the capacity to think like this, because it is at heart formed by this kind of thought. In words we all know there is a profound bridge between “modern” and indigenous thought. What’s more, if the language maintains this capability, so do all people who speak it. For instance, the needle-and-thread grass, yarrow and the mariposa lilies below don’t bloom and fruit, but enter the bloom and fruitfulness of the universe…


And don’t fill with light so much as join with it briefly. The body responds in this way. That the words do, too, suggests to me that they really are the words of the body, despite all contemporary things to make them signposts of the mind. This is one of the ways in which the whole world is art — dancing, even.

P1070137Lavender, Dancing

A Perfume Industry in the Western Mountains?

Sometimes one can get too close to a work of art and see the brush strokes rather than the big picture. Here’s a shot of the Okanagan Perfume Industry that shows just what I mean …

Okanagan Lavender

Provence North, or what?

The thing is, this perfume field is actually not designed for scent. It is meant to be viewed at speed, from a car, a moving car, preferably an SUV with big tires and glossy paint, on its way uphill to view houses merging California, Spanish, Arizona, and French accents, each with a non-functional tower over the door and wisteria and a barbecue in the yard, which is a deck, and past that a vineyard, and past that a golf course with a view over the lake and the sky. Each of those items exists as a little psychological tweet, or tweak, and if experienced at speed they all unfold into a physical and emotional experience not unlike a poem. Here is the poem’s closing sentence, which a driver or passenger in a steel poetry touring car might see for a fraction of a second while re-entering the world…

Lavender Median

And the lone hawthorn tree that survived five winters of hungry mice now. (Sorry about the off-centre shot, but you get the idea, right?)

But if the subdivision is financially poorly-conceived and the economy goes kaplooey and the people in surrounding neighbourhoods start walking through this artwork, they see it wayyyyy too close. They see individual plants, growing in dirt, watered with trickle irrigation hoses, and impeccably landscaped by a professional landscaping company. So, here’s what I’m thinking: a mile and a half of median, six feet wide, gives 1.1 acres of farmland. We could grow beautiful purple cabbages with this water, or we could just harvest this lavender. The stuff sells for $36 a pound. Given that the water and the land and maintenance are already paid for, the only expense would be harvesting and packaging. Here’s what the folks at Purple Haze Lavender in the coastal grassland in Sequim, Washington, have figured out to do with lavender in the kitchen. Why not? But if this kind of practical social sculpture is not your thing, how about this?

Beautification Project on the Northern Entrance to Vernon Source

Wild trees and plants being ripped up to be replaced with lawn and landscape trees. I hope they don’t plant hawthorns.

And what does the local politician who released the funds for this artwork (which is actually under separate government jurisdiction) have to say for himself? Why, “These are some of the largest taxpayers in Area B and they were being under-served.” Got that? Historically, Western democracies are based on the principle of one person/one vote. Currently, at least in the mind of one western politician, the principle appears to be “one dollar, one vote.” The cost? $25,000. Compare that to the cost of generating income from the lavender median a few kilometres around the corner and up the hill: $0. I hope they plant purple cabbages. Or lavender. Meanwhile, in downtown Vernon, beautification is even more contentious, and expensive. In this case, $100,000, for sewers, bricks, and lights. At least the folks up on the hill understood the power of making a poem out of landscaping efforts, and the power of plants within that art form. Sewers, bricks, and lights? Isn’t it time to put our cities to work? What about planting the correct varieties of lavender and making perfume, instead of dried flowers? City shopping districts, after all, are for walking. Why, people could stop and smell the flowers.

Hawthorns in Danger of Extirpation

Somebody read that hawthorns grow wild here. Domestic varieties show up in low-water gardening just about everywhere, with their pretty pink flowers and their red berries for the birds. Full marks for that, for sure. Here is one decorating a subdivision pumping station…

Hawthorn Blending in with the Locals

The idea is to sell a vision of France. At least, I think that’s it.

The problem is that the darned things do need just a wee tad more water than xeriscaping allows.  What’s more, they are just too popular…

Hawthorn Suffering from Porcupine Blight

Wild hawthorns cope with night-time visitors by growing multiple stems.  Win some, lose some. It’s a clever strategy.

The result is like the Ypres Salient

Tree with No Resilience

Once a member of the rose family’s wood is damaged by drought and frost, or a little come-in-the-night slashing in this case, it just doesn’t recover.

No amount of water will help this tree now. Or this one…

Hawthorn in the Lavender

The posts are a nice touch. Soooo elegant.

Lets make a pact: let’s respect our water. Step 1: grow only native hawthorns.

Wild Hawthorns Falkland

Note the thorns. Porcupines know lots about that. They respect it.

Wild cherries are an easier mark, eh:

Trees are Food, or …

Eating is pruning. It keeps new shoots coming up from the crown. But it doesn’t work with decorative hawthorns. The scrubby little shoots that result are drought-damaged, too, and don’t do too well at providing height to landscaping installations. Ok, yeah, even the lavender is higher than they are.

Step 2. Let’s support our local nursery that propagates and sells native strains of plants that survive here. And as for the wild hawthorns, white flowers in the spring, and subtle foliage in the fall…

Black Hawthorn

No problem.

Step 2: let’s respect the water and pick that lavender. If we’re going to sell houses based on images of Provence, let’s do as the French do and actually go to work in those fields. In this landscape, water is wood and leaf and stem. It is not a decoration.