Why It’s Called a Grassland

Look what happens! The grass grows, and dries in the sun, to catch the snow. No snow. A raven, though! But look…

… then it snows.

Now the grass is bent in an arc, down to the soil. The energy shift continues. Watch.

The even snowfall is soon uneven, built around structures created by grass, all with exposed faces collecting heat and lee faces collecting cold.

But there’s more! Soon, the hill, one even gradient of soil, becomes a series of waves.

Beautiful waves. Waves created by grass built to bend to the wind. Now it is bending the snow that is carried on the wind. That’s the same thing, isn’t it?

A day later, and the sun begins to work on the faces of heat and cold the grass has made out of the wind.

It creates miniature avalanches, slumps, and flow patterns in the snow, deepening wells and extending connective membranes. The snow will melt in these patterns. But that’s not all!

The grass also guides the deer. The grass turns them into wind.

They follow its patterns. So does the sun. Look at it, spilling between these clumps of snow buckwheat, which are holding the snow.

Just as the deer’s trails are made at the intersection of their angular anatomy, grass and gravity, so are the sun’s trails made at the intersection of their expansive planes, grass and the form of gravity known as exposure. The sun’s trails are flat. Look how grass makes dimension out of this flat world. The tiny avalanches in the image below show the grass at work.

The summer that will build new stalks of grass to harvest and sculpt the sun into the following spring’s water starts here, at first snow.

By the time spring comes along, most of the preparation has been done. Grassland people, this is your snow:

Nez Perce Mystery of LIght

Clouds sailing across the Palouse do this.P1850322

Above Chief Timothy’s Camp

That’s not a hill of coal. It’s not burnt. It’s just a way in which the sky and the land are talking. In fifteen minutes it will look like the others. This too is part of the same conversation.



Lolo Lake Raven

Heart mysteries here. Upliftings of spirit. Moments of wonder.

Speaking the Language of the Birds

Raven and the moon …ravenmoon

An Old Story

The reason that people could once read the language of the birds to tell the future is that if you are a place you do not move, just as a woman who is a carpenter today does not move from being a carpenter or a man who is an artist is something other than a man. It’s in this way that a farmer was his farm (most everyone was a farmer) and was acclimatized to it, in the way sheep in Iceland are acclimatized to their mountain and do not stray from it.


Eagles and Heron Rookery

At home in the world.

In such a condition, any change is significant.

P1240672 Hawk and Saskatoon Bush

A tired storyteller.

A bird changing position, and operating in a world of movement in general, is read against the backdrop of a landscape read simultaneously as one’s mind and body — a landscape in which all time doesn’t move, because it is physical. In a landscape like that, a bird makes connections.


Robin and Poplar

One did not need to be “creative” to make these connections. That is a contemporary term, that attempts to translate the old language of the birds into the speech of individual consciousness.


Canada Geese and Gulls at 20 Below, Okanagan Lake

In place, one just needed to see, or to read, but you had to do it with your whole self and body at once, in all extensions of it in space and time.


 Magpie and the Cross

Humans learned to be human by watching the birds. Trickster behaviour is best learned from being tracked by cheeky birds in space and time. Then it is yours, too.

That is a definition of art. The dominant contemporary art form, the photograph, does no more. It operates along the same principles, but does not do so with the same character-changing and character-anchoring depth. It is a part of the technology of individual consciousness, rather than place consciousness.


Starling and Rainbow

Well, he’s not very big.

Yes, it is possible to read the language of the birds today, but the answer is not going to be the kind of answer that comes from books. For that, one needs a translator.


Western Mountain Bluebird and Apple Tree

What the bluebird says: Western Mountain Bluebird and Apple Tree. This is, however, significant.

What is translated is not some romantic nonsense from the gods, which is the argument that was used to dispel earth-based thinking, in that time when humans thought with and as the world.


Great Blue Heron Claiming a Barn Roof

It is your self, which is to say it is the world around you and in which you are embedded. You are still and all the world. Birds, which are the agents of movement, are thought.

hawkraven2 Raven and Hawk

I learned all this in the Church of St. Nicholas in Leipzig, where the demonstrations that led to the Wall (and the Iron Curtain) coming down in 1989 began. The organist was playing a piece Bach had composed for the church. The church was the sounding box for the organ. Rather than project the sound outward into the square, however, it projected inward, into my body where I sat in a pew. One note played my liver. Another my femurs. Another the muscles in my arms. One chord played my thighs. Another played my lungs. Chord by chord, the music was transmitted through me. In the Leipziger Nikolaikirche, Bach is still alive. It’s like that with birds.


Crow Talking With Her Whole Body

Mackenzie Beach, Vancouver Island

It is all direct and simple, but it is not the modern way. That’s a shame. One might get knowledge without being able to read like this. One won’t get wisdom.




Gull on Drift Ice, Okanagan Lake

Go for the wisdom.