The Seasons of Fire and Water

Where water is, there is the absence of water. There is always water, hidden in life. There is never water hidden from life. Even in the absence of water, there is water. Celtic consciousness dragged to this land from Europe holds that there are four seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, which function in a cycle. This is a cycle of eternal return, a concept that European anthropologists wrote upon indigenous cultures throughout the twentieth century, often quite brilliantly, but do take a look at four images of one hill in one valley in one grassland above one lake in one small fault in the plateau east of the volcanic arc of the Northeast Pacific shore. These are the seasons of fire.

Where water is, there is fire. There is always water, hidden in fire. There is never water hidden from fire. Even in the absence of fire, there is fire. Fire is always present. It takes on bodies. It comes to life. Life is always present. It takes on fire. It burns. These seasons are one.

The Palette of Saskatoons Through the Year

Isn’t it very fine. There are the saskatoons of winter, with bark in a palette of rose and plum.

saskThen there are the saskatoons of springtime. Look at their palette now! (This palette is laid down over the rose and plum palette of winter.)


Then summer comes!


Then autumn!


And all together through the year? Look below. Those are the colours of saskatoon, or síya?. 


The image below shows the continuous sequence of colour change from wood to fruit to leaf to wood, where the opening begins again, or rather, continues.

saskatoonspectrumAt one time of the year, the wood gives its colours to fruit. At another time of year, the leaves give their colours to wood. Put that another way: the fruit ripens out of winter’s wood, just as autumns wood ripens out of spring’s leaf and, when it is fully ripe and is again winter’s wood, it ripens into summer’s fruit. It is the story of the separate rising of the blue, then yellow and their stilling again. Half the year is yellow, half is red. Half holds the sun. Half holds the fruit that the sun will ripen. What an astonishing creature saskatoon is!




If This is Not Autumn What Is It?



Autumn isn’t a season. It’s a mood within a cultural tradition, that views life as a flow out of the earth during certain degrees of tilt of its northern shoulder  towards or away from the sun. In other words, it’s the mood that a certain group of humans have come to use as a means of reading that quality of light. Previous groups of humans used standing stones, moons, stories, songs, or the amount of water falling from the sky.


Leaving seasons behind is liberating. The flow remains. It exists in the image above, which is traditionally read in Canada as a falling away into a time of rest before the life force springs forth again, combined with a sense of ripeness. This is an ancient world that Europeans brought from Asian millennia ago. In the Okanagan, though, it says that the land in the image below is dead from the effects of summer, since it isn’t springing forth, and is waiting to be returned to a watery state by winter before springing forth again.



That’s simply not true. That dry scene has already sprouted with mid-August thunderstorms and is soaking up October’s rains. This is spring, just before the great time of growth under the lens of the snow. Life here is not about a springing forth, but about a holding. And that’s the beauty of it.

In Praise of Great Basin Giant Rye Grass

It would be beautiful if we taught the children of the Okanagan and the Okanogan that in our country grass doesn’t compost and make food for worms. Actually, this is a story that stretches from California to the Boreal Forest, in the channel of fire between the mountains. Look.
P1050036That’s Great Basin Wild Rye, three years of it, perhaps four, standing tall. No composting. No humus. No soil building from the leaves. No worms. None of that. Those things come from Europe. They don’t know what to do with a grass that lives in the sky.

P1050017Notice how it holds seeds for years. P1050037

They only fall when you, or someone with four legs or two wings, rustles through them. The concept of years, or the cycle of the seasons, is nonsense in the vicinity of Giant Rye Grass. We should tell the kids.

Space: the Human Habitat

Snow looks white and cold. It looks like a cold carpet over the earth.


That’s the way a mammal thinks. A mammal has built itself around its own stove. To the creatures that don’t physically move and heat themselves in this landscape, some things are the same as movement. They teach hot-blooded mammals the story of being in the world. Look at these haws moving flower to fruit to seed to limb. Humans call this time.


Movement, from a human point of view, is movement in space. It takes time. Movement for a haw or a russian thistle (such as the one below) is movement in time. It crosses dimensions. It moves springtime, a dimension of heat, into the light and heat of the sun above the winter snow, where birds, committed to heat and movement (in their natural habitat, that’s to say) feed on summer and in the process scatter seeds…


… which embed in the cold, and begin to melt their way downwards into the dimension of growth, which humans call spring, and which is down below the snow.P2170116

The image below shows some grasses making this same transfer, but using this movement in time to move in space as well. Their target is not birds, as it is for the thistle, but rodents living in their tunnel cities under the snow, where it is warm like Palm Beach. Don’t think that the sun doesn’t pour through the snow. Sometimes it is amplified by it.


The sun can even melt the snow from below, when dark plant material catches it.


Time travel is good news for birds!

P2170191I turned up the colour on the following image of the melted-out deer footprint below so you could see better what lies below the snow on this grey day (It makes the snow look weird, though. Sorry.) That’s the world of spring time down there.


(Ugly pic, but you get the point. I hope!)

Above the snow, we’ll see it in a couple months. Down there, it is ongoing. That this season is called winter is a sign of human monodimensionality and human bondage to the human habitat of space.


Time rather escapes this species — until it stops moving, at least. Before that, it apprehends it as loss.


When it stops, though, it realizes it’s all there at once, in light.


Oh, eternity! humans say. No. It is now. Here is an image which makes it look like space and light (as images do)…


… here’s another space-light approximation of it, in what is called a distance (timespan) of 300 kilometres …


They’re really one. Similarly, as a result of human and mammalian bias, it’s easy to look at the image of the elm tree below and comment on how it has adapted to surviving the snow.


It does no such thing. It’s not separate from it, and its story is not about surfaces, anyway, but about breaking through them. P2170177It lives in multiple dimensions. So do humans. Conceptions of identity which stress single dimensions in that mix, such as the self-integrity of human identity, or even recreations of the world in its own self-portraits, all tangled up with the world as they can’t help but be …


… miss some real excitement. I mean, look at these larches (the needle-less trees below), eh!


Their lives are about being larches. From a human point of view, they’re about living within height and generations and successions.


But they’re not. They are a vast expanse of time not tied to individuality.

P2170082The stress on place that creates the story of individuality is one human ability, but the ability to see 10,000 years at once, or 10,000,000 years, in this moment, or the Big Bang unfolding, is also human, and it is lost with an undue stress at looking at surfaces, such as the surfaces of snow, or words. These are not words!

In organic systems, what would be random to a human intelligence, the capture of snow on tree limbs, is part of the presence in time of the tree. All of time. That a human notices it (such as me, on my better days), is a sign that the portrait is also human. Randomness, in other words, is a particular human signature.
P2170176 If you see randomness, be assured that a human was present, trying to make order. In the apple plantation below, arranged for machine operation, for example, it’s not the starlings who are random, although they look like that, don’t they, the little black nubbins!


Similarly, the following image does not just display a random accumulation of snowflakes on the face of an eroded hill but also the sun passing through the snow, heating the earth within and melting the snow away from there, while above, where humans la dee da with their cameras, it’s cold as being human. A good place for the big lugs. Right where they belong. Thinking that time is the process of walking.


The water which the movement of the sun from above the snow (in human space) to below it (in time) has melted from the snow in its cross-seasonal transit through the snow, enters the earth along with the sun (which heats the sol), then freezes with darkness. Eventually, it pushes the earth away and the snow with it.

Are the patterns random? No. They’re just not measurable by the means of identity concepts which are devoted to space not time and have the hardest darned time crossing dimensions. It is possible, though. You can look out to see within, for example.


You can be in the moment rather than in yourself.

You can be still.


Is that applicable? Can that be put to use? Of course, but not if you walk away. Then it’s just a surface. Here’s some surfaces for you! Like a human thumbprint beaming out to the stars!


Art and artifice can be made of surfaces, of course, because those are also humanly imaginable, in the same way the boundary around the image below is.


But ducks do it better.


Oh, humans, meet your betters!


Note: this post was an experiment in demonstrating some of the notions of identity I have been speaking about over the last two weeks. The theme will continue with a discussion of the creation of space-limited intelligence, its costs and benefits, as an introduction to the concept of creativity. I hope this post has been fun for you. It was fun for me!

The Black Cherries of Winter

It is the time of year when colour leaves the valley. The red choke cherries of summer are black. The skies are grey.P2140077 The sun we knew in summer is gone. This is the time to go inside the earth, to be with the small grey birds, to become fog, and to grow still.P2140121 In more tropical regions of the earth, this mystery is absent, but here it is the great clarity that is the ripeness of the year: not light but darkness, which is a different light.P2140124 The Icelandic writer Gunnar Gunnarson wrote that the long winter dark of Iceland is part of every Icelander’s soul, as much as the long sunlit nights of summer.P2140127 That’s the way it is in the Okanagan in November, December and January, when cold brings fog out of the lake to cover the valley from the sun and the stars,just as summer’s heat turns the lake into lightning storms that crash overhead through July and August nights, or June storms, raking over the mountains from the Pacific, turn the sky blue and draw us out of ourselves as water. But not now, now it is the time of darkness that the Celts knew well as the source of life, because they, too, lived in the fog seasons of seasonal earth.P2140131 Now is the time the Earth here has for herself, and the time we, who are her sons and daughters, have with her. This is for us, as family.P2140132

This is not a time to go to Mexico. It is no time to run from her embrace.


At dusk now, we find ourselves.

The Ripest of Roses

Nootka roses are pink when they bloom and red when they ripen.P2130444The leaves ripen into orange and yellow.P2130445 The canes ripen to  purple.P2130447 Even the yellow which we, as humans, see at this time of year is not the yellow of spring or summer. We change with the earth. And the roses change with us.
P2130452 For the full ripeness of nootka rose canes in this season, you need late Autumn light, just before dusk, when it comes in orange under the clouds, through the whole thickness of the atmosphere.P2130453 In other words, the colour is not just the colour of the canes, but of the earth, here and now…P2130455

… as it catches the nootka rose ….P2130451

… and the nootka rose catches it…


… triggered by frost. By spring, these canes will be orange, as they take on a new season, and then their blooms will scent the valley, but for now we wait, with the hips, for the winter birds.


Living on a Sphere

If the earth were flat, she would be half as much fun. The grassy slope would always have the same orientation to the sun, for one thing. With a tilted earth, sometimes it faces the sun directly and sometimes it’s almost flat and the sun flashes over it like a wind, barely rustling the tips of its grasses.



And what about that cliff, eh! Because this spherical earth is spinning on its axis, sometimes during a day it faces the sun directly, and sometimes is in various degrees of shadow or illumination. The edges between these effects create the wind, or the tension between gravity (our point of view) and wind (our other point of view) that we live in. How cool is that!