Blessings of the Kingfisher

For years I have tried to make an image of a kingfisher from the shore willows of lakes in the mountains, only to have them fly away laughing, as they disappeared between the dimensions. I think I have learned the trick to catch these tricksters now.

Get them sitting on the exploded body parts of sea monsters and ancestral figures from the land of story deep underwater, in the fog, at dusk, when you’re the one passing through the dimensions. What a fine meeting to close the year and open the new one into story!

What Crows Know About People in Cascadia

When Coyote trades his eyes for pebbles like Crow’s below, he can’t see a thing.P2280807

It’s very funny. Each pebble is the world.


Hard to choose! Each one really is the world.


In each, the world appears to a differing degree of purity, but each one is the world.



With an eye like that you can see the forces of the universe. Nebulas, star clusters, black holes, dark matter, that kind of thing.


But you might not see the audience.P2290460

Crow, who’s telling this joke is happy about that, because he’s having a bad hair day.


A really bad hair day.


And, really, he wants you to see him like this:


In my country on the north eastern Pacific shore, this is funny stuff. The world is a joke here. It’s not something to deflate human pretensions. That’s a human pretension. Best just to laugh. You can’t hide here.P2290166

So, which one is it?


A pair perhaps?


One note: you can’t tell this story, because you’re in it. Here’s its author.


As for human pretensions, they’re not funny. Oh, wait, yes they are.



Even when they get away from themselves they do it together. Now, that’s a joke worth sharing.


Bad hair or not.

Heart of the Monster

This is the heart of the monster. This is ?Ilcwé.wcixnim timíne. This is where the nimi.pu began. This is where the people got started. The real people, as they call themselves. This is where the Nez Perce were born, more than 10,000 years ago. In this valley around the remains of the monster’s heart, and in the bowl of the missing monster that was blocking the nimi.pu’s entrance (the glacier, or the glacier’s lake), the people began. They spread out across the land in the forms of this place that made them. I travelled in a big circle through a small part of this territory today, and every village site was written on the land in the terms of the missing bones of the monster, and of those powers that came in its absence to help the people.heart2I’m on the road. There’s no time to give you the whole story, but I’ll give you a hint. See those hills above Kamiah, Idaho? Well, they could be the hills above the land that is my own bones, in Cawston, British Columbia. It’s just that here, far to the south and east, the first people of the first people learned to live on the new land. They learned it from living in pit houses around the heart of the monster. Pit houses, by the way, are this shape. The Nimi.pu spread out from there, up the empty tentacles of the monster. We call those river valleys now, to our poverty and ignorance. Other people went further. To the Similkameen, for example. And here we are. All of us. We, who owe Itseléyeh, or Spillyay, or Sen’klip, or Coyote, a land to live on, owe him this story, of the death of the monster, even if he ran away. In a glacial flood, that’s the thing to do. And then you come back. Imagine how I’m feeling today, to have found this heart, and this empty space, and these helpers, and this story, that I’ve always lived, without knowing its words. What a day it’s been!

How to Find a Story on the Columbia Plateau

Note the grove of firs in the background here, between the Sinlahekin and Okanogan valleys (well, stories) of Washington. If you walk one way, they are the bristly children a toad is carrying on her back. To find out why, you’ll have to walk up into the trees and see what they’re up to. If you walk another way, this is a story of water — of how it does not flow here and shows itself on the surface of the soil mostly through life: ponderosa pine, douglas fir, big sagebrush, serviceberry, and blue-bunched wheatgrass, for example. To find out why, you’re going to have to pay attention to earth and sky. A third way to walk this story is to walk both of the above stories at once. P1730837


If you walk it right, you’ll be able to read it like this:


I say “like”, because you’ll be in there, pushing the twigs aside, feeling the cold of the bark on your hands, breathing. These red dogwoods will be village plants, where water reveals itself and you, too, have come.



The Oldest of All Stories

The old ways of thinking with the body are still solid. In this age of scientific thinking, there are still turtles, that speak to ancient memory.


Turtle Head, Kalamalka Lake

And that old grassland moon just can’t keep down during the days as the year turns into sweet night …


… and her consort from the old days, he’s here, too …

P1280784Zeus, Looking for Fun

… while the light begins to flow away …

P1290526… and his singers with him.

P1290525I Tried to Rescue Him, But He’d Have None Of It

This is an old story. There aren’t many stories. This is one of them. There are also ducks …


… wondering where the summer people have gone, with all their crackers. And the bear ate all the berries. Meanwhile, the poet watches the Birth of the Universe blowing by.

P1290483Lakes Have Skin, Too Kalamalka Lake

Maybe the summer people are shopping for winter?

P1290810Maybe the hawks got them.

P1290215Hawk Hunting for House Cats, BX District

One could spend a lifetime posing questions with no answers, or with answers your body already knew long ago.

P1290666Mountain Sheep Watching Kalamalka Lake

Our stories our old. We know them in our bones. I think that’s why it’s important to keep them alive and to keep telling them. Blessed be.

Look Both Ways!

Brought a friend home from the road beside the hawthorns. Last spring, he neglected to look left and right. Sheesh.

Magpie, Disassembled

I hate it when my friends get like this.

Still, here are his buddies, carrying on…

Note the Hawk to the Right…

…looking to do a bit of carrying on himself.

In the old stories, this kind of thing ends with the hero jumping up into new life, a little embarrassed but full of vim. I’ll write a story, that’s what. I was looking for a hero for a kind of sci-fi version of the story of the Columbia Basin. Keep tuned.

Now off to my talk in Kelowna. I’ll let you know how it went!