Water is the Speech of the Earth

It is commonly said that water reflects light. It’s a great observation.

However, water also gives light a place to reveal itself. That is an older observation, but no less lucid.

During this process, water reveals itself as the hidden body behind the light. This organic twinning is what is called nature.

It is the earth speaking. Human bodies fit into it in the same way.


Ending the Fraser War

This is the fifth in a series of archived posts on building a sustainable Okanagan together. This one is about water. And fish. And property rights. Today we’re at Mud Lake. It’s also called Rosemond Lake. Mud Lake came first, I bet. At any rate, this is the view looking to the North shore of the lake. Mud Lake is closed to power boats. It’s pretty quiet.P1160938

Mara Lake is in behind that shore, just a few feet away.


It is noisy with power boats and is pretty much fished out. Maybe we can do something about that. You see, that gravel berm is not a natural shoreline. It’s the bed for a railway that no longer runs. In fact, before there was a railway there was no Mud Lake. There was just Mara Lake, pooling in a big wetland where the Shuswap River flows in. That wetland is now Mud Lake. It is the amputated lung of Mara Lake.


It’s connected by a narrow passage. You can go through it.

P1160953You can come out where you should have been in the first place, and where the lake’s nutrients should flow but only kind of seep, a bit.


The fish need to live in cold water. Mud Lake doesn’t provide it, but fish need to eat, too, and Mud Lake provides that. It just needs to be flushed into Mara. What’s more, if the Shuswap River flowed there again, its cooler water would aid fish reproduction, while the wetlands would help clean the river. At the moment, it spills its muddy runoff for a couple kilometres out into the lake. That’s bad for fish. So, look again:

Mara Lake was amputated from its lungs to build a railway, but the railway no longer runs. This is easy to fix.  Here are the ripples from my kayak passing over the life-giving organs of Mud Lake.


Land and water alienated for a public purpose should not become private property when that purposes passes. This is a principle that occurs again and again throughout the Okanagan, as railroads, roads and irrigation systems are decommissioned. Mud Lake, just off the Okanagan’s northern tip, is a clear example of how much we could achieve. The privatization of water has led to one kind of investment … a kind we no longer need nor use anymore. The system of privatizing water and land solely on a first-industrial-user basis was a compromise laid onto common law by the Fraser War of 1858, when a couple dozen Englishmen stared down 40,000 armed American miners who had just slaughtered a few thousand British Columbians and were eager to kill more without an excuse not to. One of the consequences was Mud Lake. Fortunately, we no longer need corridors for transportation. The system was successful — so successful that no we have too many. What we need now are planes, for staying. We need Mara Lake to be reborn. We need the war to be over.

The Mysterious Surface of Water

When the tension of light on the surface of water is randomly broken, the water no longer looks like water.P1050323

The random patterns are more attractive to the human mind.P1050321

It’s because they’re worth figuring out. They can’t be. What can be achieved is a sense of beauty.


And beauty is a point of balance — just a different one than narrative or understanding. The solution is not about material and its designs.


Seeing the water is absolutely the wrong thing. In fact, seeing is the wrong thing.


Being present on earth is to be in body and mind together. In Western tradition, this is the end of art.


Here on the Columbia Plateau it is only its beginning.P1050469

It is a beautiful dance.


Even light breaks itself to it.


Everything completely open.


Everything moving across boundaries.P1050475

But remember: these images aren’t the goal.


They are what is broken and, being broken, creates balance. Even the wind  breaks it.


Even the water itself.


Even a grass blade.P1060398

Even the light …P1060423

… and the rain.P1060288

I could say “Welcome to your mind,” but that’s the wrong thing, so I’ll say “Welcome to your life.”


You can call them your thoughts, but they are, of course, only ducklings.P1060625

They have the capacity for flight.



Soil and Water: Children of the Stars

Within a slope constructed at the angle of gravity, that’s to say at the angle that is the balance between the earth’s spin and the concentration of that spin at it’s core, water flows downhill at a rate balanced to the evaporative potential of the air above it, and the plants (in this case bunchgrass) that represent it (and mine it). When these lines of energy are cut, such as by the Grey Canal (now a walking path) in the centre of the image below, the balance is changed, water pools, and wetland life colonizes it. The seeds drifting on the wind that created the cat tails below are blowing everywhere through the valley. They materialize as a new wetland only when there is a wetland to materialize in, which is dependent on alterations to the balance of pressures between the atmosphere and gravity. The Earth is a child of the stars, and we can harvest their energy, should we watch and pay attention. Soil is the story of this balance. So is life.


Tomorrow: the beauty of surfaces within the story of soil.

Patriotism and Honour

The colour of the grasslands in the fall is the beginning of art.P2120446

The colour used by marketers to stimulate your reptilian brain is its end:


It was said that the Great War of 1914-1918 killed the culture that sought for refinement through art. No, it looks to me that it was a symptom. There is a life, still, outside of drugs.


Otherwise, the dead died for this:


They didn’t die for anything. They died, often horribly, mostly for nothing, usually because of gross incompetence on the part of their leadership, and honourable adherence to duty and friends. We can live for them. There is honour in that.


Either that, or the killing machines won.

Dig a Hole to Save the World

That’s it. That’s all you have to do.P2000899

This hole was left here unintentionally eight years ago. It’s a nice wetland now, in the midst of a sterile gravel pit. See the smoke in back? Those folks in Okanogan County, where the smoke comes from, didn’t dig enough holes. It’s not crazy. If you leave carbon lying around on the surface, you make grouse habitat and fire habitat. If you put it in a hole, you make water habitat. How could we have made such a mistake? We’re land creatures, that’s why. We didn’t ask the ducks. Always talk to the ducks.