by Alison Knowles
Flaky bark in common cone is stand of jack pine Fires a process of necessity and near at hand ignite naturally the mountain pine is now forbidden flames Stands of gray silk trunks the whole hill taken down Still in the mountains we do not know ever exactly what country we are traveling in small probable rise then tumbledown rock scree scramble on all fours green all the way all day in Canada thistle and small butterfly bee to Cory Pass hawk crow and raven do come up so high Describe the Ponderosa pine lengthwise with a stick branch and foliage tufted towards the end needled and coned in devils paintbrush summer attire How things look is how things are in southern Manitoba All come vulnerable to the mountains the old trees commonly wind-thrown appear to accept the human intervention Mill wheel to sluice box Ponderosa pine clear cut to soak and dry at harvest red to brown smooth to furrowed thick blackish plates man stages in his program to make the mountain authentic like the picture says First coming by train we stayed a week and now by car hoping for a picture postcard day The mountain absents itself under the pressure a hoary marmot in the sun Twig short hairless yellow green to orange but with sharp point Resinous second to the Douglas fir the Ponderosa for use in sashes frames door mouldings panelling patterned cabinets boxes and particularly crates Cone bearing tree in cluster of five at the crown finely toothed on margin seedwing rarely visible in three concealed twigs The cultural other and the natural order are widely spread apart In pursuit of red jack pitch Alberta and Saskatchewan Spiral twist dark green to yellow clear cut down the trees to rail ties and local fuel "Natural hot springs a lucrative destiny for these mountains" he said, Landscape a process mountains as fantasy as triumph or as guilt Jackpine arching branch and tapered trunk prospers in poor soil Staged authenticity is mountains now fires always in control and in the right place a process away from nature We lose the mountains for the trees The crown two hundred feet to see is gently swaying from the top smiles down at lesser trees not touched by this wind Sapwood very wide from white to pale yellow cone scale seed is wingless globular and regularly stunted in exposed situations June August and September Ponderosa pine cone seeds to bird and rodents tear them up a tough and hairy greenish gray to nearly black and fissured bark a scattered western foothill scape of lumber pine Southern Alberta space and Rocky outcrop in strong winds grow where other trees would not heather prevails in mats of sedge depressions where the snow is deep special growth includes the cushion plants wedging in crevices with purple saxifrage pink pyrola Butterwort and moss campion alpine rockcress and mountain sorrel Lousewort and contorted Lousewort Drummond's Anemone and Chalice flower blooms of fringed Grass of Parnassus Powdered root of Solomons Seal helps to clot the blood And starflower widespread in open meadow roughfruited bell form and worty like the other lily wooly Pussytoes tall white bog orchid chokeberry leaves and twigs eaten by deer elk and moose Saskatoon used fresh in soups and dried for winter from bluff and open woods Great size and foliage alone make Hellebore a sight impressive massed together powdered flower and Pearly Everlasting rubbed on horses hooves and in ears giving spirit prefers moist sites in valley bottom Pearly Everlasting Bishop's Hat or Bare Stemmed Mitrewort fringed threads as strung between a crafted jewel Bend down for moss in wintergreen terrain is worth the fragrance Leaves three let it be Colt's Foot White Thistle and Wooly Pussytoes Fleabane Chokeberry and Chalice Flower Parry Oat Grass and Yellow Columbine Juniper, the common Juniper and various willows shrubs as Gooseberry and in a meadow of the Montane zone nodding onion Wild Gaillardia and Blue Clematis Baneberry Fireweed and Asters Bluebeard Tongue and Goldenrod a wetland complex Vetch and Willow to sedge Meadowscarlet feathered moss lichen like flame hats every stone Twinflower and several Wintergreen Bronze Bell Northern Bedstraw Common Yarrow and even Mountain Heather dominate the Grassland Systems maintain when flower is lifted run-off sluice is down before the avalanche Glaciers in full melt and rain make rivers easier to cross by morning The upper portions of the watershed secure of beaver In the mountain Finding the Lost Child that's the trail to follow Snap Dragon and Pale Lobelia some food for thought in Thimbleberries "The right songs I forgot the right songs" but needing to sing she does so anyway in open meadow Humble roadside blooming weedy Dandelion and a Blue Verveine Obedience to ways of being found here in the woods Railways go through but do not terminate in Canada Self healing nature body sweats by dew walk gently as to feel her every breath store up her influence in blooms and breezes the particles of scree run roundly down to find the moon in water underfoot a living mountain body maintains the dissipations of a needy world Snowbed filled with ragwort blooming an alternate beginning of the Southbound trail Free and whimsy nature knowing and not knowing excludes no one With peaceful passion Ponderosa pine tree takes the time in any place to make its culture The breathing of crickets under the sod our own small boreal night light The rocks and trees will come to you if you have leisure to be met the pines will meet you Bunch grasses herbs and river valleys have their northern limits Scattered Tamarack and Eastern Hemlock native people left in a few places function to authenticate the situation Coned Black Spruce White and Trembling Aspen It is a Poplar European cultural other creeps on up the hills into the mountains an occasional chateau we carved another path north of the lake Southeastern as not on the map And in a small cave a ptarmigan steps with delight on abundant droppings of brown bats the northern wilds of Jasper Park are fairly few sporadic over a few decades Chinook tornado winds three metres wide cuts a swath of trees at Deer Creek clear down to Heaven Junction With naming comes identity and comfort it makes us feel we know about it all enhance security and make it more like what it is? Great nature wild has no road to the lake the trail ends with the Old Moraine the basins boulder field with spruce tea served by Native people weekend afternoons in summer Particularly spectacle the ramparts of Mt. Bess The process starts we don't know how the mountain mass discomfort two inches moving on the mobile ocean floor it keeps itself going the rocks compressed from the sides the shrinking crust of earth planes thrown into folds making irregular shapes of themselves dates are unwieldy the lamination of events in tall trees Like a wave the mountain rises with catastrophy it crests and breaks a million years in growing pines are rent by giant power to set enchantment free again for dreaming for fancy and for wandering intelligent and peaceful under the sky the mountain mudcracked shale concretions top at the top cross bedded limestone windy peak this place will pay its way and keep to promises Bunchberry and calypso orchid Ponderosa Pin~on Pine and One seed Juniper wild turkey and Gambel Oak The stress of time on natural condition prehistoric caves into Las Vegas white hills in a sandstone climate Pueblo Chihuahua water serpent turtle moon Chamisa Nauseosis a great antiquity in plants and with dry color Blue Gamma grasses Sideoats and Black Gamma Canada Wildrye Bottlebush and Squirreltail Deer Vetch Mountain Lupine Locoweed Blazingstar with Cane Cholla Stinging Nettle Stickleleaf Throughout the year the rootstocks peeled away within the yellow flower dust a fleshy sheathing of the stem Yampa abundant Four-winged Saltbrush Sage Sacred mountains mark the borders of the homeland gather clouds to target the lightning Scarlet Penstemon and Wooly Mullein Rubiaceae is rose madder Snakeweed Broom and Firewheel Perky Sue and Pussytoes Fleabane Saisify and Yarrow A wooden steeple partially destroyed remains suppressed a low but restored school caravans the trail borderlands corn husk tamales eat here or take out at no great depth is salt the sign says Running Water Describe the Ponderosa lengthwise with a stick Major Prickley Peat Aster Greenthread and Ragwort Fendler and Claretcup Hedgehog "The Anasazi used the caves in this canyon for homes. Bats also make their homes in caves, during the summer a small colony of bats inhabits the cave above you. To enter the cave you must climb four ladders one hundred and forty feet above the canyon floor. Never enter a cave without a ladder. Leaving the cave you may return the way you came or continue across the creek" Pueblo gods and goddesses people familiar with their animals Great Spirit evidenced by intuition fresh and green without shadow the earth is square and flat nature understood is right away no need to turn the head this way and that a tiny mirror showing no commotion poems very much design the mind with life impurities all taking turns perennial from fleshy worth as any weed to be A Spanish tyranny with horses rifles arrows warfare a wild tribe conquistadores had in mind one hand of cavaliers Santo Nin~o with a basket at Chimayo an informant told she comes at night in little shoes some water and some bread the patron saint In at least Costilla a fee to the church Penitente Brothers enact a fundamental passion link configuring a Spanish persistent in mystics Southwest suggests a landscape of Volunteer Arroyo There is a ground cause the shoulder of the return trip entails sacrifice a mile distant this madero is much heavier than the rest wrapped in ropes cacti or chains and singing Brothers of Blood it is uphill these they are Brothers of Light to balance __________________________________________________________________Author's Note:
Frijoles Canyon is issued on CD and cassette by Aerial Productions, Santa Fe. Field Recording: Steve Peters. Producers: Joshua Selman and Steve Peters. The text and sounds derive from time spent in New Mexico and Alberta, Canada, a span of several years. Frijoles Canyon is the name of the site where the recordings were made in New Mexico.
Sources: Brothers of Light, Brothers of Blood; Villages of Hispanic New Mexico; Southwestern Indian Ceremonials; Santos and Saints; and Enchantment and Exploitation -- all from the library of Steve and Jen Peters in Santa Fe; nature books fr om the Banff Library, Alberta. Hiking companions in the Rocky Mountains supplied information and experiences.
__________________________________________________________________From Spoken Text, Left Hand Books, Barrytown, N.Y. Copyright © 1993 by Alison Knowles.
The CD and tape Frijoles Canyon are available through Pauline Oliveros's Deep Listening Catalogue. This catalogue may be found at the following gopher site:
etext.archive.umich.edu / The Well / Art / New.Music / deep.listening.catalogue.
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