Knowles, Frijoles Canyon

Frijoles Canyon

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: / The Well / Art / New.Music / deep.listening.catalogue.


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