Of purple grass and orange skies
When I was in elementary school, probably grade1, I remember an assignment where we were asked to draw a city scene, draw a picture in any case. Mine was a cityscape and I had drawn a picture I was so proud of. And was devastated when the teacher returned my art work with exes through it. See I had drawn an image from a few years previous when my family had traveled to Japan and so the street signs, the building signs, I had drawn were vertical and with Japanese kana and the teacher did not recognize that as being a valid proper sign and so she had marked them as wrong.
I have talked to other people who had experiences as children where teachers had marked pictures wrong because their grass was purple or their sky was orange and of course everyone knows that grass is supposed to be green and skies blue.
One thing I have learned from living, from being out in the world, is that that is not exclusively true. We have narrowed our vision. Here where I'm living now, I have really been able to observe the micro seasons as they pass. I have seen the lawn go from green to yellow and then white from dandelions and then back to yellow with buttercups. And then after the buttercups purple from clovers and low lying plants with tiny tiny purple flowers.
Sitting at the beach I've seen the sky transform from blue to orange to yellow. I’ve seen it purple, sometimes all of those at once.
A trip to the local farm market reveals that carrots and beets come in colours ranging from red to orange to yellow to purple. Even kale comes in different shades of green and purple. And I remember one time making mashed potatoes from purple potatoes and my family thought that I had dyed them.
We have narrowed our focus, creating mono cultures of ourselves and of our foods and of our environment. And I am reminded of the sayings that there are people of the book and people of the land but that Creator's first writings were the ones of the land in all of its rich diversity.
When the settlers first came to North America they did not recognize, and therefore didn't see, Indigenous methods of land management, which are a co-creative process between the plants, animals, the lands, and the people who live on the lands. Braiding Sweet Grass by Robin Wall Kimmerer provides a beautiful description of this co-creative process.
I think about this when I think about the Wet’suwet’en and others who defend land against so-called economic development. Economics is about household management. The way colonizers have, and continue to approach the economy in this country is to preference one group of people's household management over another. For a company to come onto land and say this is needed "for the economy" is disingenuous. The land already is an economy, one that functions in a holistic way that includes, but doesn't centralize, humans. Exploitation of land is not economic prosperity, it is a disregard for the economy that already exists. It is willful blindness to the households that currently live on and with that place. It is to say my household is more important than yours. It is a failure to see the true diversity of the world and to recognize as valid something other than our mono-economics.
I am saddened for the children whose creativity was curtailed by narrow-visioned teachers. Those children who continued to draw orange skies and purple grass enrich our lives and see both the beauty and the possibility of this world. And those people who defend co-creative economics that maintains the land for all creatures and species in a way that all can thrive can teach us a better way to live. May it be so.
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