Along a narrow trail through the meadow
eleven of us convoy behind the naturalist
with his binoculars and sextant and field guide to
seas of alpine flora that ebb
toward a horizon of peaks.
He dispenses the taxonomy of the living world
as a kind of jurisprudence —
the law of the sea after Linnaeus —
rendering our habitation of the world a kind of trade,
the sea-lanes of minds that name and name
in the name of exploration
that turns plunder in the end.
The trail leads upward through the alpine
via little boardwalks across bogs
toward wind and cloud and rocky
zones of the minimally living,
but I fall behind the others
ready to give up such pre-destined navigation,
and sit it out on a rock to watch
the season’s fading vegetation
listen to seedpods of lupin ripen,
wait for the first faint flurries of snow.
Begin to learn the patience needed
till the bears’ return, the day
they launch themselves, hungry
and untamed, onto the pathless flood
of a new spring’s tide.
About the author: George Sipos is a poet from Salt Spring Island. Two collections of his work are in print, both from Goose Lane Editions: Anything But the Moon (2005) and The Glassblowers (2010).
by George Sipos
Originally printed in the Gulf Islands DriftwoodSept. 25, 2013
A lawyer, a philosopher, a poet and a lichenologist walk into Wells Gray Park and the flora and fauna say, “What is this, some kind of joke?”
Well, that’s not quite right. Let me start again:
Fifty scientists, naturalists, environmental activists, philosophers, writers of various stripes, a first nations elder, a half dozen members of the Order of Canada and yes, Canada’s most renowned lichenologist gathered during the first week of September in the Upper Clearwater Valley north of Kamloops to consider … well, I guess you could say to consider the nature of the bad joke that human kind is perpetrating on the living biosphere of the planet.
By Faisal Moola, Director General of the David Suzuki Foundation in Ontario and Northern Canada
In early September, some of Canada’s leading writers, conservationists and scientists, including some from the David Suzuki Foundation, met near Wells Gray Provincial Park two hours north of Kamloops, B.C., to discuss whether it’s time for Canada to enshrine a land ethic in Canadian laws and policies.
The conference, Speak to the Wild, was co-hosted by Thompson Rivers University and the Wells Gray World Heritage Committee. Those attending included notable writers Robert Bringhurst, Sharon Butala, Ted Chamberlin, Lorna Crozier, Trevor Herriot, Patrick Lane, Tim Lilburn, Candace Savage, and former Canadian Poet Laureate John Steffler, as well as ethnobotanist Nancy Turner and philosopher Jan Zwicky.
Participants considered two questions.
The first concerned the possibility of legal reform around the rights of wilderness: Is it time to move Canada’s Constitution toward a formalized land ethic, and if so, what would that look like?
The second question pertained to our personal connection to wild places: How can we strengthen this connection in ourselves and encourage it in others? In particular, what is the role of narrative and the poetic experience in developing a meaningful relationship with wild Canada?