Talking to Trees


Talking To Trees
negotiating the wuzzy line between humans and the more-than-human world

Monday evenings
May 22, 29, June 5, 12
Location: Kelowna, BC
Cost: $200
Contact: Lori Mairs

Notice how we talk about ‘saving the environment’ as if we’re not a part of it?

Dr Suzanne Simard (How Trees Talk To Each Other) and German Ecologist Peter Wohlleben (The Hidden Life of Trees) tell us how plants communicate, how plants have relationships with each other and how they do all this through biologic systems and electrical fields. But plants don’t just communicate with each other, humans also have electrical fields and biologic systems and it’s through these subtle states that we can enter the field of companionship with the more-than-human world.

These four evenings are an introduction to the kinds of relationships that are available between humans and the more-than-human world. Lori will provide practical tools, exercises, homework assignments and a guided experiential inquiry to help you move into an alliance with nature.

Lori Mairs is an Ecological Artist and Academic Researcher. Her creative work includes sculpture, installation, photography and creative writing. She has lived in the Woodhaven Nature Conservancy for 15 years as its Caretaker. Woodhaven is a 22 acre nature conservancy in Kelowna BC and is comprised of four distinct bio-geo-climatic regions reflective of a cross-section of the eco-systems found throughout the Okanagan valley. Lori  currently tutors University students and teaches classes in Consciousness and Stewardship. She holds a Masters Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from UBC Okanagan.

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The Augur

early birdsong
choir into steel skies
long dissolved to ash
the fire sleeps

precious cargo sapped
wrapped like a sausage
the Sandman on snooze
before the coming step
always steps

it’s a full time job
waiting on the Augur
to declare the coming
of a two-crow day

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Beyond the Snow-time

I know that winter is coming to an end when the deer start eating the snowberries and the squirrels take to what remain of the campion flower. That’s the thing about longevity in place, the habits of critters tell me far more than the weather channel.

It’s been a relatively smooth snow season here with the exception of course when I got trapped inside for a few days by the ice-wall at the gate. I even managed to gauge just the right amount of wood needed until mid March and still have a little left over. I burn the stove hot and clean with good dry wood, there’s an art to it. The radiant heat of fire not only warms the house but has become the winter staging ground for conversation that otherwise might not have been had and believe me, there’s been more than a few prescient conversations in front of that fire.

I don’t know if I’m quite ready to go beyond the snow-time, the early winds rattled about last night, swept low through the snowberries in the evening then picked up gusts at the top of the big cottonwood and cedar in the gully. The shift from one season to the next is never a straight up dividing line, there’s always a crossover of signals in the emergence.

The woodshed needs cleaning.

I heard a junco yesterday.

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I’m the only human in this gated community and I can’t get out. The city grader was here all morning scraping the streets. The other driveways have about six inches of snow up against them but here, it’s over 3 feet high in some places and a wall of solid ice. Even my snow-guy couldn’t get through it today. The other driveways fare better because there’s an opening every 40 feet or so. Not here. I have the entire fence line with no breaks. The grader drives full barrel down the southeast fence line and everything it gathers, especially the crusty ice that’s heaviest and sits on the floor of the bucket, gets dumped at the point of least resistance, which is the entranceway to Woodhaven.

So there’s a wall. Not sure what to do with it. Appeal to a neighbour? Give the snow-guy a pick axe? Complain to the city? Ask the RDCO for help? Maybe it’s a fundraiser looking for a place to happen, heaven knows the activities planned at the last Burbridge Dinner could use a little cash infusion. What if people sponsored $5 for every shovel full the snow-guy moves? we’d be rich!

Whatever happens I need to get out at some point, I do a car share situation with Gwen and the library will start to worry if she doesn’t show up for her weekly rations. Any votes for what do to? I’ll play.


  • note: When we had that big dump in December some kindly neighbour came around a few times and cleared this for me, I think it was a quad with a blade on it. Perhaps she/he will show up today, if so there’s a bottle of something exquisite and local that’ll be handed over.
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Snow Bombs



It was a ridiculously magnificent morning in Kelowna today. Earlier than sunrise there was a dusty rose pink across the cloud then the day was born into open blue skies and a golden sun that cast rays of warmth and welcome into the forest. It’s true, that’s just how it was.


The snow is whiter than white and it’s at least the second big dump we’ve had since winter started. Check out that rain gauge. I suppose I could empty it at some point and actually use it for measuring snowfall but I’m a bit partial to the cone on top. I’m thinking some critter will wander by someday and lick that thing right off. Now wouldn’t that be something.


Between a warm sun and a gentle breeze there’s bombs. Heavy with snow, the branches up high let go their load and down through the forest the lump shatters, pulls itself apart, ice-dust dropping silently to the floor. That’s the way bombs are, a little warmth, a little breeze and the next thing you know you’re falling.


I suppose the good news is, there’s no other way but through, and whatever life that lump had way up high on that branch, it’s over now and the new one can begin.

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Britch-less Ladies

we’re in the time of icicles here
a melt a freeze a bend and twist
taking the shape of wind
whatever wind may blow
and if it’s not a gust
a breeze or a Beuaforte 5
it’s an up and down in the mercury
that warms and cools the innards
into a curtsey leaving frozen water
stopped, mid drop
panniers up a scabbard as if
Victorian ladies straddled and climbed
leaving their knickers behind

day and night, sometimes in the middle
there’s a woosh and slide
when it all gets too much for
fickle roots of snow that feed
these sabres. It comes from
a pitched metal roof where slips
can be fatal and a fall after all
ruinous to britch-less ladies with
nothing left to lose
but their transparency


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The last leaves are about to fall from the maple at the edge of the pond and I know these days of blue skies are almost over. The wood stove has been burning for over a month now, it’s a drafty old house but that sort of thing comes with the territory. The Woodhaven seasons weave through each biogeoclimatic region as bridges arching from one way of being to another. There are secrets in these woven woods, pockets of conversation passed onto the ones that know how to listen. Watching over it all are the  remains of Jim and Joan Burbridge, their ashes scattered in a precious resting place at the heart of one of these archways.

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