An artful meditation on our landscape
writes. “Colour of old wood. Colour of dry grass, of tree bark. Of wintered cabbage stalks. Of paving stones. Hunting for a place to hide a baby, come the new green leaves.”
The result is poems that are rich in imagery and pop with colour, turning Bitney’s lines into stunning visual landscapes for the mind’s eye.
Each chapter continues with a series of journal entries from Bitney’s time with the Boreality Project. We follow her as she journeys to Hollow Water, Fisher River, Wallace Lake, Pinawa and Falcon Lake and we read largely about the effort she makes to spiritually connect (or reconnect) to the land of the boreal.
“When you go to harvest, it is your intent that is paramount. The plants need to know why you are harvesting them. Tell them it is to heal,” she writes in one section.
“We leave our blood here in the forest, thank you, and our DNA goes into it. Ticks, skeeters, whatever bites and takes blood. We become part of it,” she writes in another.
The writing is chock full of punchy, raw and unfiltered lines and the poet’s natural phrasing seeps into her entries, making them more abstract than concrete at times.
Unfortunately, it is parts like these that can sometimes weaken the work. It makes it difficult to follow along with the path the author’s thoughts have travelled and sometimes makes these particular pieces feel unconnected and confusing to the reader.
Finally, each chapter ends with one of Bitney’s essays, and it’s these that are the pillars of the collection. From Does Nature Have Rights?’ to Questions Towards an Ethics of Violence, Bitney wants us to view everything in nature (i.e. plants and fungi, life cycles and even the weather) with all of the same rights and considerations given to other species — mainly ourselves as human beings — and to see nature as a living entity and not “mechanic.”
More important, it seems Bitney challenges us to strongly rethink the language we use when it comes to how we look at our environment. She poses the idea that little changes in perspective (and language) can ripple into bigger (and better) changes for us as a whole; that only when we respectfully reconnect ourselves back to the spirit and the land of the boreal that only then will we be able to consider a greener future.