6 November 2015

Puhpowee

A bay is a noun only if water is dead. When bay is a noun, it is defined by humans, trapped between its shores and contained by the word. But the verb wiikwegamaa—to be a bay—releases the water from bondage and lets it live. “To be a bay” holds the wonder that, for this moment, the living water has decided to shelter itself between these shores, conversing with cedar roots and a flock of baby mergansers. Because it could do otherwise—become a stream or an ocean or a waterfall, and there are verbs for that, too. To be a hill, to be a sandy beach, to be a Saturday, all are possible verbs in a world where everything is alive. Water, land, and even a day, the language a mirror for seeing the animacy of the world, the life that pulses through all things, through pines and nuthatches and mushrooms. This is the language I hear in the woods; this is the language that lets us speak of what wells up all around.
'The Grammar of Animacy' in Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer, 2015

Puhpowee is the Potawatomi word for “the force which causes mushrooms to push up from the earth overnight” — a word for rising, for emergence.


See also Tongues in trees, books in running brooks

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