Category Archives: Time in da Woods

U.P. Time… a different clock
Upper Peninsula Life… Seasons, Long Summer Days, Long Winter Nights

Weekly Photo Challenge – No Comfort Zone – Duck Lake Fire


This is not yet another beautiful sunrise or sunset. It is a photo of a forest fire, in my “backyard” that burned almost 22,000 acres in just a few days. It traveled 12 miles in one night, May 24-25 – the night I took these.

The fire blew up in 40mph winds, woods dry tinder, 2am May 25th..

CR414 about 5 miles from the blowout…

When we stopped on the road for me to take this photograph, it was silent. Then a whippoorwill began to sing right beside me… I live in a world of miracles.

At the road block ~ only about a mile away according to the maps… The wind gusted and the fire flared, listening to fire crew on State Troopers walkie talkies…

Duck Lake Fire, 2:00 AM, May 25, 2012, at the roadblock.

Gust – flare- gust and flare lighting up the night sky – Duck Lake Fire

I have no idea what this weeks photo challenge is… Really!
Since the last post “Hands and Happiness”, life blew up – in the form of this forest fire, now known as the “Duck Lake Fire.” Talk about a “No Comfort Zone Challenge”…. and yet it was not a no comfort zone at all… a strange and wonderful calm through it all…
The fire came within 6 miles of my home in the woods, 250+ firefighters have been here working on it and it is now 55% contained. There are so many stories that have come out of this fire… kindness, new friends, reconnecting with friends, watching a community offer love, support, comfort to those who lost everything. The numbers are staggering… I am lucky – I am not one of the numbers. I am lucky… I have been an observer, witness, participant in so many acts of love, kindness, strength and appreciation this week. Yes, happiness, even…living on the edge. Once again learning the importance of knowing priorities… Loving, accepting what is, being grateful for each day, laughing and crying at the same time, comforting others, providing information, knowing that no matter what, I am always safe and choose happy. I am always in the right place at the right time… this time west of the fire.
There are a gazillion links online now… too many to sort through, but here is one that has a good story and comprehensive collection of links and images: ‘Firefighter ranks Duck Lake Fire as one of worst’~ “That Country was so Beautiful”
Another, for facts and Department of Natural Resources videos and images go to http://www.michigan.gov/dnr. Maps became essential this week, as well as weather, wind speeds, direction… and new DSL.
If you Google “Duck Lake Fire Updates” there are hundreds of photos, videos, stories. The fire has received national coverage, a state of emergency was declared Friday, May 25th, the media started noticing over the weekend. For those of us who live here, we noticed immediately. Evacuations began Thursday evening… and the community of Newberry, Luce County, went to work, taking care of one another.
I live in a wonderful place and for that I am happy, every day.

Namaste ~ StarBear
copyright 2012 Betsy Lewis

Post-a-day 2011 ~ Teaching Learning and New Art

I make art. I write. I teach. Most of all, I learn. I am surrounded by beauty and beautiful people. OMG I am blessed!

Teaching~writing~creating.
I notice small things. I make big things out of small things.

About the joy of teaching:
“My” students are learning and excited about what they are learning. They are producing beautiful drawings and paintings. They are bringing them to class and sharing. They are motivated and doing more outside of class. They come into class and share AHA! moments that happened for them during the week. They are having fun with art and sharing with their kids and grandkids! They are seeing trees, colors, faces, shapes, light, contrast, textures, balance, the moon and the world in new ways!

Adults, they came into class thinking they “couldn’t” draw. They wanted to learn to draw. Oh! Did I already say how excited they are?… excited about learning and I am excited about how much they are learning and seeing. I teach from a fundamental principle of 90% of learning to draw, or paint, or make art is learning to see… then learning how materials work in the physical world, how our optical nerves register information and eye-hand motor skills. We practice. Then we practice some more – like riding a bicycle, practicing until AHA, we find our balance!
We look at art and what has been done before and why. We talk about art history, artists, why art, what’s art and what’s Art and who decides or decided. I ask a lot of questions, they think, then answer thoughtfully, listening to each other. I actually don’t “teach” much, I allow them to teach each other and me… shh! Don’t tell them. LOL! I’ve just learned to ask questions… and love seeing them think, watch eyes pop open and “get” their own answers, discovering, uncovering what they already know…

We are having fun, laughing a lot and are noisy and silly in the Library. Shhh! (Our Library is an exciting place to be!)

Teaching inspires me… opens my brain to new ideas and ways of looking at the world, people, my own work, what I know, what I have learned from GREAT teachers and friends and students.

About making art…
I first learned to see by looking, to draw by drawing, by daily practice… and now I make environmental art, noticing the small, putting many small things together, noticing shapes and colors and patterns in my messy studios. My students have inspired me once again… Less computer time and more studio time, working with my hands and physical materials.

As I tell these students, I once learned to draw like Michaelangelo, and he already did that and is dead! Revered, admired, copied ~ he did what he did so beautifully. The ability to draw is in each of us if we can write our name or make marks on paper or walls.

So, now I paint and draw with stone from a natural palette calling attention to small things. I paint with light, photographing nature and stones. For me, making art is an amazing balance between light and dark, heavy and weightless, lifted by laughter & joy and built on a solid foundation of ancient wisdom, observation, and yes, feeling. It is a dance requiring access to both sides of the brain simultaneously. Even that requires practice.. daily doses of right and left brained activity.

The color filled display of fall has fallen, leaves are on the ground, returning to nurture the earth through winter ‘til spring. The seasons flow and I will go to ground, as well, in a sense. Working with my hands and eyes and in my studios. I LOVE creating OMG responses, in myself and others.

This video says it so well: OMG moments from Louie Schwartzberg – Gratitude (shared by Cheryl Richardson)

Here is a tiny peek at my winter series in stone – many, many works in progress… this is part of one.

Bloomin' stone

May your day be filled with creative living and dancing with the right side of your brain! Life is not set in stone, just some of my art work. 🙂

Namaste ~ StarBear

Post-a-day 2011 + Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Fall Gold

Golden Sky, Golden Sparks on Ancient Stones

Ten straight days of sunshine and warm temperatures, unusual for October here, brought the most amazing color to the woods this fall. A friend laughed the other day as he said, “I think my eyes may have improved, the color seems more brilliant and is everywhere this year!”
For me, this has created a wonderful dilemma: viewing and editing 150 images a day and what to share online, what to keep for the books I am working on? On Sunday, I went to Lake Superior, a favorite beach, at dawn. This is my personal church service, to thank Creator for all of the incredible gifts this year. I am grateful for the gift of light, of eyes to see, for the spectacular colors and changes of seasons and life.
I am also grateful for the gifts of my way of seeing and for the cameras which allow me to capture and share. I am grateful to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates for their willingness to dare and create what allows me and us to share this beauty. I am grateful for their willingness to try include everyone in their sharing. Because of their daring, we are capable of sharing globally. We can choose to share problems and we can share beauty. We can ask questions and perhaps find answers to global issues. As people Occupy Wall Street, I occupy the woods, the beach, in awe, gratitude and wonder.

I went to the beach in gratitude and returned home with one splendid agate, 150 photographs of nature’s splendor, and unlimited reverence for nature and the rhythms of life.

Golden Ripples, Golden Daze

Tide Pool Prism


Food for the soul, may you enjoy the feast of these simple images.

Namaste ~ StarBear

Post-a-day 2011 + Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Fall Upstream

Fall. I fell for fall long ago. The beauty of fall is partly why I stay in Michigan, along with winter, summer, and spring. The changing seasons seem to match my personal rhythms, the flow of nature.

River Bend ~ Manistique River

While shooting these, and totally enjoying the day and the sun light, I thought there was a stick causing the ripples on the mirrored surface of the water. Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be a sleek furry critter, swimming upstream. Hoping it was a beaver, I watched it swim closer, then dive, disappearing quickly under the river bank. Probably a muskrat, although beaver and otter also live here.

Mirror Bend

Michigan often gets a bad rap as it is known primarily for the Motor City, Detroit, with the negatives. I grew up in Detroit, trained as an artist in Detroit, grew up on a tree lined street where once upon a time we raked leaves into big piles, then hid, jumped and played in them. After dark the neighborhood parents supervised bonfires of leaves. Sometimes we even roasted marshmallows over burning leaves. I can still remember the wonderful smells of those evenings. Do kids still do that? It was part of the rhythm of life, even in the city, a fall ritual as mornings grew colder and days grew shorter.

Just for giggles, how about a little different rhythm?
You can alwys listen to “Muskrat Love” (c. 1976) or “Muskrat Ramble” (c. 1926) by Louis Armstrong.

May your day be warm and filled with colorful rhythms of Nature!

Megwitch ~ Starbear
Copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis

Post-a-day 2011 + Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Fall continued…

For all of you who do not get to see this every day…
a few more views from roads travelled. The fall color just keeps becoming more brilliant? Raucous? Audacious? Spectacular? Gorgeous? Beautiful? Splendiforous?
Sometimes there are no words.
A friend of mine once coined the word “Brazilliant” to name one my images he owns. It was such a fun and discriptive word, I use it for the title.
What do you call the amazing arrays and displays of color in the fall? Nature’s palette is so palatable and yet so brief in its display. I am so lucky to witness this each year and it’s never the same and always thrilling. Enjoy!

Reflected Glow


Lake Anne Louise, near a tiny place named Blaney Park always offers spectacular views across the lake. Lined with mix of hardwoods and conifers it creates a perfect complementary color scheme. (I happen to be teaching color theory currently – can you tell? LOL!)

Hardwoods and conifers line the shore demanding attention...

I know the photo challenge this week has changed to “sunsets”, and I’m choosing to stay with Fall for now, so more fall is forthcoming to be celebrated while it lasts! I think it’s called “Making hay while the sun shines.” The sunsets will be fabulous this week as well – no rain predicted for 10 days, so also no storms to take the leaves away.

More soon!

Megwitch ~ Starbear

Post-a-day 2011 + Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Fall

Fall ~ So fall this Fall so far is mostly RED!
Oh! Poor me. Life is so hard! LOL!

This fall is RED... 20 miles of walls of color...


I am forced to drive each day this road to work within these leafy walls
lined with red of every tint shade hue…
dark and light and wine and glowing reds
ablaze against green against skies of gray and blue.
The road glows without sunshine and where is yellow?
Hiding, peaking, sneaking, teasing between other brilliant views.

How glad the woods, they be not shy
shouting color to the sky…
“Look at us” they call, demand.
“It is FALL and we are leaving!”

Envy not this place in which I roam
travelling to work, then returning home
within and through these walls of color.
Poor me! Forced to endure this beauty for hours on end
over hills, around a bend…
a brief time this willing prisoner will remain
within these walls of color to exclaim
in awe and gratitude and joy.

Megwitch ~ Starbear

Celebrating Life ~ Sharing Joy

The day was September 18th, a Sunday evening, after time making new friends, re-meeting neighbors and friends, attending a 2-day event, sharing a meal with friends, simple pleasures in life. All of that on the heels of a visit from my favorite (and only) son, and numerous other wonderful house guests over recent weeks, working at  a job I love… and visitors to my studios…

Joy stick... in the studio

Sometimes there is more Joy in my life than I can contain and sometimes I just cannot contain myself. Sometimes it just bursts out in song, or dance or making something.
This day, and after the past 3 weeks, it was just too much to contain… so I gave it to the Lake, the Wind, the Sky. The Wind, the Sky, the Lake, the Light, and the camera all conspired to support sharing my Joy.

Joy~filled Light

Sometimes words don’t work for me. Making things works for me ~ so I offer you Joy and Gratitude for the simple joys in life.

Joyful Breeze

Namaste ~ Starbear

Thank You !

Spiritual Harvest


Yesterday’s Post was #100 on this blog. That seemed significant, a nice round number. So Thank YOU, reader, friend, for visiting, encouraging, commenting. While making the commitment to postaday2011, I was not fully cognizant of how slow my posting goes. I include images whenever possible, and love sharing beauty. I seem unable to post just to post, yet showing up is part of the game… especially in life!
Some wonderful people keep encouraging focus on just one thing – stoneworks, photography, or writing. For me, they are interconnected, inseparable. Combining visual art with writing is my “thing.” I am grateful for being me and the energy life gives me. What is my focus? To continue to share beauty, it is everywhere and always available, in nature, in people, in the universe. That may take the form of images, constructions, nature, words or in combination.
So for today, I am simply grateful for where I live, each breath I breathe, and the life I get to live and share, with friends and strangers alike. Thank you for being you, being who you are, doing what you do.
Another commitment has called, taking priority – completing artwork and other projects. My postaday2011 commitment has not been reached, and yet it is so useful to discover how commitment works.
At times I have commented that when I am fully committed to something, I may just have to be committed in an institution somewhere… LOL!
While I may not post every day, I am here, working, reading others blogs, slowly. Play time is also essential, and getting to the beach… which is playtime, worktime combined.
An earlier post says part of it, and now YOU are a part of the Basket of Abundance .
I am renaming it “Basket of Abundance & Gratitude” just for you – You are all part of the abundance, variety, diversity, life on this planet!
Thank you for being in the basket!

May your day be filled with beauty and love, and if you cannot find it, just look in the mirror and smile!

Megwitch and Namaste ~ Star Bear

Happy Trails

Heading home...

With back to the sunset
Today’s path in light
Shimmering glimpses
While heading for night

Trees splashed golden
Gazing upward to see
Path clear ahead
Open through trees

Blazed by others
Coyote, wolf, deer
Packed solid by paws
Made wider by bear

Easy adventure
Finding way back
Fast-food lane pause
For a blueberry snack

Evening chir-rup-pers
Call goodnight in ease
Breathing pine air
On whisper of breeze

Happy Trails! May your day be filled with easy journeys, clear, soft paths and light and joy! Thank you for walking this smile[sic] in my boots with me. 🙂

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Post-a-day 2011: ~ Full Moon

Full Moon #791... and counting!

Full Moon #791

“I see the moon, the moon sees ME.
God bless the moon, and God bless thee!”

…A poem I learned somewhere along the way between 1 and 791 full moons. Many moons ago, my children and I would sing-song this as they were being tucked into bed, covers pulled up with a kiss goodnight on the forehead.
In the witnessing of 791 full moons, I have learned much, about life and the moon… Men have visited it, and no women that I know… and yet this full circle of feminine energy shows up every month, year after year to illuminate the planet, the universe. Predictable, on schedule, radiant.
This simple image is a note to myself. It is not photogenius. It is the moon over the woods near home, a moon shared by all. How does one capture an image of moon energy? Is it possible? When I revisit this note, I will not remember the hordes of mosquitos and other biters attacking me as I waited patiently for moonrise. I will remember this moon, these wispy clouds, the muted colors of day turning to dusk turning to night, quietly. I will remember the beauty of a warm July night. I will remember loving friends who lift me up and who I lift up… along with those who are strangers. I will reflect this gentle beauty back to everyone I meet over the coming days. So with this imperfect, perfectly blurry image of tonight’s full moon, I offer you a simple note of reminder. This moon, this energy is ours to enjoy, to share, whether we can see it or not. Every person on the planet is a recipient of this marvelous energy. Isn’t that amazing?
Sometimes my kids and I would change the words and say:
“I see the moon, the moon sees ME.
God bless the moon, and God bless WE!”

I hope you count your full moons, count your blessings and have a good night and a beautifully illuminating day!

Namaste ~ Star Bear