Tag Archives: Nature

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

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Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Sun + Earth Day Miracles

Earth Day Sun Crystals

Earth Day 2012 dawned bright, sunny cold – 24 F and frosty. As I got in the car, dressed in winter garb, the sun hit the windshield and I couldn’t resist marvelling at the beauty of the sun co-creating with water crystals. Once the sun hit the window fully, they vanished almost instantly, and not before I was able to catch them with 6 quick shots… Pine trees and ice crystals, lit by the sun at dawn took my breath away.
My plan was to go into the woods and to the beach, to celebrate Earth Day, to capture the beauty of the little piece of earth I dwell in – my “material” world. That goal became immaterial… and was still realized.

Later in the day, as I was returning from the beach, (where of course agates appeared at my feet, as they seem to miraculously and often) a doe and yearling approached me… from the shadows of the trees. I spoke with them awhile, coaxing them closer… The older doe stayed in the shadows, cautious, yet the yearling came out into the sun, curious, interested, long enough for one full body shot… deer on the move. I crossed paths with seven deer this day, they have returned to the north woods after wintering south. The yearlings will soon be run off by the does, when they are ready to birth new fawns.

Yearling in the Sun

Yearling in the Sun

Yes, I talk to the animals in the woods. Yes, miracles happen frequently. Deer – I saw many deer on Earth Day. They are a symbol of gentleness and fit my current life theme… being gentle, with myself, others and planet earth.
Kindness, gentleness go a long way. Part of that kindness to myself has been to live life offline less and in the material world more. Less pushing to blog, more being quiet, learning, teaching, loving. Spending time with people, new friends and old.

For me right now, less of some things is more and all is well. It is pleasing me greatly to only open e-mail every few days… to be creating, building, choosing gently, and mostly, allowing… allowing miracles, allowing clarity and joy.
Namaste ~ Star Bear

Weekly Photo Challenge – Distorted

Heart Wash

I love the way water distorts and softens stone and color.
About this photo ~
While editing photos of the heart series, I stumbled upon this image taken of the first heart sculpture. I had taken it to the beach, tossed it in the sand at the edge of the water and watched the water at play. It is the same heart as seen on the “Contest Closes” post from earlier, (click here) taken on a different day, in different light and weather. When I saw this image again, I was impressed at the way the color washed through it and it became so painterly, full of color swirls and playful bubbles. Unedited, it was a delightful unplanned surprise when I shot it and again when I looked at it full screen. I am adding this to the list of my favorite photos for the NoCZ challenge.

Speaking of NoCZ 2012 – minimal posting – is uncomfortable for me and for now it is required as I rebuild my life. Oh, did I forget to mention that I am rebuilding my Life? LOL! My life fell apart when I wasn’t looking and I am starting over. The threads that have held it together have been art, love, nature, joy… so many pieces of art and loving, strung and twisted together like a necklace of pearls, on strings of joy and celebration – with little highlights of sadness and loss… maybe that’s a distorted view of life?

The question for the day for me is simply this: If one is living in the moment, being here, now, where does planning fit in? Planning, to me requires future thinking which seems contradictory to being here now… I have been living without a total life plan since 911… simply glad to be alive and cramming as much life into each day as possible. Oh yes, I plan, a little – what to eat, where to go, who to see, to some extent.

Yes,I have a vision, a dream and I’m realizing it slowly. The slowness is also causing discomfort, and yet I am patient. I am afraid I am not fast enough, yet speed is an illusion? An artist friend, a dear and longtime friend always says “It’s just a pigment of your imagination!” Meanwhile, life is what happens, even when we are making plans.

We live in either fear or love…. and that is a story planned for another day. For today, I love, I trust. May your heart be washed with color and love ~ and I trust you enjoy the image!

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Weekly Photo Challenge – Indulge

Indulging in color ~ "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change" ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

Playing with color, indulging myself in experiments for teaching. Placing green on every color, including the original inspiration for the Evergreen Heart, the woods (far right center row).

For me the significance, symbolism for the Evergreen Heart include the cycles of seasons, green being spring, newness, restoration, renewal, living in the pines, cedars, the evergreen woods. Green – the color of new growth.

Others have come up with these thoughts about the green heart:
Green – as in Greenhorn, inexperienced
Green – with envy
Greenbacks – money
Green – a smooth place on a golf course containing the cup and flag
Green – environmentally friendly
Verde – verdant – fertile – productive
Irish perhaps

A green stone heart – for me, as I built it, it simply represented the wonderful place in which I live, the friends I love who love what I love, the woods, Nature, the beach, rocks, art, and my gratitude to Creator for guiding me to this magnificent place.
Green stones come and go on these beaches – This heart contains epidote, granite and Unikite and if you Google “Unikite” or “Epidote” you will find much more about the ancient energy of the minerals and stones I use… intuitively.

The same piece – heart or situation, placed on a different background, can be whatever you want… you can choose the way you let people see your heart and they will interpret it through their own filters, choosing to see what they choose or are trained to see. Green is a cool color, a balance of Yellow (warm) and Blue (cool).

Not my favorite image this time, just an example of how things can shift, set against different backgrounds. I like it against the warm pink – enriching the greens, bringing out the pinks, complementary.

Someone named Mr. Green asked about the symbolism of color, in response to the last post including this photo:

Evergreen

Sometimes I work methodically, analytically, as in the first photo. Sometimes I work straight from my heart, without thinking about all that, just going with intuition, feelings. These hearts, these hearts, are also experiments for something larger, so yes, maybe greenhorn is fitting, supported by a lot of experience… planted in fertile ground… LOL!

Whatever color our hearts, the background may change what others see, just know/grow your own and don’t worry about what others may see or think. 🙂 Choose the background that suits you and dance with your heart…

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Win My Heart! and the Winners are…

The original 22 hearts...

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest, read through my blog and waited patiently for the results and answers!

First to answer Question # 1 correctly was Paula with her answer of 9, which meant surfing my entire blog and counting the # of posts with heart images! Paula – Congratulations for your Perseverance!
Q 1 was “How many of my posts include heart images? Not hearts, posts.”

AND
Congratulations to Wendy Fedan for being the first to correctly answer Q 2: “How large did the the first Big Stone Heart measure?” Over 6 feet x 6 feet.

AND
Congratulations to Crowing Crone Joss for her very close guess of 658 stones in answer to Q 3, “Guess the total number of stones in the 22 hearts in the photo.”
The total # of stones in the 22 hearts is 720.

Please provide your mailing address by writing it in a comment, so I can get your prize mailed out to you! (Comments here are moderated and only I will see it, it will NOT be posted).

To everyone else who entered an answer or made a comment, Thank You!

In Sunday’s post I said “see you tomorrow” – and this is a day late. It seems I am very human and my body is reminding me of it. While out and about enjoying the sunshine, I took a very bad fall and landed on my backside ~ hard and creating a brief NoCZ. Taking care of myself included not sitting at the computer for the remainder of the day. So once again, I am sorry for the delay… and I am fine this morning… (Apple cider vinegar and Vitamin C didn’t help with this! LOL!)

Just for fun ~ the small green heart, which I call “Evergreen,” consists of a total 20 stones and contains 2 other heart stones, visible in this close up.

Evergreen


This image also gives you a pretty good idea of the actual sizes of the hearts. The small ones, like this, are 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ I will be writing about each heart over the coming weeks, as the heart series continues to unfold… slowly.

May all of your hearts be filled with love and joy!
Namaste ~ StarBear
Copyright 2012 Betsy Lewis

“Win My Heart” Contest Ends Today!

You have until 6:00 PM EST to enter the “Win My Heart” Contest.
This is fun! I regret not having done something like this sooner… and all is well.

The First of the Series...

The first heart in this series began as an experiment for photographs. After building the First Big Stone Heart on the beach in 2009 (and having it disappear in a storm, as expected, and after the physical death of my beloved big sister not long after) I wanted to find a way to express my love of the beach, of being at the beach, my gratitude for the Healing Waters of Lake Superior and the wonderful people I have shared it with in my life, and not least of all those who share my life! During the relatively short-lived existance of the that heart, which was about two months, a number of friends photographed it, with people they loved standing, sitting, dancing, lying on it… we had a lot of fun with it. I kept thinking about it… how could I make it available to more people – this fun, this love, this joy. Finally, in the summer of 2011, I made the first non-vanishing stone heart. Little did I know…

It took some time to figure out how to make it – and still allow it to look like stones hanging together the way beach stones cluster naturally, piling up on the beach. I watched stones, water and waves working together. I finally realized that as I watched nature at work, I was also learning from her/him, Spirit~ Art imitating nature in ways I never learned in an art class. I have used the lessons learned from watching the waves stack and organize stones… which I cannot yet fully explain in words. It is random and not random. It has to do with size shape, edges, textures, weight, water motion, weather and energy. Some days similar stones form groupings, in breathtakingly beautiful arrangements, some simple, some complex, sometimes mixing colors, sometimes keeping them monochromatic. I watched I listened I worked in the beach studio… I arrived at a possibility.

Stone Washed Heart!

Taking that first non-perishable heart back to the beach, I have taken many photographs of it, letting waves, sand and other stones wash over it. This one heart is NFS. It is in the photo from yesterday, one of the 22. (Contest Hint – you can count the stones in today’s photos.)

It was a simple experiment, which eventually pushed me into making many more, now somewhat refined, simplifying the process (with some missing from photo – already sold and gracing other lives). People saw that first one and started asking for their own! While at first it seemed an artificially contrived device, just for photos, the hearts express own my love for Nature and Joy in Life and are taking on a life of their own. Each stone represents a piece of my heart and the people I love and have loved, different, individual, similar… making a whole and happy heart… seems quite natural, now.

The original was almost washed away as I photographed it… more than once, since in Lake Superior’s big waves it is very light! Retrieving that first heart sometimes meant mad dashes into the Big Lake… laughing and keeping the camera held high. Listening to the rhythm of the waves saved my behind (and camera) on more than one shoot… after awhile one can hear a big wave approaching. That, too, is part of the lake learning or life learning and being connected to it all… listening.

Stones, Bubbles, Sand and Waves...

This work that I do, which some may call play, brought this song to mind today.

The recording is 40 years old, my hearts are young and made from ancient stones.
This work/play is part of my purpose in life, bringing joy to myself and others.
It makes me feel like a Natural Woman, deep down, in my heart.
Makes perfect sense to me… 🙂 Listening, watching, learning, loving… does life get any better than this?

Love Bubbles...

May your life and heart bubble with love… every day is Valentine’s Day!
Namaste ~ In Joy! Star Bear

Related Posts:
Contest
Big Stone Heart ~ Love from Lake Superior
A Little Heart Shared Cross Country
One of my Studios
Beach Work
Beach Dancing
Watching Washing Stones

Happy Valentine’s Day! Win My Heart! Really!

Having fun with Love on Valentine's Day!

To enter the contest read on ~ How to have a little fun on Valentine’s Day…

Valentine’s Day – a day on the Calendar created for Universal Agreement that to have a special person in your life, a lover, a special partner is the thing to do or … you get to feel bad, feel alone, be sad, feel left out, unloved? Blah, Blah, blah… I say Celebrate You and your love for yourself, your friends, your family. Celebrate being, Celebrate breathing, Celebrate this beautiful Earth – and being who you are and able to do what you love.

I get to “do” lunch with a friend I always have fun with, surprise a few other friends, wish my Granddaughter a Happy Birthday and sing a song to her on her phone. I get to go to a job I love and particpate in the NoCZ challenge…. and I get to post the progress I have made on my Stone Heart Series… 22 stone hearts. I loved making these. I loved gathering the stones from the beaches nearby on Lake Superior (on warmer days).
Each stone collected for it’s individual beauty, carefully selecting the stones for each heart, making little relief sculptures, and thinking of people I love or who were at the beach with me as I collected stones. I will love selling them, too…. as a way to share the beauty of stones, the energy of stones, the love the planet gives us in the form of beauty in the simplest things… stones.

Want to win a set of my hearts? Three people can win – just answer one of these questions in the comments:
1. How many blog posts on my blog include heart images? (Hint: the first one tells how and why I made the first Big Stone Heart and the second one is here – How and why I made the second small stone heart.) There are more posts – if you like playing detective, this one is for you. How many of my posts include heart images? Not hearts, posts. In the event of a tie, the first correct answer posted in comments wins.
OR
2. How large did the the first Big Stone Heart measure? (Statistical readers and researchers for facts may love this one.)
OR
3. Guess the total number of stones in the 22 hearts in the photo. Do NOT count the natural heart stones scattered between the hearts. Closest guess to the actual # wins – and in the event of a tie, the first entry posted in the comments wins! (Bean counters and mathamaticians may do well here.)

Please enter only once. One prize will be awarded for each of the 3 questions – for a total of three prizes.
What’s the prize? A set of 4 Heart blank note cards – a $15.00 value – using images from the series of heart stones. Entries must be posted in comments by Thursday, February 16th, 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. Winners will be announced and correct answers provided on Monday, February 19th. Good Luck and have fun!

Have fun this Valentine’s Day! Invite a friend to enter the “Win My Heart” contest, too.
There’s more than enough love to share!

After the contest, the stone hearts are for sale. The largest hearts are 6″ x 6″, the medium are 5″ x 5″ and the smallest are 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2 “. Before the week is out I will have individual photos and prices up for each. They are each handcrafted with sculpted finished backs, they are nice to hold in your hands. Feeling the stones feels good. They are wonderful to meditate with, look at, hold, get in touch with nature.

Namaste ~ StarBear

P.S. This is way out of my comfort zone!

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Hope ~ NoCZ 2012

Hope

Where there is love, hope abides.
Where there is light, hope lives.
Simple. I like simple.

Namaste ~ StarBear

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Simple Elements ~ NoCZ 2012

Elemental Building Blocks

We live in a simple world, made of simple elements. Air, Water, Fire Earth. Earth, Wind, Fire, Water. Breath, Breathing…
I live in a friendly, abundantly beautiful universe. (Oh yes, I judge… LOL! It’s our job…! Yes, I can have opinions…)

Is this a photo of sunrise or sunset? Does it matter? I saw this view and at first thought of building blocks… they could be stone and yet they are snow. Is this a wall being built or falling down? Does it matter?

Simple elements, arranged in order by nature, Air, Fire, Water, Earth… Grounded and uplifting. How can this be? Dichotomous.. light dark rising falling … so simple, so mysterious.

I saw the repetition of shapes – in the line along the top of the blocks, softly repeated in the light, and then again in the darker sky… and in between the blocks a tiny spot of light, a dot where the rising/setting sun punctuated a sentence of gorgeous light.

The very first handmade book I made contained one poem and a simple drawing in blue on white: “It’s all right for there to be some places left in mystery…”

Is it sunrise or sunset…? you get to choose. What if it is both? What if it a just the pigment of your imagination, or mine? What is real, anyway?

Yesterday, as I was leaving for work, I took a moment to hug a neighbor, who hugged me back with warmth and love, even though it was 20F outside. The bark was warm against my cheek and body and we were happy ~ together. I clearly heard “Thank you for your kindness.” Surprised, I drove to work singing and the rest of my day was filled with love.
Yes, it’s alright for there to be some places left in mystery… and out of my comfort zone once again. Telling the truth. Yes, I talk to trees, and they speak to me from roots deep in the earth. When I am grounded, I can stand tall and reach for the sky… and breathe. Earth, Air, Fire, Water. Elementary, my dear, Watson.

May your day be filled with simple, mystery, choices, surprises… love.

Namaste ~ StarBear
copyright 2012 Betsy Lewis

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Simple ~ NoCZ 2012

 Possibilities... somewhere seeds

Simple - Beach Grass + Snow

This week’s photo challenge is Simple.
I like simple. Simple is easy – for me. KISS – Keep It Simple, Silly!

The NoCZ 2012 Challenge of week 1 has not been forgotten… posting some of my favorite photos, those I consider simply beautiful. This photo, taken on a sunny snowy day, minimum wind, allowed the snow to stay on top of the seeds. I saw this and thought once again of the changing seasons, and how each one holds possibilities for the next. The frozen seeds eventually blow and land somewhere on the beach, plant themselves and grow, repeating cycles. A simple image with sun, water, life, all in a light moment.
NoCZ 2012 week 2 – sharing my work more, with more people. Locally, orders now taking more time to finish and I feel so slow…. even with 2 snow days and much snow plowing.
Week 3 – without stating it, which now I do, is to let people know my work is for sale and how to purchase…. which has been fun and problematic. How to get it done and delivered, while I work, plow snow, and allow for drying time. It is all becoming part of a discipline process, and more baby steps. One thing at a time.
Week 4 – This week, acknowledging others including myself, saying thank you to followers, customers, friends.
Writing – a bio, vitae, for publicity purposes at work, I found myself saying things about me that were true and yet it was challenging to sing my own praises…. and yet I found the words. ‘A graduate of … and … an internationally collected artist, still maintaining an actively creative studio working in a variety of media, and has been recognized as an innovative teacher…” Credentials. Credibility.

That was not so simple. I like simple, and yet no one here knew. I always believed my work would speak for itself and I was to be invisible. Not any more, I guess. My work travels ahead of me. I recently realized and stated aloud… I am now allowing my art work to create itself… conciously, and allowing myself to be more myself. I call it having fun.

Life can be simple and fun when we allow it… May your day be filled with simply being. Thank you for reading, acknowledging, getting personal.

Namaste ~ StarBear