Tag Archives: Stories

Lake Superior 2 ~ Celebration, Inspiration, Collaboration

Lake Superior always waving...

...waving hello, waving good-bye, waving hello again...

Lake Superior draws me to it. It is where I am refreshed, nurtured, safe…
It is where I go to wander, to explore, to dance, to laugh, to sing, to pray. Superior is always waving hello, or good-bye, or dancing or laughing. Off to the Lake I go, to think and be inspired and work, to be in touch with the universe and myself. Superior is never boring! I may go with friends. I may go alone. I go for time-outs, for joy, to celebrate life.

Some may ask, what does this have to do with being an artist, making art? How to explain… that. It attunes my senses. I become attuned to the world. Sometimes “it” comes in experiencing the vastness, the seemingly endless horizons, in every direction. The horizon line is seen, the vertical lines are not, and yet I know there is great depth under these waters, life unseen, unheard – the mysteries.

Spending a lot of time with the Lake is like getting to know someone intimately. There is water, there are stones, sand, wind, color, shape, contrast, texture, perspective, sounds, smells. There are tiny drops of water jumping up and laughing. These same drops of water, shape the sand and the stones. The minerals in the water color the stones. The stones are billions of years older than we. These drops of water, in collaboration with each other, push and pull the stones, tumbling them repeatedly, rolling, tossing. Listening to the stones jostle and crack against one another, I can hear them laughing… and they have stories to tell, these ancient stones. Listening to the stones… This poem, just sent by a friend, written by Charles Simic says it so well:

Stone

Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.
~ Charles Simic ~

Today, I teach an adult “art” class… or is that an “Art” class? It will be simple. Eyes closed, each person will choose a stone offered by the Lake. Sitting quietly, breathing, they will listen to the stone they chose. Whatever stone they choose, it will be the perfect stone for them. They will hold it in their hands and feel the shape, the weight, and the texture. They will open their eyes, then look and feel and discover. Notice color without judging, just noticing. Some will ask what is it made of, what minerals. Shhh… that is the mind wanting to name, classify, putting the stone in a hierarchy. It just wants to be a stone… and tell its ancient wisdom. Then we will travel into the stone and see, hear what it says, what story it wants to tell.

It may be a happy story, or a sad story, or a funny story. It may be a drawing or a poem or a dance or a song. It may even be scientific information.

Whatever the stone wants to share, when the student is ready the teacher appears… and the sharing will be shared without judgment. In this class, it may be shared as a drawing or a poem, or a story told to others. It may become a science lesson for some. Is there a line between science and art? What color is the line?

You can do this, too. Hold a stone, eyes closed. Feel it. Turn it over in your hand, run your finger over it. Is it rough or smooth, cold or warm? Does it have bumps or dents or cracks? Is it heavy or light? Then open your eyes and look at it.. What color is it? Is it all one color or many? Does it smell? What does it smell like? What does it sound like when you tap it with your fingernail or a stick? Does it offer music? Can you hear its music? Going inside the stone, yes, you can… holding the stone, just breathe yourself into it. You can leave anytime, you are not a prisoner of the stone. It wants you to know what it knows… where has it been? What has it seen? What does it want you to know… about its life, it’s travels, its journeys, its color, its music, is it laughing with you? It will tell you if it is old or young in spirit. All we need to do is listen, to the spirit of the stone… it only takes a minute, once you learn to listen.

Write, draw, paint, dance, sing your stone’s story. Then, if you choose, share it with a friend. They might like to hear the story of your stone! Some may want to simply draw the stone… that’s okay, too, making a portrait of a stone. The stone will love it!

Messages in stone....

Young or Old? A family holds a stone... together

Namaste ~ StarBear – who, today, is listening, learning, laughing, teaching, sharing, dancing… celebrating being alive! 🙂

A Little Story…

The Understory

An editor once told me “Everyone has a story.” The woods have many stories and understories. This is one… It is about the simple beauty of the early summer understory and a delight filled traffic jam in the woods.

Under Story Speaks

Under Story Speaks

On a recent trip to the beach studio, I was waylaid for over an hour. The path goes from the top of a ridge, down a steep side trail through hardwoods. At the bottom of this path is a tranquil space of transition where the deep woods understory fades into sand, beach grass, ferns, and a plethora of tiny growth. Then the path goes through some more brush and sand. Animal and sometimes human tracks become visible in this stretch. Once through this twisty path, the world opens to sand, sky, beach grass and a sprinkling of twisted low pines. Then there are two dunes to climb and descend before reaching the beach and the expanse of Lake Superior. In all, the trek is about a three-quarters of a mile and usually takes about 15 minutes. Sometimes it takes longer, depending on the amount of equipment being backpacked… or a traffic jam.

On this particular day, there was a total traffic jam in the understory at the edge of the woods. More than an hour “stuck” going… nowhere? The wild orchids, starflowers, fuzzy ferns, and other tiny blooms were so abundant it was difficult to move ahead. Each careful step brought a new bloom into view. The late daylight was at a perfect angle, the wildflowers, the whole woods, inviting me to stop and play…. And then they began to speak with such joy, wisdom and kindness. When the woods speak, I listen.

This is their story in their words, as told to Sparkling Star Bear:

“Look at us! We won’t be here long! Look at me!” the Tiny Purples shouted in their brilliance.

Tiny Purples

Tiny Purples

“And look at me, too!” Starflower called quietly. “See how slender and graceful my leaves are…” it said shyly, ” and I have tiny yellow dots on my petals.”

Delicate Star said ".. and I have tiny yellow dots on my petals, too."

The neighbors proclaimed boldly, “We have 4 fat white petals and 7 broad dark leaves! We are neighbors of the star… not as showy as the purples, yet we accent them in contrast. We offset their brilliance in our numbers… We are the chorus to their solos! As backdrop in this play ground… we are important, too! When we get older we will have bright red berries!”

The Neighbors - A Chorus of White and Green

“I am Fuzzy Fern unfurling, and I will be deep green and large in a week. Don’t fiddle around! I will soon cover those tiny wild things with my shade…”  Said Sir Fern, giggling and nodding in the breeze.

Sir Fuzzy Fern Unfur;ing, fiddling around....

Then all the greens began to clamor… “Over here, look over here, please! I am bright, I am light, I am yellow green!” the chorus chanted.

“I am deep green” said a full voice firmly, echoing richly between the trees. Then it added, “I am leaves, I am needles. I am growing and changing. I am dark, I am light. I am living and dying,  I am old, I am young, all at the same time.”

The patient pines gracefully waved their fresh fingers of growth. “Touch me, I’m so soft,” one whispered, beckoning it’s out stretched hand. “Take my hand, smell my perfume if you wish..”

"Touch me..." Soft fingers invited

“Oh! You are so soft and so is your color…” I said as I reached out to gently respond to the invitation. “Your smell is so fresh! So green! So clean and crisp! Thank You!”

Pale Moss piped in. “I am pale blue green.  Aren’t I pretty? I am soft, too,  and although I look delicate, I am tough and resilient. You may lie on me, rely on me, to meet the tiny purples, if you want…”

“Thank you, I accept youroffer.”  Pale Moss then softly cradled me as I lay eye to eye with Purple.

From beneath Pale Moss, Dead Brown Leaves spoke calmly, richly,  “We nurture and accept all, without question. We support new life. Thank you for being here,  noticing us,  as humble as we are. The ancestors Thank You, too. It is time for you to leave, now. It will be growing dark soon. The last light will be perfect for your otherwork…  if you leave now. We look forward to speaking with your again.”

Pale Moss & Dead Brown Leaves

“You are welcome, Dead Leaves. And thank you for your nurturing and advice.”

Heeding Sir Fern’s stern, yet kind message, and Dead Leaves affirmation, I continued to the beach… Joyfully laughing and thanking these little woodlings for their kindness, story, colors and wisdom. They filled my palette, my eyes, my heart and my head, with wisdom, joy, happiness, laughter. In return, they merely asked thatI tell their story of living together, sharing, changing, growing. And so it is told.

To hear these voices and meet these flowers, sometimes requires getting close to the earth, on hands and knees, then lying down on my belly with my third eye open… My third eye is my camera, connected to my heart, all of my senses.  Sometimes I get to crawl through traffic jams, slowly, like a child and listen to stories in the woods.

May you listen quietly to little voices. Let them speak without judgement, like a child, from the heart.

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis