Tag Archives: woods

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

Postcard from the Woods ~ Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice – the coming of the Light and Retreat of the Dark ~ in the Northern Hemisphere. The day was bright and sunny, cold, with snow still on the ground. I have been preparing for this for months – storing some of the best firewood carefully to keep it dry. Preparations – cleansing, cleaning, clearing, and moving some snow. Once again, I had a ceremony here in the woods and it was fabulous, moving, touching, sacred, cleansing, funny, shared with friends in person and others in spirit. All day the fire burned brightly in the sacred space where regrets, mistakes, the dark stuff, are written down and burned in the fire. Forgiveness, gratitude, hopes, dreams, intentions expressed in all directions to people, friends, the universe, and of course, God, for blessings (even those in disguise), miracles, love…. written down, placed in the fire and carried into the universe by gentle breezes.
I hope at some point in the yesterday of Winter Solstice, you too, were able to take time to honor and acknowledge the passage of the seasons, the year, the return of light and retreat of the dark, your growth and expansion ~ and the people in your life who teach, guide, love and share. My lists were long and if you are reading this, you were on my list – of blessings in my life. ♥

This is where the fire burned – the contrast of light and dark before the fire was built and lit…

Ring of Fire - Before


Last year’s total lunar eclipse of the full moon on Winter Solstice was amazing – see When the Universe Aligns. This year, the Universe aligned perfectly once again.
Namaste ~ StarBear

Postcards from my Dream – Unfinished Angels

Angel from the Woods

Angel from the Woods ~ Angels of Light

It is hard to fathom that so much time has passed since my last post, Dark Storms and Rainbows. For the last 55 days life has been kind of like that – dark, stormy, with many beautiful moments of color and light… Sometimes life moves faster than I seem able to keep up with…

Blogging took a back seat to Life – teaching, completing classes, beginning new classes, participating in my community, saving my home from foreclosure, my truck from being repossessed, my internet and utilities turned on, repairing the tractor, preparing for snow, printing photo and greeting card orders from angels… and making new art, from stones and painting – angels, and assisted and supported by angels in my communities, online and right here where I live. I would not have survived without assistance from angels…

This is the story of The Unfinished Angel ~ the Angel that wouldn’t dry, I thought, in time for a deadline! LOL!I painted her as part of a community project for the H.S. Key Club. Participants purchased a blank wooden cut-out of just the angel, painted them, and then they were put up for silent auction to benefit the community. They are quite large – about 18″ high and some will decorate the community Christmas tree. A friend bid on mine and I told her if she won the bid, I would finish it just for her. At the last minute an unknown bidder won her away, so she is decorating something somewhere. I guess they didn’t see her as unfinished…are angels ever incomplete?
I called her angel of the woods. I finished her on the computer and she is now my Christmas card. Another friend, upon seeing the unfinished original dubbed her the Angel of Light. I like that! So, Merry Christmas from this quiet little angel of light and me. May your holidays be filled with angels…

Yes, Angels! I have been spending time with many angels in the last 55 days! Could it be that it is part of taking “A Course in Miracles”? 🙂 I am grateful to all of the angels in my life who have lifted me up, danced, laughed, cried with me, and pushed me forward and up!
May your holidays be filled with Miracles and Angels, time with friends, family and much love.
Namaste ~ Star Bear

P.S. to subscribers – I will be e-mailing the 10 Tips for taking better photos after January 1, 2012. Thank you for you patience! You are not forgotten!

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sky ~ 2

North Woods East Sky


Sky –
My sky, your sky
My planet, your planet
My air, your air
Breathe… dance, watch, share
Listen to night songs
under the coverlet sky…

May your days and nights be gorgeous and filled with color, friends, love.

Namaste ~ Star Bear
copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis

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

Post-A-Day 2011 ~ Postcard from the Woods

Driving back and forth to work is taking longer these days, with camera handy. This sharp shinned hawk is hanging out in the same place, must be good hunting.

Sharp Shinned Hawk

Sharp Shinned Hawk

It took some time to decide if it was a Sharp Shinned or Cooper’s Hawk, and after getting some shots it was a bit easier. What do you think? You can compare Sharp Shinned Hawk with a Cooper’s Hawk by clicking on the names…

The Sandhills are nesting too! This pair has been returning to this location for about three years now, and announce their presence quite vocally.

Sandhill gathering nesting materials...

Sandhill Crane

I’ve been seeing him/her everyday on the way home. Their call is a loud and distinct squwak with a loud trill. Unmistakable! You can hear it here.

The flickers are back as well ~ good medicine.
May your day be filled with hawk-eye vision and squawking if you please!

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Resources:
Bird ID
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Coopers Hawk
Sandhill Crane

Light Growing ~ Part 4

24 September 2010

Golden arches, pale yellows, blues

Grasses paint a wall of light...

Forest floor of shifting hues
Golden arches, pale yellows, blues
Grasses paint a wall of light
Dancing sparkles do delight…

Crystals twinkling in the air

Lead to jewels, gems galore
In nature’s gallery treasure store…
Necklace here, bracelet there,
Crystals twinkle in the air

At journey’s end, some breakfast fare
To break the fast, food to share
A single berry, wet with dew
To end this forest feast with you.

A single berry, wet with dew

The Last Blueberry - of course I ate it!

May your day be filled with dancing light and delight!

(To enjoy this walk in the woods from the beginning click here .)
~Starbear
copyright 2010 Betsy Lewis

Light Growing ~ part 3

23 September 2010

Gems at my feet...


Glistening ferns at my feet,
Droplets flow, in veins they meet.
This forest path, does often seem
A life of living in a dream…

More crystal gems await in pines,
Dangling now in groups and lines,
On single needles, evergreen
Background chorus, not unseen…

May your day be filled with delight, joy, and the beauty of living your dream with wild abandon and a chorus of friends singing in harmony with you!

(To enjoy this walk in the woods from the beginning click here. To continue your walk in the woods, see upper right, above picture and click on Light Growing – part 4 or click here .)
~Starbear
copyright 2010 Betsy Lewis

Light Growing ~ part 2

Emeralds in the woods

In search of simple drops of dew
More treasures dew surround.
Sparkling gems in beams of light
Jewels nurturing the the ground…

May your day be filled with Sparkling Jewels and gems of friends!

(To enjoy this walk in the woods from the beginning click here.
To continue click here .)
~Starbear
copyright 2010 Betsy Lewis