“If You Go Down…”

6 February 2021 – Here we are, edge of the woods, and that 1930s children’s song starts humming in my head.

“If you go down in the woods today

“You’re sure of a big surprise.

“If you go down in the woods today

“You’d better go in disguise!

“For every bear that ever there was

“will gather there for certain because

“Today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic.

“Picnic time for Teddy Bears…”

And on it goes.

We are here in the woods — the 48-Ha forested ravine that comprises Robert Burnaby Park — precisely to look for the Teddy Bears. (Or Ewoks, if you must.) Along with all the other hidden tributes to the forest, to art, and to the human spirit rising above COVID to continue to play and create and make magic.

These well-hidden twigs & twine creatures, made from the forest’s own materials, are the work of somewhat reclusive local artist Nickie Lewis, who, when the pandemic closed down her usual art outlets, walked off into the woods to create her own.

She didn’t ask the City’s permission or place her installations in easy trail-side view. Burnaby has retroactively endorsed her work and we visitors tromp around in wonder, with only an enigmatic electronic map for guidance. We are grateful for whatever we find, tucked behind trees or upon a stump or deep in the cleft of a ravine.

This poignant reclining figure, for example.

We admire the texterity of the work, its delicacy despite the rough materials, and the skillful extra touches, such as that fall of ivy for her hair, tumbling to one side.

But in walking the trails looking for Lewis’ creations, we find we settle into enjoying the forest just for itself. It is as magical as anything the artist brought to it (which is, perhaps, what she wants us to discover).

The play of tree stump against tree roots…

the canopy soaring overhead…

the glowing fungi buttons almost underfoot…

the chuckling glee of the nearby creek, slaloming its way from ‘way up there, around-and-down-and-around to ‘way over there.

And look, even the magic of picture, frame and pedestal — all in one tree.

In the end, we only find two of Lewis’ installation. And we don’t care.

It has been entirely glorious, just as it is.

(But I’m still humming Teddy Bears’ Picnic!)

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16 Comments

  1. Cool works by Nickie Lewis…new to me Penny … always a pleasure … I’m pining to be out on the west coast very much now 🤓💫 happy days to you!

    Reply
  2. It is glorious indeed! I saw a CBC piece about the sculptures. I agree – such delicate and flowing pieces from such rough materials. Beautiful.

    Reply
  3. Alex Schumacher

     /  6 February 2021

    Lovely pictures of greens and browns and bears especially when seen from the Calgary perspective where the temperature is -20°C and everything is coated in a thick layer of snow. Certainly s bears here

    Reply
  4. Funny that! When my friend and I walk in the woods we like to sing that song too! Love the pics.

    Reply
    • I love this! I wasn’t sure many people, esp. ones younger than I am, would know anything about this song, hence the video link

      Reply
  5. I love walking in the forest too at this time particularly when most things are hibernating. When you discover the life hidden and the richness of a forest silence as well as it’s songs. As you said it’s glorious. Those of us who live within walking distance of a forest are so lucky.

    Reply
  6. Nice walk. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has a fun version of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOYFZE6CzK0

    Reply
  7. Mary C

     /  7 February 2021

    The installations are a great idea! I hope that others follow the lead, especially as winter ends and this covid thing seems to want to linger on….

    Reply
  8. That song won’t go out my head today!

    Reply
  9. Nice walk!! “Retroactively endorsed” – oh, that sounds very properly political. 😦 But I understand, it’s a city park and they could have taken them down. I like the reclining figure very much, especially because it was placed (at least initially) with on fanfare. I’m glad you all “settled in” to just enjoy the forest, but I’m sure you would have with or without any help. The fungi look very button-like, don’t they, with that sheen? Very cool! “Chuckling glee” is a perfect description for a creek. 🙂 Did you get much snow last night? We have quite a lot here but not too much. 🙂

    Reply
    • I’m staring at about 2 cm on my balcony as I type this (Sat. a.m.), with more very gently sifting down. Most unusual for sea-level here, and also unusually cold (staying below zero, though barely). Are you having usual snow & temps, or is it also unusual for you?

      Reply
      • All of the above – it’s been below freezing for days (night AND day) and we actually have lots of snow – maybe 15cm now with more coming. Surprise! But the rest of the week looks rainy, which I suppose is best. It won’t be pretty though. The bulk of this storm is south of us so it makes sense that you’re a little warmer than we are and have less snow.

  10. You certainly make moving out to B.C. extremely tempting. Loving your forest!!!

    Reply
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