Prepare for opportunity disguised as something that looks like a loss


he 12th annual enactment of the Burning Basket interactive, impermanent art was a brilliant success. A giant intricately woven basket and labyrinth were created by people of all ages. Nearly 100 hours were donated to gather materials and to build the installations, with over 30 people participating, as well as 80 students and teachers from Fireweed Academy who came to add their special creative touch, thanks one and all.

 The event theme was REACH — Basket of Remembrance and Unburdening. The epic art was a gift, and all were invited to come and walk the circular path, and decorate the big basket.

 The project faced a new challenge this year, two acts of vandalism. A premature igniting required rebuilding two walls, and then Saturday night, in a quick flash, the entire sculpture was chained, torn down, drug off and thrown into a gully. Word traveled fast, and many concerned citizens arrived to retrieved the ruins, and with perseverance in strong winds, we REACHed beyond disappointment to a cohesive determination to repair, reunite and rebuild the basket, and to reclaim the positive intentions of this autumnal community celebration of creativity and imagination.

 At sundown, the restored basket sculpture, REACH AGAIN, was ignited as planned, and met its conclusion in a brilliant fire-art display that lit up the night sky and the faces of the hundreds gathered around it. The sparks and flames REACHed out in loving memory of departed loved ones, in letting go of what stands in the way of our REACH, and in REACHing out to accept what is and what will be.

 Applause and standing ovation to our art-rageous community of Homer. With hearts as broad as the beach, a community woven tight like the strands of the basket performed a heroic task of art recovery and at the end of the day, a masterpiece, and beauty prevailed. Thank you for your inspiring resilience, and for communicating, with this art, that the power to choose light over dark is within REACH of us all.

 Special thanks to the committed dream team of “reachers” — Char Jump, Garry Betley, Tom Fanatia, Laurie Daniel, Mariyam Medovaya, Girdwood, and Robert S. Flemming, Oakland, Calif. Your tenacity and creative spirit was impressive. Thanks for the fun and heart that you brought to the project.

Thanks to those who brought food and campfire wood, for night watchers, radio, newspapers, the city parks department and the police department. To the amazing drummers and fire spinners, thanks for weaving your threads of ambiance into the overall celebratory design.

 To each of you who came to respectfully interact with the art, and who attended the burning, your presence was appreciated.  Your heartfelt inclusions made it a rich experience for us all. The labyrinth is still present and will remain until storms wash it away.

 Gratitude to the plants used to create the basket; the alder, spruce, wild grass, fireweed, nettle and seaweed. We are blessed with your presence in our wonderful wetland world.

The gift was given, the warmth received. May the flames warm us many times over, with gratitude for life’s offerings in each passing moment, and may the memories we made keep us illuminated and connected.

 Something has ended. Something has begun.

 A peaceful and productive autumn to all.

 Mavis Muller is a well-known environmental artist who came to Homer in 1984. She is the creator of Homer’s Burning Basket project.