Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


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The World Cup — A Surprising Love Story

James Rodriguez (C) of Colombia is applauded by David Luiz (R) and Dani Alves (L) of Brazil after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Quarter Final match

James Rodriguez (C) of Colombia is applauded by David Luiz (R) and Dani Alves (L) of Brazil after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Quarter Final match

The World Cup just closed and our family finds ourselves already counting the days until the next Cup four years from now. 

This surprises nobody more than me. The only sports our family watches are those where a child is playing and the rest of us are in the stands. The last real sporting events I followed were the Winter Olympics—in 1994! Then, along came the World Cup and suddenly our family and work rhythms revolved around the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) schedule. Each match found us home, collected around the match, amidst cheering and tears, animated talking and shocked silence.

I’ve thought about why the World Cup so touched me. Some of the reasons are global, some intensely private, and some continue in a realm of the mysterious that I don’t entirely understand and perhaps that is what is so intriguing. 

What I do know is that I fell in love with the fans from around the world, collected in the Maracanã Stadium, collecting around televisions in their home countries, collecting in homes and in the streets to cheer their teams. I loved the colors, the flags, the unbridled enthusiasm, the sheer heart palpating throughout the world. 

World Cup Brazil 2014 Fans of 32 Nations

World Cup Brazil 2014 Fans of 32 Nations

I fell in love with this moment after the epic Brazil-Colombia match when Colombian player James Rodríguez broke down and Brazilians David Luiz and Dani Alvez comforted him and encouraged the legions of Brazilian fans to applaud as they walked off the field together.

From across the world, friends new and old connected on the day’s match, each cheering our team. A friend from the Netherlands, Marjolijn, and I who haven’t seen each other in years “watched” the matches together across the sea, commenting back and forth. Friends from England, Argentina, France, the Netherlands, Mexico, Costa Rica, and many other countries gathered virtually to talk about the matches, in whatever language best fit. It was a delight!

The Signature of All Things author Elizabeth Gilbert followed FIFA and tweeted, creating a community of literary soccer fans from across the world. This tweet highlights another reason why I loved the World Cup, the mass of cultures and languages in all of their uniqueness:

Elizabeth Gilbert Elizabeth Gilbert @GilbertLiz
My Brazilian husband: “How come the Dutch don’t cry?”

He’s truly puzzled.

I’m trying to explain Northern Europe to him.

#WorldCup

 

Luke FIFA

Luke FIFA

I loved imagining all of the languages swirling within the stadium and talking about FIFA around the world. Noé and I spent as much time trying to read the lips of the referees and players, as we did watching the games. Close-ups between Spanish-speaking countries revealed language best described as highly colorful! 

So, yes, I fell in love with all of the above.

At the heart of all, and my true love with FIFA, took place right in our own home. Luke loves soccer and loves the World Cup. For the past weeks, our lives have braided together around a mutual passion, a rare gift with a 16-year-old son.

Every day, we spoke of the day’s matches, watched the players on Youtube, and shared our thoughts on what might happen. During the matches, we came together and cheered or groaned. We watched all in Spanish, so the matches were filled with Luke asking questions for clarification and Noé or I interpreting the commentators. No matter what else was happening in our days, all of that ceased to exist during each match of the World Cup. In that moment, we were caught up in the team, the country, the players, their dreams and losses, and our time together. 

For this brief span of time in our complex lives, we gathered together in a common world. A gift.

Luke and Noé, World Cup

Luke and Noé, World Cup

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The Problem and The Fix on the Ranch: Broken Waterlines

Highway 34 erosion

Highway 34 erosion

 

The problem—broken water pipe for rest of ranch.

The problem—broken water pipe for rest of ranch.

This spring and summer has been a time of incredible rains on the ranch. Mom (Joan Wink) wrote this piece and the original is featured on her blog here. If you haven’t seen Mom’s website yet, I do encourage you to head over there. Whether you’re a reader, a teacher, a writer, a learner, or someone who loves the prairie and ranching, all can be found there — www.JoanWink.com. You’ll see why for most of my life, I’ve been known as ‘Dean and Joan Wink’s girl.’ And proudly so.

Mom wrote:

You may have heard of all of flooding and erosion near our ranch. For example, the primary East/West road (Highway 34) is closed, as the erosion is weakening the road. The detours around add 75 to 100 miles, which is not always a happy surprise to motorists.

However the purpose of this blog post is to share a very specific problem, and how we solved it. Near one of our dams, the spillway eroded and broke a major waterline, which goes to the truck washout. Wink, who was 4 weeks out from 5 broken ribs, 2 fractured ribs, and collar bone broken into 5 pieces, was sure he could get down into the water and join the two pieces of pipe. Here he goes into the depths, which he says will be about a foot. You’ll note that I was guessing 6 feet. So, that did not work.

Let’s go to Plan B, which included crawling back out of hole, taking off the hip waders, sliding back down into the cold water, and walking through the chest-deep water until he came to the broken pipe again. Next we had to get a homemade iron ladder, 2 steel posts, post-hole pounder, and some pieces of wire for tying it all together.

The Fix

Dad - the fix!

Dad – the fix!


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Story Catchers —The Story Catcher Writing Workshop

Mari Sandoz

Mari Sandoz

“My dear Students,

If I could endow every young person in Nebraska and in the world with two things, and two things only, I should choose not beauty or fame or power or riches. I should choose to endow you with courage and a love for reading.”

So begins a letter written by Great Plains author Mari Sandoz (1896-1966). “With a fondness for reading you would have at your elbow, as often as you liked, all the strange and precious things of the world and never have to guard them against thieves and never have to dust them at all.

And with courage—ah, with courage you would find that all the obstacles of the world shrink away before you and are as nothing.

Take these two gifts then, if you will. They are yours, not from me but from yourself. And if you go out as a teacher, office worker, housewife or any other position, even writer, they will serve you well, particularly if you wish to be a writer will you need these two gifts ever with you.

Sincerely, Mari Sandoz”

Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center

Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center

In the spirit of Mari Sandoz’s courage and love of reading, writers gathered for the Story Catcher Summer Writing Workshop and Festival at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center at Chadron State College in Chadron, NE to explore the art and craft of writing. I was thrilled to be included to give workshops on Writing the Land, Meadowlark, and Will this Book EVER Be Published?  (Presentation materials that I gave for each of these workshops are attached to the bottom of the page of this piece.)

Conference creator and organizer Dr. Matt Evertson wove together three days of workshops, walking and writing the land, and readings at Open Mic night at the local coffee shop to create a textured writing experience that captured the essence of this year’s theme “What’s YOUR Story?”

 

Author Dan O'Brien

Author Dan O’Brien

Author and buffalo rancher Dan O’Brien (Buffalo for the Broken Heart, Stolen Horses) kicked off the conference with his keynote “Writing the High Lonesome,” exploring James R. Mead’s book Hunting and Trading on the Great Plains 1859-1875 and the essential component in writing—a writer’s honesty with oneself on the page, including one’s own internal beasts. If a writer isn’t willing to recognize those beasts and let them loose on the page, the reader senses this lack of authenticity and honesty. 

Prairie Rose

Prairie Rose

The gardens around the High Plains Heritage Center overflowed with native grasses and flowers and I found some of Grandma Grace’s hidden prairie roses blooming amidst the other flowers.

Writers and I dove together into writing the land, the journey of Meadowlark, and composing a writing life. We talked, we wrote, we mused, and we wrote some more.

While writing the land, we explored how the land can convey character, emotion, connection, and story. As we looked at composing a writer’s life, writers created visual representations in word, image, and art of their own maps of a writing life. This is the first time that I’ve woven this aspect into this presentation and I’ll definitely do again. To see these unique, individual, authentic paths of a writing life was such a treat. I am going to create one myself.

Creating a writing life at Story Catcher Writing Workshop. ©www.KatValdezWriter.wordpress.com

Creating a writing life at Story Catcher Writing Workshop. ©www.KatValdezWriter.wordpress.com

Creating maps of a writing life.

Creating maps of a writing life.

Map of a writing life.

Map of a writing life.

The presentations are attached here, including the steps writers took to write the land and to create their individual maps of a writing life.

Gardens of High Plains Heritage Center

Gardens of High Plains Heritage Center

I think again of Mari Sandoz, the spirit of her writing and teaching surrounded us and grounded us in this place. “With a fondness for reading you would have at your elbow, as often as you liked, all the strange and precious things of the world and never have to guard them against thieves and never have to dust them at all. And with courage—ah, with courage you would find that all the obstacles of the world shrink away before you and are as nothing.”

The Story Catcher Writing Festival and Workshop was a time of deep writing, deep musing, deep laughter, newfound friendships, and promises to stay in touch.

I am grateful for all.

Now, I think I am going to go and compose that map of a writer’s life. 

Presentations included here: 

Writing the Land. Dawn Wink

Will this Book EVER be Published? Composing a Writing Life

The Accompanist by Kit Watson 2003

The Accompanist by Kit Watson 2003

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To subscribe and receive Dewdrops in your email, please enter your email address in the box under “Follow this blog via email” or click on the ‘Follow’ icon in lower right-hand corner of the blog’s screen and ‘Confirm Follow’ in the email you receive. To return to website: http://www.dawnwink.com

 


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Rainbow Between Storms

 

Evening sun on clouds over the ranch.

Evening sun on clouds over the ranch.

Last we knew, my dad was out of the hospital after being thrown from his horse, Wyatt was on a plane headed for the ranch the morning after his high school graduation, and I was curled up on the couch writing by candlelight about my heroes.

Horses on prairie.

Horses on prairie.

Dad continues to heal. While our time on the ranch last year was filled with horses and rafting, this year’s time was all about Dad’s healing. The latest X-ray revealed that he broke seven ribs, rather than the five we originally thought, and his collarbone is held together by a piece of metal and a comb of screws into the bone. He’ll light up security at the airport like a firework display. 

While the kids were on the ranch, I made my yearly trek to Chicago where one week a year I work instructors in the construction industry, essentially, teaching construction workers how to teach. For this brief week each year, a group of teacher educators from around the world comes together with instructors in the construction industry from across the US, and we spend a week of intensity in which we bring different areas of expertise to work and learn together, with the construction workers learning about how to compose an engaged class and the teacher educators learning about hoisting, rigging, scaffolding, and other aspects of the construction industry. I look forward to this week all year.

Dad, branding 2014

Dad, branding 2014

My plane from Chicago landed on an uncharacteristically wet June western South Dakota prairie – lush and green as Ireland. Our group from Chicago was returning home to places across the US and the world. Branding was the next day on the ranch. Thinking about the different worlds we each inhabit and move between, I wrote of the mosaic of each of our lives the morning of the branding. Mom wrote back, “Mosaic? It’s all about mud and manure!”

Dad oversaw this year’s branding on foot and all went well. Most notable among the conversations at our branding and others, was how many hours shorter brandings are this year,  due to the losses of the Atlas Storm

Wink Branding, 2014

Wink Branding, 2014

Tommy, roping.

Tommy, roping.

Dad and Billy

Dad and Billy, laughs amidst the work.

Kids hanging out between calves.

Kids hanging out between calves.

Mom and Dad, lunch.

Mom and Dad, lunch.

Four-wheeler with neighbor girls!

 Four-wheeler with Mom, Wynn, and neighbor girls!

With Mom, final walk on the ranch between storms.

With Mom, final walk on the ranch between storms.

A series of storms blew in trailing thunder and lightning on our final night on the ranch.

Thunder and lighting storm blows over ranch.

Thunder and lighting storm blows over ranch.

I watched the clouds ebb to the north, as others approached from the south. A rainbow slipped in between storms. I thought of Dad’s healing, of all happening, and the unknown yet to come.

Let us enjoy the rainbow between storms.

Rainbow between storms.

Rainbow between storms.


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What Creates Heroes

Mortar boards fly!

Mortar boards fly outside the Cathedral!

My oldest son, Wyatt, just graduated from high school. One year ago, I was asked to write a letter to him. When I sat to write, I thought of the mosaic of our lives.

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 1996

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 1996

February 22, 2013

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Dear Wyatt,

I remember the first time I felt you move when I was pregnant with you. I was reading and resting the edge of a book on my tummy. Suddenly, the book popped up. I knew then that there was no way I was imagining you and your movement.

When I think of this now, I think of your love of books, reading, and ideas and wonder if you were anxious to read yourself and trying to grab the book!

What a journey, our lives together, Wyatt. I don’t think there was ever a child more loved or cherished than you. You were born into a world of love. 

My journey with you as your mom has been, and continues to be, the most important in my own life. When you were 2 1/2 years old, you started calling me The Mommy Lady. Of all of my names, this one remains the most cherished. And what a courageous and honorable path you’ve walked in your journey.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The best journeys are like those of the great novels, those of Tolkien – journeys of both beauty and hardship, of love and despair, of being tested and tough decisions made, of sorrow and joy. This has been your journey, dear Wyatt. Like the heroes of these tales, you’ve experienced all of this and more along your path.

What separates the heroes, from those lost to history, is not the circumstance of their birth and not their wealth. What creates heroes is their courage and willingness to make the difficult decisions for Good. Think of Aragorn, Frodo, Sam, and Gandalf’s paths and all of the times it would’ve been far easier to succumb and give up on their journeys. For Aragorn to continue to hide in shame for what his father had done, Frodo to deny his destiny, Sam to leave Frodo in the Shire or on the mountain in Mordor, and Gandalf to stop trying to slay the dragon as they hurled into the depths of the crevice. And yet, they rose above again and again, living out Gandalf’s wisdom, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Wyatt, Black Belt test

Wyatt, Black Belt test

This is what you have done, Wyatt. There were times in your journey when it would have been the easier decision to give in darkness, and a few times, you did, as we all do.

What demonstrates the greatness in you is that you looked within, learned from these experiences, and set about doing the hard, hard work of creating a person founded upon the very best of you –integrity, willingness to work hard, honor, kindness, intelligence, compassion, respect, trust, and goodness. What a young man you’ve created!

One of the things I most admire about you, Wyatt, is your courage in looking within yourself and choosing kindness, and respect for all, honor, and love. Often, this is the most difficult journey of all. And—as with all great adventures—the one most worth taking.

Wyatt, hurdles 2014

Wyatt, hurdles 2014

I burst with pride for you and with excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead in your life. Whatever comes, I know you will rise to the occasion to create a life of wisdom, adventure, wonder, I fill with gratitude that I am blessed to take this precious journey with you.

I love you to the moon and back,

The Mommy Lady

Wyatt’s journey of courage and integrity continues. Last week, Mom had just arrived for Wyatt’s graduation from high school. Dad was to arrive the next day. Two hours from Santa Fe, Mom received a phone call that my dad had been thrown from his horse and was en route to the hospital in Rapid City, SD with a crushed lung, five broken ribs, two cracked ribs, and a collarbone broken in five places. A dear friend forwarded this piece about Dad and the horse wreck, Lawmaker, rancher in hospitalized after being bucked off horse.

“If he goes into surgery, I have to drive back,” Mom said, having just completed the 15 hour drive. She left the next morning to return to South Dakota, putting in 30 hours of driving within two days. The poignant aspect of this horse wreck is that less than ten years ago, I was with Dad for another awful horse wreck that left him with a separated pelvis and shattered hand. I wrote about life when your dad’s a cowboy.

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 2014

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 2014

“Wyatt,” I said, after Mom arrived in South Dakota and we realized the extent of Dad’s injuries, including his all-too-early release from the hospital. “What about heading to the ranch earlier than planned? It’s your decision. I know there are graduation festivities with your friends for the next weeks. This is your time. What do you think?”

“I want to go with Bop Bop and Grammie, Mom,” he said, without hesitation. “I want to be there and help.”

Let me say again, so there is no romanticizing any of this, that Wyatt and I shared several very dark and difficult years—years in which I had no idea what the future for either of us held. Yesterday, Wyatt graduated at 10:00 am in a beautiful ceremony in the Cathedral on the Plaza of Santa Fe. This morning, he was on a plane to South Dakota at 6:00 am. Tonight, Wyatt is with Grammie and Bop Bop on the ranch.

As I wrote to Wyatt in his letter, What creates heroes is their courage and willingness to make the difficult decisions for Good. 

Wyatt, you are my hero.

The Mommy Lady


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Language and Story: TESOL, Puebla, and the Story Catcher Writing Workshop

Puebla, México © Mary Scholl

Puebla, México © Mary Scholl

“Language is a flash of the human spirit.” ~ Wade Davis

Language and story fills winter’s edge of an ever-elusive arrival of spring. I look out my window to see whispers of snow edging the grass tufts. “It’s the end of April,” I say to the winds. “Enough cold already.” The prairies of South Dakota anticipate snow in the upcoming week. Back to language and story.

Butterfly ©animals.wallpaperklix.com

Butterfly ©animals.wallpaperklix.com

Earl Shorris describes language in The Last Word—“Of all the arts and sciences made by man, none equals a language, for only a language in its living entirety can describe a unique and irreplaceable world. I saw this once, in the forest in southern Mexico, when a butterfly settled beside me. The color of it was a blue unlike any I had ever seen…There are nine different words in Maya for the color blue in the comprehensive Porrúa Spanish-Maya Dictionary but just three Spanish translations, leaving six butterflies that can be seen only by the Maya, proving beyond doubt that when a language dies six butterflies disappear from the consciousness of the earth.”

There are those who dedicate their lives and work to the power of language, the inherent human right to speak our mother tongue, and the years of research that demonstrate that additional languages are learned most effectively after children become highly literate and fluent in their mother tongue. 

BEIS Academic Panel

BEIS Academic Panel—me, David Freeman, Chair Sandra Mercuri, Yvonne Freeman, María Brisk, Joan Wink, Virginia Collier, and Wayne Thomas

A group of such people gathered March for the TESOL International Convention in Portland, OR for our Bilingual Education Interest Sections (BEIS) “Celebration of 40 Years of Multilingualism Within TESOL.” BEIS Chair, Sandra Mercuri, and myself, Chair-Elect, savored our opportunity to honor people whose contributions to the field over the past 40 years have affected the lives of thousands: David and Yvonne Freeman, María Brisk, Joan Wink, and Virginia Collier & Wayne Thomas. It was a celebration of multilingualism and multiculturalism—a feast for the spirit!

Lovers of language and teaching gathered in Puebla, Mexico where 65 teacher educators from all across Mexico, hosted by the US Embassy, COPEI, and Centro Espiral Maná, came together for three days of teaching intensives in workshop design, a love of teaching, and more than a bit of laughter and friendship, culminating in each of us expressing Why Do I Do What I Do? For individual photos that convey the heart of an authentic life, here are our individual expressions of why we do what we dowhich leave me both humbled and inspired.

Why Do I Do What I Do?

Why Do I Do What I Do?

 

Dulces tradicionales de Puebla (traditional candies of Puebla).

Candies of Puebla

Talavera

Talavera de Puebla

Three days of sinking into teaching, the discovery of newfound friends, the gift of coming together around shared passions.

The Embassy sent us home with beautiful talavera plates filled with dulces tradicionales de Puebla (traditional candies of Puebla). This was a special treat for our Friday Night, Family Night and is now a piece of beauty to be treasured.

Language expresses story and story expresses our world.

Christina Baldwin writes, “Story—the abundance of it, and the lack of it—shapes us. Story—the abundance of it, and the lack of it—gives us place, lineage, history, a sense of self. Story—the abundance of it, and the lack of it—breaks us into pieces, shatters our understanding, and gives it back over and over again, the story different every time. Story—the abundance of it, and the lack of it—connects us with the world and outlines our relationship with everything. When the power of story comes into the room, an alchemical reaction occurs that is unique to our kind: love or hate, identification or isolation, war or peace, good or evil can be stirred in us by words alone. The power of story is understood by the powerful, yet the power of story belongs to all of us, especially the least powerful. History is what scholars and conquerors say happened; story it what it was like to live on the ground.”

Storycatcher posterIt is this power of story that belongs to us all that has me thrilled to join the Story Catcher Writing Workshop and Festival this June 10-13th. “Set in the beautiful Pine Ridge Region of Northwest Nebraska, we present a mix of hands-on workshops, critical feedback, and inspiring instruction from acclaimed authors and teachers who are passionate about writing and can help you get published!”

Passionate about writing. Passionate about story. Passionate about language. Passionate about the land. Join us.

As the alchemy of language, writing, story, teaching, and travel swirls together, what lifts again and again to my mind are the individual faces and stories—the heart that underlies teaching and writing, and what gifts these are to the world.

Gratitude.

Dawn - End of TESOL

Dawn – End of TESOL

Mom took this photo at the end of the TESOL Convention. It was the end of a long day and an even longer preparation for all. It rained throughout our time Portland. I’d forgotten there were places where one needs an umbrella. Mom and I sat looking out the window at the rain— and for that brief moment in time, what needed to be done had been finished and the long lists of what was yet to be done could wait until morning. It was one of those rare moments of a contented exhaustion.

I know you know this feeling well.

Here’s to you, teachers, writers, readers, lovers of life!

Together, we can do this.

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Tucson Festival of Books and “the Benson kids” — Roots and Love

Power of Kindness

Power of Kindness

Tucson Festival of Books, ©Benjie Sanders, Arizona Daily Star

Tucson Festival of Books, ©Benjie Sanders, Arizona Daily Star

A reader’s dream—that’s the best way to describe the Tucson Festival of Books.

The Festival of Books (FOB) is particularly this reader’s dream, since it takes place on the University of Arizona campus, in the heart of southern Arizona. Imagine warmth, palm trees lining the grassy mall, and 120,000 bibliophiles wandering booth after booth of books, listening to authors’ talks, and enjoying gelatto in the sunshine. The air of the FOB pulses with a love of reading, of books, of writing, of literacy. People of all ages (an entire area is devoted to children’s literature and fun things for kids to do—including watch a circus) wander the mall.

Tucson Festival of Books

Tucson Festival of Books

Last weekend, we headed for Tucson and the FOB. This year, MEADOWLARK joined the books featured and off we went. I was deeply grateful for the opportunity to spend an evening talking about writing, reading, and the journey of Meadowlark with the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, whose mission reads, “Working for a world where women and girls are able to achieve their full potential and pursue their dreams.” The beauty and magic of book clubs and friendship wound together, as I spoke with an amazing book club in Tucson, and also saw a member of my own dear book club from my years in California at the Festival. 

An unexpected blessing happened during the Festival, nearly 38 years in the making. During my growing-up years on the Cascabel ranch, I attended school in the town of Benson, an hour by dirt road from the ranch and only 45 minutes by highway from Tucson. For those who know me, Benson, Cascabel, Tucson, the Sonoran Desert have a very, very special place in my heart. I attended school in Benson from third through tenth grades. In eleventh grade, I lived in Chihuahua City, Mexico as an exchange student, and my senior year of high school, I moved with my  family to California. While, technically I left after the tenth grade, this in no way kept me from feeling as much a part of my class as always, something I implored the Vice President of our class, who kept us all together via email and contact, to remember, which she has done magnificently.

I’ve stayed in touch with Benson friends, though years, miles, and the busyness of life for all has often kept years between any kind of contact. Knowing I’d be in Tucson, I connected with two wonderful friends from the Benson years, one of whom I hadn’t seen in 25 years, and the other I’d just seen for the first time in 25 years in December. The three of us were to meet at the Festival. I couldn’t wait.

Benson Reunion—Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, me, Kandie Ward, April Murphy, Patrick Padilla

Benson Reunion—Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, me, Kandie Ward, April Murphy, Patrick Padilla

As I stood under the shade of the author’s pavillion, I lifted my eyes and suddenly another face from 25 years ago walked through the crowd. I leapt up and we hugged and hugged. Then, another face. And another. Soon, a veritable Benson Union High School reunion was gathered at the pavillion. I found myself speechless. I had no idea and just kept staring and hugging and staring and hugging some more. A few tears later, we moved to gather around a table under the shade of the eating area—and settled in.

I sat at the table and drank in the roots and love at the table. There is something unique about friends from childhood and those high school years. As I gazed around the table, I thought of the 15-year-olds we’d once been and all that had happened since that time that none of us could have imagined—marriages, births, deaths, divorces, new marriages, parenthood alone and in partnership, grandchildren. Some of us became parents quite young and others have weathered infertility. We no longer have the 15-year-old bodies of our high school years. Years of living show on our faces now and I love that. Some of our bodies had betrayed us, cancer survivors sat among our small group. I took in each face and thought of what I knew of their stories.

Mom and "the Benson kids"- Lisa Dryden, Tommy Santoyo, April Murphy, Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, Sandra Leverty

Mom and “the Benson kids”- Lisa Dryden, Tommy Santoyo, April Murphy, Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, Sandra Leverty

My mom, Joan Wink, was the high school Spanish teacher during these years. Mom’s roots with my classmates run as deep as my own, and deeper with her students that came before and after me. She’s written frequently in her books about “the Benson kids” and all they taught her about teaching and life. Mom accompanied this photo with the caption, “How I love my Benson kids!” Appropriately, Mom was wearing her t-shirt that states, “Those who can, TEACH. Those who can’t, pass laws about teaching.” Hear, hear!

There is a connection with these deep roots and time shared together during our growing-up years that goes beyond the rhythms of daily life, that threads deep and binds beyond differences that might fray a more recent friendship. In our group, we did not talk politics or the economy or religion or the latest headlines. All of those conversations seemed to lift aside, winnowed by years of our roots and our memories of who each of us had been and had become, leaving only the depth of our shared history. We shared recent losses, old scars, and gratitude for healing and hope. We laughed, we told stories, shared memories, held babies, held hands, hugged, and told one another how very proud we are of each other. Somehow, our shared roots brought out the best in each other.

San Pedro River Valley, AZ

San Pedro River Valley, AZ

The drive home to Santa Fe, took us past my beloved San Pedro River Valley, home to Cascabel and my childhood. We didn’t have time to drive to Cascabel this trip, so I stopped to take a photo instead. Next time! The drive also took us through Texas Canyon, a sight I marvel at as much now as I did as a child. Those rock formations never cease to set my imagination aflame with possibilities. 

Mango chile ice-cream shake

Mango chile ice-cream shake

We stopped in Hatch, NM (where the world-famous chile is grown) for the traditional green chile cheeseburger and a newly-discovered tradition, a mango and chile shake. Mango and chile, a flavor combination I came to crave and adore while living in Mexico. Divine. I hung my purse on the back of my chair—and discovered two hours later when we stopped for gas, that I’d left it there… Luke and Wyatt were especially thrilled with this latest development. Back to Hatch we drove and on hour number eight of our drive home, when we should’ve been pulling up to our front door, and instead had three hours of driving before us, there was a brief energy-filled exchange between Luke and me, after which Wyatt announced to the car, “And the matriarch asserts her dominance.”

Cracked. Me. Up.

In honor of National Reaching Month, KASA TV of Albuquerque featured New Mexico authors and books, including MEADOWLARK. Our conversation revolved around family stories and writing the land:

Our time in Tucson brought home for me the transcendent power of deeply rooted friendships and shared experiences. I was reminded how deep roots hold the potential to create openings for connection and caring no matter how many years have passed. In this wild journey of life, true connection and caring are gifts to be treasured.

Roots and love.

Tucson bougainvillea in full bloom.

Tucson bougainvillea in full bloom.

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