Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


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Of Buffalo, Birthdays, Burned Trucks, and the SD Book Festival

Mom on Buffalo Roundup. © Dean Wink

Mom on Buffalo Roundup. © Dean Wink

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Last we knew, it was almost time for the South Dakota Festival of Books and Mom and Dad were off to ride the Buffalo Roundup at Custer State Park on Dad’s 70th birthday. 

I made it to the Festival of Books and called Dad that morning for his birthday. He had loaded the horses and was headed to the Buffalo Roundup three hours away.

An hour later, Mom called. “Perfect timing,” I said. “I’m right in between workshops.” 

“Not really,” she said, calling from her own vehicle. “Your dad’s truck is on fire.” 

Fire?

“Fire. That’s all I know. I was on the phone with him and he said, ‘Whoa, there’s flames,’ and we lost our connection. I left early to drop Ginny (her dog) off with Kelly. The wild thing is, I had a premonition that we needed to take two vehicles. It didn’t make any sense at the time.” 

Dad's Truck. ©Sturgis Volunteer Fire Dept.

Dad’s Truck. ©Sturgis Volunteer Fire Dept.

“I was stopped for road construction,” Dad told me later, “and all of a sudden in the rear-view mirror, I saw flames flying out of the side of the wheels. Then, flames were flying up through the dashboard. I jumped out and unhooked the trailer and a road grader pushed it back away from the truck.” 

Dad and the shell of his truck. ©Sturgis Volunteer Fire Dept.

Dad and the shell of his truck. ©Sturgis Volunteer Fire Dept.

With the horses safe and the pickup a smoking husk, a friend offered Dad a pickup to make it to the roundup yet. Dad hooked up the trailer to the loaned pickup, and he and Mom headed to the roundup. When they reached town 80 miles away, Dad found the one of the wheels had come off the trailer. “Usually, you know when you’ve lost a tire, because they’ll roll by and pass you on the road,” he mused.  

At this point, Mom is thinking perhaps God is trying to tell them something about riding in the roundup. “These are not subtle signs!” 

Onward. The next day I received a text from Dad. “We’re off.” I texted back, “Enjoy! Be careful.” As I listened to workshops and wrote through the morning, I kept checking my phone for the next text, which I finally received—a photo of Mom and the word, “Done.” I exhaled deeply for the first time that day.

Mom on Buffalo Roundup. © Dean Wink

Mom on Buffalo Roundup. © Dean Wink

Friend and photographer/writer, Sherry Bunting, captured this image of Mom and Dad.

Dean and Joan Wink ©Sherry Bunting

Dean and Joan Wink ©Sherry Bunting

At an event that evening, the speaker introduced the birthday boy, still in his riding gear, to the 300 people in attendance. I told Dad, “I think it’s only right that the state of South Dakota throw a birthday party for what will now be known as Dean Wink’s Smokin’ 70th!”

SD Festival Friends dinner out.

SD Festival Friends-Kyle Schaefer, Malcolm Brooks, Gwen Westerman, Ashley Wolff, Rachael Hanel, me.

In Sioux Falls, SD, across the state from the flames and buffalo, the South Dakota Festival of Books whirled into full swing. The panels and presentations were marvelous. I immersed myself in listening and learning from others.

Rachael Hanel (We’ll be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger’s Daughter) spoke on the craft of memoir and through evocative photos guided us to memories long-hidden and rich with potential for writing. Gwen Westerman (MniSota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota) on the history of the Dakota,”I dreamt about it, as if all these stories were in one voice. It is our Genesis, little ‘g’ and big ‘G.'”

Malcolm Brooks (Painted Horses), whose book I now read, “The sun pools like a molten ingot and then drips progressively away, its color changing as it descends and changing in turn the hue of the sky around it.” Ashley Wolff (Miss Bindergarten Goes to Kindergarten) led us through how life and family infuse her art and writing. Jon Lauck (The Lost Region) gave voice to the revival of Midwestern history to highlight why the Midwest matters. 

I spoke on “Writing the Land” and “Meadowlark: In Word and Image,” so grateful to share the journey of both with those who attended. 

"When we write the land, we write ourselves." © Denise Blomberg

“When we write the land, we write ourselves.” © Denise Blomberg

Two of the greatest blessings of my time in Sioux Falls were the time spent with my Aunt Elaine (Dad’s sister) and Uncle Ray, who drove from Iowa and a surprise visit from dear friend of my parents and me from forever Mary Jane Lunetta, who completely surprised me by appearing from Minneapolis.

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Ray Johnson

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Ray Johnson

Mary Jane Lunetta

Mary Jane Lunetta

All in all, an incredible weekend—filled with friends, flames, festival, buffalo, birthdays, and books.

You really can’t make this stuff up. 

Home again and on a run through the desert with Clyde.

Home again and on a run through the desert with Clyde.


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South Dakota Festival of Books and a 70th Birthday

Sunrise run.

Sunrise run.

I took this photo on a long weekend sunrise run a few weeks ago. My German Shepherd, Clyde, galloped along ahead. I happened to turn to turn and saw sunbeams break over the horizon—inspired me for many miles, and days, after. Hope this will you, too.

SD Festival of Books

SD Festival of Books

Events to celebrate fill this week. I’m off to Sioux Falls, SD for the South Dakota Festival of Books, September 26-28, to bask in all things literary.

I speak on “Writing the Land” (Saturday, 9/27, 9:00 am) and “Meadowlark: In Word and Image” (Saturday, 9/27, 4:00 pm). Books signings for two days: Early Bird Mass Book Signing, 9/26/2014 3:00-4:00, and Mass Book Signing, 9/27/2014 1:00-1:45. 

For any who live in the area, I would love to see you. 

Drum roll please

Dad, branding 2014

Dad, branding 2014

Dad turns 70 on September 25th. He and Mom will celebrate his 70th by riding with buffalo. No, I am not making this up. For the past number of years, Dad and Mom have ridden in the Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup and they will be running with the buffalo on Dad’s birthday this year. 

It’s not everybody who runs with the buffalo for their 70th. I think this happens only when your dad’s a cowboy

Happy Birthday, Dad! 

Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup.

Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup.

 

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A World for the Moment—Flowers of Summer

Summer bouquets

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to somebody else.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe
First bouquet of summer.

First bouquet of summer.

I came across these thoughts by Georgia O’Keeffe last week and they give voice to one of my favorite rhythms of summer—planting flowers, so I can give people bouquets. I love leaving bouquets at friends’ doors, bringing to our campus office and for my classes and colleagues.  There is something about this that makes me exponentially happy and hopefully create a bit of beauty and joy for the recipient.

Though summer edges into fall, the flowers still bloom and I hope to get a few more weeks and bouquets before the weather turns cold. 

Mason jars for bouquets.

Mason jars for bouquets.

I have discovered an essential element of giving bouquets—give them in something that people don’t need to worry about returning. For this reason, I love mason jars. I buy them by the flat during the summer. They are pretty, inexpensive, and it doesn’t matter if they are returned, so people can enjoy the flowers, without worrying about washing and returning the vase. Love this.

The bouquets tend to be messy, filled with flowers that happen to be blooming at that time. I love the colors and textures and wildness of all. Here are some of the bouquets from this summer and the flowers that I love to plant that compose them.

Flowers in the garden.

Flowers in the garden.

Bouquet after.

Bouquet after.

Through the years, I’ve come to have some particular favorites for flowers—zinnias, cosmos, roses, gaillardia, and lavender.

Gaillardia, often called Mexican Hat.

Gaillardia, often called Mexican Hat.

Zinnia

Zinnia

I love bringing flowers to my classes. I brought this to our Orientation to the Teaching Profession class on the first night. The day started…”Dawn, come here,” our student worker on campus said and then peeled off my sweater.
I thought maybe that she just thought my outfit would look better without the sweater…
Then, she turned it RIGHT-SIDE-OUT and put it back on me. Classic first day of teaching—thinking about everything-school and put my my clothes on inside out!

First night of class.

First night of class.

I especially love leaving flowers at peoples’ doors or on their desks for them as a surprise.

Bouquets for friends, ready for delivery.

Bouquets for friends, ready for delivery.

Pink cosmo.

Pink cosmo.

Marigolds, ready for summer bouquets and to be dried to usher in the spirits for the Day of the Dead.

Marigolds

A Dewdrops bouquet, picked this morning, especially for you.

holding bouquet

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Dewdrops Birthday

First summer bouquet

First summer bouquet

Happy Birthday to Us!

We celebrate our 2nd birthday in August. Two years ago I wrote, “So here is my hope – that this blog will be doses of writing, dewdrops, that might knit us together in this wild, heartbreaking, and exquisite experience of life. Inevitably along the way, there will be thoughts and questions about language, culture, writing, teaching, the land, kids, and anything else that composes the chapters of life. I look forward to our journey together.” 

So much has happened since that time—and along the way, we’ve laughed, cried, questioned, and been Still. Here is the last year of writing. As I composed this piece, looking back over the past year, an image of dewdrops beaded together on a leaf came to mind—each unique and beautiful, and yet in their cluster create a whole. Just like our community.

First touch

First touch

So deeply grateful to share the journey,

Dawn

One Year of Dewdrops

A Blessed Busy

It’s About Illuminating Life on Earth

Beauty, Skulls, and Culture

Today’s the Day! MEADOWLARK Book Launch

Cove, Dominican Republic

Cove, Dominican Republic

Birthing Rain: Meadowlark’s Book Launch

Deadwood to the Dominican Republic

The Blizzard that Never Was—and its Aftermath on Cattle and Ranchers

It Takes a Ranch—South Dakota Ranchers Affected by the Blizzard 

Storm Atlas

Storm Atlas

Kindnesses and Bones

Rhythms and Day of the Dead

Touchstones

Gratitude Amidst the Messy Parts

Threaded Beads

Writing the Land Class 

Cut tissue paper - Papel picado

Cut tissue paper – Papel picado

O’Keeffe—Spirit of the Winter Solstice

Christmas in Santa Fe—Photos and Recipes

Books to Curl Up and Savor

Magic and Dreams in 2014

Friday Night, Family Night—Love of Place, Belonging… 

Horses on prairie.

Horses on prairie.

Snow-laden Nest Waiting for Spring

When I am an Old Horsewoman

Women of Atlas: Song through the Storm 

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

Starfish, San Juans.

Starfish, San Juans.

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

What Creates Heroes

Rainbow Between Storms

Story Catchers: The Story Catcher Writing Workshop

The Problem and the Fix on the Ranch: Broken Powerlines

The World Cup—A Surprising Love Story

Gift from the Sea—The San Juan Islands

Dawn

Dawn

I have birthday presents! In honor of our birthday, I have three copies of Meadowlark to gift. If you would like a copy, just mention this in the comments below. I’ll sign, bundle, and send to the first three people.

Gratitude.

 


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Gift from the Sea—The San Juan Islands

Sunrise over sea, San Juan Islands

Sunrise over sea, San Juan Islands

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” —Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Kids on ferry in harbor.

Kids on ferry in harbor.

I read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea years ago. I read the book and inhaled the essence of Lindbergh’s writing, yet it all remained quite distant. I admired the book and her ideas about the sea as one might admire a piece of art in a gallery, beautiful, yes, but untouchable and apart. The beauty of the sea remained for me abstract. The sea has never been a part of my life. I am a woman of the desert, the prairie, the West, the borderlands, the world—but never the sea. 

Until last week.

Last week our family drove from Santa Fe to the archipelago of the  San Juan Islands in the Pacific Ocean, off the northern coast of Washington state. This was a trip years in the making. Our family has had the gift of going to the ranch every summer and so we did. There wasn’t time or resources for any other family travel. With Wyatt soon to leave for college, I was determined to take at least one family trip to someplace new. With Wyatt’s love of Washington state, our dear friends in the San Juan Islands, and my cousin and friend from forever in Seattle, we decided months ago to take this trip.

With Noé on the ferry.

With Noé on the ferry.

As the time of our trip approached and life loomed large, there were so very many reasons not to take this trip. I ignored them, “We’re going. Whatever it takes, we’re going. We are taking at least one family vacation someplace new before Wyatt leaves.” Denial can be a wonderful thing when channeled properly. 

So, we went.

 Two days and 2,000+ miles later, we drove onto the ferry heading to the peninsula where our cousin, Janet, and her family live. There is something about cousins that spans time and distance. Our first gift from the sea. 

The sea came alive. The abstract and untouchable painting in a gallery gained texture, scent, color, and connection. 

The sea came alive for Wyatt, Luke, and Wynn—who were in the water as soon as we arrived.

Kids on water upon arrival.

Kids on water upon arrival.

View from the ferry. Mt. Baker looms over all.

View from the ferry. Mt. Baker presides over all.

Driftwood on South Beach

Driftwood on South Beach

We went to South Beach—the driftwood and stones created a palette of textures. I found myself again and again running my hands through the stones. Gift from the sea.

Stones of South Beach, San Juan Islands.

Stones of South Beach, San Juan Islands.

Collected stones of South Beach.

Collected stones of South Beach.

Stones skipped across the sea.

Skipping rocks across the sea.

Skipping rocks across the sea.

Starfish found.

Starfish found.

Purple starfish in tide pool.

Purple starfish in tide pool.

This area is known for the orcas who live in these waters. We watched and watched the seas. In a lighthouse on a point overlooking the waters of the whales, people from around the world shared their names.

"Killer whale" around the world.

“Killer whale” around the world.

What made this all possible were our forever friends and their invitation to visit them in their home on San Juan Island. Threads of roots, friendship, and love bound the new with the known. We met in 1973 when Mom got lost in Tucson one Sunday morning and met our forever friends. Our family photo albums of our growing up years are interchangeable. Names evolved and we soon developed our own language of, “the Moms, the Dads, the Big Birds (two oldest), and the Little Birds (three youngest).” The Big Birds share the same name of Dawn Elizabeth. From our last names, we soon became Winkie and Dobie and have remained so ever since.

The moms, big birds, and little birds Cascabel, AZ 1977

The Moms, Little Birds, and Big Birds. Cascabel, AZ 1977

In an alignment of the stars that we could not have planned had we tried, four of our five Big and Little Birds were on the island together, coming from Argentina, California, and New Mexico. We  basked in watching the next generation, the Littlest Birds, play together. They tumbled, played, the swam, hiked, and laughed. The faces in photos on our refrigerators sprang to life and the lace of roots deepened into the future. 

Gift from the sea.

Amy, Dobie, Wendy, Winkie

Amy, Dobie, Wendy, Winkie

From South Beach, we brought home stones and driftwood to create an altar in our home.

Altar of stones and driftwood.

Altar of stones and driftwood.

On the drive home, memories of our time in the San Juans swirled. Warmth of the stones under my hands on the beach, sounds of water as it lapped against shell of the kayak, Luke stumbling through the living room early one morning to kayak out in hopes of seeing a baby seal and his face light up upon his return (Mom, they are the most adorable things ever.), clusters of bodies of the Littlest Birds as they played, scent of lavender, sparkles of sunlight as they shimmered on the sea, friendship…

“Don’t wish me happiness. I don’t expect to be happy all the time… It’s gotten beyond that somehow, “Anne Morrow Lindbergh goes on to write. “Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor. I will need them all.”

Courage, stones, strength, driftwood, a sense of humor, roots, moon over water.

Gift of the sea.

Pelindaba Lavender farm, San Juan Island

Pelindaba Lavender farm, San Juan Island

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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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