Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination


Dia de los Muertos—Altar as Landscape, Love Lives On

Día de los Muertos, All Soul’s Day, November 1st. In Latino tradition, Día de los Muertos honors our loved ones who have passed with altars laden with flowers, photos, and candles. I first learned of this tradition when I fell in love with Frida Kahlo in my early 20’s. Día de los Muertos is an integral element in our family’s life rhythms. Composing the altar this year felt especially sacred amidst the pandemic and so many people lost. So many new souls honored on the altar by Latinos in the US and throughout Mexico.

Mom’s hope chest creates the foundation for the altar. As I placed each piece, I had to smile. When my Grandma Mary embroidered Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, when my Great-Grandma Grace ground the coffee before dawn in the sod hut on the ranch, never could they have imaged these pieces where they are now. The landscape of our altar reflects the landscape of my life. Yo soy fronterista. I am a woman of the borderlands, as used by Gloría Anzaldúa. My life is one of a fronterista, where worlds overlap: prairie and Southwest, rural and international, landscape literature and linguistic human rights. Here on the altar, prairie and farmland come together with the Southwest; German, Welsh, Irish, and English with Latino; Protestant with Catholic; past with present. The worlds, each with a distinct culture, come together to create the mosaic of the whole.

As I place the flowers for my German Lutheran grandparents, Grandpa Wink and Grandma Anna, I hear my Grandpa Wink saying the Lord’s Prayer in German to delight my cousins and I as children. So many historic heritage languages and cultures fill the altar. Never did the great-grandparents and grandparents that I honor imagine a Día de los Muertos altar. The unimaginable—as I placed each piece, I thought of how very much like this expresses where we find ourselves in life right now around the world.

Grandma Janet’s wine glass, St. Agatha, Virgen de Guadalupe

Grammie Lucille

The altar holds a treasured wine glass of my mom’s mother, Grandma Janet, as Janet’s mother, my Great-Grammie Lucille looks on as a teenager from a black-and-white photo above. The glass rests between St. Agatha, Patron Saint of Breast Cancer, Nurses, and Women’s Issues, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Virgen de Guadalupe (Artist, Jil Gurulé). The beauty and delicacy of the glass reflects Grandma Janet’s life. St. Agatha is new to the altar this year. Breast cancer has touched many women’s lives in my family. My Grandma Janet passed far too young. Her wine glass honors her life, as well as represents my decision to remove wine glasses from my own table on November 1 last year, so I could focus fully on healing.

Corn honors my Uncle Ray, a farmer who lived life with such kindness, generosity, love, and a twinkle in his eye.

In our college community, we unexpectedly lost a well-loved colleague and dear friend. Luke defined himself as a spiritual being, imbued with the traditions of Peru where he lived and climbed for so many years. Eagles represent Spirit. Fly, Luke, fly.

For all of those lost to coronavirus, a collection of leaves I found under the heart-draped tree along my running path, tucked into the bird’s nest.

In honor of those passed to coronavirus.

Forever love.

Pan de Muerto

“Mom, did you make pan de muerto this year?” Wyatt asked me hesitantly on the phone in mid-November last year. It was the first year I had not made Frida Kahlo’s recipe (we use honey from the ranch) for pan de muerto in the kids’ memory. This annual ritual grounds our family.  With the health journey of last fall, I did not make the traditional sweet bread. When I realized last year that it was November 1st and I hadn’t made the bread, in an attempt to lift my spirits, Noé said, “Don’t worry. It’s okay. They won’t miss it.” I felt somewhat better in that moment. I also worried that they would not miss it. The sticky dough of pan de muerto helps to hold us together as a family.

Manuela and Amadeo Villarreal

When Wyatt asked if I had made, I was overcome with both maternal guilt at not making and a sense of deep gratitude and joy that he had missed! We altered our traditions last year and made when all came home for Thanksgiving. The spirits were just fine with that. This mommy’s heart smiled to watch all gathered yet again around the counter, creating their small figures of dough, sprinkling with colored sugars and decorations, and then the smiles on their faces when they each took that first bite of the bread fresh from the oven.

Noé’s parents, Amadeo and Manuela Villarreal, always center our altar. I was not fortunate enough to meet them. We missed each other by a few years. Their spirits remain alive through the countless stories of laughter, hard work, family love and dedication, and irrepressible and irreverent senses of humor! How I wish I had been blessed to sit around the kitchen table, drinking coffee from the pot that was always full, to hear of their lives and their stories. Whenever Manuela is described, the sentence usually ends with, “She was quite the character! No la tenía miedo de nada.(She wasn’t scared of anything).” When Amadeo passed, he pointed to the corner of the room and told his kids gathered around, “Allí está tu mamá. Viene por mí.” (“There is your mom. She’s come for me.”)

Treasures through the generation grace the altar. Mom gave Grandma Mary’s blue glass flower vase to her friend, Mary Ann, who then gave it to me many years later.

I received a photo that so reflects el Día de los Muertos for Latino children in the US this year. Noah’s mom, Patricia, sent me this photo and wrote, “Living always in two cultures—Harry Potter and Día de los Muertos. Here Noah connects for his morning meeting in elementary school online.”

A few of books of the indomitable Frida Kahlo, La Gran Friducha, for whom Día de los Muertos represented so much.

A page from Frida’s journal:

I had very mixed feelings when I first heard about the movie “Coco.” Disney producing a movie about Day of the Dead, thoughts of cultural appropriation ran rampant through my mind. There are no princesses in the Day of the Dead. I was anxious when we sat to watch, in much the same way I’m anxious when I start a movie of a book I have loved, worried that the movie will mar the beauty and power of the original. I was delighted to discover a beautiful honoring of this sacred tradition. “This makes me think of my parents,” Noé said when the movie ended, a tear rolling down his cheek.

Trees of Life are often found on Día de los Muertos altars. We received desperately needed moisture through snow earlier this week, as seen here through a Tree of Life.

Snow through Tree of Life in my writing room.

Some of you may recognize this piece from a couple of years ago. This is now published in “For the Brokenhearted” (https://nappingdogpress.org/2022/09/01/new-release-for-the-brokenhearted/).

Our altar this year awaits. There are new people to honor this year. As soon as I send this, I shall prepared for dear ones on their way to honor their own loved ones who have passed.

The candles are lit.

Love lives on.





Beauty, Ideas, and Connections at the International Ecolinguistics Association Conference in Graz, Austria

Styria, Austria

©Yana Vermenich

I have followed the work the International Ecolinguistics Association through the past years. I hoped to attend their conference one day, but life was rich and full of much else that needed tending. This year as the request for proposals for the conference went out, I decided cast my fate to the winds and submit a proposal to present at the upcoming conference at the University of Graz, Austria.

I decided that if my proposal was accepted, I would figure out a way to attend. My proposal to present on “Ecolinguistics Through Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination—Transdisciplinary Research Through Scholarly Personal Narrative and Lilyology” was accepted.

The stars aligned and I followed.

The beauty of place, inspiration of ideas, spectrum of experiences, and connecting with others created a feast for all senses. One particular delight that surprised me was exploring the cobblestone streets of the city. I lived in Germany for a year and attended the University of Göttingen for one year while studying International Relations. I spent Christmas in Austria with dear friends. This was many years ago and I rarely have opportunities to speak German and have not been in Germany or Austria since. I didn’t anticipate the cascade of memories exploring the city would bring back and loved that feeling.









I arrived in Graz mid-afternoon on a gorgeous fall day and immediately headed out to explore. A landmark of Graz is the fortress with its iconic Clock Tower, first mentioned in the 13th century, perched on a hill overlooking the city. I headed in that general direction and happened upon the stone staircase zig-zagging up the cliff. Up, up, and up the staircase climbs. A runner passed me as he headed up the steps. And me without my running clothes! As I ascended the stone steps the cityscape unfolded and expanded, until at last I reached the top. I stood and drank in all.















@Yana Vermenich















One of the elements that I savored about the conference was how multigenerational and multinational the attendance and presentations—from prominent leading scholars of several decades, to those of us around my generation, to a whole younger band of emergent ecolinguists bringing new perspectives and lenses to these ideas. The generational span exchanging experiences and ideas created a vibrant, rich environment! The conference program is included at the end of this piece for you to explore.

Francesca Grasso, Lorenzo Buonvivere, Arianna Del Gaudio, Martina Russo, Me, Yana Vermenich

Arran Stibbe, Sune Steffensen, Me, Yana Vermenich, Allan Baggs, Linnea Hannell









©Martina Russo

Graz, Town Hall

















In addition to the ideas shared through presentations and conversations, our time included meeting with a representative within beautiful interior of the Town Hall.















We took an excursion to the mountains of the local wine region of Syria, where we looked out toward Slovenia.













Conversations and connections flowed throughout all. I pulled out my journal as I waited to board the plane home—so very much to write about.

Conference Program


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Language, Culture, and Land: Lenses of Lilies in Langscape Magazine

Waterlily painting by Pilawuk White, an Aboriginal woman artist from Daly River in Australia’s Northern Territory and a friend of Nerida Blair’s. Photo: Nerida Blair

I am delighted to share my essay “Language, Culture, and Land: Lenses of Lilies” was just published in Terralingua‘s Langscape Magazine.

Language, Culture, and Land: Lenses of Lilies

At a pond’s edge, a woman muses about waterlilies as metaphors for mother-tongue languages and their power to anchor story, wisdom, and heritage.

Waterlilies hold a special place in my heart. I did not grow up with them, though. I grew up on a remote ranch amid the sand, rocks, cacti, and dry beauty of the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States. I love the intense heat, the plants that thrive on periods of drought interspersed with torrential rains, and the vast open horizons that cup the wide basin of the desert. While I am sure that I knew of waterlilies during my growing up years, they remained something to be read about in books, not anything as real in my life as the towering saguaro cacti, rough bark of the mesquite trees, and treasured green of the rare cottonwoods found near water basins and rivers that only filled and flowed after the monsoon rains. Little did I ever imagine that those read-about and imagined waterlilies would have a profound impact on both my professional and my personal life. More…

A coy fish passes under a waterlily in my neighbor’s pond. Photo: Renee Upston

This piece was inspired by the amazing works of Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and Nerida Blair.

Langscape Magazine was my first choice for publication of this piece for all the reasons detailed here:

Langscape Magazine is an online publication with a beautifully designed print and digital edition issued annually. It is an extension of the voice of Terralingua and supports our mission to educate minds and hearts about the vital importance of biocultural diversity for the survival of life on earth.

As Indigenous Peoples tell us, stories create and shape our world. Langscape Magazine uses the power of story to bolster our efforts to bring about a radical shift in human values that will make sustaining biocultural diversity a primary societal goal.

It features unique, authentic stories from all over the globe that celebrate the bounty of diversity in nature and culture — all told by the people who live and breathe the realities they portray. Novel insights. Stunning pictures, videos, and art.

That’s what Langscape Magazine offers that you can’t find anywhere else: a cornucopia of biocultural diversity. We hope that Langscape Magazine can help create and shape the just, sustainable world we so urgently need. Read, enjoy, and be inspired!”


Wink Ranch 2022—Photo Journal

Thelma and Louise

Mom and I made a quick dash to the ranch together on her way back from Tucson. We headed out early for the drive to the ranch. The sun peeked over the horizon just as we crested the hills around Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Daddy called a little later and asked, “Am I speaking with Thelma or Louise?” Up through the mountains of New Mexico, over the plains of southern Colorado, and up to the sagebrush valleys of Wyoming, we drove. We in the Southwest have enjoyed amazing rains this summer, which has helped our drought-scorched country immensely. New Mexico hasn’t had our traditional summer monsoon rains, nor the heavy snows of winter for the past few years. The Rio Grande River is nearly dry.

Drought has touched throughout the West of the United States, with devastating results. The incredible rains of the Southwest has the dry desert literally springing to life! Our rivers are not yet filled, but we see wild grasses and wildflowers everywhere that we haven’t seen in years. Unfortunately, the rains haven’t made it very far north with devastating results that became obvious as we drove. So many heartbreaking sights. The green grasses of New Mexico gave way to the parched and bald lands of Colorado and the farther north we drove, the dryer the land. 

It has been two years since I was last on the ranch. I kept trying to make it, but work life and Covid had other plans. My big take-away from my own time with Covid was to embrace the philosophy of “Stop, Drop, and Nap.” A great philosophy for life when one thinks about it! 

Just arrived!

My time on the ranch was far too short, only three days. We fit as much as possible into that time. Mom and I pulled into the ranch exactly 14 hours (if you only stop for gas and coffee) after leaving Santa Fe. We tumbled out of the car just as the sun was setting to one of my favorite things—sitting outside on the screened-in porch on the East side of the ranch house to talk and just be together. In our family, it takes a ranch

The first morning on the ranch, Daddy and I drove around to check waterlines and cattle. Bouncing around in a pick up with my dad is one of my earliest memories, as I delved into here when I reflected on what it means when your dad’s a cowboy

Here, some photos of our time, both of the land and the ranch and the bits of beauty around the ranch house that I love. 

A majestic presence

When cows are introverts

When cows are introverts.

Ranch house

My ranch shirt — and life philosophy.

Bouncing around in the backseat with Mom and Dad on our way to the Cheyenne River breaks.

Read her shirt closely, “Just a Ranch Wife.” In sparkles.

Hauling water

A few bits of beauty—

Mom’s beloved Frankie

Window of beauty

Moss roses have a long history on the ranch.

Sunset on the ranch

Sunset on the ranch

Our time together ended way, way too soon. As I drove south in the early morning, the sunrise cast shafts of light through the clouds. It will be much less than two years when I return to the ranch again. My heart, spirit, and soul need it too much. 

For other prisms and lenses on ranch, academic, multilingual, and literary life with my incredible mom, please dive right in to WinkWorld.


Running Deeper into Language

Did you take up running recently, Dawn?” I was asked recently.

“Not really,” I smiled. “It’s been 35+ years now.”

I started running when I began college and no longer played high school sports. Running was just so easy, and inexpensive, to pick up. I didn’t have to go anyplace else or be anywhere at a certain time. There were no monthly dues. All I needed was a pair of running shoes and out the door. I’ve been running ever since. I’ve run in several states, a few countries, and with a number of running strollers. I’ve run the cement sidewalks of Chihuahua, the cobbled streets of Oaxaca, through the dense green of Germany, and the humidity and heat of Costa Rica that made me feel like I was running in a sauna.

Wynn and Luke in the runner stroller.

Throughout these many years, I have never run while listening to anything except the musings of my mind and, for many years, the musings of the babies and toddlers in the strollers that I packed with books, toys, and goldfish. I loved, and continue to love, the time away from all to simply sink into whatever thoughts may come my way. Everything I have ever written has been mused, crafted, and refined while I run. Many of the emergent ideas came to me first to the rhythm of my footfall. Running has been my steady companion through good times and bad. Many a tear has been shed along the trails, along with laughter, dreams, planning, and more than a few choice words as I suddenly remembered something that I had forgotten or needed to be done. Through every season, I always ran in silence, until about a year ago…

About a year ago I started to listen to audio books in Spanish when I run. Some backstory—our family are big listeners of audio books. This began with cassette tapes of stories for the kids. We grew into hundreds of CDs of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and more stories and books than I can remember. The kids and I listened to books-on-tape (as I still call them) constantly—in the car, in our home, before bed. We all still have audio books going. Those free Audible credits are gold in our family

About a year ago, the thought came to me to start listening to my audio books in Spanish on my runs. I let that thought simmer for quite a while, but it didn’t go away. So, I started listening and have since that time fallen in love with this new rhythm.

We know that language is not learned, it is acquired through relevant and meaningful use. As I listen to the narrative, I focus on the story, as well as the pronunciation and cadence. Initially, I let myself look up three unfamiliar words in one run. To look up more would’ve made my runs take too long before the work day. So, for approximately 1 – 1.5 hours a day, I listen to gorgeous, oral Spanish. The voice of the narrator mades a difference. I’ve listened to listen to a sample first, so it’s a narrator that I like. Now, I have some real favorites.

Santa Fe sunrise run.

I have listened to books from Spain, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. Thus far, the narrators come from the country of origin, so speak with the particular rhythm and pronunciation of each country. I love this. I love sinking to the familiar sharp staccato of Mexican Spanish, hearing the crispness of Chilean Spanish, the iconic “zzzhhhh” of the “ll” in Argentina, and the “th” of the zeta and “c” of Spain. I have wondered what influence this may have on my own Spanish pronunciation. This, I do not know. What I do know is that the adventures throughout time around the the Spanish-speaking world in the past year deepened my fluency and fluidity in Spanish. I feel it.

For those of us who live in the world of languages, we know that language acquisition most effectively happens when there is a combination of natural acquisition and focused learning. The vast majority of my focus is on natural acquisition. I do season this with some specific learning when I hear something in the narrative that gives me pause, which usually revolves around the grammar rules that my high school Spanish teacher (aka Mom) says I rarely had much interest in, as long as I could communicate. I now dive into the details of the subjunctive and other grammatical puzzles that peak my interest. My Spanish teacher will be proud!

Aquí, hablo del tesoro del libro EL INFINITO EN UN JUNCO, escrito por Irene Vallejo:

This experience of sinking deeply into Spanish story for the sheer beauty of the language and narrative is one that I treasure. While running the trails of New Mexico, I have walked the streets of Madrid during the Spanish Civil War, revisited Berlin in the final days of WWII, absorbed Isabel Allende’s wisdom through a character, walked the literary streets of Barcelona at night, and so very much more.

As a learner of languages and teacher of language acquisition, this experience fills my writer’s spirit and informs my understandings of language.

This is a journey of joy, learning, and discovery.

What book shall I listen to next?

“If you can be anything in the world, be kind”
Thank you to my Auntie Ace for this shirt!


Creative Processes—Follow the Spark

My most recent journal

I always love learning about others’ creative processes in all forms. I learn, I study, I weave some of those elements into my own. I find creative processes makes my heart smile and my spirit soar. I share some of my own creative processes here in hopes of contributing to all of us who love these.

My own processes take multiple forms with some common threads. They almost always begin with that energy spark of an idea that can happen anywhere and at anytime. Yes, it can be while I’m writing in my journal, often they happen when I’m running, and they are also equally as bound to happen while in the grocery store looking for my favorite tea.

What I have learned over the years is to trust that energetic hit that comes with the spark. That is the deciding factor whether I heed and pursue the idea or let it go. If I feel the resonance of the idea, I trust. If it feels flat, I let it go. These decisions are based on my intuition and my heart, not my mind or head. This is key for me.

When the spark hits, I scribble it down somewhere or text it to myself on my phone. This is also key. I have also learned that no matter how much I feel that idea is brilliant in the moment, life is FULL and it is likely to be lost in the tides if I don’t write it down.

From there, the idea goes into my journal. Once it is written in my journal, no matter how cryptic it may be, I breathe a sigh of relief. It is now safe. Of course, that is only the beginning.

After that comes many, many pages in my journal playing with these ideas in an intuitive way. Loads of circles, arrows, single words, quotes, and arrows drawn to connect ideas that may seem they flow together. It is all quite messy! And, I love it.

Right now I am working on several different pieces all focusing in some way on language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination. Those pieces are sketched out in my journal in varying stages, along with proposals for several presentations, along with books, essays, and chapters.

One I’ve clustered the ideas, I often add color to highlight emergent themes.

I sketch out main ideas to remember from the work of others to make meaning for myself.

Mother tongues as waterlilies by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Lilyology by Nerida Blair

I no longer take my journal to the grocery store with me. One too many times, I wrote my grocery list in my journal and took with me to the store. One time I left my journal, of course decorated with a gorgeous watercolor that I loved and choc-full of more ideas and sketched essay that I want to let myself think about, in the grocery cart. I did not realize until the next morning and when I returned to the store it was nowhere to be found. Never again. Grocery lists now go on pieces of paper ripped from a spiral journal.

I do travel with my journal. Leaving it behind feels like leaving my security blanket behind…or a limb. I have learned on planes never to tuck into the elastic pocket in front of my seat, no matter how tempting. It is on my lap or in my bag.

I often will then start playing with watercolors to add texture to the ideas in my own head. Plus, I love playing with these paints, colors, and textures. The visual adds to my own understandings, as well as for others (hopefully) to see visually. I take loads and loads of photos and play with those images, colors, textures, and what they convey, along with the words.

From there I move to the actual piece of what I’m writing, of what wants to be written. I follow that sparkling thread of energy to wherever it leads.

It is only now that I really begin thinking about shape, form, the craft of written pieces. Dorothea Brande refers to this process as “the advantage of the duplicity of writing,” in Becoming a Writer (1934). First the intuitive, energetic, wild, wonderful listening to ideas, open to all. Next, putting on one’s editor hat, using the skills muscles of the craft.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned along the journey is to trust that energetic, intuitive energy spark of an idea. I don’t have to understand it, just trust it, follow it, and give it oxygen and space to grow.

An elemental space that I create to listen to ideas are the early morning hours of coffee and candlelight, solitude and sanctuary, with my journal. This time is sacred. In these early morning hours, before the fullness of the day begins, I listen, write, muse, dream, play with ideas, and find connections.

Currently, I am at several different stages of the process on several different pieces. I keep track of all in my journal. I look forward to sharing more of the journey with you along the way.

Speaking of journeys, I completed one of my own with a virtual graduation. We gathered on Zoom as a family first and then I shared my screen, so we experienced as together as possible.

Gathered together
Flowers from Noé

What is now one of my all-time favorite photos of my parents—the moment when my name was read during the ceremony.

I mentioned that learning of others’ journeys with creativity makes my heart smile and my spirit shine! I think there are many of us. Would love to hear more about yours!




TESOL Int’l Convention — Layers of Ideas, Friendship, and Love

The famed Andy Warhol yellow bridges of Pittsburgh

I had not attended a conference in four years and I attended two in the past few months. They were simply glorious! I set conferences aside when I started the doctoral work, as I needed every single weekend to keep one nostril above the water of coursework. Then, came the pandemic. So, to attend conferences after such a long lull was a feast for all senses! I hope to share the spirit of the time, as well as some ideas that I took away from all.

First, TESOL: TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) International Convention, Pittsburgh, PA

TESOL has been a big part of my life for many, many years and in multiple ways. I believe my first TESOL was in Salt Lake City, 2002. Throughout the intervening years, TESOL serves as a foundational stone in my own professional understandings about all-things-multiple-language-acquisition.

Mom and me, TESOL 2018, Chicago

Ever since my first meeting with the Bilingual-Multilingual Education Interest Section that segued from the meeting to salsa dancing in New York City, I knew I met my people. Professional colleagues became dear friends.

Another layer of professional colleagues to dear friends happened when I studied at the School for International Training and became a member of the incredible SIT global educator community.

TESOL always happens at the end of March—it is so wonderful for the organization to plan such a grand shared birthday party for Mom and me with our birthdays on March 20th and March 28th. TESOL also means slumber parties and birthday celebrations with Mom in whatever state the convention takes place that year.

As with learning and language, all begins with relationships. I treasured the reunions with dear friends. Sandra Mercuri, Sandra’s husband, Alfredo, Andrés Ramírez and I talked, laughed, and shared stories in that beautiful way that happens when you’ve been too-long apart. Oh, did we laugh. Especially after the pandemic, it felt so good to laugh with dear friends from the depths of your soul.

Alfredo Mercuri, Sandra Mercuri, Andrés Ramírez, me

On my walk to the Convention Center:

Sandra Mercuri shared her creation and work with CLIFF (Content Language and Literacy Integration Framework):

Me, Sandra Mercuri, Andrés Ramírez

After Sandra’s presentation, Andrés proclaimed, “I’ve been CLIFFed.” Me, too!

A highly engaged conversation is happening around Academic Language. I attended a dynamic panel presentation on these ideas with Luciana C. de Oliveira, Ruslana Westerlund, Andrés Ramírez, and their colleagues. Luciana and Ruslana wore yellow in honor of Ruslana’s native Ukraine.

Luciana C. de Oliveira, Andrés Ramírez, Ruslana Westerlund

Memories of other TESOL Conferences lifted as I sat in sessions, including this time with my dear friend and mentor, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, when she gave me the author’s socks that she knitted for me. Yes, I still wear. Amazing what they do for one’s writing!

Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, TESOL Salt Lake City, 2002

More time to connect with colleagues and friends from around the world, including Jorge Torres Almazán of MEXTESOL, of the incredible team from World Learning:

Jorge Torres Almazán, MEXTESOL
Evening light over downtown Pittsburgh
The World Learning Team, including Erik Tancorov, Danielle Mistretta, Kara McBride, Aziza ElKolei, Germán Gómez

When not absorbing the ideas of the presentations or connecting with friends old and new, I was taking-in the beauty of the daffodils, which bloomed throughout the city.

Daffodils of downtown Pittsburgh

Next, AERA


Connection and Creativity on Place Well Tended

Oh, to take the time to sit with other artists and talk about how the land and life shapes our creativity. I had the complete pleasure to talk with Jodi Shaw and Molly Noem Fulton on their podcast Place Well Tended.

“You’re joining Molly + Jodi as we talk with folks about creativity in plains country: what it is, and why it matters that we’re here doing it. Place Well Tended is about love of a place, and tending that place through creative work.”

I was amazed—and momentarily speechless—when Molly read a piece that I had written that goes to the heart of my writing, creativity, life experience, and how they weave together. “I wrote that and put it out into the world?” I asked. I love how Molly and Jodi so beautifully describe our conversation.

Our conversation: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1923909/10391618

Jodi and Molly explore life through the lenses of artists. Jodi finds beauty and meaning in the landscape of the western South Dakota ranch where she raises her family and creates art gathered from the land and life.

Molly’s work of patterned lines and bright colors explores “the people and places that shape us, forming our identity and values.”

This sunset yesterday evening felt the perfect note for our conversation on creativity, place, and beauty.


Stories of Language, Landscape, Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination

I sit in the early morning time of sanctuary and solitude, candlelight and coffee, darkness and dreams. My journal fills with an ever-growing list of Dewdrops pieces that to write—all swirling around language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination; the most recent trip to the ranch; Lilyology; Scholarly Personal Narrative; translanguaging; beauty; books; family; and so very many other musings and bits of beauty.

2022 is off to a grand start with loads of good energy around ideas. I share some of those ideas here, along with some beauty from my runs and other found beauty along the way.

The past few months have been a time of many presentations, writing, and sharing of ideas. My passion for all things language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination continues to grow. I spoke recently about these ideas and stories:

At last I held a bound copy of my dissertation in my hands.

Another year of the Wink Family March Madness (Luke-10th, Mom-20th, Wyatt-25th, Me-28th, and Wyatt’s girlfriend, Natasha-6th) has come and gone. We ran the Birthday Gauntlet and survived! So very many treasured memories and gifts. I had to share this piece from Daddy, who when he saw it months ago knew that I would love. He was right!


Stories at the Intersection of Language and Landscape Through Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination: A Scholarly Personal Narrative — Dissertation Defense (Video)

What felt like an impossible dream for so many years came true on October 6, 2021. I successfully defended my dissertation, “Stories at the Intersection of Language and Linguistic Literatures Through Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination: A Scholarly Personal Narrative.”

The journey of the past four years of coursework and dissertation writing held many explorations, discoveries, dear new friends, amazing ideas, unexpected challenges, and all else that composes life.

My inquiry focused on stories at the intersection of language and landscape through wildness, beauty, and imagination.

The whole experience of the defense was was so much more than I ever let myself hope for or dream. A truly joyous experience! I remain forever grateful to my phenomenal dissertation committee: May Elawar, PhD; Jennifer Wells, PhD; and Luci Tapahonso, Professor Emerita. A recording of my defense here:

The marvelous word for dissertation in Costa Rica—chifladura—expresses a powerful vortex of the coming together of natural powers and energies. This symbolizes my dissertation experience exquisitely.

After my defense, Mom and I cried… beyond words to be able to share this with her 30 years after her own dissertation defense. Dr. Wink squared celebrated in fine form on the swings!

And, I promise to take this t-shirt off someday…maybe…I’ll think about it…


Running on the Ranch: The Road Less Traveled

Running on the ranch, Howes, South Dakota

I bundled my running clothes into a bag when Mom and I headed to the ranch. I love running on the ranch. There isn’t always time to run when on the ranch, but I always hope that there will be and arrive with my running tights, shoes, and gear. I am used to and love the expansive views and horizons of my high desert running trails around around in Santa Fe. The prairie of the western South Dakota plains holds a whole different kind of space. Surrounded by sheer prairie, there is a sense of running under the great blue bowl of the sky above.

Many years ago I was on a run along the highway with the then small kids in the jog stroller that I pushed in front of me. A pickup truck passed us along the highway and what I remember is the synchronized movement of four heads wearing cowboy hats moving in unison toward us as they passed. When I arrived back at the ranch house and told Mom and Dad about it, Daddy said, “The only time people run out here is when there’s a bull crawling up your back!”

I pulled on my gear, stretched out, and headed out for a good run one morning. I had a virtual meeting a couple of hours later and had to be back in time for that. This gave e plenty of time. Up the lane out of the ranch headquarters, I ran in the pickup tracks that created the road along the desperately dry dam north of the house. I noticed antelope had been along this trail before me.

I ran up the slight rise on the other side of the dam and followed the trail out across the prairie. One major difference in my running rhythms on the ranch — while I’ve been loving listening to audible books and running deeper into language in New Mexico, I was all ears now as I listened for the tell-tale sound of a rattlesnake along the path. While I knew there was a stunning sky above, I kept my eyes fixed to the trail scanning for snakes.

The day before, Daddy had shown me where there was some dirt work happening on one of the dams and I headed in that direction. The north winds pushed the water in the dam against the southern edge and over time this movement eroded the edge to create a sharp ledge. Dry dams due to drought offer the possibility to do work that cannot be done when they are full. As I passed the dam and up another rise, a pickup truck crested the top and we met along the road. “Now, there’s a sight you don’t see very often,” the bemused driver said, on his way to finish the work.

I ran past a mama and baby, bringing back memories of the many years that I nursed my own babies on the ranch. In Meadowlark, I wrote of Grace nursing, “Beyond the window, a silver slice of sun rose in the sky. Light drenched the land in water-stained cornflower blue and drew crisp edges of continue and depth, defining the curve of knolls and vales invisible to the eye in the full light of day. Her eyes moved from the mound of her breast out to the mounds and concave indentations of the prairie. Grace saw in the prairie an evocation of the curves of a woman. She felt her body’s link with the conformation and silhouette of the land.” I smiled.

I ran on along the barbed wire fence, eyes and ears extra keen for snakes.

I realized that in enjoying all, my run was longer than I’d intended, so I started looking for paths back to the ranch house. I left the tire tracks and ran along a cowpath headed in the right direction.

I came to a fork in the paths and thought of Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I stopped to take in all around me.
The path dwindled and I headed across the prairie toward the ranch house and across the bed of a dam usually filled with water and now dry, the devastating impacts of drought crunched under my feet.
I made it back to the ranch house just in time for my meeting and threw one of Mom’s pretty scarves over my very sweaty running shirt, very grateful for the road less traveled. It has made all the difference.