Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


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Calving Season – A Cowboy’s Heart

Dad with calf

Daddy with Calf. Art by Adam Bunting

 

It’s calving season on the ranch. This painting of my dad conveys the essence of his spirit and heart. Tears sprang to my eyes the first time I saw this piece. A surprise gift for my parents, Bunting conveys Daddy’s spirit and heart. A treasure. Artist Adam Bunting painted this portrait from a photo taken by Sherry Bunting

It’s calving time on ranches all over the world right now. Not only do these calves represent life, they represent generations of bloodlines, untold hours of caring for their mothers, the mothers before them, and on and on… In honor of the heart, spirit, and weeks without sleep that comes with calving, art and poetry to honor all. In honor of the history and hope that is calving season:

Daddy with calf. ©Sherry Bunting

Daddy with calf. ©Sherry Bunting

A Cowboy’s Work

by Tirzah Conway

A cowboy’s work is never done,
Like Sheppard’s among the sheep
No matter what, up with the sun,
Not really much time for sleep
You stay up all night to help out the weak
Even ones that won’t make it through
Let’s face it, that’s what makes you unique
Without it, you wouldn’t be you
You may not cry when you lose a calf
But it’s not because you don’t care
You hold strong for other’s behalf
And inside you feel only despair
You know deep down you can’t save ‘em all
And it’s not really up to you
It’s never stopped you from hitting a wall
‘Cause that’s what helps pull you through
But instead of giving in you move to another cow
It’s how you know calving season is here
You just step by her side, furrow your brow
‘Cause that’s life out on the frontier
You will always be there for her
That’s what being a cowboy is all about
Stay by her side till her calf is astir
No matter your fears or doubts
And seeing the calves running around
Was worth your all sleepless nights
You watch the play without making a sound
It’s what helps you keep fighting the good fight

I grew up watching Daddy bring calves in to be warmed, to be fed, to be cared for if their mother wouldn’t take them. On the prairie, this means calves in the kitchen, calves in the tub, calves warming in the oven, and calves in the mudroom. I see my dad, his Carhartt’s and cowboy hat dripping with snow, bringing Mom a calf to warm. In Cascabel, on the Arizona on the ranch of my childhood, this meant Daddy telling me to approach the cow slow and quiet, curling on my knees on the ground and remaining still. This meant trails of afterbirth glistening in the sun as I marveled at the intricacy of the colors. 

In all places, the life blood of the ranch and of those who make their lives on this land, course through these newborn veins. 

Cascabel Ranch, 1978

Me, Cascabel Ranch, 1978

 


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Team Shanghai and the Apple Pie Adventure

Infinite apple peels.

Infinite apple peels.

Luke’s friend, an exchange student from China, invited him to come to Shanghai this summer. As we often appreciate more the things we earn, Luke (and our family) made homemade apple pies for Easter to sell to raise funds to go. 

Wyatt, London

Wyatt, London

The Apple Pie Idea emerged a few years ago, when our oldest son, Wyatt, was invited to be a People-to-People Student Ambassador in the UK. This invitation happened during Wyatt’s freshman year, a time when he was really struggling. Our family sat in the invitational meeting, hearing about all of the wonders of this trip to Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland. Wyatt has always been entranced with this area of the world and read books about all by the wheelbarrow. Then, the numbers of what the trip would cost came up on the screen. There was simply no way. I looked at Wyatt, flashed on his struggles during that time, and deep inside me I knew that in ways I didn’t understand, we had to make this happen. Now, how?  What did our family have to offer? I make a very fine apple pie. When might people want one? The next holiday was Easter. Easter it was. Over the course of the next months, we experienced a transformation in Wyatt that left us speechless. 

Then came Luke’s invitation to go to Shanghai. It had been three years and we’d almost recovered from the last round of baking. Our hope is that in making this an experience that Luke works for, those greater life lessons will be an integral aspect of this experience. In addition to all he’ll learn through international travel and experiencing other cultures, we hope that through the making and selling of these apple pies, he will learn that life is about relationships, giving, working to create a life, and being gracious and grateful. He will give a presentation of photos and what he learned to gain experience in speaking in front of people. For all those who bought pies, we tell Luke that one day it will be his turn to give. That this is life. 

Luke wrote a letter to announce our upcoming sale of pies and Team Shanghai prepared. 

Luke - peeling and slicing.

Luke – peeling and slicing.

Wynn and Noé—the crust makers.

Wynn and Noé—the crust makers

Wynn and Noé—the crust makers

Wynn and Noé - sifting flour.

Wynn and Noé – sifting flour.

The apple peels, sliced apples, baskets and bags of all slowly took over our kitchen. I mixed, rolled the crust, and put the pies together.

How many more pies??

Late one day—How many more pies??

I never measure anything when I make apple pies. For all to help, I had to figure out more-or-less the measurements. I scribbled on a piece of paper and set in the middle of the table. 

Recipe

Recipe

We discovered good music was essential. We played stations of The Four Seasons, Motown, 80’s Rock, current hits, and everybody’s favorite, which Luke described as “weirdly perfect,” Disney soundtracks. Wynn and her best friend, Erin, sang all.

Erin and Wynn led the singing.

Erin and Wynn led the singing.

Two and a half days, 400 apples, 45 batches of dough…and a partridge in a pear tree later, we emerged with 70 pies. 

Luke heading pies into town.

Luke heading pies into town.

One of the tables of pies. ©Elizabeth Hinds

One of the tables of pies. ©Elizabeth Hinds

We returned home to survey a home still covered in apple peelings, butter, sugar, and flour on every surface. The boys dove into a chess game, Wynn went to her room humming a tune, Noé and I poured a glass of wine and collapsed on the couch. Whatever unfolds remains to be seen. Our hopes that this will be an experience in gratitude and learning Luke remains. Whatever happens, our family came together to peel, bake, sing, dance, work together to create a dream, talk, and laugh together for three days.

For this moment in time, that means everything. 

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Good Friday Pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayó

Dawn Wink:

Good Friday in northern New Mexico means walking the pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayó.

Originally posted on Dawn Wink: Dewdrops:

Santuario de Chimayó Santuario de Chimayó

Spring has many traditions in northern New Mexico, with the annual pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayó as one of the deepest held. Every year, thousands of people walk to the Santuario on Good Friday. People walk to give thanks, with specific prayers, to honor loved ones who have passed, to honor their faith, and a myriad of other reasons centering on gratitude. Please take the time to read the history of theSantuario here. “It is a story that spans over one thousand years and three contents.” It is a story that in so many ways conveys the essence of our history and dynamics in northern New Mexico.

Noé and Dawn, 5:00 am Noé and Dawn, 5:00 am

Noé and I walked the pilgrimage two years ago. Come with us on our journey. We walked to give thanks for Mom’s recovery from breast cancer. It had been five years since her diagnosis…

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Three Things Learned About International Travel

Raven necklace

Raven—Creativity and Intelligence

Passport

Passport

This week I was to be in Toronto for the International TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) Conference, where I was Chair of the Bilingual Education Interest Section. We celebrated our fabulous 40th Anniversary last year in Portland, with details and photos here.

As I arrived to board my plane, I learned three things about international travel:

1) Always check, check, and check again the expiration date on your passport well before any international flight, and most definitely before arriving at the ticket counter at 6:00 am to board your plane. As I checked in yesterday morning, I discovered that my passport expired since I last used to Puebla, Mexico. After the shock, I turned to pleading, considering offering my first-born (too expensive, college), and shameless begging. I learned that our airlines are fined $50,000 if they let someone through without a valid passport. I really don’t care, but apparently the airlines do. 

2) Non-refundable tickets are truly non-refundable, despite multiple conversations with several people in the US and India.

3) One-day passport service centers are located in Denver and El Paso (six hours away), require an appointment, and it actually takes 2 days to receive your new passport. Note to self… 

David and Yvonne Freeman

David and Yvonne Freeman

After a lifetime of international travel, one would think I would have already learned these things, and yet… Back to Santa Fe for me. The next 36 hours filled with emails and phone calls rapidly flying back and forth between colleagues, thankfully dear friends, in Toronto. In a display of professionalism and heart, the past Chair, Sandra Mercuri, and upcoming Chair, Sandra Musanti, created the structure for our meeting, gathered our tribe together, and kept the heartbeat of our organization beating soundly. In the midst of all, I learned that people had been denied travel if their passport was set to expire in the next six months. Check your passports!

At the conference, one of my presentations focused on research done for my chapter in Research on Preparing Inservice Teachers to Work Effectively with Emergent Bilinguals (Advances in Research on Teaching, Volume 24) edited by David and Yvonne Freeman, (Emerald Press). The focus of this text: 

With the rapidly increasing number of English learners in schools, there is a critical need for teacher educators to prepare inservice teachers to support these emergent bilinguals with effective practices. Despite this need, there is a lack of research on how best to provide professional development for these teachers. In this book, teacher educators from institutions across the U.S. report their research on educating inservice teachers who teach emergent bilinguals in ESL, bilingual, and mainstream classes.

Freedom Within Structure

Freedom Within Structure

The chapter I contributed is titled, “Freedom Within Structure: Practices for Teacher Sustainability, Efficacy, and Emergent Bilingual Student Success.”

When the flurry of emails and phone calls to Toronto ebbed, the March Madness of birthdays in our family continued. The sun rose one morning and it was first Wyatt’s birthday and then mine. For the past several years, Mom and I have celebrated Wyatt’s, hers, and my birthdays at various cities around the US, as this is historically the week of TESOL. Mom and I packed balloons and crepe paper, along with our clothes and flash drives for presentations. Last year, I arrived back to our hotel to find crepe paper streaming from the door of our room. 

This year, Noé surprised me with the necklace above, originally a pin we bought in the San Juan Islands last year, a pin he bought, as the Raven symbolizes “creativity and intelligence.” (My own not noticeably demonstrated this year regarding my passport, yet the pin inspires me none-the-less.) A pin I never wore, since it left holes in whatever blouse I wore. Unbeknownst to me, Noé worked with a jewelry-making friend, removed the back, bought a chain, and drilled a hole through the pin to create a pendant. We went to Wynn’s volleyball tournament and watched her block, spike, dig, and serve. She was on fire! A blessing to share the day with her.

Life unfolds.

Birthday volleyball tournament—Noé, me, Wynn

Birthday volleyball tournament—Noé, me, Wynn

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Families – Living Altars

Together for Friday Night, Family Night

Together for Friday Night, Family Night-Wyatt, me, Wynn, Dad, Mom, Luke, Noe

We create altars through how we live in this world. We are a living, breathing, loving altar, including all of our scars, broken pieces and missing parts. An altar is composed as much by what is not there, as what is.

All create the whole.

Last week, I wrote of my love of altars and invited readers to share photos of your altars and what they mean to you. Since then, life has been a swirl of Spring Break for kids, Noé and me, the arrival of Mom and Dad from South Dakota and Wyatt from university in Colorado.

Kintsukuroi

Kintsukuroi

Throughout all, I thought of history. I thought of each of our humanity. I thought of all of the years this experience felt impossible to me, for the mosaic of life. The Japanese art form of kintsukuroi mends together pottery that has been broken with gold. This art of repairing pottery understands that pieces become more beautiful for having been broken. I cannot think of a person or family that has not been through a time where the pottery of their life was shattered. In our family, we have certainly experienced this in our own lives. This idea of repairing the pot with seams of gold, of seeing the breakages of life as enhancing the beauty of the whole deepens my understandings of life—my own and others. 

Birthday Boy Luke - 17 years old

Birthday Boy Luke – 17 years old

Our own Birthday March Madness has begun, with four birthdays (Luke, Mom, Wyatt, and me) falling within two weeks. This past week, time has unfolded not in the structured rhythms of school, work, and sporting events that normally defines our days, but in a jumbled mass of people, love, comings-and-goings, and load of cooking and baking.

Luke kicked off our Birthday March Madness on the 10th with a request for homemade peach pie. A dear friend responded to the photo of Luke and I with, “You sure make good babies and good pies!” If I were to be remembered for anything, these are two at the top. 

Mom came from the ranch, stopping to see Wyatt on campus in Colorado first.

Wyatt and Grammie

Wyatt and Grammie

Mom arrived and off we went to yet another sporting event, this one for Luke playing basketball. We all donned our St. Michael’s High School spirit t-shirts. Wynn made a special one for Grammie. 

Off to the game! Me, Noé, Grammie, Wynn

Off to the game! Me, Noé, Grammie, Wynn

Dad rolled in a few days later. Our house filled with story, laughter, early mornings of talking over coffee and candlelight, and horsebites on the legs that kept the kids ever- vigilant! The past number of years have overflowed with work for me. I haven’t been able to spend nearly the time on the ranch that I would love. I’ve so missed time with my dad. Treasured each moment. 

Dawn, Bop Bop, Wynn, Luke

Dawn, Bop Bop, Wynn, Luke

Mom/Grammie celebrated her birthday amidst all. The world became an infinitely more beautiful place on the day Mom was born, March 20th. 

Mom and me.

Mom and me.

“Wynn sure does love her mommy,” Mom said to me a number of times throughout the week. For anybody who knows Wynn, a woman of few words and a reserved presence, this meant the world to me. “I learned how to be a mom from the best,” I said to Mom. And, I did. We took the first photo ever (I think) of Wynn, Mom, and me – three generations of Wink Women. 

Three generations of Wink Women.

Three generations of Wink Women.

We were all home together for Friday Night, Family Night for the first time ever. We sat around the table, eating apple pie, talking, laughing, telling stories, and I realized that altars are not just objects on shelves—we create altars through the way we walk through this world.

Families in all of our compositions are living, breathing, loving altars, including all of our scars, broken pieces and missing parts. An altar is composed as much by the open space of what is not there, as much as by what is present. All create the whole. No altar is perfect, just as no family is perfect. The altars on my windowsills and shelves are jumbled, imperfect, and need tending—just like the people within the living altar of my life. It is in all of their beautiful, messy, exquisite, unique essence—and all of our jumbled imperfection—that I treasure each beyond reason. 

Just as the seams of gold highlight where pots have been broken and survived, so we create beauty in the journeys of our life.

Love, 

Dawn, maker of good babies and good pies

Altar of hands.

Altar of hands on Friday Night, Family Night.

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An Invitation — Your Altars

Meadowlark Altar

Meadowlark altar by Annette Chaudet

Side of altar.

Side of altar.

“Since time immemorial, the primary function of altars and shrines has been to provide sacred and holy places amid the ordinary reality of life.” ~Denise Linn, Altars

Altars fascinate me, speak to me, lift me up, keep me grounded, remind me of the magical possible amidst the mundane.

My publisher, Annette Chaudet of Pronghorn Press, surprised me with this treasure of an altar for Meadowlark. I could go on and on of all I love about this altar, as the more I studied, the more each detail specific to Meadowlark, or my real and creative world, comes to life. The physical and cultural expressions of my landscapes—the Southwest and the Great Plains—decorate this piece. Real prairie grass sprays around the meadowlark and milagros of books, chile, sacred hearts, and horseshoes float amidst all. In a single piece, this altar expresses so much of my heart and what I love. 

Altar on windowsill.

Altar on windowsill.

Altars began speaking to me over a decade ago and have been an integral aspect of life ever since. Many of my altars are collected piece that come together on their own throughout time. I suddenly realize an altar has been created, often without my realizing what I was doing. Altars collect on my kitchen windowsill, top of the dresser, and in my writing room. They are often not fancy, but rather come together with a life of their own. I find myself looking to altars throughout the day, running my fingers over their textures. The glass balls that hang from the archway between our living room and kitchen create an altar. I’ve come to experience our landscape itself as an altar.

Two dried prairie roses. ©Teresa Kilbury.

Two dried prairie roses. ©Teresa Kilbury.

When I look to the silhouette of the horizon or a beautiful sunrise or sunset, I see the altar of our world. In many ways, journals are altars. A reader and dear friend, Teresa Kilbury, created this photo altar of Meadowlark and two flowers bound with a blue ribbon to express, “Two dried prairie roses fell, intertwined, from the last page.”

In our Dewdrops community, we have had a number of pieces highlighting the artistry and sacred spaces within our community. I invite you to explore both—a feast for the senses and spirit! 

Artists Among Us displayed the amazing art in the form of painting, music, jewelry, song, food, photography and more—with each artist sharing a bit of their journey as an artists. In Writing Spaces of the World, writers both professional and personal, shared their sacred spaces and what they mean to each. 

Fetish altar

Fetish altar

In Invitation to You—In a celebration of altars of all kinds, I invite you to send a photo of your altar and what this space means to you to share with our community. I do this for the love of altars, the energy they create and bring into the world, and the sheer infinite expressions of this energy. Perhaps your altar is  within your home, perhaps it is a place along a river, perhaps it is a tiny matchbox on a windowsill, perhaps a cairn of stones. I cannot wait to see!

Please send the photo of your altar and what it means to you to dawn@dawnwink.com by March 31. 

Noé and I have a saying we say to one another that we picked up somewhere along the way, “Your name is safe in my mouth.”

Your altar is safe in our community. 

Wherever you go

Wherever you go

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Work that is Real

Work That is Real

Work That is Real, Sculpture created and gifted by Rachel Bighley

 The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
                                                                                                    – Eleanor Roosevelt

The tide of the ebb and flow of teaching, of writing, of parenting—of life, has swept through these past weeks catching all in its wake. I’ve been teaching three classes of Orientation to the Teaching Profession, filled with students just entering the profession. Teaching this class never ceases to humble and inspire.

Most students in this class have had other professions and have decided to teach, despite reading today’s headlines so determined to blame teachers for what is society’s responsibility to care for its children, its poor. So much easier to blame teachers, rather than address the real issue, poverty. Yet, still people come to teach. 

One of these classes met once a week on Wednesday evenings, almost every person there already had been up since the wee hours of the morning, worked all day, and arrived, exhausted and hungry, to our evening class. The other two classes are online, our connection virtual. Together, we wrestle with ideas, with questions, with all we would bring into being and all we would change. The people in these classes never cease to amaze me with their honesty, curiosity, passion, and above all, dedication to creating beauty in this world. Why would one enter the field of Education now if not to bring beauty to this world?

In an effort to create human relationships, I’ve made video after video for these online classes. Somehow, this makes me feel we are all together. Wild, yet true. We talk together, read together, make meaning about life together. Here, I read from “We Teach Who we Are,” words of wisdom from Parker Palmer. In my experience, the thoughts conveyed here apply not just to teaching, but to life.

The past five weeks have flown by and again and again I return again and again to the words of Marge Piercy, in her poem:

“To Be of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.”

May we be of use, whatever our path, with work that is real. 

Sunset—Santa Fe, NM

Sunset—Santa Fe, NM

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