Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


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New Horizon

New horizon.

New horizon – view from our new home.

So, we moved. 

We are still in Santa Fe. We moved into the home that Noé built with his own two hands years ago. Upon entering the home, dear friends from Mexico said, “Es como estar en un rancho en México,” (It’s like being on a ranch in México), which of course makes my heart shine.

Our new home.

Our new home.

The Moving Crew

The Moving Crew

When Noé and I married, we each already had a home. For lots of reasons, we decided that the home that came with the kids and me would be our home after the wedding and we rented Noé’s in the intervening years.  Four years have come and gone, with one child already in college and two more kids hot on his heels, we wanted to streamline our lives and finances. For lots of other reasons, Noé’s home makes the most sense for us to move into. 

We moved in May. Dear friends helped and for a weekend, we all resembled pack mules edging the trails of the Grand Canyon – back and forth, back and forth. Wyatt came home from college, just in time to join the festivities.

Moving the trampoline.

Moving the trampoline.

Sky in the mirror.

Sky in the mirror.

The first few weeks held the usual surprises of moves –our well appeared to go dry and we had no water, discovery of a snake in our home (still haven’t found again, something very present in my mind when I walk through the dark to coffee in the morning), the septic tank backed up, the car quit working and needed an overhaul, and no internet at home for other a month. It was just like life on the ranch! All we needed were for the bulls to get out on the highway to make the week complete.

The skies blessed our home one late afternoon when the sun shone and rain fell. On our ranch in Arizona, we learned from ranch foreman Armando that when these two things happened together, somewhere in the desert, “Los coyotes se están casando.” (The coyotes are getting married.)

Los coyotes se están casando.

Los coyotes se están casando.

Wynn painting

Wynn painting.

This home has been rented from much of its 20-year life. We hurled ourselves into painting with a flurry and Wyatt, Luke, and Wynn were absolute champs. Noé and I left for work in the mornings, leaving lists that usually started with “1. Paint” and we returned in the evening to find another section gleaming. After a week of this, the kids really didn’t think there was a need to paint and after the first couple of weeks, mutiny boiled beneath the surface of the crew of our ship. How to prevent a full-out rebellion…

For years, I’ve wanted to buy a pool table for the kids. We grew up with one on the ranch in Arizona, and like a tinaja (natural pool of water) in the desert, it was the gathering place of family and friends. After searching online for months, I’d found exactly what I wanted, a pool/ping pong table with felt the color of desert sand, on super sale – in Farmington, New Mexico, three hours away. We arrived to discover this hulking behemoth would’ve crushed our car. What to do? One rented pick-up (not easy to find on Fourth of July weekend) and several new 2X4s later thanks to Noé’s thinking, four huge young men loaded the table, we lashed it down, we headed back to Santa Fe – eyes on the horizon at the storm clouds. Untold pool tournaments and ping pong games later, it was worth every second and every penny. So far, this seems to have quelled the simmering rebellion.

Getting the pool table home.

Getting the pool table home.

Road from Farmington.

Road from Farmington.

In the midst of all, I taught two courses of Orientation to the Teaching Profession with students that made me smile, muse, laugh, explore ideas at a deeper level, and I felt my heart well with tenderness at these valiant souls now entering teaching. Little did they know how their stories and energy inspired me.

Due to its rental nature, this home had no landscaping. Loads of soil to turn and holes to dig. We’ve started the perennial bed, climbing heirloom roses, and lilacs for Cascabel and Grandma Grace on the ranch. 

A day to plant.

Perennial bed.

Perennial bed.

Hollyhocks and lilacs.

Hollyhocks and lilacs.

One of the gifts of a garden in summer and fall is that of giving bouquets from one’s own garden. The bouquet from this year’s garden.

Summer bouquet.

Summer bouquet.

I mused on the different chapters of life and how all compose the book of our life.

Luke off to Shanghai.

Luke off to Shanghai.

Luke is off to Shanghai, flown on the wings of homemade apple pies.

My apologies for being out if touch. The rhythms of life exploded like the grand finale of a fireworks show and have not quite yet settled back into place.

I’ll plant more flowers. This helps everything.

This morning, I sat out under the piñon tree and a hummingbird flew to the feeder. In many traditions, hummingbirds represent beauty and joy.  The scarlet back of the bird glistened in the sun, the whirl of its wings pulsated through the air when it lifted to flight. Beauty and joy.

On to the next chapter of life.

Early morning hummingbird.

Early morning hummingbird.

* * *
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Reading Journeys: No Single Path

Reading together, 2003

Reading together, 2002

Reading Journeys: No Single Path

Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty.  It should be offered to them as a precious gift. —Kate DiCamillo

(originally published in Tumbleweeds, Summer 2015)

“Mom, I’m stupid.”

Wyatt slumped over a book at the kitchen table. Homework had become an ever-increasing experience in tears over the past year for my 7-year-old son in second grade. He wasn’t reading. He didn’t follow what research said he would do. Raised in a home filled with books, read to aloud for hours every day since birth, Wyatt should’ve been reading by now, according to all the research studies. Yet he wasn’t.

I didn’t understand what was happening, and the months slipped by. I talked with my mom, a professor in education and expert in literacy, for hours, trying to figure out what was happening. Nothing fit. What I did know is research that showed the most effective way to create a reader is pleasure reading and a balanced approach to instruction, which weaves together both a sight word and phonetic approach.

Redwall series, Brian Jacques

Redwall series, Brian Jacques

Wyatt bombed at standardized tests and prescribed reading programs. Yet we spent three hours a day reading aloud. He inhaled the Redwall Series, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings aloud. He LOVED to be read to. The mystery of what was happening grew. The school began talking about “reading intervention” programs. Everything in my 20 years of education and my maternal intuition told me that a prescribed reading program would extinguish any hope we might have of Wyatt not only learning to read, but loving to read.

I did something I never thought I’d do. I’ve spent 20 years working for and promoting education. I pulled Wyatt out of school in January of second grade—to read.

I wasn’t sure what we’d do, but I did know what we would not do. We would not test. We would not use a deadening prescribed reading curriculum that leaches away any relevancy or love of reading away through lack of context and story. Wyatt would never be forced to read aloud, in private or public. We would only read what Wyatt wanted to read.

Which brings us to my own paradigm shift. Mom, the professor in education, said to me over the phone one day, “He can’t read any of the books you read to him. They’re too hard.” I scanned our shelves of Tolkien, Jacques, the classics. Wyatt had the verbal vocabulary of a doctoral student of literature, but within these books there was nothing he could read. “I’m sending him the Captain Underpants series,” she said. My own literary snobbery reared its ugly head. “Mom, you can’t! The primary vocabulary word in those books is ‘poop!’”

Captain Underpants

Captain Underpants

“I can. There will be a box addressed to Wyatt. When it arrives, you are not allowed to touch it.”

The box arrived. I gave it to Wyatt. He pulled the series of graphic novels for young children, the primary literary focus of which is the body sounds and functions that so delight young boys the world over. Filled with drawings, these books convey story even for a young reader who can’t read every word. I hesitantly began to read them aloud to Wyatt. He giggled, thrilled in the inappropriateness, pointed at the underwear – and delighted in reading. I left the books scattered randomly around the house, where he would find them.

Wyatt began to read. Captain Underpants, the weird little dude running around in his tighty-whiteys, did what no prescribed reading program or standardized test ever could: he drew Wyatt into the world of reading for the sheer pleasure of story. I heard him giggling as he read Captain Underpants’ mantra of success, “Tra-la-laaaa!”

Wyatt went back to school the fall of third grade. He’s been reading wheelbarrows full of books ever since. He soon made the leap from Captain Underpants to Harry Potter to J.R.R. Tolkien on his own, and I’ve long since lost track of the tomes of adventures, places, emotions and ideas that have become a part of him through reading. He is now a freshman at Adams State University in Colorado and continues a voracious reader.

 Which brings us to the prescribed curriculum and standardized testing so rampant in today’s schools. Research study after research study demonstrates the most effective way to create fluent readers is self-selected reading (pleasure reading!) and a balanced approach to literacy instruction.

Literacy occurs best for both kinds of learners, when it is relevant and meaningful. Relevancy, meaning and critical-thinking tend to be lost in prescribed reading programs. Research demonstrates again and again that self-selected reading (pleasure reading!) is one of the most effective ways to develop literacy. We don’t need more tests, we need more libraries and time every day in schools for students to read for pleasure. Let kids choose what they want to read and create time for them to do so.

This research includes children in this country whose primary language is one other than English. Research demonstrates that the most effective way for English Language Learners to learn to read in English is let them read what they want in whatever language they choose. Literacy in an additional language is based in literacy in the primary language. Want Spanish-speaking kids to read well in English? Let them read as much as possible in Spanish. We only learn to read once. Then, we apply that to whatever language we’re reading.

The tsumani wave of standardized testing doing its best to destroy public education in recent years is based not in pedagogy but in profit. No research proves its efficacy. None. This wave of standardized testing, dressed up in finery of “accountability” and “standards” (who could possibly be against those?) is founded in profit for testing and publishing companies. Requirement of standardized tests, their accompanying study materials, and prescribed curricula have turned public education into a multi-billion dollar industry. The results include not only an exponential loss of time to learn. The results include not only an exponential loss of time to learn, there is the loss of the humanity of all that creates a depth of learning, a reveling in ideas for their sheer brilliance and potential, an opening of the world.

As a professor in the field of teacher education, I see the effect that standardized testing has on teachers and children. Third grade teacher, Missy, said, “My students barely survived the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). I was prepared to grit my teeth and bear it. I was not prepared to be in tears within an hour of starting the test. One little third grader, who has been struggling to write this year, and who was doing better with gentle encouragement and clustering, broke into tears and was literally sitting in front of her computer crying within 40 minutes of starting the test. Crying Sobbing.”

I wish I could give teachers like her a solution. Instead, I tell them that standardized testing doesn’t equate with learning; standardized testing often doesn’t even authentically evaluate knowledge. What it does do is detract from exponential amounts of quality instructional time that students could be exploring, learning, experimenting, and growing. The most powerful dynamics in education are not found on Scantron forms. They are found in the hearts of teachers and students.

I thank the stars that the madness of the Third-Grade Reading Retention Bill did not pass the state legislature in the 2015 session. The average age around the world when children learn to read is 8 years old, when their brains have reached an age-appropriate level of development. There is no single path to reading. There are kids who learn to read at 3 years old and others who learn at 9. The beauty and mystery of the human brain is there is no single time that this occurs in all children.

Wyatt, reading by fireplace.

Wyatt, reading by fireplace.

I think of all of the little Wyatts in schools today, all of the boys and girls drowned in standardized tests and prescribed curriculum and content, rather than lifted to the world of thinking, of reading, of ideas, of exploration, of brilliance. All of the children telling their parents, “I’m stupid,” based on a test unfounded in pedagogy. I think of all of the teachers who enter the profession for the love of ideas, content and children, whose hands are now bound, their expertise questioned and stripped away, by standardized and prescribed curriculum created not by experts in education who understand pedagogy, but by business profiteers.

What I know in my heart is that had I left Wyatt in school, subjected him to a prescribed reading program, he never, ever would have known the magic of reading. Yes, he would have learned to read technically, to decode, and would have struggled the next steps of the trail, but he never would have stood at the top of the mountain to drink in the vast view from its peak. He would not have become a reader.

There are very real human costs to education for profit. Families choose to leave public education to give their children an educational experienced focused on ideas and learning, rather than testing and rote memorization. This creates inequity in education, as it is only families with financial means able to avoid standardized testing. This should not have to be a choice. The poorest among us endure the most standardized testing and prescribed curriculum.

It will take us at least a generation to recover from this testing and profit-making era of education—a generation of individual children and teachers left to pay the price.

Luke and Clyde

Luke and Clyde

What can we as parents do? Fill our homes with books, leave them scattered everywhere around the house, let our kids read what they want (even if the main vocabulary word is “poop”), go to libraries, talk about the story of books (not the sounds of syllables), and read our own books in front of them and talk about what we love about the book. Keep the power and the magic of reading alive.

Reading and learning are meant to be meaningful ways to transcend time and space, to grow and explore, to travel anywhere anytime, to be reminded that, no matter our circumstances, we are human and walk a shared path. Reading opens the world of ideas, emotions, events and experiences. To reduce reading to a prescribed curriculum, rote memorization, or an experience in shame when one is forced to read aloud or made to feel less-than another, is a travesty and betrays all that reading is meant to create and encompass. How marvelous that we learn to read best by reading what we want! Dav Pilkey, author of Captain Underpants wrote, “If you read, you can explore and experience all kinds of new and exciting things.”

That is what reading and school should be all about.

* * *

References:

Krashen, S. (2004). The Power of Reading: Insights from Research, Libraries Unlimited.

For more information and research on pleasure reading see: http://www.sdkrashen.com/

Freeman, D. & Freeman, Y. (2011). Between Worlds: Access to Second Language

            Acquisition, Heinemann, NY, NY.

Wink, J. & Wink, D. (2004). Teaching Passionately: What’s Love To Do With It?,

            Pearson, NY, NY.

Information on standardized testing: Susan Ohanian: www.susanohanian.org

 

 

 


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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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