Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination

“It takes a ranch”— Fall 2018


Sunset 2018

“It takes a ranch,” has been one of our family sayings through the years. Some may say “It takes a village…”, but for us it takes a ranch. We rally around this in both good and difficult times. It took a ranch in our family this fall, as we rallied around my dad’s diagnosis of prostate cancer.

So, while Mom and Dad prepared to head south, I tossed baskets of books and my new puppy, Angus, into the car and headed north. We woke the first morning to an eagle outside the window.

Daddy and I drove around the ranch and I drew maps and wrote notes of what I needed to remember in pastures and wells.

Mom and Dad off to Tucson.

Angus (aka the littlest cowboy) and I unloaded my books and his blankie (not in that order) and settled in.

Angus was particularly good at checking cows — if he could stay on my lap!

My running trail by the north dam.

I’m in a PhD program through the California Institute of Integral Studies, a small private university in San Francisco. I searched many years for this program – based in transdisciplinarity and creative inquiry. Those baskets of books were filled with coursework. The table (and rest of the house) became my desk. I’m exploring the intersections of ecolinguistics/linguistic human rights, landscape literature, and holistic resource management.

Early morning study time.

Dawn and Luke

I talked with Luke and said, “So, it’s a wild time. I move between reading about highly theoretical academic ideas about transdisciplinarity, ecolinguistics, linguistic human rights, and narrative inquiry—and then I have to check to make sure the manure is not clogging the pipes in the wash out. I feel as if I am  living in vastly different worlds that somehow come together beautifully.”

“Sounds like you’re living your program, Mom,” Luke said.

He was right.

As 2018 drew to a close, our family has much to give thanks.

Wynn, Luke, Wyatt 2018

The tumor was removed and cancer caught before it spread. I was on the phone with Mom when Daddy was in the surgery that was supposed to take one hour. One hour became two, then, three, and stretched into four. “This is too long for Wink to be under. Wait, there’s the doctor! I’ll be back.”

She called me later to describe how the very erudite and formal young doctor said to her, “I got in there and couldn’t find the prostate. So, I thought ‘What the hell?‘”

For those of you who know my dad, you know he has shattered his pelvis twice in the previous 15 years due to horse wrecks which resulted in hospitalization and my discovered love of tequila and cigarettes when your dad’s a cowboy. In one of those horse wrecks, the internal bleeding fused his bladder to his pelvis. Between that and the scar tissue, the doctor could not see or access the prostate. A problem during surgery for prostate cancer. What the hell?

Most of the time in surgery was the doctor separating the bladder from the pelvis, so he could get to the prostate.

That done, cancer removed and caught before moved to the lymph nodes. Received that news two hours from the ranch. Two hours of tears of gratitude on the prairie.

Intense on so many levels, this fall brought into sharp focus for me what matters in life:

Stick with those you love. Make them your priority.

Don’t wait for tomorrow or another year.

Create beauty.


Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.

55 thoughts on ““It takes a ranch”— Fall 2018

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  5. Monsoon Dewdrop?

    It is the Daughter of the Ranch who Connects all those Spaces to her Community of Boarderland


    at finding ourselves in the human stand

    where philanthropy rules in a way

    unfamiliar to those not in the fray:

    we reading this weren’t physically slain at our mall

    with the

    bad choice

    of how to amplify the chan8 voice –

    no we, we are left, hollow triple bottom line bereft, in this wild west

    where now iterates the relentless quest

    for domestic terrorism justice to prevail

    sparing no detail.

    And that will pale in significance to the scar

    from what took place in our front yard to mar

    us with fear –

    the southwest holds peace through the ages dear:

    never loosing our quadruple bottom line to which the wider world can awaken,

    our core, our spiritual life that CANNOT be taken;

    conquerors have come, conquests go

    leaving those remaining to know

    how to find and bind

    the strength from blind hate

    to unconditional love with no expiry date.


    With love and best wishes to you, after a long think & with a suspicion,

    That much has transpired since the last Dewdrop, but nothing has changed in your mission.

    Parched am I, in this hot late summer,

    Yet knowing a dewdrop will quench my thirst,

    The morning after a monsoon burst:

    May the eye of the storm hold you,

    And caress all the bold to new,

    As heavy rains you release,

    With thunder and lighting ahead of the coming peace,

    Of a piece of Dawn,

    As a new Dewdrop

    Thirst-quenchingly available

    The next glorious morning,

    As the world is yawning,



    I thank the Dawn I know

    For every piece can sow,

    And has sewn, uplift to build community,

    And unity,

    Where hot hatred find impunity,

    Except from the lens creating pop,

    Of a love laden dewdrop.

    Dawn Is

    Dawn is that precious space

    With 2020 fore and hindsight vision

    Dawn is that wholesome grace

    Uplifting community above patriarchy, prejudice and derision,

    Dawn takes the best sparks of the academic institutions,

    Setting ablaze prairie and desert wildfires to germinate upon fresh locutions.

    Dawn is the time of the post apocalyptic regeneration,

    Knowing the empowering properties of place on the earth, and richness of soil,

    Dawn is that transient moment, in sacred contemplation,

    Of all that is new, wondrous and springing from the toil.

    Dawn is embracing the collective,

    Fearing not what is defective:

    Dawn relishes the fading every day,

    For the joy of sunlight warming, that coaxes community along the way.

    Dawn always returns,

    Ready-ing us for the bright light that burns;

    Dawn sheds clarity to that magnifying light,

    Sharpening images to beauty from too glaring.

    Dawn adjusts the fine focus to see details in magnificent flight,

    leaving viewers connected, refocused and raring.

    Dawn rises,

    Before each day to write by candle light.

    Dawn surmises,

    All encompassing love therefrom as just right:

    Dawn feels the day coming, the strong-ing,

    Of humanity’s deepening, enriched search for belonging.

    • Dearest Tanja,

      This poem, this POEM, you wrote. I have read and re-read again and again. What a gift. I hope that you might sink into the depth of energy these words hope to convey and feel how very much your creation of this poem and all that it expresses means to me.

      You tapped into this energy with your perceptions of, “With love and best wishes to you, after a long think & with a suspicion,
      That much has transpired since the last Dewdrop, but nothing has changed in your mission.” Yes, much has transpired, which is why it has taken me so very long to write another Dewdrop and why this poem is especially taken into my heart and treasured.

      From my heart to yours, thank you and thank you for the beauty of your spirit, prose, and way of walking through the world. You inspire me.

      With much love,

  6. Dawn I have been reading Meadowlark ,I remember your grandmother Grace well ,what a nice lady ,and I remember Paul Overwracker ,I grew up on the Richardson ranch in Marcus. My father was Bill Price. My name is Dan.i would like to know the real names of the characters in the book .I would probably know some of them.

  7. I did so miss you at the WWW conference in October and wondered why you (and Susan) were absent! Now I realize you were following your heart and doing a much needed hiatus from the usual. Your folks and you are very fortunate to have a solid relationship built around the beautiful land. Keep that everlasting.

    Walla Walla was a beautiful conference with my roomy performing her presidential duties beyond expectations.
    I thrived on the friendships there and the landscape on way to Spokane, where I spent extra time to write.

    Have a great new year finishing your studies, as well as taking time for those you love. 💞

    • Dear Betty – What a gift to receive your note! Yes, I missed WWW this year, as well. The year just doesn’t feel normal without that much-loved touchstone event. The conference took place while I was on the ranch, so had to skip this year. Susan had loads on her plate as well. Hoping to make it to San Antonio, though! You convey this so perfectly with your description of thriving on the friendships and landscapes of our conferences.

      So glad Walla Walla was lovely!

      Thanks ever so much for taking the time to write. So deeply appreciated. Hugs to you!

  8. Dear Dawn, I have continued to follow your experiences through Dewdrops and love seeing a new post regarding you, your family, your life, and your furry friend. I gasped as I got into reading the latest post, bearing the dreaded news of your Dad’s diagnosis. How relieved I was to hear that they couldn’t find his prostate…..but venturing further, found it was there and did the blessed surgery to relieve him of this curse. First your Mother, and now your Dad! Good news…..I hope for a long time….for both of them. Please say hello to both of them for me. Our class reunion seems ages away, and I guess there have been lots of changes in that time. Your Dad has certainly made all of us who grew up with him proud! Such remarkable, loving, caring, involved parents you have, and how fortunate that is for all of the future generations. Your own children are so beautiful!

    You are a busy lady, now taking on a Ph.D program. From whence cometh thy energy????? I am still doing elder caregiving and loving it. Friends talk of retirement. I don’t know what that means. My own world came crashing down several years ago when two beloved brothers in Iowa were diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It is brutal, and they both suffer greatly. My heart aches for them, and curses the distance between us. I am ever thankful for the phone and e-mail. Not as good as a visit….but our main connection, until I go back home to the beautiful green hills and red barns of Iowa.

    I wish for you and all of your family a blessed 2019! Can it really be 2019? Hard to believe how the years are flying by. I laughed silently when someone commented on “elderly parents.” Believe it or not, we ARE THAT now. Nonetheless, we keep on keeping on!

    Love and good thoughts to you and your family.

    Rhoda Thomas

    • Dear Rhoda,

      So good to hear from you! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I loved reading your description of my parents—absolutely! I will convey your hello to them.

      I am so sorry to learn of your brothers’ Parkinson’s. Yes, brutal. I send much love and loads of energy all of your way. Thanks so much for sharing that with me.

      The PhD – I love my program and I’m with you on the beauty of staying engaged and busy with meaningful work!

      Thanks so much for all of your good wishes for 2019 and a blessed year to you and yours, as well!

      Much love,

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  10. Very happy to hear that your father’s cancer was caught and removed, despite the difficulty reaching it! All the best to you and your family! Love your photos of your pup!

    • Rachel, thanks so much for your good thoughts for us all! That story about Dad..since it has a happy ending, classic! So glad you like the photos of Angus. I took about a billion, so glad to share! 🙂

  11. Beautiful piece, thank you Dawn.

  12. Greetings Dawn,
    Whenever I read your stories and memories I always feel so much better about family connections and life. I am so pleased to learn about your pursuit for a PhD, and I am encouraged even more to read about your journey in higher education.
    Peace to you and your family,
    Tara Voit

    • Tara,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to connect and for all here. Deep gratitude. Would love to talk PhD and higher education and life anytime.
      Blessings to you and yours,

  13. So happy for the outcome of your dad’s surgery! You’re doing amazing work with our planet. Keep it up! Carolina _________

    Carolina Moroder * In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.* *Eric Hoffer – Philosopher *

  14. Dear Dawn, With the many comments this post has received, it shows how much you’re missed. Pop is a tough as they come, what a guy, so glad he’s on the mend. Will be in touch. Much Love, Dan

  15. Wow! Love the sunset picture…

  16. I love to see your photos of the South Dakota prairie. And I hope your dad’s health is good in the coming year.
    Judy Litsey

    • Dear Judy, so glad to share photos of the prairie. Whenever I’m there, I find myself taking loads of photos – there’s so much there. Thanks ever so much for the good wishes for my dad’s health. Very gratefully accepted!

  17. A heartwarming family story with such a happy ending! I loved it and the photos were fabulous! Thanks for sharing your amazing journey with us from 2018.
    Janet 😊❤️

  18. Como siempre, una gran inspiración para todos los que te conocemos y te admiramos como persona y educadora. Gracias por compartir tus experiencias tan personales, porque eso nos hace crecer en nuestro propio rinconcito en este mundo. ¡Un gran abrazo y buenas vibras!

    • Paty, mil gracias por compartir la jornada de la vida en todo los aspectos de educadora, madre, y mujer. Tu siempre te expresas con poder y poesía—siempre te admiro. ¡Gran abrazos y buenas vibras a ti!

  19. Hey Dearie!

    Sounds like your life is exciting! I hope you are well. If you are in this part of the world, which it sounds like you might not be, let’s find each other!

    Your post makes me think, in the middle of the night!, of two kind of odd sources for your Masters that you might want to look at:

    The first is this feminist version of the I Ching, that I have been kind of living by these last six years, and it is actually quite wonderful. It’s called The I Ching by Moog and Anthony. And the basic premise is that we all get knocked off track, or disconnected from our true selves by the false use of language. Another way of thinking about it is that the misuse of language engages our egos and causes us to separate from our feelings, and our commonsense. It’s pretty interesting. I am not sure how accessible it is casually, (it’s kind of a practice), but when I read your blog last night, I just thought you might be interested. It’s about naming and misnaming and the trouble that arises when we misname and get separated from our true selves.

    Anyway! The other thing I thought in the middle of the night was that some sort of investigation into poetics might be really cool. The way poetic language is about saying the unsayable, and is at its best a kind of authentic utterance. And I just wonder how that fits in with what you are doing.

    Oh, and then also, have you read Braiding Sweetgrass? by Robin Wall Kimmerer? It’s fantastic. At one point she says something like: English is a noun based language: 70 percent of our words are nouns, and only thirty percent are verbs. What this does is it kind of objectifies objects, or separates objects from our view. We can then parse and separate with impunity, we can look at nature as separate from ourselves. But she says by contrast Potowatamie is seventy percent verbs and only thirty percent nouns… So there are all kinds of verbs that we don’t have: like being a lake, or being a tree…. and suddenly there’s a connectivity between what we feel as objects, instead there’s an empathy, and you can begin to hear better what all these other creatures are saying to us…. it is so so wonderful. So again, the way linguistics changes our perceptions. And I think of course that we have to find ways to re-speak ourselves/our world so that we can hear it better. so we can be in it better.

    But anyway DEAR DAWN!!! How the heck have you been? It’s a new world here at the Land Office and I am very very hopeful that things will begin to change. Also, trying really hard to carve out the writing space i need. a constant struggle. But you know! Where are you? Find me soon ok? Even just to say hello and tell me what wonders you are reading. I can’t wait to hear!

    Much much love,



  20. A story full of reality and inspiration, thanks for sharing it and giving credence to the woman who is juggling agriculture, aging parents and her own life.

  21. Beautifully told. I was afraid to get to the end and then so happy that your Dad is cancer free and doing well. You have a wonderful and remarkable family and one that sticks together through everything. Loved the pictures that accompanied your tale.

  22. A beautifully written family update! Your dad has the prayers of his Iowa family, of course! 💜
    My take away from your current writing…take pictures! I’ve always been the crazy mom and aunt who requires hugs and pictures from my girls and nieces/nephews. They grumble sometimes, but always placate. I will never regret the hugs OR the pictures!

    • Dear Angie,
      Thanks so much for prayers from our Iowa family! Gratefully accepted and much appreciated. Pictures – yes! That said, I took loads more of the ranch, Angus, my parents…and then tried to winnow them down. Better to have too many than not enough, I say! Glad we share this family trait!

  23. Dear Dawn;

    This is a beautiful description of your family and the ranch. I love reading about both. We followed your daddy’s progress through his treatment. We are so glad he is ok now. I hope you have a wonderful, prosperous 2019.


  24. Dawn, you and your family are such strong stock. Am delighted to hear a happy ending to this story. God Bess all of you.
    Hugs, Pat

  25. So happy to hear your pop’s cancer was caught early. Hope he’s recuperating nicely. And you…
    Your BA-ery is topped only by your compassion and duty-to-family. ❤️ The world needs a few more cowgirls like you.

  26. Awesome Dawn!!!


  27. Beautiful, Dawn! Here’s to 2019 and all that it brings!!

  28. Hi Dawn,
    What a beautiful description in word and image of your journey this fall. The power of relationship, focus, love, committment….a message for 2019 and years to come. Oh yes, and the importance of canine companionship!!!!!

    • Hi, Barb—Thanks so much for sharing in this journey as all happened. Your presence and support meant the world to me. Here’s to relationship, focus, love, commitment—and canine companionship!! Thanks so much for connecting. xo Dawn

  29. Dawn, I was a student of yours when I was working towards a teaching credential. As a senior citizen, my heart was not really in it, but I was already teaching at the New Mexico School for the Arts, and they required it. After finishing all but one course, I made the decision that that was not me, I was doing it for the wrong reasons, and I had to face the music – literally – I am a composer and writer.
    The singular takeaway from that experience was being exposed to your infinite purity of spirit, joy of teaching – and learning – zest for life, and truth in all things. In those few short weeks, you gave me an indelible impression of authenticity which is, after all, all there is, is it not? In reading about your ranch and your dad, I was struck by the synchronicity of my play being about a man diagnosed with caner, but choosing to live vibrantly and without boundaries, moving to Mexico, permanently, to celebrate all his blessings for as long as possible.

    My wife Eileen and I moved to Baja Surr a year and a half ago, and have never looked back.

    • Dear Roy, this means so very much to me. I had no idea that’s how you felt about coming to classes and all you share here goes straight to my heart. Deepest, deepest gratitude. Bravo to you and Eileen for moving to Baja Sur!!! Here’s to living vibrantly and without boundaries! Thanks ever so much for taking the time to share all here. Abrazos!

  30. I’m so glad your dad’s cancer was caught early! This was beautifully written and I felt that horrible waiting time in my own body. Love to your beautiful family! May 2019 be filled with health and love!

    • Dear Kristy, we’re so glad the cancer caught early, too! Thanks so much for sharing in the journey through this piece. I so love keeping u with your own beautiful, ever-growing family. Please keep sharing the beauty and love of the Lawrenci! XOXO

  31. Such a lovely story, Dawn…thanks, it’s just what I needed tonight!

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