Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination

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!”


Author: Dawn Wink

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

2 thoughts on “Language, Culture, and Land: Lenses of Lilies in Langscape Magazine

  1. Pingback: Happy New Year 2023 and Deep Gratitude! | Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

  2. Septemer 24th 2022

    do the four of us, and the lilies and lake pond, make a mix of six, plus one, with the sun? … and is that seven, not the very tippy toes of heaven?

    Dear Dawn, so excited

    that Lenses of Lillies published so beautifully, and by Pilawuk White’s Waterlilly painting leaves me feeling whole & reunited;

    reminding in me, over and again

    of the moonlit evening, at 8262 ft above sea level, when

    my daughter & i stopped on the Yellowstone Loop Rd, at Isa Lake

    to imbibe the lilies at dusk and the break ~

    of night !

    … a lake pond, often endorheic, yet unique when height

    of waters coming in, like your words overflowing with far a away painting’s light, spill

    over in multiple directions, easing their ways downhill

    to oceans either side

    of the mighty continental divide :

    : for you and Pilawuk are connected by both the lilies and the water,

    as am i and the lake pond with the countless lilies, and my daughter,

    and in this way our essences can so more freely combine

    though ’tis not through the norms of in person, but through the water-carbon-catching-synching lilies, with their sublime

    abilities to replicate both delicate complexity and the fierce simplicity of life robust

    in bridging the interfaces of earth, water, air, night’s dark and the bust

    of brilliance from the star of our universe, our sun,

    affirming, through each glorious plant part piece and peace, that all is complete and at one ~

    and it feels as though the four of us, hold bold north, south, east, west, the four directions,

    while the lilies and the lake pond take the up and down connections

    and so they help us weave into under explored dimensions, shapes and forms,

    sloughing off the old, the weary worn constraints of empirically shackling norms.


    Always in gratitude for the gifts from your works, their strength, elegance and empower!
    Much love & congratulations to you Dawn, and “onward!” say i, “into the now!”

    Best, Tanja

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