Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination


Green Space: The Release, the Repose

Artist Anna Valdez

Luke Wink-Moran


My son, Luke, just published his first piece here at Curiosity Shots. I did not read this essay until it was published. My oldest son, Wyatt, referred to me as ‘The Mommy Lady’ when he was two-years-old and the name stuck.

I am one very proud Mommy Lady to share Luke’s essay here.

Green Space: The Release, The Repose

by Luke Wink-Moran

When lockdown began, back in March, I decided that I wanted to try something new. I would begin every day with an outdoor walk. Outside, in the early morning air, the sky opening up above me, everything else faded away — which was good — because everything else was a lot: the coronavirus, the election, a national reckoning with race, the headlines got worse every day. It was only on my walks that I could forget everything for a while.

I started seeking out nature in other ways beyond my walks. I spent hours in the garden with my mom, watching honeybees circle our sunflowers while hummingbirds jousted over the sugar water feeders.

My sister and I scoured the internet for houseplants, and that spring, our rooms bloomed with life. The books I read led back to nature, too. “World of Wonders” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil filled my head with whale sharks and fireflies as I read in the predawn light.

Even when I played video games with my sister, we were still kind of outdoors — running around our digital island in Animal Crossing, catching butterflies, and shaking peaches from trees.

Not all that surprisingly, and perhaps as expected, we were not the only ones spending more time and energy in nature. In Britain, sales of plants, bulbs, seeds, saw sales increase 35% from 2019, some individual online plant stores saw an increase of 500%, going through a few months’ worth of supplies in a few weeks. Animal Crossing became the most popular Nintendo game of 2020. “World of Wonders,” became the Barnes & Noble book of the year and was ranked as of the top five New York Times nonfiction bestsellers. Nature, it seemed, was growing on people.

I wondered why, in a time of such extraordinary stress, people were turning to nature for comfort. As doom-scrolling became a national pastime and the world migrated to the internet, why were mountain trails and gardens becoming more popular? Why, with 53% percent of Americans reporting that coronavirus had negatively impacted their mental health, were houseplants flying off the shelves as fast as toilet paper?

“In The Garden” Print // Kim Illustration A Green Space

It turns out that nature has some serious mental health benefits. It can lead to greater happiness and life satisfaction, improve mood and memory, and reduce anxiety and stress. In fact, nature is so good for us that some doctors are writing “social prescriptions” recommending that patients spend more time outdoors or gardening for their health and wellbeing. An over-the-counter fix.

Gardening in particular has been studied for its mental health benefits. In her book “The Well-Gardened Mind ” Sue Stuart Smith suggests that gardening can be a state of play that we may find nowhere else in our adult lives.

Despite my own experience and contrary to popular beliefs, you don’t need a garden to benefit from green space. Most of the scientific literature indicates that you just need to be immersed in nature. Being immersed in nature has been shown to decrease depression scores and even reduce pain perception. As someone coming up on a three-year anniversary with a chronic injury, this is one aspect of nature that I absolutely adore.

Surpassing the physical, plants may even boost productivity and creativity — something that I personally have struggled with over lockdown. While studies conflict — some show a productivity boost, and some don’t — even employees who didn’t think that greenery made them more productive reported that plants made the office feel friendlier and cleaner.

I realized that I’ve been reaching out for green space for the last nine months. In the books I read, the games I played, and the places where I spent my time, the benefits of living around — and regularly interacting with — green space are clear to me. And while 2020 may have been when I truly discovered how good for you nature can be, I, for one, can’t imagine giving up my walks anytime soon.

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Luke created for quarantine Mother’s Day, 2020.




Covid Gardens—Flowers and Poetry for our Times

My cousin, Janet, sent me this poem “Covid Gardens” by Claudia Castro Luna and said that it reminded her of my mason jar bouquets. The combination of the vibrant bouquets of summer in contrast to what we experienced this week lifted my spirit.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore flowers, textures, and colors. I love growing all kinds of flowers, just so I can create colorful, messy, texture-filled, wild bouquets for friends, colleagues, and students. I love bringing bouquets to classes. I love bringing to meetings. I love gifting people these bouquets. Yes, I hope to create beauty. Just as much, these bouquets and gifting them brighten my own spirit.

Mason jar bouquet from the garden.

Georgia O’Keeffe wrote, “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to somebody else.” I use mason jars, which I buy by the flat, so nobody need worry about returning the vase. Here are some worlds for the moment.

In light of all that happened this week—horrifying and heartbreaking—when I received this poem about bouquets, the thought occurred to me that perhaps a bit of beauty and poetry might be balms for our hurting hearts. When I shared the photo below of my new journal and stickers (gifts from my brother, Bo, and his wife, Lisa) on FB and Instagram, independently people commented, “After yesterday’s trauma, this looks like good medicine,” and “Nice reprieve from the chaos of politics. Thank you. As we think, so we are.”

Those thoughts inspired me to share a bit of beauty and this poem.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil writes of the challenges of the past months and the transcendent qualities of poetry:

I wish I could tell you that this bird reverie carried me upward and onward through this most difficult of months. Not so. The reality and grief over missing my beloved students—I never got to say goodbye in person as classes were moved online over spring break a couple of weeks ago—and all the scary news of the spread of the virus and a thousand other worries for our planet and its inhabitants have kept me awake, in a state of alarm, and when I sleep—it is not sound.

But I believe in poetry. I believe it can elevate you for even just a brief moment—not to forget the horror surrounding us (it’s there, it’s there. I can’t pretend it’s not)—but it can alter how we see the world, how we see each other. I have faith that we will be able to touch each other and break bread together at the same table again soon. Maybe not as soon as I’d like, but soon. At least that is what I tell my sons. And when that day comes, how lucky to find ourselves attached to the rest of the world once again! (Orion Magazine, April 1, 2020 https://orionmagazine.org/2020/04/national-poetry-month-2020-2/#.X_iyUFaV4bc.twitter)

I invite you to sink into the portrait painted through words created here by Castro Luna.

“Garden gifts making for rich tables in slim times — mine, plentiful with print an flowers…” When I read this poem, I felt my breathing deepen and my pulse slow. (Which is actually halfway dangerous, considering how low my pulse and blood pressure already are. When nurses take my pulse, their first question is often, “Is this normal? This is usually when we hospitalize people.” I just say, “Genetics and running.” My dad and I have a competition to see who can get their pulse and blood pressure the lowest.” I call Daddy after an appointment to say, “80 over 40 — top THAT!” We have all kinds of visualization strategies. None of which I admit in public.)

We will get beyond the troubled landscapes of this time. Gardens will bloom again. I look forward to walking into my garden this summer and cutting flowers to create messy, wild, wonderful bouquets to gift. These thoughts buoy my spirit and cast light.

Speaking of casting light and gardens blooming once again, I received this candle as a gift from my friend, Barb. Little did she know that the same piece of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, embroidered by my grandmother, hangs in the hallway.

I lit the candle this morning during my time of candlelit solitude and sanctuary. Wishing you sanctuary and thoughts of blooming gardens, exuberant with color and life.


Rhythms, Intentions, and A lot of Smoke


Chile wreath from the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market

New year, new energy, new beginnings. Seasonal rhythms invite reflections on the past and visions for the future. Sometimes the best-laid plans go awry. Case in point—2020. Even in light of what is beyond our control, the new year brings opportunity to muse, plan, and focus intention on what we’d like to create and bring into being in the new year. This year finds me reflecting on learnings from the past and visions for the future, conveying these in word and image in my journal. I love learning of others’ creative and planning processes and share mine here, in case you may share this passion.

Energy and Intention

I am fairly protective about where I spend my energy and intention when it is within the realm of my control. There’s so much beyond our control that demands our energy, so I take the time and energy within my control seriously. I try my best to focus the time and energy that I have on people and projects that I love and on what I want to create in my life.

Key for my own energy and intentions are two essential rhythms of life— 1) waking early for solitude with candlelight, journal, and coffee in the morning, and 2) running. These are two foundational rhythms that I’ve discovered make a world of difference for all else.

All Wink Women in our family received this cup for Christmas. I saw and knew we had to have.

Intentions for 2021

Scribbled in prose, webs, and lists in my journals with intentions for 2021 include:

Gift from Luke. Perfect.

Dissertation: 2020 began with me still immersed in my breast cancer journey. Then came the pandemic and all three 20-something kids moved home. Gifts and challenges came with all. Once I was on the other side of the health intensity, what truly scared me was that between the breast cancer, the pandemic full house, and a overflowing work life due all happening in the field of education because of the pandemic, I found myself with no emotional energy or space for my dissertation.


I know what can happen here—this is how people do not finish. The thought of this scared me. So, in May, I decided that come-what-may I needed to throw myself back into the PhD journey. I sat down with my family to tell them of this, that I had to carve our time to focus on my dissertation. Somehow. I threw intention and energy toward this journey again, completed and defended my proposal (“Exploring Stories at the Intersection of Landscape and Linguistic Literatures through Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination: A Narrative Inquiry”) and am now focused on my dissertation. My primary intention for 2021 is to complete my dissertation.

A few of the books lining my literary nest.

Reading widely and deeply: Like so many of us, I live surrounded by shelves and piles of books. My heart is content when nestled within a literary nest, both figurative and physical. Fiction and non-fiction line my nest. Through both my writing and academic lives, I organize these readings through bibliographies, papers, notes, publication, and journals. Another of my intentions for the upcoming year is to weave Goodreads back into my literary life. I am reading so many incredible books for my studies and diving into luscious fiction at night before bed, my intention is to engage with this reading community through books review on what I’m reading and learning more about what others are reading and recommend.

“Lift it up”: I am such a believer in this. I learned this lesson through life, especially those chapters of life that simply did not make any sense. For those events and chapters that no matter how hard I try, either don’t make sense or I cannot seem to make right, I’ve learned to tell myself to, “Lift it up.” I do this both literally and emotionally. I may be known along my running trails as the runner who out of nowhere often throws her arms up in the air. I’m okay with that. When my mind returns to difficult terrains, I do my best to “Lift it up,” and channel that negative energy into something positive. Again and again and again, until like a river bed, the re-directed waters form new paths.

We shall see what happens within the narrative arc of this year. Come what may, it feels good right now to both lift and ground myself in these intentions.

Smudging in the New Year with sage and intentions.

We brought last year to a close on New Year’s Eve by smudging with sage what we wanted to release from the past months and focusing our intentions and energy on what we want to bring into this year. A new tradition.

New Year’s Day, during my early morning solitude, I continued letting go and setting intentions with the sage smudge stick. I unwound the twine and allowed more oxygen into the bundle of sage. Over the course of the next hour, immersed in my thoughts and writing, my writing room filled with the purifying smoke. A LOT of purifying smoke, I suddenly realized.

I put the bundle outside in my kitchen garden, where it continued to smoke. I smudged all of our own home, as well most of the surrounding area. The pungent smoke hung in the air. I texted our neighbor to say, “When you step outside and wonder how you were suddenly transported to Woodstock, it is because I’ve been smudging over here. Smudging, not smoking!”

She wrote back, “We need all the smudging possible…good job.” Suffice it to say my writing room is now permanently purified, even after leaving the door open all day!

I stumbled across this poem and it resonates deeply. A gift.

i am running into a new year

by Lucille Clifton

i am running into a new year

and the old years blow back

like a wind

that i catch in my hair

like strong fingers like

all my old promises and it will be hard to let go

of what i said to myself

about myself

when i was sixteen and

twentysix and thirtysix

even thirtysix but

i am running into a new year

and i beg what i love and

i leave to forgive me


May you run into the New Year and may the full moon usher in your dreams.


The Hands that Write This Letter

Early morning writing

The poem, “Consider the Hands that Write this Letter” by Aracelis Girmay came to me via OnBeing.org. Of course, the title of the piece had my attention immediately.

Then, to hear the poem read aloud by Pádraig Ó Tuama—just exquisite.

I share the poem with you here for the sheer beauty of the words and experience. I do hope you’ll treat yourself to clicking on the link to hear read aloud.




Consider the Hands that Write this Letter

Consider the hands
that write this letter.
The left palm pressed flat against the paper,
as it has done before, over my heart,
in peace or reverence
to the sea or some beautiful thing
I saw once, felt once: snow falling
like rice flung from the giants’ wedding,
or the strangest birds. & consider, then,
the right hand, & how it is a fist,
within which a sharpened utensil,
similar to the way I’ve held a spade,
match to the wick, the horse’s reins,
loping, the very fists
I’ve seen from the roads to Limay & Estelí.
For years, I have come to sit this way:
one hand open, one hand closed,
like a farmer who puts down seeds & gathers up
the food that comes from that farming.
Or, yes, it is like the way I’ve danced
with my left hand opened around a shoulder
& my right hand closed inside
of another hand. & how
I pray, I pray for this
to be my way: sweet
work alluded to in the body’s position
to its paper:
left hand, right hand
like an open eye, an eye closed:
one hand flat against the trapdoor,
the other hand knocking, knocking.

Christmas Cactus at the cusp of bloom.



Everyday Patterns

Beauty on my run. #11miles

Gifted shirt from my Auntie Ace. Perfect and timely.

In March 2020—roughly a decade ago—when the pandemic began, I read a piece about about a photojournalist who began “a visual diary of intimacy within isolation, amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” published here: Stay Home: A Portrait of Confinement in Milan. From her home in Milan, Italy, Camilla Ferrari conveys how, “ordinary scenes and everyday patterns, sometimes paired together, take on new meaning inside the one-bedroom apartment where Ferrari finds beauty and comfort in the poetry of daily life.”

At that time, all three adult children had moved home for quarantine. Our home filled with the energies and interests of three 20-somethings. Still able to run outside in nature here in New Mexico, I wondered how different the experience to be in a one-or two-bedroom flat in Europe, without nature easily accessible. I marveled at what that must be like on my daily runs outside through the high desert. This knowledge lifted my awareness of the expanse, freedom, gifts of nature, and fresh air my runs provided, especially in a full house.

My runs also provide the gift of solitude, something during quarantine many of us crave. I have thought of the vastly different experiences of quarantine based on context; for many of us, we had young adult children move home, bringing whole new rhythms and patterns—or lack thereof. Others are separated from children they normally see. Talking with a dear friend, who lives alone, I realized the deep well of loneliness of those who live alone during quarantine, without the norms of moving within greater society, with the human contact of friends, family, and colleagues.

A run under these clouds.

As many places around the world, here in New Mexico we entered another severe lockdown last week, due to the rising numbers in in our state and throughout the US. I thought again of the “visual diary of intimacy” from that one-bedroom flat in Milan. I tend to see bits of beauty in everyday life and stop whatever I’m doing to either savor or photograph. Wherever you are, and whatever the state of quarantine or not, the emotional weight of this pandemic wears on us all. I hope these bits of beauty from Santa Fe and beyond may bring a little of another world to your home.

Yucca pod. Beauty on my run.

I am a person of rhythms. The daily rhythms of my life create the foundation which makes all else possible. Integral to these rhythms are the early morning hours of candlelight, coffee, and solitude. During this time, I write, dream, and envision. I cherish this time, with only the soft light of the candles, lights hung around the window, my journal, and pen. It is when those rhythms are disrupted, as so often now during the pandemic, that I find them even more vital.

Early morning hours in my writing room.

The daily rhythms of sunrise and sunset provide structure and mark each day. Rooftop sunrise, Santa Fe.

“November is chill, frosted mornings with a silver sun rising behind the trees, red cardinals at the feeders, and squirrels running scallops along the tops of the gray stone walls”. —Jean Hersey

How about a walk on the November prairie?  5 Reasons to Hike the November Prairie This gorgeous piece, ripe with the November beauty of the prairie by Cindy Crosby takes me to the ranch.

Crosby begins, “1. November’s prairie is a sea of gorgeous foamy seeds. Exploding asters loosen their shattered stars against the winds.”

“Let’s go look for hope. Peace. Beauty,” she writes.

Yes, let’s.

Sunlight through grass tufts on my run.

The Van Gogh French press and two cups reflects the pattern of our days. Luke and I each pause each day in the early afternoon to share a cup of coffee. Great care goes into the selection of which cup for each of us on that day. I treasure this time and these conversations with my 22-year-old son.

It’s official—I advanced to PhD Candidacy. Now to complete the dissertation/defense.

A gift of the every day beauty included receiving this beautiful photo and sharing with a Book Club to talk about Meadowlark. I just love this photo.

@Renee Roebuck

Speaking of books, a fantastic new writing book out by Linda Hasselstrom. Wise and wonderful.

A final gift from one of my runs, a reflection of the, “ordinary scenes and daily patterns that take on new meaning.” As I ran by this tree and saw this cluster, my first thought was, “Spider web or fairy home?”

I know what I see.


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Language, Place, Story, Memory, Myth, and So Much More

I could run forever under these clouds. #11miles

More lovely discoveries here in my continued exploration of language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination with a focus on connections between language and landscape through the lenses of wildness, beauty, and imagination. There are pieces here on language, place, story, memory, myth, landscape, democracy, trees, and belonging. I hope you will enjoy sinking into these ideas and images as much as I did. And, speaking of landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination, I have to include a photo of these fantastic pants that Mom and Wynn brought home from a consignment store. Best. Pants. Ever.

Please make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and settle-in to explore these worlds. In this complex time, I find exploring these expansive ideas allows me to breathe deeper, hold hope, be inspired, and dream. Enjoy.

The Memory Field by Jake Skeets How time and land hold “fields” of memory that unfold through language and storytelling. Memory is a touchy thing, and I mean that in the realest sense.

Light in my writing room window.

And Peace Shall Return by Ben Okri A stunning and timely piece on power of place, story, and solitude.

Orion Magazine and Point Reyes Books presents Rebecca Solnit and Terry Tempest Williams An intimate conversation about the US election, the state of democracy, and about The Most Radical Thing You Can Do.

Skywoman Falling by Robin Wall Kimmerer: In this excerpt from the new introduction to her acclaimed book “Braiding Sweetgrass,” Robin Wall Kimmerer draws upon the creation story of Skywoman and the wisdom of plants to guide us through our present moment of deep uncertainty. “The story we long for, the story that we are beginning to remember, the story that remembers us.”

Día de los Muertos 2020—Love Lives On by Dawn Wink 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.

Close to the Bone by Amy Irvine  Here in the American Southwest, the now naked ground reveals hundreds of ancient spear points, arrowheads, and hand tools once buried in bunch grass and pasture. Quartz, jasper, and obsidian wink like SOS mirrors, an alphabet of artifacts spelling out a story of survival. The fine, fluted edges, impossibly sharp ends. The patience it required to knap such thick, rough stones down to near ephemera. Pierce. Skin. Scrape. Every sharp edge honed for the hides of animals.

Literary Landscape

The Randomness of Language Evolution by Ed Yong The histories of linguistics and evolutionary biology have been braided together for as long as the latter has existed through drift and selection. 

What You Can Learn by Following the Herd in Italy Transhumance, from the Latin trans for “across” and humus for “earth,” the seasonal movement of people and their livestock to and from summer and winter grazing grounds has been practiced for thousands of years by pastoral cultures.

Exploring Eco-Poetics as a Social Art by Dave Pendle I believe this sort aeistesis or sensing and articulating through writing, can be yet another a powerful aid, to reveal and discover mostly inaccessible information and energy dynamics in conventional social fields. Thus this article proposes Eco-Poetics as another possible systems sensing approach in addition to the two mentioned above.

Blue Whales Sing All Day When They Migrate and All Night When They Their mysterious songs could be an ‘acoustic signature of migration.’

Literary Landscape

What it Means to Belong in Many Places at Once by Elik Shafak Motherlands are castles made of glass. In order to leave them, you have to break something—a wall, a social convention, a cultural norm, a psychological barrier, a heart. What you have broken will haunt you…

How language shapes thought by Lera Brodisky. Reminds me of the time a friend told me that she can tell which language I’m speaking from across the room by my body movements alone.
Sharing a Place-Based Methodology and Learnings Aborigines say that their rivers don’t speak English, but they do Suraj their native language because it was born of the land and is part of it.

The Secret Life of Trees: Stunning Sylvan Drawings by Indigenous Artists Based on Indian Mythology by Maria Popova For a moment of respite from the palpitations of the present, from the American insanity, from the human world at all, stunning drawings and dreamings of trees by indigenous artists based on millennia-old Indian mythology.

Literary Landscape

Is the Environment for “Taking From” or “Giving To?” A Young Indigenous Economist Finds Answers On His Own I have always been bothered by the concept of indefinite economic growth and development with no regard for nature.

Quarantine As Ceremony: COVID 19 an Opportunity to Quietly Rebel Against the Dominant Landscape by Servern Cullis Suzuki Representing a profoundly different mental landscape, Indigenous languages reveal entirely distinct ways of being, ones that are not at odds with Life around us.  In her article, “Speaking of Language” (Orion Magazine, 2017), Dr. Robin Kimmerer writes about the grammar of animacy, describing the use of pronouns for life forms in her Potawatami language, which conveys proper respect for life by the language user. She notes, “I think the most profound act of linguistic imperialism was the replacement of a language of animacy with one of objectification of nature, which renders the beloved land as lifeless object, the forest as board feet of timber.” Indigenous languages are a portal to a relationship with Earth.

Nature word by David Lukas (Language Making Nature): LIGHTBECK ‘the haunting call of distant light’ I coined this is word for an emotion I often feel.

Ugulate Love by Amy Irvine In far Western Mongolia, near the Russian border, there is a dusty, dung-spotted hill covered in black-purple boulders. At a distance, the rocks look glowering and contused. Creep closer, though, and things are anything but grim. There’s the lattice of pumpkin-orange lichen.

Early morning candles, coffee, books, flowers.


Dia de los Muertos 2020—Love Lives On

Día de los Muertos Altar 2020

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.

Grandma Mary’s blue glass flower vase

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.”

Noah Grillo De Dios © Patricia De Dios

Our Dia de los Muertos books, collected through the years and well-worn.

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.

As I composed the altar and lit the candles this year, I gave thanks to each person represented and all they brought to our lives. We all live with the weight of 2020, the isolation, the restrictions, the lockdowns, the unknown. All lend an extra resonance to the creation of the altar and an honoring of how we are not alone and how the love and lives of others continue in our own.

As I placed each piece, lit each candle, arranged the flowers, memories of each washed over and through me.

While our loved ones pass, their love does not die.

Their love lives on through us and into the lives of those we love.


A World of Octobers, Fall in Santa Fe

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

While every season has a particular beauty, fall in Santa Fe carries its own special magic. Vibrant shades of red, gold, yellow, citrine, and every color of the spectrum between blanket the mountains, as the aspens celebrate the end of summer with a grand finale. This mosaic of changing colors of the leaves on the mountains felt the essence of my exploration of language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination. Spicy, pungent scents of roasting chiles float from open lots throughout the state as chiles tumble over open flames in grated roasters. When we smell roasting chile in the air, we know fall has arrived in the Southwest.

While the shifting colors of the seasons may feel familiar under our feet, for most of us little else does in this uncertain landscape and time of Fall 2020. We hoped the pandemic would ebb with summer and by fall the flow of life might return to more familiar terrain. Instead, the world often feels ever-more uncertain and holds a future we cannot foresee. I read recently that reading the headlines is now referred to as “doom scrolling.” It is in light of this uncertainty that I offer here a bit of beauty for your day. While we remain active and engaged in often difficult times and challenges, a bit of beauty here to fill the spirit and the soul as we move forward. I hope you enjoy the textures and shifting clouds of color of Aspen Peak above Santa Fe and a stroll the Plaza.

Harbinger of fall in New Mexico—(sexy comma) the scent of roasting green chiles lifts and lingers in the air and fresh chile ristras hang from trucks and will soon adorn gates, doors, and portales.

@Luke Wink-Moran

@Luke Wink-Moran

“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.”~Elizabeth Lawrence

“I had no idea,” said my dear friend who took her first trip to see the changing colors. “Mountains dipped in gold.” Here she saw the heart of the mountain in the trees.

Heart of the Mountain, ©Jeannine Kamman-Soon

“It’s the first day of autumn! A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves!” ~Winnie the Pooh

“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves.” ~Virginia Woolf

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ~Lauren Destefano

The Plaza, Santa Fe, NM ©Luke Wink-Moran

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” ~John Burrows

Sunflowers and Russian Sage blowing in our backyard.

“Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day.”~Shira Tamir

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, NM ©Luke Wink-Moran

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” ~Stanley Horowitz

“Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha” Estella Loretto, Artist is honored to share genuine spirit of Kateri embracing Kindness, Forgiveness, Love, Compassion, and Joyful Peace ©Luke Wink-Moran

“I loved Autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.” ~Lee Maynard

First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe ©Luke Wink-Moran

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe ©Luke Wink-Moran

“Another fall, another turned page…” ~Wallace Stegner

©Luke Wink-Moran

“And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and autumn was awakened.” ~Raquel Franco

“Autumn is as joyful and sweet as an untimely end.” ~Remy de Gourton

©Luke Wink-Moran

Central Plaza, New Mexico – Indigenous Peoples Day (Formerly Columbus Day)

@Luke Wink-Moran

“If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour.” ~Victoria Erickson

©Luke Wink-Moran

Look closely…RIP RBG.

RIP RBG ©Luke Wink-Moran

©Luke Wink-Moran

Coyotes singing one morning as I go out for a run. Turn up the volume.

“The heart of autumn must have broken here, and poured its treasure upon the leaves.” ~Charlotte Bates

©Luke Wink-Moran

“Go, sit upon the lofty hill, And turn your eyes around, Where waving woods and waters wild Do hymn an autumn sound. The summer sun is faint on them— The summer flowers depart— Sit still— as all transform’d to stone, Except your musing heart.” ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Here a tiny posey of late-blooming cosmos from our garden.

I hope that we all might remember to take time to “sit upon a lofty hill,” even if that is just at our own desk and focusing on a bit of beauty.

Our musing hearts need this.

Especially now.





A extra special thank you and hug to Jeannine Kamman-Soon, who wrote to me of the “mountains dipped in gold” and allowed me to share her exquisite Heart of the Mountain photo.

And to Luke, who donned his mask and went to take these gorgeous photos of Santa Fe in fall, because his mom asked if he might.

Much love!





The Exquisite Artwork of Landartist Hannah Bullen-Ryner

“Dawn, I sent you a message of some absolutely beautiful bird art,” my friend, Amanda, wrote. “Take a look. It reminded me of you.”
I saw Hannah Bullen-Ryner’s art and fell in head-over-heels in love. The more of her art I saw, the deeper in love I fell. Thank you, Amanda! As I immerse myself in all-things landscape, wildness, beauty, imagination, and language, Bullen-Ryner’s art seems to me an exquisite expression of all. I connected with Bullen-Ryner and asked if I could share the beauty she creates from nature here and was granted permission.
During this challenging time of deep uncertainly, the pandemic, and wildfires, I lift the beauty and spirit of this art. Art and quotes come directly from Bullen-Ryner about her work. I hope you will enjoy this respite, an oasis of peace, beauty, joy, expression, whimsy, colors, textures, and creativity. I hope this will be an experience of bathing in beauty. Here lifting up beauty for—and of—the natural world.
Bullen-Ryner describes herself as a, “Landartist & woodland pixie in love with the natural world and finding my place gently within it.. 🙏 💚🌿 I work with only found, foraged, natural items. With no fixings, my birds are temporary visitors and fly away on the breeze…🙏💚 Using only natural materials found locally and no permanent fixings, each piece I form is inspired by the organic shapes of the natural environment around me.
I create to share my love of nature and to soothe my soul.
Welcome to my little pixie world…”

“I can’t stop making Hummingbirds! 💚”

ARTIST BIO—Originally a painter and a photographer, finding the medium of Landart has allowed my art and my connection to the Earth my soul so needed, to combine. As a full time mama of twin girls, landart is my quiet time, my peace. I flow purely with found materials, creating ephemeral Mandalas or little bird visitors underneath my favourite Oak tree.  Within moments sometimes, my offerings fly away on the breeze.

A little messenger of hope sent out to all who need it this evening.. 🙏💚

“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” ~David Attenborough

“My beautiful little afternoon visitor and I send you some calm from the edge of the field..🙏💚🌿
Firstly as you read this, relax your shoulders, unclench your teeth, relax your tongue from the roof of your mouth and take a nice big, deep breath in, and out… 💚💚💚💚💚 There is an Oak, Hawthorn and Bramble hedgerow behind me and I have heard many a little scurry of little feet.. little mice, foraging birds in the hour I have been sitting here. There is next to no breeze today and the sun is blazing. The treeline makes for some welcome shade for both me and all these tiny creatures. Birdsong fills my ears and my heart. From us, to you. 🙏💚

“It’s okay to rest a while.. 🙏💚🌿
The winds have been strong today and little one wanted to fly away quicker than I could flow! Managed to get a few shots before she left on the breeze.”

“My little morning visitor.. 🙏💚 It it is all done by hand.. 🙏💚🌿 I do often find a tiny point of the end of an Ash seed pod or a small blade of grass to help me manoeuvre stray pieces into place. But I also sometimes watch the breeze move a piece only for it to look better than where I originally placed it! 🙂

“I found this bit of plastic netting on a wooded pathway yesterday. I immediately picked it up to cut up and dispose of safely. This little one wants to remind you that he, alongside countless other creatures are at risk of getting fatally trapped in something like this. Please be responsible and recycle where possible. 🙏💚🌿 The little ones are relying on you.”

“A little messenger of hope sent out to all who need it this evening.. 🙏💚

“With the UK looking likely to go back on lockdown, the days drawing in, everything still very much in the air, and following on from the success of the EPC zoom call I am putting some feelers out…I want to help lift and raise vibrations and continue to share the positive steps I take to feel better through the medium of Land Art. 💚💚
“Today has felt overwhelming for lots of reasons.. luckily I have had beautiful visitors to help me find some calm..🙏💚🌿 Little fluff-head. 😊💚

“This little guy tells me his name is “Pan” 😊🙏💚🌿 He was so eager to meet you he came right up close 🌿

“There is something truly magical when a butterfly comes and sits on you, even when you are a mystical ephemeral creature yourself! 🤗🦋🙏💚

“I have been told in no uncertain terms that I should not be offering opinions on Faery head-wear by this little one today! 😂😉🙏💚🌿 Her name is “Belladonna” or Deadly Nightshade, so I think it’s rather fitting she seems a little bit cross! 💜

“All I did was *mention* that the Faery crowns *might* a getting bit OTT… 😄🤗🙏💚” (over the top)

“Friendship comes in the most unlikely combinations.. seek out those who see you for all your colours and let you fly…🙏💚🌿

“Little shy one really wasn’t sure if she wanted to meet everyone…🙏💚🤗🌿 She is adorned in lavender petals but still a nervous little thing.. I call her Anxiety.💜

“Little Baby-Blue one in amongst the Mugwort.. 😊🙏💚


I close with Hannah Bullen-Ryner’s words “Keep finding the light.. 💪✊🙏💚. Here’s a little one stretching her wings after a rain.🙏💚🌿” 

Hannah Bullen-Ryner’s exquisite landart on Facebook: Hannah Bullen-Ryner on Facebook and Instagram: @hannahbullenrynerart


Birds, Dissertation Proposal, Flowers, and Scarves!

Last week, I defended my dissertation proposal, “Exploring Stories at the Intersection of Landscape and Linguistic Literatures through Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination: A Scholarly Personal Narrative.” This review was delayed several months due to all happening in the past year and then the pandemic and all of the professional and family-moving-home dynamics.

The Zoom review reflected perfectly the essence of so many of our experiences in the past months—Zoom was just not playing well with others. One of us was suddenly bumped off and then the Screen Share button for my presentation wouldn’t work. I called Luke in the next room with a simple and loud, “Help!” Luke finagled a different way for me to share my presentation and we were off.

I am extraordinarily blessed in my Dissertation Committee: May Elawar, Jennifer Wells, Luci Tapahonso. Each phenomenal woman brings worlds of unique lived experiences, expertise in a spectrum of fields, and an engaged heart. Our time together was one of deep conversation about the ideas, clarifying questions, visions and potential possibilities for the unfolding of the dissertation itself. All tremendously exciting. My committee passed the proposal. Now, of course, must pass through the Dean and Provost for official acceptance to advance to PhD Candidacy. Many, many candles lit.

In essence, what I hope to do with my dissertation is convey the research and knowledge found within the fields of ecolinguistics/linguistic human rights and holistic resource management into the genre of landscape literature through creative prose, specifically through the lenses of wildness, beauty, and imagination.

This idea came to me many years ago and the ember has grown since. I am passionate about linguistic human rights and ecolinguistics. I am passionate about landscape literature. I am passionate about the ranch and the holistic, global methods of holistic resource management. I read widely within each of these fields and want to bring all together into an integrated whole with language as an element of landscape as the unifying theme. Now, the journey enters the next stage. I dive into my 25+ years of journals and why I write in my journal. Piles and piles of journals to identify and codify the themes of language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.

While discussing with Luke and Noé this next chapter of writing my dissertation, the following conversation took place:

Me: In my dissertation book, it says I need to get rid of the unessentials from my life to focus on writing.

Luke and Noé (look at each other): That’s us!

Me: Don’t worry, I already did that years ago. You two made the cut.

Luke and Noé (looking at each other): It could still happen. We better be useful! You make dinner. I’ll clean the yard.

Me (slow smile…): Excellent plan. Keep that thought.

Luke and I talk a lot about writing, words, books, ideas, life. We were talking about grammar the other day (as one does over coffee, while watching the birds in the birdbath), and Luke mentioned his delight of discovering the em dash (—).”The em dash, the sexy comma.” Yes!

Stained glass of Meadowlark cover by Marie Hooper.

The birdbath and tiny bird sanctuary that we’re creating in the backyard continues to bring exponential, crazy amounts of joy. Here is my view from my writing room.

I spend a lot of time looking at this view and thinking, planning, dreaming, organizing this next chapter of writing the dissertation and future book. Right now, a tiny hummingbird lifts from one hummingbird mint bloom to the next to sip nectar. Especially after the last year and the unanticipated delay of my proposal defense amidst all, I am very grateful to have completed.

I celebrated by laying down for a short rest afterward—(sexy comma) and fell asleep for a three hour, sleep-of-the-dead nap. Three hours! I woke and asked Luke if he wanted coffee. He looked at the clock, “How about dinner?” It was 5:00pm!

Best way I can think to celebrate.

In other events of the past few weeks, I share the following definition:

Parotidectomy (pa-RAH-ti-DECK-tomy) (n)/ An increased appreciation of colorful, bright scarves. (Reference also found under PRADA-dectomy).

This was a few weeks ago. All good.

Onward to write!