Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


11 Comments

Gathering from the Grassland: A Plains Journal by Linda Hasselstrom

Gathering from the Grassland

There are certain voices who sing the song of the land. Linda Hasselstrom is one of these voices. Hasselstrom writes the landscape and life of ranching on the Great Plains of western South Dakota. Her latest book Gathering from the Grassland: A Plains Journal  (High Plains Press) shares the journey of her reading her father’s, mother’s, and her own journals from previous years and the insights and continued questions of time around these three interwoven journeys. Both of her parents have passed and there was much of their final years that was far from easy. Hasselstrom’s embraces humanity, in all of its beauty and pain. Yet, what shines through the years within the written words are a fierce love. A love not always expressed with gentleness. Yet through the sharpness and silences, the connection between Hasselstrom and her parents pulses on every page. The honesty Hasselstrom brings to this journey often made me stop and stare, lost in the familial world she opens the door for us to share.

“April 6. Today I woke remembering the strong voice of Meridel LeSeuer saying to me, “I covered some terrible wounds with lyricism. (p.91)”

What resonates is the sheer authenticity of life, family dynamics and rhythms, love lost, love found—underlying all, love. Hasselstom’s love for the land, love for the ranch, love for her parents within the tangled web of history, memories, and emotion that comes with every family, love for a life she lost, and love for the shared life she created. 

Hasselstrom overlooking the Hasselstrom Ranch. © Linda Hasselstrom

Hasselstrom’s writing and ranching life run deep within these pages, and the people who influenced her come to life. 

“I think the view of women as incapable of owning land was similar to the view that women’s writing wasn’t worth reading, especially if it was about their daily lives. When a woman like my mother wrote about her ideas and work in her journey, she was actively claiming the right to be heard, even if she didn’t realize it….Those other women who taught me  how to live mostly recorded their lives and loves in other ways: in quilts, in jars of vegetables in the cellar or freezer, in embroidery and gardening and taking care of other people in their communities. The work was their art, and their journals; their labor was the books they didn’t write.” (p. 131).

Hasselstrom’s quilts and embroidery ©Linda Hasselstrom

Prairie Mail – bouquet left by Linda.

A treasure, just arrived!

Hasselstrom has been a huge influence in my own reading and writing life. When my parents moved to the ranch nearly 25 years ago. On my first visit to the ranch, Mom gave me a stack of Linda’s books, “Here, if you want to understand the prairie, you must read Linda Hasselstrom.” So, I did, and I’ve never stopped. Linda’s ranch lies on our route between Santa Fe and the ranch. One of the highlights of the 14 hour drive is leaving and receiving “prairie mail” tied to the fence post at the top of the lane. 

Like all of Linda’s books, I wanted to know more about the story of this book. I posed some questions to Linda, and she graciously shared her time to share more about the book, the people, and ranching:

DW: To read your parents’ and your own journals from the same time period is an inherently emotional experience—What was the inspiration? 

LH: See p. 20: I started with a practical job to fill in while I was not writing a great deal: to record the temperatures from when my father began doing so, to address the questions about climate change. As I began to delve into the journals, I remarked “perhaps I am making the job seem important” by beginning to read his entries. Then I began to remember incidents that were happening while he was recording only the bare essentials, and of course at my age (74) I fear losing my memories, so I enjoyed being reminded of the past.

Hasselstrom at work.

DW: What did you wrestle with in making the decision? 

LH: On January 4 I asked myself if his journals are important, and the book is my answer: let those who fear or dislike ranching see who we really are. p. 25: future requires knowledge of the past. If we discard it entirely, we discard the lessons along with the mistakes.  I hope the next owner of this land knows how we operated, even if s/he operates differently.

I’ve seen and participated in the sudden cleanup after deaths, and know how easy it is in the heat of “we have to get the house ready to rent/sell/burn” to throw out letters, diaries, other things that might be significant later. I have no child of my own, and my stepchildren are far removed from this ranch, so it seemed to be simply responsible to consider what might happen if I die before Jerry, who is 10 years younger than I. I don’t think it’s fair to make my partner responsible for my family decisions, especially whether to save or destroy journals that are part of my family’s history.

Clouds over Hasselstrom Ranch © Linda Hasselstrom

” Thousands of us hurl ourselves into cities like nuts into a hopper, and there by grinding and rubbing against one another we lose our natural form and acquire a superficial polish and a little more or less standardized appearance. In the country, the nuts are not subjected to the grinding process.”  Archer B. Gilfillian, Sheep: Life on the South Dakota Range (Opening quote)

© Linda Hasselstrom

DW: What felt peaceful in making the decision?

LH: Hasselstrom collections were established—my aunt Josephine—so that suggested doing this again. I have no control over what people will think of me once I’m dead, so why try to control those thoughts by destroying any more of my journals, or those of my family? I’ve already regretted destroying my journals when my first husband read them, so I know the pain of losing those records of my entire childhood to a liar who had no sense of morals. I didn’t want to make the same mistake again. As I began to read through the journals and take notes, I was filled with admiration and respect for what my parents and others lived through and commented on.

DW: What aspect/s of the writing this particular book came most naturally?

LH: I feel a responsibility as one of the few (so far) writing ranchers, to explain how ranchers operate, to tell the vital stories. We need ranchers and others who understand the importance of grasslands to explain why all of us—whether we eat meat or live here or not—need to care passionately about grasslands.

“March 31. I started reading about Vipssana meditation, about gurus and yoga, but stopped when I realized that the prairie is both my path to enlightenment and enlightenment itself.

The prairie is suitably immense in age and serenity; its silence and depth provide a meditation room for everyone who pays attention. Sit in silence and open yourself, say the gurus, and you will see god or goddess in whatever manifestation most appeals to you.

Around me, I see nothing that is not holy. Goddess in the grass, the birds, the clouds, antelope, muddy pond. Goddess in the sunlight.” (p. 84)

Linda on the land. © Linda Hasselstrom

Advertisements


15 Comments

Women of the Red Clay—Las Mujeres del Barro Rojo, Oaxaca, México

Macrina Mateo Martinez, Woman of the Red Clay (Mujer del Barro Rojo)

Of the many experiences that touched my soul during our time in Oaxaca, México through LISTO Oaxaca, the Women of the Red Clay, las Mujeres del Barro Rojo, is the ember of story that illumines all else. Our bus bounced off the beaten path and over rock-studded dirt roads to the Zapotec community of San Marcos Tlapazola to visit the Women of the Red Clay.

Road to San Marcos Tlapazola ©Randy Grillo

Macrina Mateo Martinez greated us with a smile and Spanish laced with her Zapotec mother tongue.  “I watched my grandparents and my parents when I was a little girl. I had one dress for a year. We slept on dirt. It was so cold.”

“I watched the beautiful red clay pottery that my grandmother made, taught by her mother, who was taught by her mother, for as far back as we can remember…I watched her trade a bowl that had taken hours to make for a small bag of beans or corn.”

Macrina Martinez and Alberta Mateo, Women of the Red Clay (Mujeres del Barro Rojo)

Trenzas, Braids.

“We had nothing. At sixteen, I decided to try to sell the red clay pottery that the women of our village had made beyond time. I didn’t speak Spanish then, only Zapotec. I went to Guadalajara by myself. The villagers spoke badly of me for leaving and of my family for allowing me to go. Girls did not travel by themselves. The villagers criticized my family.

Sufri mucho, mucho. I suffered and suffered. After many years, my pottery began to sell. Through the years, I have traveled to New York, Portland, Santa Fe. My pottery is in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. Now, all of the women in our village sell our red clay pottery all over the world.”

The strength, artistry, and determination of a lone sixteen-year-old girl who did not speak Spanish in Mexico brought the beauty of red clay pottery to the world.

With Macrina Martinez and Alberta Mateo.

Our class gathered as Macrina and Alberta shared their story of how Zapotec women for generations had walked into the mountains to gather the clay, the stones for dye, and harvested the branches to burn to fire the raw clay into pottery.

Alberta Mateo took an unformed chunk of clay and rolled the corn cob up and down to create the pot within the unshaped form. Up and down rolled the cob under Alberta’s hands, as Macrina spoke to us about the history and experiences of the Women of the Red Clay.

“The men all had to leave to go find work for most of the year. The rest of the time they worked outside in the fields. It was only the women and girls who stayed. I started to learn how to work the red clay when I was a little, little girl. All of the mothers taught their daughters how to work the clay.”

Alberta Mateo

Alberta Mateo

Young girl warming food.

Young girl warming food.

What stayed with me is the difference the vision and strength of one young girl can make. Macrina now hosts groups from around the world. The underlying dynamics of life pierced our conversation when I referred to her as “Señora,” to honor her age and accomplishments. Señora also assumes one is married, the equivalent of Mrs.

“Yo soy Señorita,” she said. “Miss. I never married.” She lifted her eyes to look out the window and then turned back to me. The look she gave me felt like the conveyance of a cost for being the independent and brave girl who left the village against all to become a world-renowned artist and business woman.

Macrina Mateo Martinez, Woman of the Red Clay

Barro Rojo pieces

Macrina and I spoke for several minutes, surrounded by the beauty of her pottery and art. Sufri mucho, mucho (I suffered and suffered), came through in our conversation again and again, most of her story not said, but felt. The strength of her voice whispers back to me over the miles, the border, the time since I left Oaxaca. I think of this woman who through sheer talent and determination brought the beauty and artistry of generations of Zapotec women to the world.

I gathered the pieces of pottery that I could carry back with me on the plane. Tucked into the woven palm leaf bag, each piece wrapped in clothing, so too came Macrina’s story.

The pieces now adorn our table. Every time I walk by and see them at the center, I think of Macrina’s hands running the corn cob along the lines until the piece emerges. The beauty of each piece carries with it the generations of womens’ hands and life stories, and the strength of Macrina’s spirit, to lift and inspire.

As I pass, I run my fingertip along the rims.

With las Mujeres del Barro Rojo © Randy Grillo

With las Mujeres del Barro Rojo © Randy Grillo


6 Comments

A Walk on the Prairies

“I think Josie’s tear is because she misses Dawn.”

For a walk on the prairies, join Mom on the ranch. Mom wrote of the photo above, “I think Josie’s tear is because she misses Dawn.” I miss Josie and all she symbolizes.

In the midst of all of the demands and pressures of life, take a moment to walk the prairie with Mom and enjoy the beauty: http://www.joanwink.com/latest/a-morning-walk-on-the-prairies/

Enjoy and with love!

Dawn


5 Comments

A Feast for the Senses—LISTO Oaxaca 2017

LISTO Oaxaca Class of 2017, Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico

Every once in a great while, forces come together to bring to life what lived first as a dream. Such is the LISTO (Language Institute for Sustainability & Transformative Education) Oaxaca program that just took place for the second year. Through the initial vision and extraordinary spirit of Cara Esquivel, a class of teachers, artists, and explorers of the world came together to live, study, and experience Oaxaca, México. LISTO Coordinator, Randy Grillo, made all possible.

LISTO Oaxaca Class 2017

Dancers on my way to my apartment. © Dawn Wink

Students enrolled in the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Endorsement program at Santa Fe Community College took Spanish and TESOL courses at the Ollin Tlahtaolli Centro de Lenguas y Culture Mexicana.

Students LISTO Oaxaca 2017

Centro Ollin Tlahtoalli with founder, Omar Nuñez

When students were not studying themselves, they worked with children at CANICA (Centro de Apoyo de Niños de la Calle de Oaxaca, Support Center for Street Children of Oaxaca).

Niña de CANICA @ Lia Rosen

CANICA kids © Diana Clauvan-Clements

Randy Grillo includes handprint on tree of hands of CANICA.

I include here photos of our time together. I am indebted to our students in the program and Randy for sharing the beauty of our experience. For full details of our time in Oaxaca and more photos: LISTO Oaxaca.

White dresses on blue wall © Dawn Wink

Culiapan—John Przyborowski

Frutas en el mercado ©Sylvia Chavez

Oaxaca landscape © Angelia Moore

Oaxaca beauty © John Przyborowski

Dresses of Oaxaca © Sylvia Chavez

Amazing how life life come together across time and borders. Berenice and I met in Costa Rica several years ago, came together again in Mexico for a class, and again for the past two years in Oaxaca. She and her mom, Juanita, embroidered this piece and gave to me. “Women of the market. I thought you’d like it since it’s all about the power of women, Dawn.”  No words…

Berenice and Dawn

Dancers fro Zaachila © Randy Grillo

Meat corridor in market @ Jennifer Salinas

Monos de Calenda © Joelle Meniktos-Nolting

Maize and lime, how tortillas begin © John Przyborowski

Monte Albán, Jennifer Salinas

Papel Picado © John Przyborowski

Museo Textil © Alia Benammar

© Tekla Johnson

©Angelia Moore

© Barshia Cohee

© Angelia Moore

Macrina Mateo, Mujer del Barro Rojo (Woman of the Red Clay © Dawn Wink

Flowers in market © Dawn Wink

For more thoughts, experiences, and photos of our time in Oaxaca, please treat yourself a feast for the senses: LISTO Oaxaca.

Thank you, Jennifer Salinas, for this photo.


38 Comments

La Casa Azul—Frida Kahlo’s House

 

Frida Kahlo’s studio, paints, wheelchair.

Frida Kahlo

“Pies, ¿pa’ que los necesito, si tengo alas para volar?” ~Frida Kahlo

“Why do I need feet, when I have wings to fly.

If I were to talk about my first time to visit Frida Kahlo’s house, la Casa Azul (The Blue House), in Coyoacán, Mexico, I would start with the first time I heard of the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo (1907- 54) nearly 30 years ago and how the more I learned of her life, art, and spirit the more I fell in love.

I’d speak of her incredible life, filled with pain, passion, heartbreak, art, and joy. I’d talk of how she contracted polio as a child that left her bedridden for one year, one leg shriveled and shorter than the other, and permanently infected her spinal column. I’d speak of the trolley car accident when she was 18 that shattered her pelvis, fractured her spine, ribs, collarbone, right leg, and shoulder that caused her to live the rest of her life in braces, traction, and intense pain.

Frida had more than thirty operations and spent most of her life in pain and flat on her back. I’d speak of the self-revelatory art the years trapped in bed birthed, and how she created a life of passion, politics, travel, art, and love.

Yet, people who knew her remember for her alegria, happiness. Her biographers describe her:

Frida had huge lust for life. She had a seductive effect on many people and charmed everyone. People loved her beauty, personality, and talent. She was also known for her dark sense of humour and sharp wit. Frida loved dancing, drinking and parties. She took great pride in keeping a home for Diego and loved looking after him. She lavished attention on her pets – mischievous spider monkeys, dogs, cats and birds and adored children. She loved nonsense, gossip and dirty jokes and abhorred pretension. She treated servants like family and students like esteemed colleagues.

If I were to talk about my first time to visit her house, I might talk about how I bought the tickets first and arranged our plane tickets to Oaxaca, México around these tickets and arranged to stay in Mexico City just to see her home.

I might then talk about how after waiting in line, we discovered the tickets were not valid, since they hadn’t been bought directly from the museum. I might then talk about the lines of people wrapped around the block. I’d mention how we weren’t to be allowed in, how the people working there were quite sorry, but it was simply not possible. I’d then talk of the many conversations, my pleas (that I was wrapped in a vice-like grip around around both of their legs, begging for entrance, eyeing the security gatnd plotting the speed and height necessary for me to jump it), and the eventual gentleness of the eyes of two young people who said if we bought new tickets, we could enter.

I’d then talk of how as we moved through Frida’s home, I kept spontaneously bursting into tears with emotion.

Better not to talk and, instead, let Frida’s home, art, words, and life speak for themselves.

“Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.”

Frida and Diego lived in this house 1929-1954

Frida married artist Diego Rivera, a wedding her mother described as, “an elephant marrying a dove.” Frida herself said later, “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”

Diego described her work: “I recommend her to you, not as a husband but as an enthusiastic admirer of her work, acid and tender, hard as steel and delicate and fine as a butterfly’s wing, lovable as a beautiful smile, and as profound and cruel as the bitterness of life.”

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”

Self portrait with necklace of thorns.

Frida’s kitchen:

“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and moves away.”

Dining room:

Frida’s studio, paints, and brushes: 

“Painting completed my life.” 

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my reality.”

“I am not sick. I am broken. I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.”

Frida’s bedrooms:

Day bedroom, with mirror above for painting.

“I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.”

The Two Fridas

Night bedroom, with butterflies above.

Frida’s dresses and braces:

“Enagua: a long skirt with a waistband that has a ruffle sewn to it. 

The adornment of the Tehuana dress is centered around the upper part of the body. Chain stitch blouses, flowers, highly decorated jewelry, earrings, necklaces and rings will always be concentrated from the torso up, obliging the viewer to focus on Frida’s upper body and providing her with the opportunity to edit and fragment herself, distracting the viewer from her legs and lower part of her body.”

Frida’s courtyard and gardens:

La Casa Azul courtyard.

Noé in the courtyard.

“I wish I could do whatever I liked behind the curtain of ‘madness’. Then: I’d arrange flowers, all day long, I’d paint; pain, love and tenderness, I would laugh as much as I feel like at the stupidity of others, and they would all say: Poor thing, she’s crazy! (Above all I would laugh at my own stupidity.) I would build my world which while I lived, would be in agreement with all the worlds. The day, or the hour, or the minute that I lived would be mine and everyone else’s – my madness would not be an escape from ‘reality’.” 

Frida’s gardens.


17 Comments

In Celebration of Heroines—Moms and Daughters

Wynn, Dawn, Joan, 2001

But behind all your stories is your mother’s story, for hers is where yours begins.
— Mitch Albom

It is fitting that May brought both Mother’s Day and Wynn’s high school graduation. It is fitting to celebrate both of these women in the same month—both of these women are my heroines. A heroine, as defined by Dictionary.com:

          1. a woman noted for courageous acts or nobility of character:
          2. a woman who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model ideal
 
Both of these descriptions express the exceptional character and spirit of Mom and Wynn. I dedicate this piece to the celebration of all of our moms and daughters in all of their unique strength and spirit. When I visualize the connections between mothers and daughters, an infinity sign appears. There is no beginning and no ending, but instead a forever connection, threading each new generation with the women whose lives created her own.

“I never knew how much my heart could hold until someone called me Grammie.” ~Joan Wink

Mom and me, 2017

Mom and Wynn share granite strength under their generous spirits, smiles, laughter, and kindness. Both of these women have chosen to shape their lives not defined by the challenges that life held, but instead by what they want to share with the world—generosity of spirit, kindness, and love. On the days when I feel weak under the pressures of life, I don’t look far for inspiration. On those days (weeks, months, years…) when the weight of life feels too much, I look to the experiences of Mom and Wynn and how they handle them. Whatever I may be experiencing soon pales in comparison.

I have been blessed to have a mom who lives how to create a life abundantly rich in passion for family, friendships, and career. She greets all aspects of life with as much—if not more!—energy now than ever before. She shows me how to live a life of love and positive energy with family, friendships, and passion for what we do at the core of all. “Bloom where you’re planted,” she tells me. In states and on ranches across the West—Wyoming, Arizona, California, Texas, and South Dakota—she has not only bloomed, but
tirelessly encouraged others to do so, as well.
Wynn composes the art of her life through each individual act. She chooses each word and thought expressed with deep intention. Again, again, and again, I have witnessed her choose kindness and love in all situations, including situations that tend not to inspire responses of kindness and love. Wynn lifts herself beyond the situation and into the greater context. Her generosity of spirit and graceful way of living humble and inspire me.
 
The strength of character, way of walking through this world, and essence of love of both of these women inspire me every single day.
 
 So to celebrate Mother’s Day and Wynn’s graduation seemed only fitting.
 
For Mother’s Day, we made our annual Mother’s Day pilgrimage to Restaurante Rancho de Chimayó, where we had the traditional prickly pear lemonade for kids and prickly pear margaritas for adults. Luke drove up from Tucson to join us. Wyatt was at 14,000 ft. on a mountain doing what he loves and guiding a trek.

Mother’s Day 2017, Wynn, me, Luke

Prickly pear lemonade for kids and margaritas for adults.

I saved my gift from Mom to open:
 From Mother’s Day we segued right into Wynn’s graduation from St. Michael’s High School. Mom and Dad arrived, just as they did for Wyatt’s graduation, and Luke’s. It’s not a Wink event unless you’re lifting something heavy and working, so for this graduation, our goal was to get a roof on the ramada! Dad immediately grabbed a hammer and dove in with Noé.
 When the great day arrived, we all piled into the pick-up. Mom’s face should be right with the boys.
Off to the Cathedral Basicilica of St. Francis of Assisi for the graduation ceremony.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Our graduate!

Grammie and Bop Bop love Wynn.

Wynn and Noé

After graduation festivities. Luke, me, Noé, Wyatt

 

May was a big month for my heroines, Wynn and Mom. Both begin a new chapter of life. Wynn with high school graduation and Mom with her appointment to the South Dakota Board of Regents. It is a blessing to be the generation between two women who never cease to amaze, inspire, and strengthen me. Congratulations and love from the bottom of my heart to you both.

In celebration of the magnificence and wonder of heroines.

Wynn and Grammie, 2017

Wynn and Grammie, 2001