Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination


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


Exploring Language, Landscape, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination

Dear Dewdrops Community, I hope this note finds you well and safe in these wild times. Please know how much our connection means to me, always and especially now.

My current work explores the connections between language and landscape through the lenses of wildness, beauty, and imagination. I live in multiple worlds, as so many of us do. One of my worlds is that of creative prose and narrative with a focus on landscape. Another world that I am passionate about is the academic world of Linguistic Human Rights and ecolinguistics. I now intertwine these worlds together, with the hope of enriching each with the beauty, research, knowledge, and wisdom into the other. Into the creative prose of landscape literatures, I bring language as element of landscape and the research of Linguistic Human rights and ecolinguistics. Into the academic world, I express knowledge and research through creative prose.

Here the works found in such journals as Orion, Emergence, Terralingua & Landscape, braid with the ecolinguistic and Linguistic Human Rights research of Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Robert Phillipson, and Sune Vork Steffensen and the powerful prose of Terry Tempest Williams, Pam Houston, Amy Irvine, Robert MacFarlane, and Craig Childs.

If exploring language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination interests you, I’m creating a Twitter community with this focus.

While I’ve had a Twitter account for years (@dawn_wink), I really haven’t spent much time there. Or any time there. As I dive deeper into my current work, I’ve discovered world of kindred spirits in academia, creative writing, and readers who love wildness, beauty, and imagination. My own space is one where these worlds and ideas mingle.

Current reading landscape.

In that space, art, nature writing, academics, creative writing, gorgeous prose, and photography thread together. Anything that resonates with me as conveying an essence of language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.

Some of the pieces shared there include:

Orion Magazine | Speaking of Nature: “While it’s true that words are simply vessels for meaning, without meaning of their own, many cultures imbue the utterance of words with spirit because they originate with the breath, with the mystery of life itself.”Finding language that affirms our kinship with the natural world with Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Emergence Magazine: Coyote Story: “THE SKY ON that day was the color of the paper on which I write this story.”

Knowable Magazine: The Fragile State of Contact Languages These linguistic mash-ups are at high risk of extinction. The race to save them is a matter of time, with more at stake than words.

Raven’s Time: Critical Literacy in the American Southwest “The raven looks out the window from the corner of my desk.” A piece on place, landscape, language and healing.

Orion Magazine | Together Apart A series of letters from isolation. Every week under lockdown, we eavesdrop on curious pairs of authors, scientists, and artists, listening in on their emails, texts, and phone calls as they redefine their relationships from afar.This first exchange is between Amy Irvine and Pam Houston

The beauty of a mosaic of languages. SIL International @SILintl Today, about 75% of the world population speaks approximately 8% of the world’s languages. Conversely, 25% of the world’s population speaks the remaining 92% of the world’s languages. This represents about 1.8 billion people.” Dr Michel Kenmogne, SIL Ex Dr

Veins of Turquoise: Migration, Immigration, Language “Let us create turquoise in the political and social fissures surrounding immigration and languages, as the land does amidst geographical eruptions. If turquoise is the stone of spirit, of healing, of prosperity, of protection, of journey, of safety, and of homecoming, then let us bring it to the land and our people.”

Linguistic Rights Are Human Rights: A Hope for a Future of Linguistic Diversity / Smithsonian Folklife. “Yet my hope for the future goes beyond this: it is that every soul, whose existence happens to manifest itself on the planet, continues through the generations to bring something new into the world, retains their  individuality, develops their own sense of humor, and tells their own unique story in a distinctive way.”

Dr. Gerald Roche @GJosephRoche—In the same way that dehumanization precedes genocide, the construction of languagelessness precedes language oppression. /fin

Wild Waters: Landscapes of Language Terralingua. “I listened to the desert. I listened to water. This is what I heard.”

Discovery of this world of kindred spirits would have been welcome any time, but right now with the pandemic and all of our social and travel restrictions, I feel a sense of an opening up the world. This discovery infuses a sense of energy and expansiveness.

So, if you’re interested in exploring these ideas, please join me on Twitter at @dawn_wink. There’s a whole wide world of language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination out there to explore!

Hummingbird mint.

Robin in the bird bath.

One of my great joys of this summer in this time of social isolation and working remotely from home has been the birdbath and hummingbirds right outside my writing room window. Watching these birds and their antics, which I can see from my desk, brings me crazy amounts of joy.

This little spot has become the happen’ place! Robin comes every day to splash and cavort. A big white wing dove has taken to doing full-on cannonballs! Tiny songbirds flutter around and wait their turn, often descending in groups of four of five, dipping their little wings into the water and then fluttering and dancing around.

The hummingbird mint blooms around the birdbath and at least three hummingbirds have made their home in our yard this summer. They sip from the blooms throughout the day, diving and whizzing about. This swirl of birds throughout the day… crazy amounts of joy.

Sunrise and raven on early morning run.




Wink Ranch, July 2020

Amidst the pandemic and all else, I made it to the ranch for a week in July. It had been far too long. A balm for my spirit.

I recently discovered the music of Ryan Bingham and listened throughout the trip, as I crossed the wide expanses of open country. I chuckled at the name of this coffee shop when I stopped for gas in Lusk, Wyoming.

Only in Wyoming—and a fairly apt description of me on many days. Thirteen hours into the trip with only one to go, I crested a hill to this storm cloud. Stunning.

And fourteen hours after leaving Santa Fe, I turned down the lane at last.

The stars aligned this year with Bo and I were both on the ranch at the same time. Wyatt is working on the ranch, joined by his girlfriend, Natasha, whose veterinary school classes went online. Luke spent a number of weeks. Work kept Noé and Wynn in Santa Fe.

A molten sunset the first evening. 

This was the first time in many years these four Winks managed to be in the same place at the same time. A gift.

Too bad we had no fun at all!

Checking water tanks with Daddy and Bo.

It was July 3 and Mom referred to us as her “three firecrackers.”

A gorgeous rain came through. I only wish I could include the scent with this video! Imagine it’s there.

The shifting light, colors, and textures of the land and sky on the Great Plains.

Work continued for Daddy and Wyatt. As Mom would say, “What could possibly go wrong?”

We squeezed as much as possible into this week, including trips to Spearfish, Mobridge, and Lemmon, South Dakota treasures. More on those soon.

Of course, one of my favorite times on the ranch was my time with Josie, who holds such a special place in my heart for so many reasons. She was the inspiration for the mare in Meadowlark. She’d been out for the summer and one evening Daddy and I headed out to the pasture to see her.

Josie is a grullo with her wild and wonderful coloring. In the winter she hairs-up so much she resembles a yak. Her mane reflects her grullo coloring with threads of russet, blonde, roan, black, sorrel, and the spectrum in between. I cut the tangle from her mane, trimmed the rest, couldn’t quite leave on the ranch, and brought home. My family is not quite sure why hair from Josie’s mane remains on our kitchen counter.

Because laced within the beauty of the horsehair strands are all they represent. Shades and textures of the prairie entwine within, as does the ranch and all that holds—birdsong, shifting light, textures, and colors, and years of family love and memories. One of my guiding quotes is, “Children need two things: roots and wings.” So many of my kids’ deepest roots thread this land, roots that ground them through the sunshine and the storms of life.

As I go about my day, I find myself reaching over to run the tips of my fingers across the coarse, colorful strands of Josie’s mane and my heart smiles.


Mustangs and Music—The Wild Mustangs of San Luis Valley

Mama and foal mustangs, San Luis Valley All photos of trip ©Wynn Wink-Moran


Wynn and I headed north to Colorado to pick up Luke who was on his way back from the ranch. It was a lovely drive through the San Luis Valley. While we are very fortunate where we live to have access to the outdoors (i.e. long runs and walks), it still felt fabulous during these weeks in quarantine to get out.

A remote valley in northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado, we took the two-lane road through miles and miles of sharp stone cliffs and vast landscape. We drove through the wide-open country and I listened to Wynn sing along to her favorite musicals.

This was my first time through San Luis, CO. It’s website reads, “San Luis, the oldest town in Colorado, was established on April 5, 1851, with a present population of approximately 750. San Luis is predominately Hispanic, with strong ties to Spain’s religious, cultural, and artistic traditions. Once a part of four Spanish land grants decreed by the King of Spain, the town’s adobe architecture and classic Spanish town layout retain the texture of the historical and cultural influences which shaped the early communities of Southern Colorado. The surrounding area is mainly a farming and agriculture area.” There is a definite feel of stepping into a historic and weighty past here.


As we drove the remote two-lane road, which reminded me a lot of driving to the ranch, a car coming toward us blinked their headlights. I assumed that it was to let me know there was a patrol officer ahead and checked my speed. Several miles passed and no highway patrol anywhere. When the next car coming toward us miles later also blinked their lights, I wondered what might be happening and soon discovered.

In this part of Colorado, blinking headlights means, “Look out for wild mustangs on the road ahead.” Considering the history of the Spaniards, who brought horses to this area, this felt to be a blending of past and present.

Wynn and I slowed to a crawl and the dark swirl of shapes shifted to become a mosaic of horses and foals.

One little one particularly captured our hearts with its scampering about. Wynn took photos and we imagined the story, one the may resonate with parents in quarantine around the world.

“Come on, Mom. Let’s play. We’ve been munching grass all day. Come on, come on!”

Mama and foal

“Puh-lease let’s play! Please, please, please, please!

“Maybe if I crawl on your back, you’ll want to play!

“Wait! There’s someone over there. They’re watching us. Mommy, stand still. Let me hide. I am one with you.”

“We’re leaving? You’re not going without me! Let me walk in front of you—right under your feet.

“Well, okay. If we must. No playing? Maybe later? Huh, Mom? Maybe later? Mom? Mom? Mom?”

As Wynn and I drove away, the horses drifted south. I kept checking the rearview mirror until they were a distant dark smudge. Wynn turned on the music and again sang along.

We drove north amidst mustangs and music. I thought again of the poem:

I shall wear turquoise and diamonds,
And a straw hat that doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my social security on
white wine and carrots,
And sit in my alleyway of my barn
And listen to my horses breathe.
I will sneak out in the middle of a summer night
And ride the old bay gelding,
Across the moonstruck meadow
If my old bones will allow
And when people come to call, I will smile and nod
As I walk past the gardens to the barn
and show instead the flowers growing
inside stalls fresh-lined with straw.
I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair
as if it were a jewel
And I will be an embarrassment to ALL
Who will not yet have found the peace in being free
to have a horse as a best friend
A friend who waits at midnight hour
With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the kind of woman I will be
When I am old.
-Author Patty Barnhart

Light ©Wynn Wink-Moran


The Poetry, Inspiration, and Beauty of Birds

Dawn ©Julie Morley

Instagram: @juliemorley

I woke one recent morning to discover a hummingbird had been named after me. My dear friend environmental educator, bird photographer, and author, Julie Morley, takes stunning photos of birds, conveying their beauty through her own incandescent spirit. A gift of beauty beyond words.

Julie wrote about the hummingbird she named for me, “Dawn rising. I took this photo just after dawn this morning. She reminded me of the sky and also of my friend named Dawn whose ability to rise above inspires me. Hummingbirds are tiny but also resilient. Their super powers amaze me. They are magic.

Photo and quote composition ©Julie Morley

Julie’s exquisite photos and poetic lens through which she lives and expresses the world never cease to brighten my day, to inspire and illuminate. Julie had no idea that hummingbirds hold an extra special place in my heart and world as they symbolize beauty and joy. I especially love that she named this bird after me, as her colors are the shades of the sky at sunrises and sunset. This resonates with powerful poignancy as I continue my healing journey.

I think of the global healing journey we all now find ourselves on. As we navigate this new terrain, I hope that Julie’s photos and words may inspire you and bring texture, life, and beauty to your day. 

“Happy Nanday parakeet flying through the tasty coral blossoms.”

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
― Robert Lynd

“Fairy Princess in her magical realm.”

“Once upon a time, when women were birds,
there was the simple understanding that
to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk
was to heal the world through joy.
The birds still remember
what we have forgotten,
that the world is meant to be
~Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds

“Hawk beauty in eucalyptus.”

“Pearl grooming in the early morning. Hummingbirds have an oil gland in their back to shine up their feathers and keep them water resistant.” (Pearl is one of my favorites. She’s frequently featured in Julie’s work. I feel as if I know her!)

“Handsome Mr. Finch at sunset.”

“The unbearable cuteness of little Rufous. He was such a tiny fuzzball back then.”

“Peace to ALL.”

It is a joy to share the elegance and grace of the birds featured through Julie’s stunning photography. Wishing connection, relationship, and beauty to you.

Julie Morley is an environmental educator, author and speaker on complexity, consciousness, ecology and interspecies creativity. Julie’s book Future Sacred: The Connected Creativity of Nature combines cultural criticism, history, philosophy and complexity theory to describe a radical approach to rethinking our future.
I include here the most recent Dewdrops, as I experienced a bit of technical difficulties when published. Most of you did not receive, many of you received two times, and I know at least one person who received five times! Yikes. So sorry about that! I’ve been working with technical help and hope that we have now resolved. For those who did not receive, I really hope you do this time. For those who already received, please go back to the beauty of the birds!

Wild Waters, Langscape, and Stories About the Collective Human Experience

Birthday beauty.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you to all who reached out to connect on what’s been happening in my life. Each beautiful email, post, text, card lands in my heart in deep, profound ways. If I have not yet responded, please know how much you and your connecting means to me. I will respond. I am so grateful for our shared life paths. Writing that piece after months of holding, and your loving response, created slivers of peace absent before.

Wildly, just as I re-emerge into the world, our world is now self-isolating and retreating into itself. I hope this finds you and yours safe. In our family, kids are home, we are self-isolating, and working remotely.

I was delighted to receive an email from the editors of Terralingua‘s Langscape Magazine that they are now publishing pieces online with goal is to make their “digital repository of important stories about biocultural diversity freely available at this critical time in our collective human experience.” My article, “Wild Waters: Landscapes of Language” is now a part of those available collective human experiences.

Truth be told, I just love this piece. One of my favorites ever. Please find “Wild Waters”, and many more, here.

I am running again, which is a spirit saver. It is also when I compose many Dewdrops pieces. I am working on different pieces around cancer, COVID, teaching virtually, and Harry Potter. Will keep running and hopefully get those to you sooner, rather than later!

Much love,


Making videos for faculty and students.


“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.



The Power of Story by Joan Wink

Dr. Joan Wink, aka Mom/Grammie Extraordinaire, The Power of Story ©Chyllis Scott

It is with tremendous pride and pleasure that I share Mom’s latest book, The Power of Story (Libraries Unlimited, 2017) with you. It is FABULOUS!

Dr. Joan Wink

Yet, I get ahead of myself. I always assume that anyone who knows me, also knows my mom, Dr. Joan Wink. For those who do know and love her, and those who are yet to know and love her, let me share a little about Mom.

First, the professional:

Joan Wink is professor emerita of California State University, Stanislaus. Since retirement in 2007, she has been an adjunct professor at Black Hills State University, South Dakota State University, and in the Global Education Master’s Program of The College of New Jersey in Mallorca, Spain.

Joan began a six-year term to the South Dakota Board of Regents in April 2017. Throughout her career, she focused on languages, literacy, and learning in pluralistic contexts.

Dr. Wink completed her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (Texas A&M, 1991), two masters’ degrees from the University of Arizona (Spanish, 1981; Educational Foundations/Bilingual, 1985; Spanish and English undergraduate degrees from Yankton College 1966.

Joan continues sharing, writing, and speaking nationally and internationally. Joan maintains an active website and blog, WinkWorld. She has published widely in scholarly journals and is the author of Critical Pedagogy: Notes from the Real World (4 editions), A Vision of Vygotsky with LeAnn Putney; and Teaching Passionately: What’s Love Got To Do With It? with Dawn Wink.

There is a scroll of international accolades for Mom that rolls out and reaches into the horizon.

With Mom, Cascabel, 1978.

And here’s the woman her family and friends know and why The Power of Story sings with wisdom, power, and truth. Mom’s life is composed of stories—stories of love, stories of pain, stories of joy, stories of loss, stories of resilience, stories of students around the world, and stories of friendship and roots decades deep.

Yes, Mom writes as the internationally renowned scholar that she is. And, what makes her writing, teaching, and living so powerful is all is based in real, lived experiences. The stories in this book made me laugh, cry, reach for my journal, drink some wine, informed my instruction as a professor, then laugh and cry some more for the sheer humanity that threads every sentence and every story of this book.

Mom does not write from some Ivory Tower of Academia. Mom writes from our cattle ranch on the Great Plains of South Dakota, summed up best when she called me while writing the The Power of Story. “I was working on Chapter Three and then the bulls got out on the highway. Wink and I ran to the pickup and headed out into the blizzard to try to get them off the highway. We barely made it up the lane through the snow. Took several hours to get the bulls back in, including your dad coming back for the four-wheeler and then both of us heading out. A couple of near misses on the highway. Your dad’s out feeding the horses now. Diving back into Chapter Three.”

Mom on Buffalo Roundup. © Dean Wink

The behind-the-scenes story of The Power of Story is one of family and the ever-present realities of writing on a cattle ranch. Just when a writer sits down to write, the bulls get out, the pump blows, the well freezes, the horses get out, the heifers get into the wrong pasture and have to be moved, the hay baler quits, there’s a hailstorm in the hay field, and…

This is the reality that grounds and lifts every page of this book.

The stories of this book are real.

Mom and her Little Free Library at the top of the lane.

Now, if you are interested in dry data and prescribed curriculum, this is NOT your book. If you are a reader, lover of words and language, a parent or grandparent, a teacher of students of any age who wants to sink into story-after-story of how to create a love of reading, the research about why woven seamlessly within, then this is your book.

I‘d originally thought that I would write a single piece on The Power of Story.

Then, I started reading it. By chapter Three (when the bulls got out on the highway), I’d already laughed, cried, taken notes for my own teaching, written on sticky notes on what to connect about with the kids, and scribbled in my journal about language, literacy, and story.

So, I’ll be sharing here some of the stories that made me laugh, cry, reach for my pen to remember to share with my students about literacy, reach for my phone to call and share with the kids, or just sit and stare out the window while I pondered.

First, a story:  If You’re Not From the Prairie by David Bouchard






Weaving Beauty into 2018

                                      The Plaza, Santa Fe, NM

Festive holiday and New Year wishes to you and yours! 

I wanted to take a moment to wish you and yours a lovely holiday season and New Year! 

We spent ours with my parents here in Santa Fe, including a Christmas Eve walk around the Plaza.

                                  Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, NM

                        Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, by Estella Loretto

                                                                        Christmas Eve 2017

                                                                  Gingerbread La Fonda Hotel

I found this nest with three eggs on the Christmas tree at the La Fonda. I love nests with three eggs…

                                              Eggs in nest on Christmas tree at La Fonda. 

                      Susan’s Christmas Shop

                   Gazebo, the Plaza of Santa Fe

We lucked out with the best table overlooking the Plaza for Christmas Eve treats. Wyatt was home sick. 

Writing in my journal.

I wrote in my journal by the light of the Christmas tree on December 31st, putting blessings of 2017 and dreams for 2018 to paper. Several years ago on a run during a difficult time, the phrase, “Create beauty” came to me. The next day while running, the phrase came to me again. I was very aware that the phrase was not “Find beauty” or “Discover beauty,” but “Create beauty” with an active verb. Since that time, this has informed all aspects of my life, whether it is professional, personal, or family. I try to create beauty in the world. I often fail, as I am wildly imperfect, but this mantra has grounded and inspired me for many years. 

This year as I wrote in my journal, thinking of what I hope to bring into 2018, with “Create beauty in the world,” firmly in my mind, another thought nudged its way onto the page. As I look at all to come in 2018, I thought, “How can I weave beauty into every day?”

I want to play with this idea, how to weave beauty into every day, no matter how busy or long. “Create beauty in the world” has been a sound foundation for me for so many years. I look forward to playing with this other aspect of beauty. 

Wishing you a year of of creating beauty and weaving beauty into your every day life.

                                             Santa Fe sunrise taken on an early morning run.






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


“The thing you think you cannot do.” A Marathon for Every Mother Counts


Team Wink, Every Mother Counts, Tucson Marathon, AZ


Every day, nearly 800 women and girls in the US and around the world die due to complications around pregnancy and childbirth—303,000 women every year. That’s one woman every 2 minutes. Up to 90% of these deaths are preventable.

Every Mother Counts raises funds and awareness through running to support their work to bring healthcare to women who otherwise would go without. Founder Christy Turlington chose running as the metaphor for the distance that some women have to travel, often walking, to get quality healthcare.

early-morning-running-with-clydeMy own running has always been private. This work inspired me to take my running public and commit to running a 26.2 mile marathon. I was more than a little bit terrified. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I didn’t finish and was found in a heap at the side of the road? What would I tell the people who had contributed funds? The fiction writer in me had all kinds of creative narratives created—just in case. 

A combination of inspiration to contribute to the work of Every Mother Counts and sheer terror of public humiliation spurred me forward throughout my training. I ran in the early morning hours before work, my headlamp bobbed in the darkness and bounced off the glow-in-the-dark leash of my dog and running partner, Clyde.



After first 20-mile run.

Three months later, it was time to head to Tucson for the marathon. I packed my running bag…


…and painted my toes, the 26.2 reminder to finish.


We left frozen Santa Fe to arrive to blooming bougainvillea in glorious Tucson.


I decorated the drop bag to make it easier to find. Plus, when in  doubt, add calavera skulls. Works for all occasions.


I woke the morning of the race to this beautiful haiku poem:

feet pound, lungs burn

frost silvers arroyo

earth turns toward dawn

~ Susan J. Tweit

Off we went. Noé dropped me off at the buses to take us to the starting point.


I sat amidst runners discussing in-depth their caloric intake planned per mile. They had cut up energy bars into bite-size pieces and planned the exact miles they would eat throughout the race. Stress mounted. What?! Was I supposed to do that?! I had eaten a handful of nuts in the car on the way to the bus and not given it a second thought. 

I moved seats and called Noé, who has run three marathons. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Just make sure you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.” 

An hour later, the announcer counted down, and we were off. With each step, through each mile, I thought of the women I ran for, the blessings in my own life, the beauty of the surrounding Sonoran desert, and back to the women and girls who walked this distance for basic health care. I imagined the feeling of galloping horseback through the desert. The miles slipped by.


Prince’s song “Little Red Corvette” came into my mind. I sang along. I timed my mileage and kept each mile under my goal of 11-minute miles. Mile markers 7, 8, and 9 passed behind me. My calf which had been bothering me acted up. I popped Advil like Pez candy. I didn’t care if I had to put that leg in a sling and tie it around my neck and hop across the finish line, I was going to finish. More thoughts of women and girls, blessings, and the chorus of Little Red Corvette.

Mile 22 appeared. Only 4.2 more miles! As a runner, you always hear about The Wall that hits around mile 23. Wall, what wall? I felt great. My son, Luke, joined me as planned. 


We ran. Luke told me all about his classes, his friends, anything. 


Mile 23 ©Luke Wink-Moran

Then it hit. It hit hard. The Wall. Mile 25. The last five miles of the Tucson Marathon are uphill. I looked up the hill ahead of us, stopped, and bent over. I could not move my legs. I thought of everything that inspired me—blessings in my life, the women and girls who walked this distance while pregnant, the beauty of the desert, galloping horseback, every Prince and 80’s song I could think of… I dug deep. Nothing. I could not move.

“Mom,” Luke asked, “Where does it hurt?” 



Mile 25 – The Wall

Luke got down, stuck his face in mine, and bellowed, “THIS IS WHAT YOU TRAINED FOR, MARINE! YOU PAID FOR THIS PAIN. YOU GET YOUR ASS UP THIS HILL!”

It worked. I laughed. I ran. 

100 yards from the finish line I grabbed Luke’s hand. We ran the final stretch and across the finish line holding hands. As we approached the Finish line, tears ran down my cheeks.


Crossing Finish with Luke. ©Action Media

I did not let go of Luke’s hand. Not when we crossed the Finish line. Not when they draped the medal around my neck. Not when I threw up and he held the medal out of the way. Love this guy.


Love a medal with a skull.


I had wanted to run a marathon for more than 25 years. Every Mother Counts and their work inspired me to do so. As I ran miles in the early morning darkness and cold, imagining all kinds of scenarios in which I did not finish, I thought again and again of Eleanor Roosevelt who taught us, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

logoI want to give special thanks and love to generous friends and family who donated.  Together we raised nearly $1,500.00 to provide accessible healthcare to save the lives of women and girls giving birth in the US and around the world.

I realize that on the global scale, this is a drop in the bucket. Yet each drop represents lives. If we each add a drop, we can fill many buckets. 

I’m already thinking about my next marathon…