Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


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

team-wink-every-mther-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.

run-like-a-mother

20-mile-run

After first 20-mile run.

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

running-bag

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

26-2-toenails

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

bouganvillea

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

drop-bag

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.

before-the-race

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.

the-route

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. 

with-luke-running-1

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

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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?” 

“Everywhere.”  

25-mile-wall

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.

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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.

dawn-luke-marathon

Love a medal with a skull.

with-medal

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…

dawn-running-2

 


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Invisible Borders of the Heart

glass-heart

©Wynn Wink-Moran

santa-fe-literary-review(A version of this essay was published as a Letter to the Editor months ago. That letter focused on Syrian refugees after the bombings in Paris. This new essay is published in the Santa Fe Literary Review (Fall 2016) and weaves together the experiences of Syrian refugees across the sea and Mexican migrants across the border.  The final message feels even more relevant today than it did the day I wrote.)

 

Invisible Borders of the Heart

                                                                                by Dawn Wink

The waves toss the boat from one side to the other. I know within the boat are many more people, much more weight, than the boat was designed to hold. My eyes scan the endless water on all sides in hopes of seeing land across its expanse. I’ve chosen to put my children and myself in this place, because my homeland has been destroyed, family killed, nothing is left of our home, but rubble, blood, the dreams it once held, and the memories of what once was and will never be.

A Syrian mother, children huddled at her side, peers out over the ocean. I read of the Syrian refugees and try to imagine the horror necessary to drive people to make this choice. I sit surrounded by food, electricity, running water, and home. I try to imagine a life so desperate to force people to leave behind homes, bank accounts, their entire world–and walk to the edge of a sea to climb aboard a small boat to head out across the water.

Half of all the pre-war population of Syria–11 million people– have been killed or forced to flee. More than half are children. We have all seen the photo of young Aylan Kurdi’s body on the beach, drowned along with his mother and brother. In the month following Aylan’s death, 77 more children that we know of, drowned. In the wake of the Paris bombings, voices rise to close the borders to Syrian migrants. It feels impossible to read of the tragedy in Paris, to look at the photos of those killed and those left behind, and not weep. yet, to imagine that the terrorist who committed the horrors in Paris somehow reflect the whole of Syrian refugees supports the terrorists’ wishes and perpetuals the tragedy. “I have many emotions running,” wrote Brussels resident James Wilson in personal communication. “We have refugees at the train station in Brussels. It is raining. It is cold. We are on a terror alert. But today is the first day of advent as we prepare to celebrate the birth of a Middle Eastern refugee in a cattle stall. We have to go with the heart and do what is right.”

A world away and closer to my home, migrants flee north across the once invisible border between Mexico and the U.S. “It used to be a slow time in Arizona when people from south of the border drove to Tucson to work and then returned home to live, a time when the US-Mexico line was a wire laying on the ground,” writes Kathryn Ferguson in The Haunting of the Mexican Border, “and we crossed the border like birds.”

The consequences of NAFTA and increased border security after 9/11 have been a deadly combination. The closure of the urban areas where people historically crossed pushed undocumented border crossers into desert and mountain terrain. This funnel effect is the main reason for increased migrant deaths, with over 7,000 human remains found since 1994. The rhythm of deaths in the desert borderlands continue unheeded in conversations around immigration, replaced with the thumping beats of helicopter blades as they “dust” migrants in the desert, lowering their helicopters close enough to the desert floor to kick rocks, sand, and cactus into people and force them to scatter. Separation can mean death.

The causes of these migrations are lost in public discourse around Syrian and Mexican migrants; instead the war drums beat with furor, hands and hearts drive by fear increase the violent tempo.

It is the invisible borders around our hearts that create the most tragedy. So much energy spent on keeping people out restricts our own ability to expand and allow love in. Invisible borders, through fear and hate, take shape in the form of barbed and iron fences that slither across the desert border, and shape the votes to deny entrance to Syrian migrants. 

As we wrestle with what the future holds, with the calls to build borders around our country and within our hearts in the name of self-protection, it is our individual and collective potential and possibility that withers. Invisible borders bind and diminish the hearts and spirits of the people in whose hearts they live. May our hearts know no borders. 

The waves toss the boat from one side to the other…

~ ~ ~


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Every Mother Counts – Running for Global Maternal Health

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Finish line! Duke City Half Marathon, 2016

How about we do something great for the world that is far more expansive than political parties or elections?

A few months ago, I discovered the organization Every Mother Counts (EMC) an organization founded by Christy Burlington Burns to raise awareness and funds for global maternal health.

Run through the desert

Run through the desert with Clyde.

I’ve been a runner for 30+ years. For the past 25 years, running a marathon has been one of my life goals. My running has always been private—a sacred time to be alone, dream, plan, laugh, cry, sweat, push myself, connect with the elemental; the land, my spirit, possibilities and potential for the future. The 3 R’s of constant inspiration and partnership in life: ‘Reading, Running, and ‘Riting.’

O'Keeffe on the ranch.

O’Keeffe on the ranch.

My only partners as I run are first the four-footed kind, first my beloved O’Keeffe and now the indomitable, Clyde. I don’t run with headphones, music, or people. That is my time to be and listenWith the discovery of Every Mother Counts, this sacred, private time had the potential to make a difference in the lives of women and children around the world. This organization inspired me to bring the very private to the public. 

With the discovery of EMC, my running takes on new purpose. I think of the women featured in documentary film by Turlington, “No Woman, No Cry.”

wyatt-and-luke-1998

Wyatt, 2 years old; Luke, 3 months, before the race.

dawn-runningI ran half marathon 18 years ago. Luke was 3-months old, Wyatt was 2-years old, and we loaded up and drove from California (52 feet above sea level) to Steamboat Springs, Colorado (6,732 ft. above sea level) the day before the race.

I had never heard of acclimating for altitude. One really has to question running a half marathon at high altitude 3 months postpartum. Yet at the time, it seemed like the perfect thing to do. I ran the next morning. 

When I completed the race altitude sickness set in and my main memory of this time is  of intense pain and being curled up in the fetal position on asphalt on the side of the highway, breastfeeding a 3-month old Luke, my head on the paint lines of the highway, the wheels of vehicles speeding by. I thought, “This must be the lowest moment of my life.” Yet, I had finished.

Through the years the goal of running a marathon stayed with me. With the discovery of EMC, running now had the potential to create positive effects in a world desperate for it. I trained for the Duke City Half Marathon in Albuquerque, New Mexico to raise awareness for Every Mother Counts.

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Before the race, October 2016.

Of course, I had my Frida Kahlo earrings on and her spirit ran with me. 

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Cottonwoods lined the trail and hot air balloons hung above.

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Cottonwoods and hot air balloons along the trail.

I crossed the finish line in 2:23, my main goal completed—to finish. Turlington describes best the inspiration and work of EMC:

25 years after setting the goal, I now train to run the Tucson Marathon on December 10, 2016, in support of Every Mother Counts and global maternal health. When I listen to the news the national discourse in the US that defies belief and the faces of migrants forced from their home around the world desperate for safety and peace, the need of the world overwhelms. But perhaps if we each do one thing that calls to us, what may seem small may make a world of difference. Please join me in the journey: 

Now, I just need to run those 26.2 miles for us.

early-morning-running-with-clyde

Early morning running with Clyde. #everymothercounts


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Photo Journal of Oaxaca

Swirling skirts during Guelaguetza celebration.

Swirling skirts during Guelaguetza celebration.

 

Oaxaca, México

Oaxaca, México

Our time in Oaxaca, México came to an end. I will write more about all—our experiences were so multi-faceted, a single piece can’t do them the justice they each deserve. More pieces soon on the inspiration for this journey, the incredible LISTO TESOL class, what we learned about the teacher’s strike that turned deadly, the graffiti everywhere that tells the story of a non-official narrative, photos, the multiple histories told, and other experiences and aspects of life, culture, and language that compose a mosaic of Oaxaca.

For now, a photo journal to honor this incredible place. 

Street of Oaxaca

Street of Oaxaca

Birds made of corn husks fly above Calle Alcalá.

Birds made of corn husks fly above Calle Alcalá.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo - sanctuary

Santo Domingo – sanctuary

A couple steals a kiss along the walls of Santo Domingo.

6. Santo Domingo Couple Stealing Kiss

Streets of Oaxaca

Streets of Oaxaca

9. Oaxaca Coffee

“Scientists have discovered a new form of direct messaging through voice and in 3D and they call it, ‘Sharing a cup of coffee with somebody!'”

10. Oaxaca Coffee 2

The temples of Monte Albán. “Inhabited over a period of 1,500 years by a succession of peoples – Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs – the terraces, dams, canals, pyramids and artificial mounds of Monte Albán were literally carved out of the mountain and are the symbols of a sacred topography. The nearby city of Oaxaca, which is built on a grid pattern, is a good example of Spanish colonial town planning. The solidity and volume of the city’s buildings show that they were adapted to the earthquake-prone region in which these architectural gems were constructed (UNESCO).”

Monte Alban

Monte Alban

Wynn and Luke heard the Mockingjay whistle (Hunger Games) as they explored the temples and whistled back. Through a series of whistles, throughout the temples, the original whistlers and they found one another…

Luke, Dawn, Wynn

Luke, Dawn, Wynn

Steps of temple

Steps of temple

One interpretation – giving birth.

21 Giving birth

Beach of San Antonillo. We arrived after 6 hours in a van up over a mountainous pass of two-lane curving highway, particularly noteworthy in deep fog and driving rain. We experienced two completely different climate and temperatures within hours. Yes, drivers really do pass within inches of the oncoming and passing vehicles. 

Mountain Pass

Mountain Pass

San Antonillo

San Antonillo

14. Waters of San Antonillo

Underside of palm frond ceiling/roof.

Underside of palm frond ceiling/roof.

13. San Antonillo palms

The festival of La Guelaguetza! “Participants from the seven different regions of the state gather in the capital city, also named Oaxaca, to dance, sing and play music. This cultural exchange is a visually stunning exhibit of color and movement. The dancers and musicians wear clothing representative of their district…The roots of the Guelaguetza festival call upon pre-Columbian traditions that have existed for millennium. Indeed, the word “guelaguetza” hails from the Zapotec Indian language and means an offering or gift. Included in the translation is the concept of an exchange, or an act of reciprocity (Mexonline).”

17. Procession in front

18. Couple Guelaguetza

The swirling skirts of Oaxaca.

Dancing in parade

19. In front of Santo Domingo

My brief and amateur video. Turn up the volume!

Generations of dresses

Stilts in a line

Guys on Stilts

Women with orange skirts

Ribboned braids.

Swirling skirts 3

More parade

Firecrackers!

Fireworks

Little girl

Parade street

La Frida—pero, claro.

La Frida

A brief glimpse of some of what composes Oaxaca. Our time there was as varied in experiences as the place itself. Which as I think about it, feels only right. More soon.


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Mother Tongues: Two Writers Explore the Words and Cultures that Shape Their Connection to Place

Morpho Butterfly of South America

Morpho Butterfly of South America

Mother TONGUES:

Two Writers Explore the Words & Cultures that Shape Their Connection to Place

Dawn Wink & Susan J. Tweit

(Originally published in Langscape: Voices of the Earth, Part I, Summer 2016)

Of all the arts and sciences made by man, none equals a language, for only a language in its living entirety can describe a unique and irreplaceable world. I saw this once, in the forest in southern Mexico, when a butterfly settled beside me. The color of it was a blue unlike any I had ever seen… There are nine different words in Maya for the color blue in the comprehensive Porrúa Spanish-Maya Dictionary, but just three Spanish translations, leaving six butterflies that can be seen only by the Maya, proving beyond doubt that when a language dies six butterflies disappear from the consciousness of the earth. –Earl Shorris

When you talk about plants, I think languages.”

“When you talk languages, my mind goes to the land.”

We sat propped up against pillows in our hotel beds, laptops open, preparing for our conference workshop “Soul of the Land: Place as Character and Inspiration.” As we each scribbled presenter’s notes, our conversation returned again and again to plants and languages.

Prairie in Bloom © Susan J. Tweit

Prairie in Bloom © Susan J. Tweit

That hotel-room conversation evolved into an ongoing dialogue about what we call “mother tongues,” the critical importance of biological, linguistic, and cultural diversity to the health of whole landscapes and human survival. The more we exchanged stories and learnings—drawing on our respective backgrounds (Susan’s in plant biology, Dawn’s in multilingualism)—the more we focused on the diversity of plants and the diversity of languages as intertwined symbols of biological and cultural richness. Just as native plants “speak” of the diverse genetic adaptations and sustainability of the ecosystems they create—each individual species representing a set of relationships and adjustments that help the whole system survive disruption—so do native languages carry the unique stories and knowledge about the places and people where they evolved. Both are, in essence, the mother tongues of place: the plants of the biological realm, the languages of the cultural realm.

Dawn: What I find amazing is all of this research about the correlation between diversity and vibrancy of plants, animals, and languages. As the diversity of the land, plants, and animals deteriorates, so too does the diversity of languages and their cultures. We are exterminating languages faster than at any other time in human history. For example, many of the Indigenous languages of the Americas are now endangered. This is true of Indigenous languages around the world. If we keep going at the same rate we’re losing languages now, 90 percent of the world’s languages will be extinct within the next 100 years. Tens of thousands of years of wisdom, lost.

Susan: Plants speak the mother tongue of the landscapes I call home. I first understood these rooted beings as the living vocabulary of the North American West in my childhood, long before I claimed science as my second language or had any notion I would spend a career and a life listening to plants, parsing their relationships to each other and to us oxygen-breathing beings. My initial inkling about plants’ role and parlance came on a sunny morning in late June, at the beginning of one of my family’s weeks-long camping, hiking, and naturestudy expeditions through the West. My father was driving, gas-pedal to the floor, reveling in the open road of brand-new Interstate 80 west of Laramie, Wyoming. My mother, as chief navigator, sat in the front passenger seat; my brother was perched between them, scanning the landscape for birds new to his life list. I sat in the dinette in the back, head down, absorbed in a book.

“Homogenization of a landscape … reflects the ill health of a landscape, just as the homogenization of language diversity … reflects the weakened health of a culture and people.”

The van engine knocked hard on a steep grade. Dad pressed the clutch pedal and shifted down. I looked up. Elk Mountain, its top still splotched with snow, rose out of the expanse of shrub desert like a massive ship, its prow cresting wave after wave of sagebrush, silver-green and spangled with spring moisture.

Sagebrush Country ©Susan J. Tweit

Sagebrush Country ©Susan J. Tweit

Lupine exploded in purple flower spikes between the flat-topped shrubs, and the air pouring in through the open windows bore a fragrance that has always spoken to me: a mix of turpentine and piney resin touched with honey and orange blossoms. Sagebrush, I said to myself, rolling on my tongue the name I had recently learned for the shrub. Years later, with a new degree in Botany, I would identify the plant that is the inland West’s most common shrub by its scientific name, Artemisia tridentata, the plant with the three-toothed (tri-dentate) leaves, named for the Greek goddess Artemis, feminist, hunter, and herbalist. I would detail the plant’s relationship with hundreds of other species of animals and plants that depend on its sheltering over-story to thrive in these harsh landscapes. But that June day, I only knew what the shrub and its fragrance said to me: Home.

My heart swelled with feelings my nine-year-old self could not explain. I went back to my book.

Prairie Grasses © Jodene Shaw

Prairie Grasses © Jodene Shaw

Dawn: Diversity can be fostered, encouraged, and expanded. Homogenization of a landscape—reducing a biological community to a single type of grass, for instance—reflects the ill-health of a landscape, just as the homogenization of language diversity—a single language replacing multiple languages, for example—reflects the weakened health of a culture and people. When my dad walks the land of our family ranch on the Great Plains of North America, his eyes scan the ground to pick up the different grasses. One summer my mom picked as many different types of grass as she found on our ranch and taped them to a sheet of white paper. One piece of paper became two and two became three. The Great Plains and its grasses were new to me then, as I was raised on a ranch in the Sonoran Desert in the North American Southwest. I studied and memorized the grasses of the body of this new world. Now, it was just a matter of learning them.

Prairie Grasses

Prairie Grasses

I held the pieces of paper with the grasses in my hands and walked out onto the prairie. The endless prairie wind whipped the sheets between my fingers. I watched for the bluish tinge that Big Bluestem casts on the prairie. Wild Rye bobbed above many of the grasses, its flowering spikes curving to the ground. Side-oats Grama, its oat-like seeds sprinkling downward from the stem. Prairie Brome, Blue Grama, and Buffalograss grew in small clusters under Bottlebrush that cast its sprays skyward. While the grasses were new to me, the focus on their diversity was not. In our family, we knew: the more types of grasses, the better. To many of us, it has become clear that multiplicity of languages is as vital to the land and her people as the necessity of diversity of plants and animals. Without diversity of language and culture taking center stage, along with plants and animals, the potential conversation remains limited. Biologists look to the diversity of plants and animals as a reflection of the land’s health. A single type of grass reflects a monoculture inherently limited in potential. So it is with languages and cultures. A monolingual, monocultural state weakens all inhabitants.

Susan: I was born to a small tribe— my parents are both only children, and their brood numbered just two, boy first, and then me, the girl. In the 1950s of my childhood, our country’s culture was envisioned as a huge pot that melted away individual cultures and languages, leaving English as our home tongue. Still, my family spoke a second language: science, our lexicon bursting with the names of plants, animals, rocks, stars. Nature-study was our shared culture. Drawers in the basement cabinets of my childhood home held neatly labeled collections of seashells and rock specimens, plus a black light for identifying minerals. TV dinners in our kitchen freezer were stacked side-by-side with roadkill for study; my mother’s tidy garden borders included

“Multiple languages, multiple cultural understandings, rhythms, and ways of walking through this world reflect healthy linguistic landscapes and cultural landscapes expressed in languages of every place, spoken with freedom in all spaces.”

one lively section devoted to wildflowers rescued from development sites. Our family “car” was a tradesman’s van converted for camping, our conversations peppered with the names of wild birds and plants. My suburban schoolmates’ heads were filled with G.I. Joes, Barbie Dolls, and the opening bars of “Goldfinger”. Mine held the courting songs of robins, the habitat of ladies’ tresses orchids, and the geology of glacial valleys. Other families’ vacations took them to Disneyland or the beach; ours took us on hikes and backpacking trips into the wild reaches of state and national parks and wildlife refuges.

Butterfly Susan Tweit

Susan J. Tweit; year: 2014 (That’s a two-tailed swallowtail on Rocky Mountain Beeplant in my yard…)

I learned how to focus binoculars and read nature field guides before I learned arithmetic and cursive in school. I began to look for patterns in nature and the relationships that create them—plant to soil and rock, plant to plant to plant, creating whole interwoven communities; mushroom to tree root, bird to prairie or mountain forest, frog to lily pad, wolf to elk, grizzly bear to spring flower bulbs—the way other kids learned baseball statistics and players’ names, or movies and movie stars.

As I grew older, my family’s language of nature split on taxonomic lines: my father and brother spoke bird, while plants gave my mother and me a shared vocabulary. Even after a lifetime of studying and writing about plants and their patterns and relationships on the land, I still cannot entirely articulate why it is sagebrush, a shrub so ubiquitous many never notice it at all, that to me speaks for the region I call home. I do know that it is the culture of plants—those seemingly mute beings rooted in place but so much more attuned to their environment than us wandering verbal creatures—that gives me the words to explore my species’ role on this living planet.

Yucca and Echinacea on Great Plains

Yucca and Echinacea on Great Plains

Dawn: In Wisdom Sits in Places, Keith Basso writes of how to the White Mountain Apache, the land speaks in languages that span time, their messages pooled and embedded within the earth to become place-worlds. Basso cites Vine Deloria, Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux) and his observation that most American Indian tribes “embrace ‘spatial conceptions of history,’ in which places and their names—and all that these may symbolize—are accorded central importance… Knowledge of places is therefore closely linked to knowledge of the self, to grasping one’s position in the larger scheme of things, including one’s own community, and to securing a confident sense of who one is as a person.” With the loss of language comes the loss of place-worlds; with the loss of place-worlds comes the loss of the sense of self.

These messages extend into distinct languages through each distinct plant and animal, each unique and integral. Grasses and plants and languages and cultures—the more diversity, the healthier the land, the healthier the people. We often see photos of an unhealthy environment side-by-side with a healthy environment, a fence-line the divider. A healthy environment is reflected in a multiplicity of grasses, plants, and animals, while in the other photo a barren monoculture reflects that land’s lack of health. Birdsong of unique trills, chirps, and caws float on the winds, above the varying textures of the grasses and plants, the flaxen, the bluish-gray, the emerald, among ochre.

The mother tongues of plant and language carry the critical stores of knowledge—genetic and cultural— that we need in order to continue to thrive on this singular, living planet.”

Multiple languages, multiple cultural understandings, rhythms, and ways of walking through this world reflect healthy linguistic landscapes and cultural landscapes expressed in languages of every place, spoken with freedom in all spaces.

Landscape of the heart © Susan J. Tweit

 Landscape of the heart © Susan J. Tweit

Susan: I call plants the living vocabulary of landscapes; they are the lives that restore the structure and function of healthy ecosystems. They provide the basic food all life on earth depends on, complex carbohydrates made using the sun’s energy and carbon dioxide plus minerals from the soil; they grow the structure that supports nests and burrows and homes for other species; they synthesize a wide vocabulary of aromatic chemical compounds which they use to communicate with other species. Native plants are the vernacular, the dialect of individual places. Like unique human languages, these local plant-voices connect humanity—breath, story, and soul—to each other and to place.

Dawn and Susan: We know that plants benefit us in many ways—as food, as fiber, as raw materials, and as beauty to nurture our spirits. But our connection with these rooted, photosynthesizing beings goes deeper. They are our “breathing buddies,” as the poet Clifford Burke writes, inhaling and fixing the carbon dioxide that we and our industrial processes exhale as a waste gas, and exhaling the very oxygen we require, the breath we depend on. Language and culture root us individually and collectively to the earth and to Place. With the loss of each language, so go generations of wisdom, belonging, and identity. So goes peace. These mother tongues of plant and language carry the critical stores of knowledge—genetic and cultural— that we need in order to continue to thrive on this singular, living planet.

Further Reading

Basso, K. (1996). Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Moore, K.D. (2010). Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature. Boston, MA: Trumpeter Books.

Skutnabb-Kangas, T., Maffi, L., & Harmon, D. (2003). Sharing a World of Difference: the Earth’s linguistic, cultural and biological diversity. Paris: UNESCO.

Tallamy, D. (2009). Bringing Nature Home. Portland, OR: Timber Press.

White, C. (2015). The Age of Consequences: A Chronicle of Concern and Hope. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press. Wilson,

E.O. (2006). The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.

Susan J. Tweit and Dawn Wink © Nancy Fine

Susan J. Tweit and Dawn Wink © Nancy Fine

Dawn Wink Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the beauty and tensions of language, culture, and place. Author of Meadowlark, Teaching Passionately: What’s Love Got To Do With It? (with Joan Wink), and “Raven’s Time: Critical Literacy in the American Southwest,” Wink is Director and Associate Professor of the Department of Education at Santa Fe Community College.

Susan J. Tweit A plant biologist in love with life, Susan J. Tweit is the author of twelve books, as well as essays and articles featured in publications including High Country News, Audubon, the Los Angeles Times, and Popular Mechanics. Her writing “melds the passion of a poet with the precision of a scientist,” and has won numerous awards.

~ * ~*~

Thank you to Langscape for including our piece in the issue Voices of the Earth, Part I. Langscape also published Wild Waters: Landscapes of Language. Please find more below about the work of Terralingua and this issue of the magazine. 

Langscape Volume 5 Issue 1 Cover-small“We are marking Terralingua’s twentieth anniversary by “going back to our roots” with this issue’s theme: “Voices of the Earth”. In 1996, we chose the name Terralingua to suggest two things at once: the language of the Earth—the voice of Mother Nature; and the languages of the Earth—the many voices of the world’s diverse peoples, which have evolved through intimate interaction with the Earth in each specific place. We wanted to hear from and about the Voices of the Earth, and so we did! This issue brings you fascinating stories and images of biocultural diversity from all over the globe.

To get a taste, take a look at the Editorial and the Table of Contents.


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Of Graduation, a 50th Anniversary, the Ranch, Laborers—and Sunsets

Dawn-Lukie-UofA-e1464385055739-768x1024

With Luke at his graduation party.

So, sometimes life is a ripple and sometimes it’s a tidal wave. The past month has been a tidal wave kind of life, resulting in both my being OBA (Officially Behind in All, including writing to you!) and so awash in gratitude that it drops me to my knees. I swing back and forth between the two and grab firm ground when I can.

Last I wrote, dirt was flying, cement was being poured, and flowers planted in preparation for Luke’s high school graduation. The flurry of activity continued up until the last minute (reminding me Noé and my wedding!), including the great ramada-raising, which now included the arrival of the mounties to help.

ramada

Wyatt, Noé, Dad

 Luke graduated in fine style with the most enthusiastic cheering section.

winks

Noé, me, Wynn, Wyatt, Luke, Dad, Mom

Every minute of planting, building, copious amounts of watering and wine was worth it. 

View from the roof. ©Rosemary Dunston

View from the roof. ©Rosemary Dunston

‘Twas the season of celebration. Immediately after Luke’s party, we headed to the ranch to celebrate Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary. We arrived just as the sun was setting on the lane.

Wink sign arrival

If you look closely, you’ll see Wyatt and Wynn fishing amongst the clouds here. 

Fishing in the clouds.

Fishing in the clouds.

Wynn and I went to spend time with my favorite horse, and inspiration for Mame in Meadowlark, Josie. 

Wynn and Josie

Wynn and Josie

I was taken with Wynn’s hair next to Josie’s mane – the colors and textures of both…

Hair:mane

…and made a ring from strands of Josie’s mane, now in my jewelry box. 

Horsehair ring

One of my all-time favorite photos of Wynn, now on the ranch. I have no idea why we called her the The Pink Pistol…

Wynn, the Pink Pistol

Wynn Elizabeth, The Pink Pistol

What began with this June 4—50 years ago…

Mom ad Dad wedding

Dean and Joan Wink, June 4, 1966

…now looks like this. What a life Mom and Dad have created.

Whole fam-damily

Whole fam-damily, June 2016. Bo, Austin, Garrett, Dad, Mom, Wyatt, Wynn, Luke, me, Noé

Cousin time!

Cousin time—Wyatt, Austin, Wynn, Garrett, Luke

Came back to head to Tucson for Orientation, where Luke will be studying International Business at the University of Arizona—because, he is the luckiest guy we know.

Bear Down, Wildcats! #WildcatMom

With Luke Orientation

And then to Chicago to meeting again with two incredible communities that come together once  a year at the Annual Instructors Conference (AIC) for the LIUNA Training and Education Fund. Once a year in Chicago, instructors in the Laborers’ International Union of North America and international educators from all over the world come to work together in an incredible week. Through the years, I’ve come to love the people of these communities deeply. People always ask me what we do at this conference. There is so much happening here, better to watch for yourself.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/131241866″>The 2014 Annual Instructor Conference Recap</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user17215533″>LIUNA Training &amp; Education Fund</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Home to teach three classes of Orientation to the Teaching Profession. Clearly, we needed flowers and stones for our first night of class. 

Flowers for first night

After class, watched this sunset unfold from our roof…

Sunset 1

Sunset 2

Peace.

 


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Backyard Tango

Cara's bouquet

Cara’s bouquet

Of course, the first mason-jar bouquet of the year in our new home had to be in honor of Cara.

Our home—more specifically, our yard—has been a swirl of activity lately in preparation for Luke’s upcoming high school graduation festivities. We kicked off Mother’s Day with all that I asked for—working in our yard with loads of planting and digging. Despite the wind and rain, the kids dove in and we spend the day outside. 

Flowers to plant

Wynn Luke working on the yard

The next day, we poured the slab of cement for the ramada. A couple of Noé’s friends from work came to help. I felt as if I were in Cascabel—large machinery, Spanish flying everywhere. The guys constantly referred to the other as, Mi rey (my king), a common term of endearment in Spanish. 

Pouring slab

Couldn’t resist.

Casa Villarreal Wink 2016

We moved on to laying flagstone.

 

Wyatt Wynn laying flagstone

Flagstone

I hope our neighbors don’t mind classic 80’s, 70’s, and 60’s music, as that is what is playing to rock us through our work. 

Work cre

El Blanco has pulled through like a charm. Cannot imagine how we ever made it without.

Dawn El Blanco

When you need more room for 18 foot boards, improvise! Noé said people were anxious to pass and get ahead of him on the highway. 

Noe el blanco

Saw first rattlesnake of the year on my run. I saw as my foot almost came down on its head. I was deep into mile six and my mind a million miles away thinking of everything needing to be done. Then suddenly, the “rattlesnake hop,” when suddenly your heels grow wings and you find yourself flying several feet forward. Rattlesnake

Today is Sunday and Luke graduates tomorrow. The day will be filled with putting up the structure for the ramada—a “ramada raising,” the southwestern version of the Amish barn raising. My bonnet is ready. Then, on to decorating the ramada and trees with as many little white lights as I can wrap around everything. We’re starting early, in hopes of actually finishing and getting some good work time in before the late-afternoon southwestern winds kick up. Breakfast of egg burritos, made with fresh eggs from a colleague. I love their mosaic. Fresh eggs

As I was looking around yesterday, thinking of the yard last year and even last week, I said to Luke, “We may actually pull this off yet, buddy.” 

Firepit

When not digging holes, Luke’s 1600 meter relay team took First in the New Mexico Track and Field Competition. More on that, and how life gave me a second chance, in a future piece. For now, the State Champ himself.

Luke's team #1

Luke’s cheering section.

Luke's team

And his very proud Mommy Lady.

Dawn and Luke