Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


28 Comments

A Mosaic for Mother’s Day

A sunrise run.

Sunrise run.

A mosaic of photos for Mother’s Day. Bits of beauty from the past few weeks to share together.

Early morning writing by candlelight.

Early morning writing.

Layers and textures of clouds overhead.

Layers of clouds over Santa Fe.

First lilac in honor of Cascabel and Grandma Grace to bloom.

First lilac

A new discovery for Friday Night, Family Night. Highly recommend.

Hatch Red Chile Wine

Running trail and partner.

running trail

Postcard from Switzerland of the incredible library in St. Gallen. Heaven. One day I’ll go.

Postcard St. Gallens

Postcard from Kay Schimke. Thank you!

The guitar inspired by Song in Meadowlark unfolds…

Meadowlark guitar Song
The artist, Jodi Shaw, at work. I must say, this makes me a bit teary.

This photo hangs above my writing desk. I adore. I lose myself in this image and all it evokes. Photographer unknown. Wings to all.

Woman and wings

In honor of mothers the world over. My maternal great-grandmother, Lucille Clark, age 13. Or, as I knew her, Grammie Cile.

Grammie Cile

My grandmother, Janet Clark Richardson.

Grandma Janet

With my incredible, phenomenal mom.

Dawn baby and Mom

In honor of beauty, wings, and mothers the world over. 

Rooftop sunset.

Rooftop sunset.

 


12 Comments

An Invitation — Your Altars

Meadowlark Altar

Meadowlark altar by Annette Chaudet

Side of altar.

Side of altar.

“Since time immemorial, the primary function of altars and shrines has been to provide sacred and holy places amid the ordinary reality of life.” ~Denise Linn, Altars

Altars fascinate me, speak to me, lift me up, keep me grounded, remind me of the magical possible amidst the mundane.

My publisher, Annette Chaudet of Pronghorn Press, surprised me with this treasure of an altar for Meadowlark. I could go on and on of all I love about this altar, as the more I studied, the more each detail specific to Meadowlark, or my real and creative world, comes to life. The physical and cultural expressions of my landscapes—the Southwest and the Great Plains—decorate this piece. Real prairie grass sprays around the meadowlark and milagros of books, chile, sacred hearts, and horseshoes float amidst all. In a single piece, this altar expresses so much of my heart and what I love. 

Altar on windowsill.

Altar on windowsill.

Altars began speaking to me over a decade ago and have been an integral aspect of life ever since. Many of my altars are collected piece that come together on their own throughout time. I suddenly realize an altar has been created, often without my realizing what I was doing. Altars collect on my kitchen windowsill, top of the dresser, and in my writing room. They are often not fancy, but rather come together with a life of their own. I find myself looking to altars throughout the day, running my fingers over their textures. The glass balls that hang from the archway between our living room and kitchen create an altar. I’ve come to experience our landscape itself as an altar.

Two dried prairie roses. ©Teresa Kilbury.

Two dried prairie roses. ©Teresa Kilbury.

When I look to the silhouette of the horizon or a beautiful sunrise or sunset, I see the altar of our world. In many ways, journals are altars. A reader and dear friend, Teresa Kilbury, created this photo altar of Meadowlark and two flowers bound with a blue ribbon to express, “Two dried prairie roses fell, intertwined, from the last page.”

In our Dewdrops community, we have had a number of pieces highlighting the artistry and sacred spaces within our community. I invite you to explore both—a feast for the senses and spirit! 

Artists Among Us displayed the amazing art in the form of painting, music, jewelry, song, food, photography and more—with each artist sharing a bit of their journey as an artists. In Writing Spaces of the World, writers both professional and personal, shared their sacred spaces and what they mean to each. 

Fetish altar

Fetish altar

In Invitation to You—In a celebration of altars of all kinds, I invite you to send a photo of your altar and what this space means to you to share with our community. I do this for the love of altars, the energy they create and bring into the world, and the sheer infinite expressions of this energy. Perhaps your altar is  within your home, perhaps it is a place along a river, perhaps it is a tiny matchbox on a windowsill, perhaps a cairn of stones. I cannot wait to see!

Please send the photo of your altar and what it means to you to dawn@dawnwink.com by March 31. 

Noé and I have a saying we say to one another that we picked up somewhere along the way, “Your name is safe in my mouth.”

Your altar is safe in our community. 

Wherever you go

Wherever you go

* * *
To subscribe and receive Dewdrops in your email, please enter your email address in the box under “Follow this blog via email” or click on the ‘Follow’ icon in lower right-hand corner of the blog’s screen and ‘Confirm Follow’ in the email you receive. To return to website: http://www.dawnwink.com


31 Comments

Writing Space of One’s Own

My writing room.

My writing room.

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”  ~Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

I haven’t always loved the above quote by Virginia Woolf. I especially did not love it when I was writing at the kitchen table, on the couch surrounded by kids and dogs, and at my desk in the living room amidst the deep living of life with three teenagers, husband, and big German Shepherd.

I have always loved and been fascinated by writing spaces. I’ve been so fascinated that I devoted a piece to Writing Spaces Around the World. There is just something so insightful, intimate, and fascinating about the spaces where people put their worlds into words.

Kitchen table writing space.

Kitchen table writing space.

Most of my writing life has taken place at the kitchen table with life happening all around. Oh, the marvelous discovery of ear plugs! Suddenly, one sits in a somewhat gauzy space and can focus.

Our home for the past years has burst at the seams with children, animals, and life. So much so that we converted (a term I use loosely—it has insulation) our garage into a bedroom for our oldest son, Wyatt. One evening at dinner, the kids were complaining about the small size of our house. “Compared to most places people live around the world, our home is huge!” I said.

“Mom,” Wyatt said, “I sleep in the garage.” I admitted that he had a point. 

In the unfolding of life, Wyatt left this fall for college. He wasn’t gone 24 hours and his younger brother, Luke, had claimed his room and Wynn had claimed Luke’s. With the shifting and movement, suddenly, a room of my own, a room with a door, opened before me. Every inch of my new writing room creaks with meaning, roots, relationship, and love.

One never really has enough book shelves.

One never really has enough book shelves.

Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I sewed. Nobody in my family believes me. Since Baby #3 arrived 15 years ago, I made her baby quilt, started writing, and have not sewn since. Now, I have a space to sew, where I don’t have to put everything away at the end of the day!

Shelves and sewing space.

Shelves and sewing space. Wooden toys for young visitors.

The below warning is true. Dad gave me this t-shirt. I envision as a highly embroidered pillow.

True.

True.

 Dolls across the generations and countries.

Dolls across generations and countries.

Dolls across generations and countries.

La gran Frida Kahlo brings spirit and strength to any space. I simply love the image of the skull composed of two women below her. I know la Friducha would love, too.

Frida Kahlo and women composing skull.

Frida Kahlo and women composing skull.

Candles are essential for early morning writing.

Candles for early morning writing.

Candles for early morning writing.

Fetishes bring their power and magic.

Fetishes and treasures.

Fetishes and treasures.

Socks hand-knit for each child never leave one’s side.

Socks for kids hand-knit by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas.

Socks for kids hand-knit by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas.

Babies sleep on shelves among the books.

Babies sleep among the books.

Babies sleep among the books.

Each piece of art here laden with story, roots, and love. Vintage doll set from the 1930s. Books below, research for the next novel. Treasures all.

Art of the heart and books of research for the next novel.

Art of the heart and books of research for the next novel.

My writing view.

Writing view.

Writing view.

Now, to write. The manuscript for “Love Stones” awaits. The publisher has seen the first draft and I have editing notes. The story wants to be written as memoir and deeper than planned. I light candles and hold the intention that this writing room—and I—am up for the journey. 

Manuscript for Love Stones.

Manuscript for Love Stones.

Sunrise out my writing room window. Here’s to the journey ahead.

Sunday sunrise.

Sunday sunrise.

* * * To subscribe and receive Dewdrops in your email, please enter your email address in the box under “Follow this blog via email” or click on the ‘Follow’ icon in lower right-hand corner of the blog’s screen and ‘Confirm Follow’ in the email you receive. To return to website: http://www.dawnwink.com


24 Comments

Of Buffalo, Birthdays, Burned Trucks, and the SD Book Festival

Mom on Buffalo Roundup. © Dean Wink

Mom on Buffalo Roundup. © Dean Wink

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Last we knew, it was almost time for the South Dakota Festival of Books and Mom and Dad were off to ride the Buffalo Roundup at Custer State Park on Dad’s 70th birthday. 

I made it to the Festival of Books and called Dad that morning for his birthday. He had loaded the horses and was headed to the Buffalo Roundup three hours away.

An hour later, Mom called. “Perfect timing,” I said. “I’m right in between workshops.” 

“Not really,” she said, calling from her own vehicle. “Your dad’s truck is on fire.” 

Fire?

“Fire. That’s all I know. I was on the phone with him and he said, ‘Whoa, there’s flames,’ and we lost our connection. I left early to drop Ginny (her dog) off with Kelly. The wild thing is, I had a premonition that we needed to take two vehicles. It didn’t make any sense at the time.” 

Dad's Truck. ©Sturgis Volunteer Fire Dept.

Dad’s Truck. ©Sturgis Volunteer Fire Dept.

“I was stopped for road construction,” Dad told me later, “and all of a sudden in the rear-view mirror, I saw flames flying out of the side of the wheels. Then, flames were flying up through the dashboard. I jumped out and unhooked the trailer and a road grader pushed it back away from the truck.” 

Dad and the shell of his truck. ©Sturgis Volunteer Fire Dept.

Dad and the shell of his truck. ©Sturgis Volunteer Fire Dept.

With the horses safe and the pickup a smoking husk, a friend offered Dad a pickup to make it to the roundup yet. Dad hooked up the trailer to the loaned pickup, and he and Mom headed to the roundup. When they reached town 80 miles away, Dad found the one of the wheels had come off the trailer. “Usually, you know when you’ve lost a tire, because they’ll roll by and pass you on the road,” he mused.  

At this point, Mom is thinking perhaps God is trying to tell them something about riding in the roundup. “These are not subtle signs!” 

Onward. The next day I received a text from Dad. “We’re off.” I texted back, “Enjoy! Be careful.” As I listened to workshops and wrote through the morning, I kept checking my phone for the next text, which I finally received—a photo of Mom and the word, “Done.” I exhaled deeply for the first time that day.

Mom on Buffalo Roundup. © Dean Wink

Mom on Buffalo Roundup. © Dean Wink

Friend and photographer/writer, Sherry Bunting, captured this image of Mom and Dad.

Dean and Joan Wink ©Sherry Bunting

Dean and Joan Wink ©Sherry Bunting

At an event that evening, the speaker introduced the birthday boy, still in his riding gear, to the 300 people in attendance. I told Dad, “I think it’s only right that the state of South Dakota throw a birthday party for what will now be known as Dean Wink’s Smokin’ 70th!”

SD Festival Friends dinner out.

SD Festival Friends-Kyle Schaefer, Malcolm Brooks, Gwen Westerman, Ashley Wolff, Rachael Hanel, me.

In Sioux Falls, SD, across the state from the flames and buffalo, the South Dakota Festival of Books whirled into full swing. The panels and presentations were marvelous. I immersed myself in listening and learning from others.

Rachael Hanel (We’ll be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger’s Daughter) spoke on the craft of memoir and through evocative photos guided us to memories long-hidden and rich with potential for writing. Gwen Westerman (MniSota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota) on the history of the Dakota,”I dreamt about it, as if all these stories were in one voice. It is our Genesis, little ‘g’ and big ‘G.'”

Malcolm Brooks (Painted Horses), whose book I now read, “The sun pools like a molten ingot and then drips progressively away, its color changing as it descends and changing in turn the hue of the sky around it.” Ashley Wolff (Miss Bindergarten Goes to Kindergarten) led us through how life and family infuse her art and writing. Jon Lauck (The Lost Region) gave voice to the revival of Midwestern history to highlight why the Midwest matters. 

I spoke on “Writing the Land” and “Meadowlark: In Word and Image,” so grateful to share the journey of both with those who attended. 

"When we write the land, we write ourselves." © Denise Blomberg

“When we write the land, we write ourselves.” © Denise Blomberg

Two of the greatest blessings of my time in Sioux Falls were the time spent with my Aunt Elaine (Dad’s sister) and Uncle Ray, who drove from Iowa and a surprise visit from dear friend of my parents and me from forever Mary Jane Lunetta, who completely surprised me by appearing from Minneapolis.

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Ray Johnson

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Ray Johnson

Mary Jane Lunetta

Mary Jane Lunetta

All in all, an incredible weekend—filled with friends, flames, festival, buffalo, birthdays, and books.

You really can’t make this stuff up. 

Home again and on a run through the desert with Clyde.

Home again and on a run through the desert with Clyde.


15 Comments

South Dakota Festival of Books and a 70th Birthday

Sunrise run.

Sunrise run.

I took this photo on a long weekend sunrise run a few weeks ago. My German Shepherd, Clyde, galloped along ahead. I happened to turn to turn and saw sunbeams break over the horizon—inspired me for many miles, and days, after. Hope this will you, too.

SD Festival of Books

SD Festival of Books

Events to celebrate fill this week. I’m off to Sioux Falls, SD for the South Dakota Festival of Books, September 26-28, to bask in all things literary.

I speak on “Writing the Land” (Saturday, 9/27, 9:00 am) and “Meadowlark: In Word and Image” (Saturday, 9/27, 4:00 pm). Books signings for two days: Early Bird Mass Book Signing, 9/26/2014 3:00-4:00, and Mass Book Signing, 9/27/2014 1:00-1:45. 

For any who live in the area, I would love to see you. 

Drum roll please

Dad, branding 2014

Dad, branding 2014

Dad turns 70 on September 25th. He and Mom will celebrate his 70th by riding with buffalo. No, I am not making this up. For the past number of years, Dad and Mom have ridden in the Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup and they will be running with the buffalo on Dad’s birthday this year. 

It’s not everybody who runs with the buffalo for their 70th. I think this happens only when your dad’s a cowboy

Happy Birthday, Dad! 

Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup.

Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup.

 

* * *
To subscribe and receive Dewdrops in your email, please enter your email address in the box under “Follow this blog via email” or click on the ‘Follow’ icon in lower right-hand corner of the blog’s screen and ‘Confirm Follow’ in the email you receive. To return to website: http://www.dawnwink.com


19 Comments

Tucson Festival of Books and “the Benson kids” — Roots and Love

Power of Kindness

Power of Kindness

Tucson Festival of Books, ©Benjie Sanders, Arizona Daily Star

Tucson Festival of Books, ©Benjie Sanders, Arizona Daily Star

A reader’s dream—that’s the best way to describe the Tucson Festival of Books.

The Festival of Books (FOB) is particularly this reader’s dream, since it takes place on the University of Arizona campus, in the heart of southern Arizona. Imagine warmth, palm trees lining the grassy mall, and 120,000 bibliophiles wandering booth after booth of books, listening to authors’ talks, and enjoying gelatto in the sunshine. The air of the FOB pulses with a love of reading, of books, of writing, of literacy. People of all ages (an entire area is devoted to children’s literature and fun things for kids to do—including watch a circus) wander the mall.

Tucson Festival of Books

Tucson Festival of Books

Last weekend, we headed for Tucson and the FOB. This year, MEADOWLARK joined the books featured and off we went. I was deeply grateful for the opportunity to spend an evening talking about writing, reading, and the journey of Meadowlark with the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, whose mission reads, “Working for a world where women and girls are able to achieve their full potential and pursue their dreams.” The beauty and magic of book clubs and friendship wound together, as I spoke with an amazing book club in Tucson, and also saw a member of my own dear book club from my years in California at the Festival. 

An unexpected blessing happened during the Festival, nearly 38 years in the making. During my growing-up years on the Cascabel ranch, I attended school in the town of Benson, an hour by dirt road from the ranch and only 45 minutes by highway from Tucson. For those who know me, Benson, Cascabel, Tucson, the Sonoran Desert have a very, very special place in my heart. I attended school in Benson from third through tenth grades. In eleventh grade, I lived in Chihuahua City, Mexico as an exchange student, and my senior year of high school, I moved with my  family to California. While, technically I left after the tenth grade, this in no way kept me from feeling as much a part of my class as always, something I implored the Vice President of our class, who kept us all together via email and contact, to remember, which she has done magnificently.

I’ve stayed in touch with Benson friends, though years, miles, and the busyness of life for all has often kept years between any kind of contact. Knowing I’d be in Tucson, I connected with two wonderful friends from the Benson years, one of whom I hadn’t seen in 25 years, and the other I’d just seen for the first time in 25 years in December. The three of us were to meet at the Festival. I couldn’t wait.

Benson Reunion—Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, me, Kandie Ward, April Murphy, Patrick Padilla

Benson Reunion—Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, me, Kandie Ward, April Murphy, Patrick Padilla

As I stood under the shade of the author’s pavillion, I lifted my eyes and suddenly another face from 25 years ago walked through the crowd. I leapt up and we hugged and hugged. Then, another face. And another. Soon, a veritable Benson Union High School reunion was gathered at the pavillion. I found myself speechless. I had no idea and just kept staring and hugging and staring and hugging some more. A few tears later, we moved to gather around a table under the shade of the eating area—and settled in.

I sat at the table and drank in the roots and love at the table. There is something unique about friends from childhood and those high school years. As I gazed around the table, I thought of the 15-year-olds we’d once been and all that had happened since that time that none of us could have imagined—marriages, births, deaths, divorces, new marriages, parenthood alone and in partnership, grandchildren. Some of us became parents quite young and others have weathered infertility. We no longer have the 15-year-old bodies of our high school years. Years of living show on our faces now and I love that. Some of our bodies had betrayed us, cancer survivors sat among our small group. I took in each face and thought of what I knew of their stories.

Mom and "the Benson kids"- Lisa Dryden, Tommy Santoyo, April Murphy, Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, Sandra Leverty

Mom and “the Benson kids”- Lisa Dryden, Tommy Santoyo, April Murphy, Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, Sandra Leverty

My mom, Joan Wink, was the high school Spanish teacher during these years. Mom’s roots with my classmates run as deep as my own, and deeper with her students that came before and after me. She’s written frequently in her books about “the Benson kids” and all they taught her about teaching and life. Mom accompanied this photo with the caption, “How I love my Benson kids!” Appropriately, Mom was wearing her t-shirt that states, “Those who can, TEACH. Those who can’t, pass laws about teaching.” Hear, hear!

There is a connection with these deep roots and time shared together during our growing-up years that goes beyond the rhythms of daily life, that threads deep and binds beyond differences that might fray a more recent friendship. In our group, we did not talk politics or the economy or religion or the latest headlines. All of those conversations seemed to lift aside, winnowed by years of our roots and our memories of who each of us had been and had become, leaving only the depth of our shared history. We shared recent losses, old scars, and gratitude for healing and hope. We laughed, we told stories, shared memories, held babies, held hands, hugged, and told one another how very proud we are of each other. Somehow, our shared roots brought out the best in each other.

San Pedro River Valley, AZ

San Pedro River Valley, AZ

The drive home to Santa Fe, took us past my beloved San Pedro River Valley, home to Cascabel and my childhood. We didn’t have time to drive to Cascabel this trip, so I stopped to take a photo instead. Next time! The drive also took us through Texas Canyon, a sight I marvel at as much now as I did as a child. Those rock formations never cease to set my imagination aflame with possibilities. 

Mango chile ice-cream shake

Mango chile ice-cream shake

We stopped in Hatch, NM (where the world-famous chile is grown) for the traditional green chile cheeseburger and a newly-discovered tradition, a mango and chile shake. Mango and chile, a flavor combination I came to crave and adore while living in Mexico. Divine. I hung my purse on the back of my chair—and discovered two hours later when we stopped for gas, that I’d left it there… Luke and Wyatt were especially thrilled with this latest development. Back to Hatch we drove and on hour number eight of our drive home, when we should’ve been pulling up to our front door, and instead had three hours of driving before us, there was a brief energy-filled exchange between Luke and me, after which Wyatt announced to the car, “And the matriarch asserts her dominance.”

Cracked. Me. Up.

In honor of National Reaching Month, KASA TV of Albuquerque featured New Mexico authors and books, including MEADOWLARK. Our conversation revolved around family stories and writing the land:

Our time in Tucson brought home for me the transcendent power of deeply rooted friendships and shared experiences. I was reminded how deep roots hold the potential to create openings for connection and caring no matter how many years have passed. In this wild journey of life, true connection and caring are gifts to be treasured.

Roots and love.

Tucson bougainvillea in full bloom.

Tucson bougainvillea in full bloom.


10 Comments

Women of Atlas—Song Through the Storm

Women gathering to nurture women.

Inspired by the devastation of the Atlas Storm (that I wrote about in The Blizzard that Never Was), the organization Rural Women in America of Bowman, North Dakota created a day of inspiration, art, laughter, tears, and friendship for women in western South Dakota.

Women of Atlas © Sandy Rhoden, Meade County Times-Tribune

Women of Atlas © Sandy Rhoden, Meade County Times-Tribune

“Saturday was spectacular. An afternoon of laughter, and a few healing tears,” wrote Missy Urbaniak. “A sense of validation. That, yes, we had been through something hard.  We deserved something special. Just for us. This is a very foreign idea to women of the prairie!”

I am grateful and honored to be included in the event. I couldn’t attend in person, so I arrived via video and spirit, speaking on, “Song Through the Storm.”

There’s a passage in Meadowlark in which Daisy Standing Horse shares Song with Grace.

Meadowlark: A Novel

Meadowlark: A Novel

“Every place, every creature has their own song. You just have to listen for them. You have your own song, Grace. Deep within you. Most people live their whole lives and never listen to the songs of life, not their own or any around them. Scares them too much. It’s easier to go through life living the way everybody else expect you to. But when you’re listening to your own song, Grace, you feel deep peace, right here.” She reached out and placed the flat of her palm on the center of Grace’s chest (p. 176).”

When I settled in to make the video and knew it would be cold in South Dakota, I built a fire in the fireplace for all gathered and started taping. In recording after recording something went wrong or didn’t feel right, and I started again and again. At last, I thought of family and friends, I thought of those I love and how life was transformed by the blizzard. I saw their faces, felt their presence, and imagined we were there together—and spoke. This is the video included above.

Rural Women in America and Reneé Rongen © Rural Women in America

Rural Women in America and Reneé Rongen © Rural Women in America

In “Rural Women in America Provide Special Time for Ranch Women,” Sandy Rhoden of Meade County Times-Tribune describes the day:

Live, Love and Prosperwas what took place in Union Center on Saturday afternoon.

This was a day prepared especially for the rural women who endured the storm, Atlas, in one way or another. It was a day packed full of activities that was sponsored by Rural Women in America.

Mom (Joan Wink) speaking at Women of Atlas.

Joan Wink speaking at Women of Atlas.

Katie Dilse welcomed the women and got them excited about their special time together. She introduced the main speaker of the day, Reneé Rongen

Rongen is a dynamic, motivational speaker who incorporates humor and life experiences into her presentation. Her book, “Fundamentally Female,” was given as a gift to each woman in attendance.

A presentation, via video, was given by Dawn Wink. She talked about her book “Meadowlark: Song Through the Storm.”  Joan Wink gave an introduction of her daughter before the video and then answered questions about her grandmother, Grace, and the book. The book surrounded the topic of life on the Prairie and the challenges in Grace’s life.Rural Women in American’s mission is to inspire women by celebrating, cultivating and connecting their heart and souls with other women living in Rural America, empowering them to unlock their greatest potential.” more…

Meadowlark and Song by  Jodi Shaw © Kerry Frei

Meadowlark and Song by Jodi Shaw © Kerry Frei

Artist Jodi Shaw shared a piece of her art inspired by the conversation about song in Meadowlark. Kerry Frei ordered a custom piece for her daughters and Jodi’s physical expression of these ideas brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw…and every time since. 

The energy of the event carried across the miles. That afternoon, I closed my eyes and thought of all the women gathered, I thought of the heartbreak that has been a palpable energy of the land ever since the blizzard. I felt the tears and laughter. I felt the healing.
*
Deep gratitude to Rural Women in America and for creating this day of inspiration, healing, and song for women.
Live Your Song by Jodi Shaw © Jodi Shaw

Live Your Song by Jodi Shaw © Jodi Shaw


14 Comments

Deadwood to the Dominican Republic

Harvest moon hung over the prairie.

Harvest moon hung over the prairie.

Prairie to sea. Mountains to strings of palm trees. The West to the Caribbean.

You know those rare, rare moments in life when things actually unfold in ways that you hope, work hard for, and plan? Those moments when in the midst of all of this working and planning, you allow yourself a few glimmers to hope for, but the thought of allowing yourself to truly believe feels like you’re setting yourself up for failure, so you just get back to work.

Meadowlark shirt!

Meadowlark shirt!

This past week one of those rarest of rare confluences of life actually came together in ways the years of working, planning, hoping, dreaming, and working actually unfolded in ways I’d allowed myself to think about only in rare, private moments—before getting back to work.

First, I have to share this shirt with you. My dear friend and author, Pamela Keyes, sent this to me. I may never take it off. Decades from now, friends and family may be begging me to wear something other than this shirt. And, I’ll just nod, rub my hand along the fabric of my worn, tattered, an faded garment, and smile. 

As I write this flying at 30,000 over the Atlantic on my way back to the US, what lifts again and again to my mind is sheer wonder.

This week started at the Prairie Edge in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Prairie Edge, SD

Prairie Edge, SD

From the first time I stepped foot in Prairie Edge, nearly 20 years ago, this place has been a portal that took me into other worlds—worlds of art, beauty, textures—past and present. This is a space of presence. We visit Prairie Edge nearly every time we’re off the ranch and in town. As my daughter, Wynn, said to me this year, “Mom, we always come here and you always take pictures of the same things!” I realized that is true. Somehow everything feels newly beautiful each and every time. Their bead library inspired the descriptions of Daisy Standing Horse’s beading by candlelight in the novel. 

I have spent hours in their bookstore, searching the shelves for books about the turn of the century, the time period of Meadowlark, or any book about the prairie or West that caught my fancy.

Reading at Prairie Edge

Reading at Prairie Edge

Every once in a great while I’d allow myself to think for a moment about the worn manuscript of Meadowlark as a published novel,  and holding an event for in this place that was full of meaning. I’d allow myself an Imagine if

That Imagine if happened with a reading at Prairie Edge last week.  Along with dear friends and family, Grace’s descendants, we read. Mom brought Grace’s wedding dress and riding jacket in from the ranch.

Signing books, Noé, Prairie Edge, SD. Photo © Jodene Shaw

Signing books with Noé, Prairie Edge, SD. Photo © Jodene Shaw

Skull at Prairie Edge

Skull at Prairie Edge

Photo Jodene Shaw

Lunch after with Susanne Bendigo, Mary Kay Sandal, Mom, Wyatt, Noé, me, Missy Urbaniak, Denise Weyer, and Jodi Shaw Photo © Jodene Shaw

With author Kent Meyers

With author Kent Meyers

On to the South Dakota Festival of Books with Mom, Noé, and Wyatt. In attendance at the conference was one of my writing heroes who with such generosity of spirit wrote a blurb for Meadowlark. I was able to meet and thank Kent Meyers, author of one of my all-time favorite books The Work of Wolves (South Dakota One Book 2005), in person. What a gift! Meyers wrote about Meadowlark, “Dawn Wink writes in the tradition of O.E. Rolvaag, Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz, and Mary Clearman Blew, with a clear-eyed understanding of the connections between isolation and oppression, especially for women, on the Great Plains. Wink is not afraid to look at difficult and uncomfortable issues such as domestic violence, Indian boarding schools, or the law’s corruption. She also surprises us by writing about intimate and hidden issues like early 20th-century contraception. She has a fine sense for characters and a deep understanding of land. The scene where Grace Robertson, her protagonist, makes a punching bag out of a feed sack in order to work out her anger, and then returns to work and love, is worth the price of the novel by itself. This is a gritty novel but also a hopeful one, exploring the ugliness of power and the ways despair can drive good people to do awful things but also exploring compassion’s ability to bind, rejuvenate, and redeem.”

El Dominicano-Americano

El Dominicano-Americano

Then, from Deadwood to the Dominican Republic for the Annual Conference for Teachers of English 2013. 600 teachers from across the country gathered in Santo Domingo for a day of community, ideas, and inspiration. My first impression as I walked out of the airport and into the country was overwhelmingly about the air. The air, the air is so soft and warm. I felt as if I could palm this air in my hand and run the softness over my skin.

My hosts, Grisel Del Rosario and Rosa Rodríguez, treated me to a tour through the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, including the first cathedral of the United States, and such an array of beautiful windows and doors that me throwing my arm out to the side of our tour train to take photos at every opportunity. Join us: 

A path to wander in Santo Domingo...

A path to wander in Santo Domingo…

“You’ll here us say ‘First’ all the time.” And I learned this is with good reason. Columbus landed first in Santo Domingo. “We are the belly button of Europeans coming to the Americas,” the school director, Don Rafael.

The oldest cathedral in the Americas.

The oldest cathedral in the Americas.

Park in front of the cathedral.

Park in front of the cathedral.

This is a country drenched in history, the past pulses barely under the surface of the people, the buildings, the cadence of the language. It is a land of deep contrasts, the beauty of the land and people, the wrenching history of slavery, the era of the dictatorship, extreme wealth alongside desperate poverty. The people reflect every epoch of the past and present. -Aquí nos mezclamos todo – Los Españoles, los Africanos, y hasta los indígenas. “Here we mix all – the Spaniards, the Africanos, and even the Taino, the indigenous people who the Spaniards wiped out. They say they’re all gone, but my father had their straight hair, dark skin, full lips, and green, green eyes.”

Streets of Santo Domingo

Streets of Santo Domingo

Streets of Santo Domingo

Streets of Santo Domingo

We ate dinner in a candlelit subterranean cave. Beyond lovely.

Dinner in a subterranean cave.

Dinner in a subterranean cave.

And the teachers , the teachers with a generosity of spirit, warmth, and smiles that elevated the day into something extraordinary.  I spoke on “Teaching Passionately” and “Freedom Within Structure: Composing an Engaged class (PowerPoints included below). I am forever enriched by these experiences.

Teachers at the conference.

Teachers at the conference.

Teaching Passionately plenary

Teaching Passionately keynote

With speakers and distinguished members of El Domínco-Americano

With speakers and distinguished members of El Domínico-Americano. New friends all.

I fell in love with the artwork of Jorge Severino, whose pieces hang in the hotel and I’d noticed when I arrived—bold, evocative pieces of the women of the Dominican Republic.

Jorge Severino

Jorge Severino

Imagine my delight when El Domínico-Americano gifted me a piece of his – a Dominican woman with the wings of a butterfly. How beautifully poignant and meaningful from the land of las mariposas Mirabal. 

Jorge Severino

Jorge Severino

On the ride to the airport, I hadn’t yet touched the sea. I said to the driver, Nicolás, Por favor, no me dejes ir de éste país sin tocar el agua de la mar Caribe. (“Please don’t let me leave this place without touching the waters of the Caribbean.”) Yo sé exactamente en dónde. La playa por mi barrio. (“I know just the place,” he said, “near my neighborhood.”) We stopped near a cove on the beach, so I could touch the Caribbean Sea. Look at this cove… Places like this actually exist in this world. Dressed in jeans and long sleeves for what are always cold plane rides, I waded in jeans and all. Yes, the water really is as warm and delicious as it looks in this photo. Around us, fishermen brought in their catch for the day, boys jumped off rocks into the water, and a couple floated, swam, and flirted. I stood and stared around me, hardly able to believe I was there. This was out of a dream.

The cove.

The cove.

The connecting threads of life that had brought me here began with the School for International Training (SIT) TESOL Certification course. The idea had been to create opportunities to supplement my income, in ways that fit with the college and in ways I loved, to support my family. The road to certification turned out to be intensely bumpy, with unexpected events that had me wondering if this was a path I wanted to take. I came close to stepping away from this path a number of times over the three years of the certification, not at all sure that the investment of time, emotions, and expense was going to lead in a positive direction. Thanks to the angel-like appearances of Mary Scholl, Beth Neher, and Noemí Villarreal along the way, I held on to complete what I’d started. 

Couple swims in the sea.

Couple swims in the sea.

Fishermen's boats.

Fishermen’s boats.

Jeans and all, I wade in. I am not missing this.

Jeans and all, I wade in. I am not missing this.

There were so many times, years, during the writing of Meadowlark and going for my SIT TESOL certification that the most logical thing in the world was to give up, the universe seemed to be sending clear messages that these were not meant to be. Life does this, in its ebbs and flows.

I watched the ebb and flow of the tide swirl around my feet, the sand flowing in its tow, and the bubbles brought back up again. Somewhere beneath it all sparkle shards of hope that maybe, just maybe, if we hangs in there and keep working, maybe, just maybe things might turn out as we dream. And at sometimes, for brief, treasured moments in life, maybe, just maybe….definitely, most definitely, they do.

The cove.

The cove.

PowerPoints from presentations:

Teaching Passionately

Freedom In Structure, An Engaged Clasroom

* * *

To subscribe and receive Dewdrops in your email, please enter your email address in the box under “Follow this blog via email” or click on the ‘Follow’ icon in lower right-hand corner of the blog’s screen and ‘Confirm Follow’ in the email you receive. To return to website: www.dawnwink.com


15 Comments

A Birthing Rain – MEADOWLARK’s Book Launch

Meadowlark card

Meadowlark card, from Rachel Bighley

 

Meadowlark

Meadowlark

A birthing rain continued to bring Meadowlark into the world throughout the morning of the book launch, just as rain heralded a birth in the novel:

           Grace woke to a slow, soaking spring rain. Thunder cracked and lightening laced the sky. She lay in bed and studied the way her nightgown rose steeply over the mound of her belly. Mae had been by for a visit ten days ago and said the baby could come at any time. With another loud clap from the storm clouds, the baby within startled and abruptly straightened its legs. Tiny feet kicked Grace right below her ribs. She smiled and rubbed where she felt the kick…Rain continued throughout the day as her abdomen tightened then relaxed, keeping pace with the thunderclaps. 

Meadowlark, Collected Works, Photo © SFCC

Meadowlark, Collected Works, Photo © SFCC

In the previous decade, I’ve thought a lot about the moment when Meadowlark would come into the world. Oftentimes, it felt that I was, as Don Quixote sings in Man of La Mancha, dreaming the Impossible Dream. Other times, I could visualize with crystal clearness.

What I never grasped, though, was the reality of the feeling in the room when it actually happened. The event was better than my wildest hopes and dreams, because of the people who filled the room. 

You read in writing books to “trust the process” of the publication of a book. When one is deep into rejections, one doesn’t necessarily embrace this idea. In fact, one might even like to drop-kick this idea right out the window. And by one, I mean me. 

As I stood in Collected Works Bookstore this past Saturday and looked out onto who had gathered for Meadowlark, what I felt was bone- and heart-deep gratitude that Meadowlark had followed exactly the journey that it had. Without the journey unfolding along its own path, this moment would not have been possible. I treasured each and every presence there, and marveled at the array of experiences and life paths woven throughout us all – my parents, my husband, our children, students, colleagues, and dear friends spanning more than 30 years of friendship.

The presences in the room moved between the veil between the worlds. “This room is filled with spirits,” my friends, Susan and Heidi, in the front row told me. “We felt them as soon as we came in.” 

Meadowlark, Collected Works, Photo © SFCC

Meadowlark, Collected Works, Photo © SFCC

I begin readings and presentations with honoring the writing rhythms of Terry Tempest Williams by including a glass of water, representing invisible transformation occurring, and by lighting a candle, as does Isabel Allende, to invite the spirits to join.

“I haven’t even lit the candle yet,” I said.

“Well, they’re already here.”

Of course they are, I thought. They’ve been here all along, as I wrote this book. The veil continues to thin.

Our son, Luke, took a video of the first few minutes of MEADOWLARK’s Reading:

Meadowlark, Collected Works, Photo © SFCC

Meadowlark, Collected Works, Photo © SFCC

With Mom at the signing. Photo © SFCC

With Mom at the signing. Photo © SFCC

Meadowlark, Photo by Casey Applegate-Aguilar

Meadowlark, Photo by Casey Applegate-Aguilar

I woke in the middle of the night and wrote:

2:00 am and all asleep. The birthing rain continues to fall. 
The book launch for MEADOWLARK was beyond my wildest hopes, a celebration of friends, family, and story. I included photos to bring life to the land and context of the prairie and on the ranch. As I spoke, read, and looked out onto the faces of the people gathered—my heart filled to overflowing with love. Thank you and thank you to those who shared this time together. You created magic.
With love, 
Dawn

A video I made for you about the book launch and a brief reading aloud: 

What I have learned is that while writing itself is a solitary experience, the writing life is one of deep community. What brings the story to life are relationships. Without these relationships—between author and reader, reader and story, story and life—the story remains trapped and flat on the pages. It is the relationship that lifts the story from the single dimension of the pages and gives it color, life, dimensionality, roots, and wings.

From my heart, thank you.

***

A huge heart-felt thanks to Laura Mulry, Luke Wink-Moran, Casey Applegate-Aguilar, and Sharman King for providing the photos of this day. 

With Sharman King, photographer extraordinaire.

With Sharman King, photographer extraordinaire.


8 Comments

…It’s about Illuminating Life on Earth

Writing about trauma

Writing about trauma

While I had never read this quote before, at some deep, deep level, this gives language to why I wrote Meadowlark

“Wait a minute, Dawn,” a friend who is reading the book told me. “I thought Meadowlark was going to be all bluebells and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have to set it down sometimes.”

No, not all bluebells

As people write me and tell me of their experiences reading Meadowlark, what I’ve slowly become aware of is how the story takes on a life of its own for each reader, and touches people in ways that I never imagined as I wrote.

What I’ve discovered as a woman and human being walking in this world, is how story taps into the essence of human experience and the power inherent in this release. “Dawn, I read the first two pages and had to set it down and go for a walk,” wrote one reader. “I’ll come back to it, but it will be on my own time.” The sheer humanity of story, in both joy and pain, touches our own humanity and scars. I experienced this as I wrote and I hear now of people experiencing this as they read. The gift that has come from this is a reaching out, a recognition that we are not alone, and conversations about experiences that have long been silent. 

“Meadowlark sings a song for all of us, helping us reclaim those parts of ourselves we’ve allowed others to take. We all have that story, in various ways,” my friend, Kenna wrote. “There is a little bit of Grace in all of us.”

Great-Grandma Grace's coffee grinder, circa 1913.

Great-Grandma Grace’s coffee grinder, circa 1913.

What I’ve discovered as a writer is the very reason that Meadowlark was rejected by publishers—for its lack of following the traditional prairie and Western narrative—appears to be the aspect of the story that resonates most deeply with readers. After several rejections, I tried to write that book, I tried to change Meadowlark into what the publishers wanted. It was a writing disaster – all felt flat, forced, and fake. 

After about a year of this, I threw my hands up, told myself that I would listen and write the book as the story revealed itself to me. As soon as I did this, it was as if this vessel of words, story, language above me opened, ran down my arms, out my fingers, and spilled onto the page. During this time, I often turned to Grandma Grace’s coffee grinder, I ran my fingers around the rim and along the smooth wood—and listened. I wrapped my hands around the knob at the top and thought of Grace holding this same piece. What was she thinking? What did she feel? What was happening in her own world and the world outside? I had no idea if I would ever find a publisher, but knew that this was the story that wanted to come into the world. 

We create and recreate story as we read. What is true for the reader taps into some, perhaps unconscious, thread of experience and truth in that vessel of thought, experience, and imagination the writer draws from. When that experience involves trauma, “…it is more than simply documenting experience—it’s about illuminating life on earth. It’s about transforming tragedy into art, and hoping that somehow that piece of art may help someone else whose gone through something unbearable and who doesn’t yet see that there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel.” 

With Margaret Schimke Pyfer

With Margaret Schimke Pyfer

My own story last week included Seattle.  Seattle, and my time there, was a wonder. In addition to working with an incredible group of laborers around the ideas of cultural diversity, language, and gender, I had the opportunity to reconnect with a dear friend from high school and my cousin, both of whom I hadn’t seen for years.

Seattle – For this prairie and desert woman, There. Is. So. Much. Water! My dear friend, Margaret Schimke Pyfer, collected me from the airport, brought a picnic, loaded us onto the ferry, and we were off! I felt as if we were in a movie. We saw what we were sure were dolphins swimming in front of the ferry. Margaret later said they were porpoises. Porpoises or dolphins, they were magical to see skimming along the surface in front of us. 

With cousin Janet Little.

With cousin Janet Richardson Little.

Grace left many memories. My cousin, Janet Richardson Little, also Grace’s great-grandaughter, and I talked about this when we were together last week in Seattle. It had been at least 16 years since we’d seen each other. She and her family invited me to beautiful dinner and we spent the evening talking books, life, kids, and Grandma Grace. 

A time of deep gratitude and roots. 

I came home to enjoy the chairs that that Noé transformed in the previous week. I’ve had these chairs for decades and they’ve spent the past several years in our back yard, tired, worn, chipped and peeling white paint. He’s transformed them into these pieces of happiness. Wait until you see what he’s doing with the walls!

Yes, a light at the end of the tunnel…

Chairs

Chairs