Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


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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

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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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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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Journey to Oaxaca

Family Oaxaca

Santo Domingo, Calle Alcalá, Oaxaca

The journey begins. Playing spoons in Dallas airport.

The journey begins. Playing spoons in airport.

The last two weeks of July, I’m teaching a LISTO TESOL course in Oaxaca, México. We turned this into a family adventure and Noé, Luke, and Wynn are here, as well.  One never knows what to expect when traveling internationally.

Yesterday in class, we did a Listening Lesson on what happened on our trip:
1) Friday: Got up at 3:00am to leave Albuquerque at 5:00am.
2) 7-hour layover in Dallas.
3) Luke and I take flight to Mexico City, where we will meet Noé and Wynn 1-hour after arrive.
4) Luke and I wait 3 hours at the customs gate in Mexico City.
5) Noe and Wynn do not arrive. Luke is making “Taken” jokes. I do not find these funny.
6) I receive a text from Wynn that their flight was full, they were bumped, and are now flying to Los Angeles.
7) Wynn and Noe fly to Los Angeles and wave to our house, which they left 24 hours ago, as they fly over.
8) Luke and I guiltily go to our hotel to eat and sleep. Okay, only I felt bad. Luke ate and watched soccer.
9) Get up at 5:00 am to be there for Wynn and Noé when they arrive at 5:30.
10) Wait for 3 hours and Noe and Wynn do not arrive.
11) This is because Noé’s luggage is lost.
12) Noe and Wynn emerge and we head to AeroMar for our flight to Oaxaca.
13) Despite the printed documents of confirmation of our flight to Oaxaca, AeroMar tell us that these reservations do not exist.
14) We have no way from Mexico City to Oaxaca. I teach the next day at 9:00 am.
15) We decide to rent a car and drive the 6 hours.
16) Despite telling the bank that we would be in Mexico, my debit card does not go through at the car rental, because of “suspected fraud.”
17) We are stuck in Mexico City.
18) We remember that Noé spoke to a different person for his card at the bank. This person actually did their job and we can use his card.
19) Man at rental place reviews car and shows us the spare. The four of us laugh, because of course at this point, we will get a flat.
20) I drive, since Noe has not slept in more than 24 hours at this point.
21) We make it out of Mexico City, because some kind couple sees us looking for signs and pulls over to tell us how how to drive to Oaxaca. Since the rental place had no map and we have no clue. Again – Luke making more “Taken” jokes, that this is a ruse. Again, I do not find these funny.
22) We drive through AMAZING, raw landscape. 
23) Until we come to the bridge that is closed down due to the striking teachers.
24) We double-back and go around – and drive past burned out buses and cars and signs with photos of the teachers killed. We drive past groups of men with bandanas tied over their faces who check every car that goes by. Teachers have not been paid in months. We use as learning opportunity to discuss strikes and oppression. And we just hope the masked men with the rifles and pick axes let us through…
25) Drive another 3 hours. Kids say Oaxaca does not exist. Kids now punchy with exhaustion and start wrestling in the back seat. I sing, “To Dream the Impossible Dream” of arrival. Kids do not see humor in this.
26) Sunday 7:00 pm. Arrive to Oaxaca. Have no street address for our apartment. Our cab driver starts calling friends to ask where this might be.
17) Sunday 8:00 pm = 65 hours after leaving ABQ, we arrive to our hotel.
18) Noe and I ask where we can buy food for starving kids – and wine for us. 🙂
19) Let the adventure begin!

Made it to our apartment.

Made it to our apartment.

Class is off to a marvelous start! Some images of Oaxaca.

The art store on the corner of our apartment.

The Frida Kahlo Galeria beside our apartment.

Colors and textures of Oaxaca.

Colors and textures of Oaxaca.

Chapulínes con chile y limón. Grasshoppers with chile and lime. Noé says to take the legs off first, since they get stuck in your teeth.

Chapulines con chile y limón. Grasshoppers with chile and lime.

Chapulines con chile y limón. Grasshoppers with chile and lime.

Dresses of Oaxaca

Dresses of Oaxaca

20) I still have to figure out how we’re getting back to Mexico City for our return flights…


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TESOL — Online and in Oaxaca, México

Oaxaca, México

Oaxaca, México

TESOL Program – Online and in Oaxaca, México

I am thrilled to be a part of a collaboration between Santa Fe Community College and Language Institute for Sustainability and Transformative Education @ Oaxaca for teachers of students who speak languages other than English.

TV interview with more about the TESOL program specifics, students, and what you will experience in Oaxaca—immersing yourself in the language and culture of your students by living with a family, exploring outlying villages on the weekends, experiencing the vibrancy of the culture, languages, and people, and learning how to create academic and socio-cultural success for emergent bilingual students.

(Behind the scenes of the interview—Clearly, I had to wear a bright scarf to convey the vibrancy of the culture, people, languages, and land of Oaxaca!)

Teachers can now earn a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certificate in as few as two semesters through online courses, coupled with professional language and cultural immersion through LISTO (Language Institute for Sustainability and Transformative Education) summer intensive classes in Oaxaca, Mexico. Teachers have a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the ancient and magical city of Oaxaca, while taking coursework and earning credits through Santa Fe Community College. In this Institute, teachers engaged in high-quality second-language pedagogy, intensive language training, and rich artistic, cultural traditions found in Oaxaca. Teachers meet for instruction Monday through Thursday, with long weekends to explore outlying villages, vibrant with contemporary and indigenous foods, textiles, pottery, and music. There are homestay or independent apartment housing options.

Oaxaca - Papel Picado

Oaxaca – Papel Picado

Vision

LISTO is a national model for training teachers to further develop cultural competencies and understand and engage English Language Learning students.

Purpose

The purpose of LISTO for Teachers is to expose teachers to traditional cultures of Mexico to discover the cultural richness of the Spanish-speaking peoples of this hemisphere while engaging in effective second language pedagogy.

Mission

The Mission of LISTO is to bring teachers together in a language and cultural immersion program in Oaxaca, Mexico, to promote cultural understanding and build bridges with students upon their return to the United States.

Interested in earning your Bilingual Certificate? Earn 3 credits toward your Bilingual Certificate and participate in the month-long Spanish immersion program. Spanish credits can be earned as well, and a variety of Spanish levels are offered to meet your needs.

Why Oaxaca?

LISTO for teachers is based in and around Ciudad de Oaxaca, México, in a state with over 500 municipalities and 40 distinct languages in the southern part of Mexico, home to the spicy chocolate mole sauce, dances such as the Guelaguetza, traditional handmade clothes, black pottery and hand-woven rugs. Oaxaca is known for the vibrancy of the cultures and traditions of indigenous peoples. The people of Oaxaca are proud of their traditions, and still preserve them after 500 years of colonization and modernity. Near the city of Oaxaca are the ancient ruins of Monte Alban, coffee, banana and agave plantations, and numerous villages known for crafts such as woodworking or pottery.

Monte Albán

Monte Albán

Women of Oaxaca

 

We hope you will join us:

Specifics and Details about the Program

Application

Contact information:

Tourimex - Oaxaca

Tourimex – Oaxaca

LISTO
Cara Esquivel
Program Coordinator
listo@montedelsol.org
(505) 603-1235

Santa Fe Community College
Dawn Wink
Director, Department of Teacher Education
dawn.wink@sfcc.edu
(505) 428-1347

Bethany Muller, PhD
SFCC Teacher Education, Assistant Professor
bethany.muller@sfcc.edu
(505) 428-1749

Silver City, NM

Silver City, NM

WRITERS: The upcoming Write and Retreat in Silver City, New Mexico (February 19 – 22) will be a time of deep writing, deep retreat, and deep friendship.


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Team Shanghai and the Apple Pie Adventure

Infinite apple peels.

Infinite apple peels.

Luke’s friend, an exchange student from China, invited him to come to Shanghai this summer. As we often appreciate more the things we earn, Luke (and our family) made homemade apple pies for Easter to sell to raise funds to go. 

Wyatt, London

Wyatt, London

The Apple Pie Idea emerged a few years ago, when our oldest son, Wyatt, was invited to be a People-to-People Student Ambassador in the UK. This invitation happened during Wyatt’s freshman year, a time when he was really struggling. Our family sat in the invitational meeting, hearing about all of the wonders of this trip to Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland. Wyatt has always been entranced with this area of the world and read books about all by the wheelbarrow. Then, the numbers of what the trip would cost came up on the screen. There was simply no way. I looked at Wyatt, flashed on his struggles during that time, and deep inside me I knew that in ways I didn’t understand, we had to make this happen. Now, how?  What did our family have to offer? I make a very fine apple pie. When might people want one? The next holiday was Easter. Easter it was. Over the course of the next months, we experienced a transformation in Wyatt that left us speechless. 

Then came Luke’s invitation to go to Shanghai. It had been three years and we’d almost recovered from the last round of baking. Our hope is that in making this an experience that Luke works for, those greater life lessons will be an integral aspect of this experience. In addition to all he’ll learn through international travel and experiencing other cultures, we hope that through the making and selling of these apple pies, he will learn that life is about relationships, giving, working to create a life, and being gracious and grateful. He will give a presentation of photos and what he learned to gain experience in speaking in front of people. For all those who bought pies, we tell Luke that one day it will be his turn to give. That this is life. 

Luke wrote a letter to announce our upcoming sale of pies and Team Shanghai prepared. 

Luke - peeling and slicing.

Luke – peeling and slicing.

Wynn and Noé—the crust makers.

Wynn and Noé—the crust makers

Wynn and Noé—the crust makers

Wynn and Noé - sifting flour.

Wynn and Noé – sifting flour.

The apple peels, sliced apples, baskets and bags of all slowly took over our kitchen. I mixed, rolled the crust, and put the pies together.

How many more pies??

Late one day—How many more pies??

I never measure anything when I make apple pies. For all to help, I had to figure out more-or-less the measurements. I scribbled on a piece of paper and set in the middle of the table. 

Recipe

Recipe

We discovered good music was essential. We played stations of The Four Seasons, Motown, 80’s Rock, current hits, and everybody’s favorite, which Luke described as “weirdly perfect,” Disney soundtracks. Wynn and her best friend, Erin, sang all.

Erin and Wynn led the singing.

Erin and Wynn led the singing.

Two and a half days, 400 apples, 45 batches of dough…and a partridge in a pear tree later, we emerged with 70 pies. 

Luke heading pies into town.

Luke heading pies into town.

One of the tables of pies. ©Elizabeth Hinds

One of the tables of pies. ©Elizabeth Hinds

We returned home to survey a home still covered in apple peelings, butter, sugar, and flour on every surface. The boys dove into a chess game, Wynn went to her room humming a tune, Noé and I poured a glass of wine and collapsed on the couch. Whatever unfolds remains to be seen. Our hopes that this will be an experience in gratitude and learning Luke remains. Whatever happens, our family came together to peel, bake, sing, dance, work together to create a dream, talk, and laugh together for three days.

For this moment in time, that means everything. 

 * * *
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Gift from the Sea—The San Juan Islands

Sunrise over sea, San Juan Islands

Sunrise over sea, San Juan Islands

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” —Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Kids on ferry in harbor.

Kids on ferry in harbor.

I read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea years ago. I read the book and inhaled the essence of Lindbergh’s writing, yet it all remained quite distant. I admired the book and her ideas about the sea as one might admire a piece of art in a gallery, beautiful, yes, but untouchable and apart. The beauty of the sea remained for me abstract. The sea has never been a part of my life. I am a woman of the desert, the prairie, the West, the borderlands, the world—but never the sea. 

Until last week.

Last week our family drove from Santa Fe to the archipelago of the  San Juan Islands in the Pacific Ocean, off the northern coast of Washington state. This was a trip years in the making. Our family has had the gift of going to the ranch every summer and so we did. There wasn’t time or resources for any other family travel. With Wyatt soon to leave for college, I was determined to take at least one family trip to someplace new. With Wyatt’s love of Washington state, our dear friends in the San Juan Islands, and my cousin and friend from forever in Seattle, we decided months ago to take this trip.

With Noé on the ferry.

With Noé on the ferry.

As the time of our trip approached and life loomed large, there were so very many reasons not to take this trip. I ignored them, “We’re going. Whatever it takes, we’re going. We are taking at least one family vacation someplace new before Wyatt leaves.” Denial can be a wonderful thing when channeled properly. 

So, we went.

 Two days and 2,000+ miles later, we drove onto the ferry heading to the peninsula where our cousin, Janet, and her family live. There is something about cousins that spans time and distance. Our first gift from the sea. 

The sea came alive. The abstract and untouchable painting in a gallery gained texture, scent, color, and connection. 

The sea came alive for Wyatt, Luke, and Wynn—who were in the water as soon as we arrived.

Kids on water upon arrival.

Kids on water upon arrival.

View from the ferry. Mt. Baker looms over all.

View from the ferry. Mt. Baker presides over all.

Driftwood on South Beach

Driftwood on South Beach

We went to South Beach—the driftwood and stones created a palette of textures. I found myself again and again running my hands through the stones. Gift from the sea.

Stones of South Beach, San Juan Islands.

Stones of South Beach, San Juan Islands.

Collected stones of South Beach.

Collected stones of South Beach.

Stones skipped across the sea.

Skipping rocks across the sea.

Skipping rocks across the sea.

Starfish found.

Starfish found.

Purple starfish in tide pool.

Purple starfish in tide pool.

This area is known for the orcas who live in these waters. We watched and watched the seas. In a lighthouse on a point overlooking the waters of the whales, people from around the world shared their names.

"Killer whale" around the world.

“Killer whale” around the world.

What made this all possible were our forever friends and their invitation to visit them in their home on San Juan Island. Threads of roots, friendship, and love bound the new with the known. We met in 1973 when Mom got lost in Tucson one Sunday morning and met our forever friends. Our family photo albums of our growing up years are interchangeable. Names evolved and we soon developed our own language of, “the Moms, the Dads, the Big Birds (two oldest), and the Little Birds (three youngest).” The Big Birds share the same name of Dawn Elizabeth. From our last names, we soon became Winkie and Dobie and have remained so ever since.

The moms, big birds, and little birds Cascabel, AZ 1977

The Moms, Little Birds, and Big Birds. Cascabel, AZ 1977

In an alignment of the stars that we could not have planned had we tried, four of our five Big and Little Birds were on the island together, coming from Argentina, California, and New Mexico. We  basked in watching the next generation, the Littlest Birds, play together. They tumbled, played, the swam, hiked, and laughed. The faces in photos on our refrigerators sprang to life and the lace of roots deepened into the future. 

Gift from the sea.

Amy, Dobie, Wendy, Winkie

Amy, Dobie, Wendy, Winkie

From South Beach, we brought home stones and driftwood to create an altar in our home.

Altar of stones and driftwood.

Altar of stones and driftwood.

On the drive home, memories of our time in the San Juans swirled. Warmth of the stones under my hands on the beach, sounds of water as it lapped against shell of the kayak, Luke stumbling through the living room early one morning to kayak out in hopes of seeing a baby seal and his face light up upon his return (Mom, they are the most adorable things ever.), clusters of bodies of the Littlest Birds as they played, scent of lavender, sparkles of sunlight as they shimmered on the sea, friendship…

“Don’t wish me happiness. I don’t expect to be happy all the time… It’s gotten beyond that somehow, “Anne Morrow Lindbergh goes on to write. “Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor. I will need them all.”

Courage, stones, strength, driftwood, a sense of humor, roots, moon over water.

Gift of the sea.

Pelindaba Lavender farm, San Juan Island

Pelindaba Lavender farm, San Juan Island

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