Shells spell on 0 on a trail in the San Carlos area of Mexico

The last day of Cathy Henkel's "66 DAYS" countdown project was installed in January 2021 as Joseph R. Biden was inaugurated President of the United States.

Daily meanderings that became ephemeral art that became a political statement that became a historical discovery tour have now become a book.

A few weeks ago, retired sports editor Cathy Henkel wrote about the countdown project she developed while COVID restrictions kept her at a winter home in Mexico for a year. She explored the area around San Carlos, on the Sea of Cortez, placing daily shell-and-stone numbers at various sites, then posting photos and stories of those places on Facebook. The countdown marked the last 66 days of Donald Trump’s presidency. In the essay about it she wrote for Storyboard, she talked about the joy of rediscovering her own storytelling voice after decades as an editor.

Henkel is a skilled amateur photographer. Her daily narratives stretched to include historical research and personal reflections. The pop-up project soon built a following on Facebook, with followers asking if she planned a book.

She didn’t at the time but now, after much urging, she has, with all proceeds going to charity.

“66 DAYS” is a 60-page, full-color, magazine-style collection of beaches, mountains, urban corners and found spots, each marked with one of Henkel’s numbers. Specifics are available on Henkel’s Facebook page.

The $20 fee will be given to Castaway Kids Mexico, which sponsors promising, low-income children through high school and college. Henkel has been volunteering as an English teacher in the program since 2009, and personally sponsored two students through high school and college. She dedicates “66 DAYS” to the woman who brought her into the program,

“Public high school is not free here,” she told me. “It costs about $500 a year for tuition, books, uniform, shoes, etc. College is about $800. Cheaper than US by far but still a lot if you have nothing.”

If you’re hunting for your own creative way to incorporate writing or other storytelling in your daily life, Henkel’s essay may provide some inspiration. And now she can add self-publishing to what she’s learned on her serendipitous journey.

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