Judith Wayphoto by J.P. Crumrine
Judith Way photo by J.P. Crumrine

Judith Way has published her second “Wise Women” book and already has plans for the third and fourth books of the series. What’s special about “Wise Women of a Mountain Village” is explained in the subtitle: “A Celebration of the Women of Idyllwild, California.”

Her first book was “Wise Women of a Small Village,” which featured women of Fallbrook.

Planning the book, getting the subjects to volunteer, organizing the photo shoots and condensing their thoughts in a sentence or two is a time-consuming effort. But Way clearly learned the shortcuts and efficiency doing the first volume of the series.

“Small Village” took her 16 years to publish. She has photos of 54 Fallbrook women; but the second volume, which features women of Idyllwild, took Way two years.

This book features 64 women of the mountain communities from Garner Valley to Pine Cove.

Way’s inspiration was Joyce Tenneson. The photographer published “Wise Women” in 2002. Way was a fitness trainer in Fallbrook and had heard many wonderful thoughts from her female clients as they trekked on the treadmill.

“A lot of beautiful words and confessions are expressed on the treadmill,” she said. “Things come out and I wanted to capture them.”

Familiar with Tenneson’s work, Way visited her and talked about her ideas and how to proceed. Tenneson was very supportive and encouraged Way to find and reveal even more wise women. “Every community has these women,” Way emphasized.

Way returned to Fallbrook and put the word out that she wanted to do a book featuring the thoughts and photos of the town’s women. “Many women don’t want their pictures taken or don’t think they have anything to say,” Way discovered. So it took 16 years to bring these images to the public and much support from other women, including her mother.

Way had visited Idyllwild for years. She frequently brought her sons here for a day of hiking. Finally, she and husband Robert Peek moved to Idyllwild in 2006.

Then a few years ago, while shopping at Trader Joe’s in Indian Wells, she overheard a conversation between the store’s manager and one of her salepeople, who were discussing the women of Idyllwild.

“It was interesting to see how women in the desert feel about Idyllwild women,” Way said. “They can’t imagine how amazing and unique the women are here.

“A lot of us are a handful and need special men to handle us women. We’re strong businesswomen and not our husband’s nurturing mother. We take care of family and work at the same time.”

Over the course of a year, Way had to have five photo shoots — one for each season and a make-up session. The make-up shoot was supposed to be for two women but expanded to 13 when more decided to accept Way’s invitation to be in her book. Her current photographer is the daughter of her first photographer.

“The book is a place for them to write their own wisdom,” she concluded.

It should be available between late May and early June, she added.

The next volume will explore the wise women of the wind (motorcyclers). To recruit them, Way plans to go to Laughlin on her Harley.

Way’s series will conclude with the wisdom of women from small African villages — from Swaziland to Kenya. The idea came from one of her sons, who is a missionary there.