I am not a quilter. But I love the imagery and affinity evoked by the very idea of an old fashioned quilting bee. Not quite like the one in this movie. I envision something more like what I imagine my great-great grandmother, Addie, might have taken part in. I have one of of Addie’s quilts; sometimes, I can imagine her sitting in the circle creating it. Oblivious to the fact that it is an antique and an heirloom, it is the very quilt I took with me to boarding school as a lonely teenager. The same one I huddled beneath through freezing winters as a a broke and starving grad student. The very one I wrapped around my grieving self the night my seventeen year old cat died just months before my wedding. The quilt is old and worn —and rendered all the more beautiful to me because of its history.
The women of her small community on the Texas prairie gathered together creating quilts —not necessarily for special occasions but for everyday use. Sturdy, warm, durable and beautiful, they would be made from scraps left over after making dresses, work shirts, trousers, or baby clothes. Some would even incorporate bits of grain and feed sacks.
Each woman would work on her own quilt; her fingers deftly moving in an unconscious rhythm as the needle weaves through layers of fragments, piecing together a pattern only she can see in her mind —to others it may look like random blots of color in abstract. Each woman stitching without thought as she listens to the stories in the circle, sharing her own in turn.
That is how I feel sometimes about blogging —like we are in our very own sewing circle. This gathering of women —pioneers in our own way —sharing our joys, our sorrows, our dreams, fears, and frustrations as we stitch together the fragments of each day, each moment. At first, the pieces do not make sense until we take a step back and look from another’s perspective. Each one of us has felt what the others have —or we are now, or will sometime in the future. The patterns of interconnectedness emerge with each passing day.
When one of us is joyful we share the glow. When one is low and struggling we reach our hands across the circle to hold her up. Sometimes we even lay aside our own sewing to cradle one another as we work through our grief, our fears. At others we may turn to one another and ask for help with a complicated stitch or the placement of an odd scrap of color that just doesn’t seem to fit. We help each other find our true north when we are lost and we help each woman find the fabulousness within her.
The energy of our circle is powerful and peaceful. We are soothed and encouraged by our utter acceptance and understanding of one another. We are pioneers from different walks of life yet we are connected as we forge our families and communities on this uncertain frontier.
This quilt was made for our wedding by my husband’s “Aunt Pat” and is one of my favorite things on display in our home. Alas, I don’t have any pictures of Addie’s quilt and it is now packed safely away to protect it.