2018 Winona MN Faith Lutheran Church Book Club after reading
The Road to Beaver Park, Painting, Perception, and Pilgrimage
Chapter 1. A Great Idea
The Great Idea comes first, then one thing leads to another, guaranteed. I needed a new bedspread without spending a lot of money. Make a quilt! Great Idea. I pulled out my sewing remnants—lots of bright colors, all sorts of fabrics, but the most eye-catching was a vibrant Hawaiian print in purples, greens, red, blues, yellows, and I had about two yards leftover from making a maxi skirt. Perfect for the base fabric.
My artist instincts took over. Why not mix and match colors and fabrics? Why not mix and match block sizes? Great Ideas. I chose a rectangular block size and began cutting fabric. Sometimes I halved the block size or even smaller, sometimes doubled it to craft a variety of sizes. I laid out colors on my bed, then arranged and rearranged—the fun part! After several sessions I had enough blocks to make a queen size quilt. I decided to sew it together in long strips, each strip about 6 rows wide and the full width of the quilt.
Why strips? By this time, I had another Great Idea—I planned to embroider images on certain blocks to be reminders of our 1976-77 Sabbatical pilgrimage, the year we embarked on a camping sojourn throughout the Southwest. Read the story in my memoir: The Road to Beaver Park, https://www.janiceekirk.com/the-road-to-beaver-park/. Sewed into sections the quilt was easy to pack and easy to handle. I took along half of the quilt the first months of summer/fall (Aug-Nov), then the second half (Feb-Aug) when we toured the low desert followed by another Rocky Mountain summer. Moments of embroidery were a peaceful yet productive activity when I needed quiet time.
Sabbatical year was life changing, eye-opening. For both Don and I, plants were a special interest that had led to Don’s 1970 book which is still in print, Wild Edible Plants of Western North America, https://www.janiceekirk.com/wild-edible-plants-of-western-north-america/, for which I drew 300 botanical sketches. During Sabbatical we focused on vegetation in the main, but we also explored every possible rabbit trail (real ones), discovered fossils, weighed fishing options, learned the limitations of living close to nature, and all the while I sketched and painted the land, the plants, waterways, holy moments, critters, and clouds. So many lessons to be learned. So many marvelous revelations at every turn!
It took me years to recognize the parallels between making a fabric quilt and getting closely acquainted with God’s wondrous creation. I returned home with an inner view of the western landscape: a collection of vegetation zones, biomes, ecosystems, habitats—all laid out in a certain flow across the land—a patchwork sewn together by wind and water, geology and elevation, elements and processes. My quilt is a colorful reminder of those inner impressions, and I have stories to go with each block. To see and hear more, check future Blogs on my website: janiceekirk.com.
In the meantime, here is how to start your own nature quilt:
“. . . Stop, and consider God’s wonders . . .”
(Job 37:14 CSB)