The travel bug? We certainly had it. Stepping away from our jobs, schools, and daily routines for a whole year, we reveled in the freedom of the open road during our Sabbatical campout in 1976-77. It was only natural that one of my first quilt blocks should become haven for an embroidered travel bug. Mostly we didn’t worry about bugs. They were just part of the landscape, and of course, so necessary to life and growth of the natural world. The beetles that camped with us at times were always interesting. The colorful armored backs, odd shapes, and determined stride caught our attention. With a slow and often clumsy gait, they always seemed to know where they were going. If deterred with a twig, they worked around it and moved forward. If moved out from underfoot to a better location, we soon found it back on the same path. Our presence didn’t seem to worry them.
My embroidered bug is a bit hard to see because of camouflaged colors green on green, but that’s the way bugs are. Camouflage is protection. My design is not pure entomology, that’s for sure, but I stitched 6 legs and 2 antennae. Chain Stitch stripes fill the back, with Outline Stitch legs and antennae, Satin Stitch on the head and French Knots for those astonishing compound eyes. Compound eyes are very sensitive to movement and can probably see in color. I was elated to finally master French Knots since I had difficulty stitching them as a child. I found the secret in the reference book I brought along, Stitchery for Children by Jaqueline Enthoven.* A treasure trove of illustrated stitches, I used many of them on my quilt.
When I think back to that year of travel across the mountains and deserts of the Southwest I am filled with gratitude. We grew close together as a family. We depended on each other for companionship, entertainment, camp chores, everything. As a family we bonded to the natural world. We learned nature’s ways: everything is connected; everything goes somewhere; natural systems know best; and there is no such thing as a free lunch—we all have a role in making it work.**
I’m grateful for the vision of abundant life. I thank God for each aspen trunk I sketched, each wildflower. I am thankful for agates we found on the beach and for shelf fungi climbing the white alder trunks. The pink petals of Rocky Mountain wild roses live in my heart, and the fragrance lingers. The canyon walls that line Zion’s Virgin River paint my dreams with golden earth colors. Thank God for all of nature, from tiny mosses to desert scrub to redwood giants. Thank God for wildlife from majestic Roosevelt Elk to mountain marmots to travel bugs. In my mind’s eye I see stately forests, mountain meadows, healthy deserts, working ranches and farming valleys, pristine waterways, life-filled marshes, and healthy oceans. I thank God for such beauty, such vibrant life. This is how I came to cherish the earth.***
That vision is my guide as I come to terms with damage to our environment. I share this vision with you and encourage you to find your own bonds to the earth. May it focus restoration efforts. May the vision motivate inner changes that will require determination. How do we move forward to achieve abundant life throughout the earth? We can start with our “village” vibes. One person can make a difference, but it will take us all, working together in community to gain large benefits. Together we can Cherish the Earth!
Check back next month for my next Quilt Block Blog: Death Valley springtime.
Nature Notes: On your daily walk take time to notice the changes of spring: new growth, buds, birds, blossoms, weather, etc. Stop and get acquainted, observe, say “hello.” Thank each living organism for helping to keep us alive.
Gospel lifestyle: Thank God for green plants, the basic food source on planet earth: “. . . Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.” (Gen 1: 29-30 NIV)
*Stitchery for Children, by Jacqueline Enthoven (Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1968)
**Earthkeepers: Environmental Perspectives on Hunger, Poverty, and Injustice, by Art and Jocele Meyer (Herald Press, 1991), p. 37
***Cherish the Earth, the Environment & Scripture, by J.E. & D.R. Kirk (Wipf and Stock Pub., 2016).