The wheel of the year has turned through four seasons since we communicated here! “Time is a seamstress, specializing in alterations,” observed Faith Baldwin. We here at Cedar Hill have experienced death, loss and new beginnings all woven together. John O’Donahue cautioned, “…be patient with the natural unevenness and unpredictability of living.” Both people expressed ideas that helped sustain me through a year of unpredictability and rapid change. When my friend Lila shared those two quotes with me last March, I had no idea about the changes I faced!
Looking back along the length of the circle of 2011, I’d like to share some of the highlights of my year as recorded by me and my camera. Winter moved into spring with no grand surprises. Virginia bluebells are an expected spring miracle, producing delicate blue flowers when the weather is still unpredictable and cool. I delight in the red-purple of the unopened buds gathered next to the blue of the dangling flowers. The bluebells bloom when the hostas are still nudging their foliage up about six inches. As a spring ephemeral, bluebells gather their sustenance for the year and die back by summer to rest until the next spring.
In early April, our quilt guild held our biennial quilt show creating a deadline for me to finish several quilts I wanted to include in the special exhibit I did called, “When This You See, Remember Us”. I asked others in the guild to loan any timespan, memory or signature quilts for this display and several other women responded. I am pictured here in the midst of the display.
Guild members also created a large exhibit of antique and vintage quilts from our own collections allowing everyone to see the inspirations of our mothers and grandmothers. You can see the selection of antique quilts I brought to share.
In May, the guild gathered together for our annual picnic and Airing of the Quilts where we drape favorite quilts along the fence at a member’s house. After our potluck picnic, we walk the fence and learn about each quilt. Some are antiques and some were finished yesterday. In the picture, Valerie and I were admiring fat quarters of fabric destined for my stash.
Jeanne and I planted our big front garden although she was in Kansas City much of the time caring for Fran, her 94-year old mother. I watered and sewed and kept the homestead functioning. The days went quickly, but the evenings did not. I’ve listened to hundreds of audio books from the library over the last three years as I sewed or washed dishes. Our dogs and cats were good company too. One night in the midst of the drought, we had a disturbance in the back yard and I found a raccoon trapped under the two big dogs and the small terrier was nearby, barking her excitement. Once I managed to get the dogs in the house, the raccoon left. I believe that critter must have been desperate for water and came to the stock tanks where we collect water from the roof.
On a late afternoon Shyla, our mixed breed dog, alerted me with her special bark to the presence of a rattlesnake in our driveway. I hustled all three dogs inside and grabbed my camera. The large, but docile, snake was moving steadily into our asparagus bed and away from all the commotion. We are always alert for snakes in the summer, but a recent sighting renews our awareness of their presence.
At dawn on the morning of July 20th Jeanne called me to tell me Fran had died in her sleep overnight. She had been failing, so this was not unexpected. We comforted each other and began the process of accepting this loss of the woman who birthed and raised Jeanne. I was there in Kansas City by late afternoon and we began the plans for her funeral and memorial service. You can see the collage of photographs from Fran’s life that we created for the service.
The next months were spent making repairs on Fran’s house, interviewing realtors and preparing for a huge estate sale. I traveled back and forth trying to keep our garden hydrated and the tomatoes, basil and cucumbers picked. Jeanne managed to get home some, but her energies were focused on clearing out Fran’s house of 40 years of possessions, and on finding the perfect new owner for the house her parents bought new in 1969.
We planned a Colorado vacation for September to celebrate Jeanne’s birthday, but it had to be postponed until October where it snowed on our first night. Our long time friend Susan accompanied us and our two rat terriers. We returned to central Colorado where we enjoyed the hot springs and hiking in the clear mountain air. On a whim we visited Serendipity Yarn shop (http://www.serendipityyarn.com) where we were dazzled by the vibrant yarns. Jeanne and I each bought enough to make a simple scarf. As we planned, I returned and took a refresher lesson on knitting. Once I got my needles clicking, I showed Jeanne how to maneuver her bamboo needles to start her scarf. We made our favorite meals, read and hiked together from the home base of a cabin we had rented. Every day we soaked in the hot springs and melted our cares away! Jeanne’s knee started to heal and my body relaxed all its kinks. Susan was great company and accompanied Jeanne on some of the more adventuresome hikes.
As three book lovers, we were enchanted by the Book Nook in Buena Vista. While browsing there I discovered strong words from Susan B. Anthony. In 1871, she is quoted as declaring, “Away with your man-vision! Women propose to reject then all, and begin to dream dreams for themselves.” Susan, Jeanne and I often repeated her words at appropriate moments for the rest of the trip.
One night we opted to eat out at a nearby Mexican restaurant. Driving in the late afternoon, we saw two red foxes playing along the edge of the road. I managed to photograph one as she merged with the dusk.
Some things had changed in the area since our last vacation in 2005—we searched and searched for our favorite beaver dam-filled valley. We had visited that valley several times before, but could not find it. I did photograph the recent demise of a tall tree to the persistent nighttime visits from a beaver determined to use that tree as a log for her own purposes. Change is everywhere…. To be continued in early February.