When one of the members of our quilt group travels to another country, she brings back fabric pieces for the stay-at-homes. We have all have taken turns to find and ferry back these much-welcomed souvenirs, with the result that I have a drawer full of this largess.
Of course, I could use the bits of cloth in an art quilt, but somehow this doesn’t seem respectful enough. So today I’ve launched into a new project—to create a travel quilt. My plan is to sew some nine patches and have the small stand-out squares remind me of countries, friends, and memories.
Here, for instance, is a square that came all the way from Nepal. Actually, it did not come to me via the quilt group but through a young friend who was in the Peace Corps there. Imagine—she was close to Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world!
Rising like thunder,
Dwarfing all else in grandeur…
Snow capped Everest.
Look… over here is a bit of cloth that came all the way from Africa. I have never been to Africa, but one of my friends in the quilting group journeyed to that far-away land with her choral group. Looking at that square now, I dream of a pride of lions prowling across the veldt, or of a great bull elephant at the waterhole while the sky blazes with sunset and birds racket out news that dark is approaching.
Roar, you proud lions,
For warm, velvet dark comes fast
And time to hunt nears.
Other squares tell of countries where I myself have traveled: Scotland, Bermuda, and of course Bangkok, Thailand, where our boys were born. In those days Bangkok was still unspoiled by pollution and traffic. It was an exotic and energetic city where water buffalo were driven to market through the streets, and where the dusky evenings were scented with frangipani and ginger blossoms. Here also is a square bought from a small quilt shop on Rokko Island, Japan. Japan, too, has changed immeasurably since I brought this fabric home, but on that visit there were cherry blossoms everywhere, their petals falling around me like pink snow.
Who now is watching
Those cherry blossoms open?
This little striped square? It’s from Switzerland. If you look closely, you will notice the small edelweiss, the Alpine flower that is beloved by the Swiss. My aunt loved them, too, and she sometimes let me touch the flower she had carefully pressed in a book. It had, I remember, furry petals.
This square came by way of Belgium, and this one is from Germany—a country of great industry, the homeland of Beethoven and Goethe and the birthplace of Einstein. Next to it is a small piece of Hawaii, with its azure water and orchids … I remember how we danced on cool sand whenever I see this square.
And the pound of surf on sand
We danced, feeling young!
My around the world quilt is almost complete, now. It needs a binding, so I think I will use fabric bought here in Raleigh, North Carolina. For no matter how much I love to travel the fascinating world around us all, I am always glad to come home!
All that world offers
Can be found within these walls…
Warmth, comfort, and joy.