Years ago our family’s garage housed a series of bird nests. A missing plexiglass window in the garage door allowed the birds to enter and exit as they pleased. Each spring the birds nested on top of the garage opener and tossed twigs on our car below.
We could hear the babies chirp and see their parents flying back and forth to feed them. The fledglings eventually spilled out of the nest, flapping and flailing across the concrete floor, making their way into the world beyond the nest.
Maybe it’s this pandemic we’re living through that has me thinking about staying home versus traveling to new places. Don’t get me wrong, I love my creative time at home (and I am extremely thankful to have one), but I also enjoy a good adventure!
My quests do not always work out well. Other times they do, like the time my husband and I went to Ireland and discovered my Irish family roots. Perhaps it’s biological, this wanderlust that drives us beyond the safety of the familiar and known to the exciting unknown.
With teenage exuberance and curiosity, my once-upon-a-time-long-long-ago boyfriend and I defied a “no trespassing” sign to take a shortcut through private property.
I crouched under the barbed-wire fence above while he held down the bottom wire for me to step over. Suddenly he lost his grip, and the lower wire sprang up, striking my ankle. Although I didn’t see the barb that gouged me, I did see—much to my horror—a great amount of blood covering my foot. Lesson learned: no shortcuts! I still have the scar, but definitely not the boyfriend.
My children’s favorite bedtime story was The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. I loved reading Potter’s beautifully illustrated stories that bring you into the imaginary world of Peter, his siblings, and widowed mother who live in a cozy home complete with an oven and other human conveniences. Peter’s mother makes sure her bunnies have good meals and proper clothes to wear. She forbids Peter from going into Mr. McGregor’s garden (where bad things would surely happen), but he and his cousin Benjamin Bunny can’t help themselves. They escape to the garden where mischief ensues.
When I taught humanities to college students eons ago, I introduced them to the ideas of scholar Joseph Campbell, who explained that cultures share mythical heroic archetypes whose epic journeys define and transform them. Think of The Wizard of Oz. Through her tornado-spun adventure, Dorothy overcomes her wistful longings and realizes her own agency and power. Even tattered Peter Rabbit returns from his mischievous garden escapade grateful for the love and comforts of home.
Before the coronavirus hit, my husband and I visited our daughter in Iowa. She knew it would mean a lot to me to visit the Iowa Quilt Museum, so we drove to Winterset in Madison County.
If you’ve seen the movie, you’re already familiar with the historic covered bridges there.
After our own tour of several covered bridges, we arrived at the Iowa Quilt Museum.
It took us a couple of hours to walk through a special exhibit of magnificent quilts by Marianne Fons and Liz Porter. One particular quilt caught my eye. Its label stated that Fons gained inspiration from the medallion (or frame) quilts in the book Quilt Treasures of Great Britain.
I later bought the book (published by the Heritage Search of the Quilters’ Guild, 1995), which traces the history and scope of quilt makers in the British Isles and their extraordinary medallion quilts.
Interestingly, the Iowa Statehouse, which my husband and I later visited, has stunning floor mosaics in the medallion style.
But I digress.
Back to the road trip. Leaving Winterset, I really enjoyed the rural landscape of barns and fields.
Perhaps due to the unusual clouds, I casually asked my Midwestern daughter about tornadoes. By this time she was already assessing the cloud formations and increasingly green sky, but didn’t share her concerns until our phones started buzzing with a tornado alert.
With no shelter in sight, I imagined the two of us, still buckled into the rental car, spinning in the air, and NOT landing in Oz!
With her ruby red slipper firmly pressed against the gas pedal, my amazing daughter confidently raced down the highway toward our exit. There’s no place like home, but THAT was a great adventure!
After returning from Iowa, I designed a new quilt top in the traditional medallion style. As soon as my backing fabric arrives by mail, I will quilt it. Thankfully, I have lots of time at home to do just that!
(All photographs in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.)