Since January 6, 1997 when Rachel's Quilt Patch was dedicated, Rachel has written about life in her printed Snippets and Snibbles Newsletter. Since we decided to update our followers through email and social media, we have found a way to bring you those reflections, through this blog. Enjoy.
I think Spring is my favorite season of the year. As soon as the willow tree begins to change to chartreuse, that wonderful yellow green, I know the daffodils are not far behind. For some reason, I do not have crocuses in my gardens, so daffodils are the first flower to bloom. This morning my little petite daffodils are blooming profusely. The larger daffodils are in bud and the tulip leaves have popped up;the pansies I planted last fall are coming back.
I am waiting patiently for the blue bells (grape hyacinth) to show signs of flowers to come. I am very much aware that these little bulbs can take over a garden. So far I have kept mine clumped in the space I have for them. This fall I need to divide the clumps and find more places for them to grow freely.
I have a history with blue bells. My favorite springtime flower is the daffodil in all of its forms. But my first memory of a springtime flower was of the flowers we called blue bells.
I grew up in the country about a mile outside of East Petersburg, PA in the middle of Lancaster County. My childhood home was, and is still surrounded by farmland. Fields were plowed every spring and crops rotated every year. Mr. Rohr owns the land to the east, and for many years used mules to pull his plow or wagons in the fall.
The Hottenstein family farms the land to the north and the Landis's farm is to the west and south. It was the Hottenstein field to the north that I remember in the Spring. Blue bells covered the field just across the road beyond the asparagus patch. This specific Spring I may have been 2 or 3...pretty little. I shared a bedroom with my older sister, Joanna. And both of us still took naps.
This day, we had asked and I imagine pleaded and begged our mother to take us to pick blue bells. The picking of the blue bells became the reward for taking a nap. And so after lunch, off we went to bed. I remember nap time as a lot of talking and giggling between Joanna and me, resulting in my mother calling from the foot of the stairway reminding us to "settle down or else". At age 2 or 3 I did not understand what was so important about naps. But they were a regular part of those early years. And I do remember what "or else" meant. I am sure we tried to be good nappers that day. The reward was worth being quiet for a while.
Finally up after our naps, we eagerly scrambled down the stairs, and gathered sweaters and bandannas to head out and walk the gravel road we called the "Stoney Road " down the hill to the field of blue bells. We headed out the back door around to the front of the house, and to our utter shock, Mr. Hottenstein had plowed the field while we were napping. The Blue Bells were gone! The field where they had been was now a freshly turned expanse of brown dirt.
about the time of this story maybe 1949
I don't remember how we reacted. I just remember the blue bells were gone. That memory, however, has stayed with me. I pay attention to when flowers bloom, and how much time I have to enjoy them. And if I want to pick flowers, I do. Its is like taking time to smell the roses. It also means that as I plan my gardens around my house, I plant bulbs and seeds for flowers that are specifically grown for cutting. It is more than gardens for me to enjoy outside. In the spring there are daffodils and tulips, blue bells and lily-of- the-valley. When summer arrives there are stalks of lilies, cosmos, zinnias, roses, daisies and bee balm so that I can cut bouquets for the house. And when Emma comes to visit, the question is usually "may I pick flowers, Nana?" And you may have guessed, the answer is always "yes!".
My mother Anna Mary Neff keeping an ever watchful eye
I see grape hyacinths every spring, and every spring I remember the flowers plowed under while I took the
mandatory nap! And every spring, I gather a bouquet of the little blue bells from my garden for my kitchen table, and forgive my sweet, sweet mother one more time.
I am torn. I really like good news and good stories. However, sometimes that attitude lulls me into feeling like if I just maintain a bright and cheerful attitude, all will be right with the world. Right now, that feels like a PollyAnna kind of attitude. Being right with the world has a broader scope than just being happy and positive and upbeat.
My case and point. In December we were able to give 21 quilts to children at the Mission here in Staunton. One part of me is taken aback that there are 21 children in our community who are homeless and sheltered, with at least one parent, at our local mission....at Christmas! I start to wonder how and why, then I stop. It is not about the who or why or why can't they. It is about humans beings in need. So I was grateful that when I set all of my judgements aside, I could simply gather up all of the small quilts we had in the shop....and sent them off to be shared with children who needed them.
Then came another e-mail after Christmas. Several women at the mission were waiting the arrival of new babies. I must admit the "how can that happen, don't they know any better" judgement clicked in. I am not proud of that thought. And I jerked my self righteous person back to being present, and realizing it is not about how or why. It is about human need.
Today, one of my dearest friends, Nadene Brunk sent an e-mail from Haiti this week. She founded Midwives for Haiti, a growing non-profit organization that teaches Haitian women...and men to be skilled birth attendants: prenatal, birthing and post natal care. They serve rural communities via mobile clinics and they also work with Hospital Ste. Terese. Inventory of the medicines on hand would show that they are out of and low on essential medicines needed for prenatal care and delivery.
In both these instances I was brought to the thought that I take so much for granted. Even with the health care issues in our country....there is always medicine for treatment of my illness or pain. And if one treatment does not work, there is another one to try. My granddaughter was delivered by a midwife in a well lighted, well equipped hospital. She came home with her mother to a warm home and her own crib. I have no concept of a situation that would leave her parents homeless and waiting for her birth in a shelter. I cannot imagine living in a country where drugs for their care are scarce.
At the very least, I have an inventory and personal stash of fabric that can be turned into small quilts for new babies. I am touched by the pretty quilts that have been shared for the babies due at the Mission. They are beautiful. They are the kind of quilts that I would give to a new baby in my family. No one said, "It's only for the Mission, it doesn't matter what they look like". They brought quilts in soft baby colors and bright colors. A gift from their loving quilting heart.
Judgement set aside. All things in this world are not equal or fair. Some of our human brothers and sisters suffer, and I feel like there is nothing I can do to make a difference. When I feel on the edge of helplessness, I make a quilt. And for the Midwives for Haiti, I send a donation, remembering that when I am hurting and arrive at my doctor's office, I want and expect appropriate medicines. My gifts, small as they seem to me are added into the gifts of others to make a difference. They will brighten one new mother's day as she wraps her baby in a new quilt. A midwife in rural Haiti will have enough medicine to treat a mother with needed medicine or supplies like gloves and sutures and catheters.
So when I say "all us right with the world" I am challenged to do (even) one small thing to help it to be that way. If you have a small quilt to share (no bigger than 50 x 60 inches, or smaller for a new born) bring it to the shop and we will pass it on. If you want to help stock Hospital Ste. Therese with needed medicines for maternity and obstetrics, check: Midwives for Haiti. I am learning in every experience of giving that the old adage: "every little bit helps" is absolutely true. ~~ Rachel