Earlier in June, I wrote about stars, seeing them, making them. Making them, as in piecing together blocks for a quilt. I’ve made more than 30 quilts in the past 30 years and it’s a practice I find I need in order to give my hands their own work. When I do that, I focus my thinking in a way I can’t otherwise do. I know this sounds strange but for me it’s true. And something else is true. I’m not good at sewing. Each time I begin the work of making a quilt, I tell myself that I will take care, proceed slowly, do the things that good seamstresses do: observing the seam allowances, trimming corners, using the proper tension. But something happens and my own careless nature takes over. If I’ve planned a quilt with a dozen blocks to fit together, no two will be exactly the same size. Not one will be perfect. In a way it doesn’t matter because the sashing that one uses between blocks evens everything out. I’d like to say this isn’t geometry after all but you know something? It is. And mine is a very clumsy geometry.
Anyway, the day before yesterday I finished piecing together 8 stars. This morning I took some pieces of potential sashing to see what might work best. I want these stars to stand out. With some colours of sashing, they’d settle into the background quietly, like a night sky barely visible through cloud. I tried them on a background of butter yellow (a cotton sheet I bought as a “second”, knowing that it would make a good backing for a quilt, or cut into strips, it could be sashing). But the stars sort of faded away. I have some red but placing stars in a red sky seems a little ominous. The yellow print in the photograph above might be ok. I’m not sure yet.
The weather is unsettled. A day or two of warm sun followed by cool temperatures and soft rain. We swam this morning in mist, the water warmer than the air. When I was up briefly in the night, I did see three stars to the south of our house, bright in the boughs of the firs, as though they were being carried through the darkness and cloud.
This morning, on my news feed, a surprise, among the noise of Trump and the sound of the 53 bells of the Peace Tower in Ottawa. Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen singing “Forever Young” in 1995, so young themselves, their harmony so beautiful. I held my phone and cried, for the innocence lost, half a million dead in this pandemic, those alone in these difficult times, for the lines, May you always know the truth/And see the light surrounding you, for all of us here on earth with our hope and our sorrow. When I am finally doing the part of the quilt that I love most (May your hands always be busy), the patient stitching of layer to layer, thread finding its way through and under and across the stars, each stitch connected to the one before it, and the one following, I’ll be humming the song as I work. May you build a ladder to the stars/and climb on every rung.