Friday, August 15, 2008

Lost Quilt(s), Lost History

It’s August - summer holidays here in Europe.  And that mean everyone is on holiday.  I’m not kidding.  We recently needed new brake pads for our car, the mechanic told us we were just in time to order the part, before his supplier went on holiday.  I wanted to buy flowers for a friend (explanation later) and we have a wonderful choice of 5 flower shops in our little village - they were closed - all five shops - holidays!  Axel can get to work 10 minutes quicker on a daily basis because so many people either leave town or stay home that the roads feel literally empty.  In Paris - you don’t have to pay for parking for the whole month of August.  Firstly because all the parking attendants go on holiday, but secondly because so many shops are closed that it doesn’t warrant fighting over spaces.  And our leaking shower - yep - it will leak for the rest of the month . . .

We all love to go on vacation . . . and many of us secure our homes, arrange for a neighbor to pick up the mail, water the plants, either take our pets with us or leave them with friends, etc.  But how many of us think about a kenneling our quilts and heirlooms?  The story below will explain why all of a sudden this is on my mind . . .

A few weeks ago, I received an email from my friend Gabi.  I thought it was weird because I knew they had gone on holiday - two weeks in the mountains and by my calculation we were only 1/2-way through it.

The gist of the email was surprise!  She and her husband, Eberhard were back from vacation - early.  They had received a phone call from a friend who lives in the same “hof” as they do . . . there had been a fire in their apartment.

As I’m reading her email in my scrappy Germany, I’m thinking of all the beautiful quilts she has made, heirlooms from her mother and mother-in-law that she had shown me with so much pride, her expansive collection of wool - in finished sweaters, socks begun, and so many skeins waiting to be fondled.  My heart was in my throat and I could barely read it aloud to Axel.

I phoned Gabi to see if I could help as I was driving over for a couple of days.  I’d bring dirty close if she wanted help in the apartment or was willing to provide distraction if she needed some girlie time.

When I got there I could hardly believe my eyes.  The sofa where the fire broke out was gone!  The wall behind now looked like a huge fireplace like you’d see in old stately homes.  From the knees up, the apartment turned grey and then black as the smoke had accumulated at the ceiling.  There was substantial fire damage but that was limited to the living room - that sofa, behind which Gabi stored all of her knitting wool.  Next to the sofa used to be a small table, first draped with a 40” square whitework “Hessesche Stickerei” hand embroidered by her mother.  This was crowned with Gabi’s favorite Japanese quilting books - they were totally destroyed.  I asked about the cloth from her mother which she later showed me - an entire corner was missing, it was totally grey and covered in scorch marks.

This is all that I managed to salvage from her beautiful 9-patches. Pin It Now!


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