A Piece at a Time

— I’d really like to do some quilting. I have a piece started – blue and yellow solids with a butterfly print. Double-pinwheel, one of my favorite patterns. I started it a couple weeks ago to pass the time. I have a sewing machine, but so far I’ve been hand-piecing, It’s easy to take with me on the go, and it’s calming to focus on one straight stitch at a time.

One thing I’ve learned through the years, though, is that summer just isn’t the time for quilting. I have too much outdoors to explore, too many painting projects, too many vegetables to gather. I need to put the roof on my daughter’s fort. We will hunker down, hidden by broad fragrant leaves, to watch the rustle of people passing by unaware.

She and I have had fun reading adventure stories this summer. We started with “Stories from Grandma’s Attic,” by Arleta Richardson. We read “The Trumpet of the Swan,” by E.B. White. Then “Baked Beans for Breakfast,” by Ruth Chew. We went on to “My Side of the Mountain,” by Jean Craighead George. Now we’re reading “Tree Castle Island,” also by Ms. George. We’ve travelled from Michigan, to a lake in New York, to Canada and Philadephia, to the Catskills, and to the Florida Everglades.

We don’t miss too many nights of our readings. But when we do, I find it hard to get to sleep. I toss and turn, trapped in Central New York ways-and-means and what-else-can-we-do. It drives me back to wishful thinking about quilting, which is still two seasons away for Pete’s sake. I need to stay in the moment.

I will make my escape, piece by piece.

Just like building our fort. I saw some hinges in a pile of waste lumber by the side of the road. A door pull peaked out from the scraps, too. I asked permission and loaded them aboard my minivan. The fence panels I found, they almost didn’t fit in. Rusty nails and unidentified bugs tumbled out when I dragged them from another pile. Then we found some shingles – a little sticky, but in good shape. And green twine from the Rescue Mission, just the thing to lash it all together. Now all I need is a swatch of indoor-outdoor carpeting to drape across the roof boards. Cheapskate that I am, I balk at spending $20 for it. It’s all been free so far. I admit, I’d like to brag again.

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