23 February 2007

Obsession with Quilts #2

Growing up Mennonite in northern Indiana means that the "Relief Sale" is the highlight of each autumn. Some people dream all year long about the delicious apple dumplings, pulled pork sandwiches, headcheese & mush, haystacks, homemade applebutter, monster cookies, pluma moos, funnel cakes, peppernuts, half-moon pies, and other ethnically Amish-Mennonite food ("eat for the hungry" is the unofficial motto). Some people train for the Race for Relief. Still others volunteer their time and their talents to make this festival work so all of proceeds can go to relieve hunger and poverty around the world.

But for me, the greatest draw of the Relief Sale was always the Quilt Auction. Usually my parents were volunteering at one of the booths, and I would take off to find Grandma. I'd stand at the entrance to the auction barn and scan the backs of the heads until I'd find the head that was my grandma. Then I would have to figure out how to navigate a route through the 1,300 chairs set up for the quilt auction to get to her.

Grandma would have already been there for hours. She would have the Book with her--the one that describes each quilt: it's name, size, who quilted it and who donated it. In the margins Gram would have neatly written in the amount that each quilt had sold for. Sometimes Gram would let me take over the Book for a while so she could go to the restroom or the concessions stand. But mostly, we just sat there together and commented on each quilt. What designs and patterns appealed to us. Which color combinations were the most successful. What we thought the quilt should sell for.

Even as a college student and a young adult I would try to come home on Relief Sale weekend to watch the quilt auction with Grandma. Now I live too far away and each fall I miss it. I suppose I could go the west coast Relief Sale. I think they have one in Albany. But it just wouldn't be the same without my Grandma beside me.

Quilts are pieces of art to be enjoyed with those you love.


Kris said...

You almost made me tear up. I miss it too...all of it.

susan b. said...

beautiful post. I can picture it so well from your description! lovely.