Sweet Little Quilt

Triangle quilt made for the Parkinson's Comfort Project
Triangle quilt made for the Parkinson’s Comfort Project

There are some days when it’s just so worth going to the mailbox.

Imagine my surprise when our mail delivery guy (an intrepid and friendly soul named Charlie) brought this smallish box to my door the other morning.

The address label was not one I recognized but when I opened the box, I knew exactly why that package had arrived at my door.

Inside was the sweetest quilt made of simple half-square triangle blocks in a color palette that immediately makes everyone who sees it go “Awwwww.”

This quilt was made by a Diane Lambert from Danville, Vermont, a woman I don’t believe I know. It is a contribution to the Parkinson’s Comfort Project.

The blocks are 4 inches finished which means they must have started life as 4 3/4 to 5-inch squares.

It was quilted just right, simple swirling circular shapes, and it must have gone through the washer and dryer because it has a wonderful softness to it that makes it snuggly.

Wow, if I keep talking this way, I’m going to have to go take a nap—or make a cup of tea.

I think I’ll vote for the tea.

Anyhow, I just wanted to share this wonderful gift to the Parkinson’s Comfort Project. I know that whoever receives this quilt will be delighted.

Fiddleheads and Violets and Trillium, Oh My

Fiddlehead ferns emerging
Fiddlehead ferns emerging

Everything in the woods changes on a daily basis at this time of year.

Tiny purple violet
Tiny purple violet


Trillium about to bloom
Trillium about to bloom

Last week, there were no fiddlehead ferns.

Today, they are about twelve inches tall.

Last week, the pursed lips of violet leaves were just above the ground.

Now the flowers are starting to bloom.

And the deep purple of the trillium are starting to dot the understory.

There’s a saying that you cannot step twice in the same river.

In spring in Vermont, you can’t step twice into the same forest.

In Celebration of Good Design

Block magazine cover
I’ve become a fan of Jenny Doan, the owner of the Missouri Star Quilt Company. Or at least one of the owners because I think it’s probably more accurate to say that this is a family-owned business.

She has such a breezy style in her tutorials that even though I might not necessarily want to do the quilt she’s demonstrating, I just enjoy watching.

And watching is the only thing I’ve done up until a couple of weeks ago when my attention was caught by a scrappy quilt made with a ruler that will cut blade shapes used most commonly in a pattern known as Dresden plate.

So I actually made an order and while I was online (you know how this goes), my attention veered toward a new magazine put out by the company (which is still something of a newbie).

It’s called Block and I got my first issue in the mail the other day and as one graphic designer to another, I was impressed.

Block is all Missouri Star all the time, no other ads cluttering up the pages. The photos are great, instructions clearly written.

It’s so well done, I just have to share.

Narcissus narcissus narcissus

Narcissus 2014 for web
For beauty,
Narcissus had no peer.
His comely nature
Did dispose him
To revere his
Own reflection to the
Exclusion of all others,
Including dear Echo,
The nymph who loved
Him wisely but not well.

Narcissus wasted away but
Left a nodding flower
That dearly loves the water,
Bending its own face toward the pool.

Echo, as we said,
Was a dearly nymph with an
Uncomely tongue.
She had the temerity to voice her true
Feelings about the goddess Hera
In the Olympian’s hearing.

We all know how that ended.

Not so well for Echo, echo, echo.

Spring Rush

The daffies are up!
The daffies are up!

So far, it’s staying cool enough for my daffodils and narcissus to be happy. (Think the temp of a florist’s refrigerator.)

We can see the tops of peonies and our purple columbines—which spread and spread and spread—are uncurling from the ground.

This year, I plan to take some of those seeds and start scattering them down on the land that got so torn up by the hurricane and then the building of our retaining wall.

I also have a clot of day lilies to take down there as well. Those orange babies will go toe-to-toe with the Japanese knotweed.

Hail Spring!

Jeepers Peepers

Peeper in full peep, courtesy of National Geographic
Peeper in full peep, courtesy of National Geographic

To quote the erstwhile Pooh, today is a great big blustery day! Cold, chill, the type of wind that just makes you feel like you could spread your wings and be lifted aloft.

But last night, on my 56-step commute from my house to my studio, it was still warmish (for April) and calm.
And I heard the true, sure sign that spring is here—peepers.

We have a lot of wonderful wildlife that shares our riverside abode and a little later in the season, we’ll be nearly deafened (in a nice way) by singing toads.

But peepers, they’re kinda the new amphibian on the block around here.

Though I can’t prove it, I believe these little mites are immigrants who washed up on our stretch of the river after Hurricane Irene. They share a love of the same environment as the toads—shallow, protected waters with ample plant life and mud for wallowing so it’s not surprising that they hung out after that storm.

I’m so glad.

When I was a little girl, there was a swampy area behind our house, bordered by a small field and the railroad tracks. During the spring, we fell asleep to the music of peepers, a sound I grew to love as a child.

So when I stepped outside my door and heard that choir, I stopped to breathe in the earthy aroma of the land in a sprinkling rain and listen until I was ten again.

Walking Through Woods on a Sunny Morning

This time of year, we are reminded how much we depend on the bounty of trees for the beauty of Vermont.

Everywhere we walk in the woods, careful to avoid the places that are still wet, last year’s leaves cover the ground. Curled and brittle, our shoes help compost them, making them part of the soil that nurtures the plants we’ll enjoy from now to when the leaves come back down again.

Coltsfoot flower
Coltsfoot flower

The tiny, sunshine faces of coltsfoot are among the very first plants to appear on the forest floor. At this time of year, they don’t bear any chlorophyll producing leaves, preferring (for their own ancient reasons) to turn their blossoms to the sun, now unblocked by a canopy.

Daffodil pushing up
Daffodil bud bidding for attention from the sun

The same holds true for our gardens as the snowdrops then the iris reticulata and now the daffodils jockey for their share of the growing warmth before the larger plants take over.

We’ve all been remarking how strange a spring it’s been so far, especially after such a deep, frigid, everlasting winter. We didn’t have anything even close to an ice out on the river. We had a melt instead.

The dirt road reports indicate that the tire-sucking mud we usually get did not transpire.

Though the frost heaves have been remarkable.

Our protests to the contrary, we humans don’t care for change that much, at least not sudden change. But suddenly, “our weather” seems less like our own than usual.

Which makes the coltsfoot and daffodils just that much more welcome.

Author of the Carding, Vermont novels, quilt books, and book publishing guides.