While I was growing up, one of my favorite vacations was a visit to my aunt and uncle's farm in Southern Minnesota.
They didn't have children and my aunt had a reservoir of boundless patience, as well as lots of fun activities that were so different from those we engaged in at home. Aunt Marcia's immense vegetable garden yielded veggies for canning and corn for eating nearly straight off the stalk. My uncle raised mostly corn and soy beans, but also had a few sheep and my sisters and I would trail them around the enclosed sheep yard, occasionally finding one tame enough to pet. We'd wander down by a nearby pond and pick up garter snakes and wrap them around our arms, like bracelets (I get a little freaked out just writing that). We'd open an empty grain bin and make a game of trying to stand upright on the thin layer of remaining, marble-like soy beans.
When my children were young they had the good fortune to engage in many of these same activities, as well as getting to see spring lambs. One of my favorite photos is a shot of each girl with a lamb that Uncle John (who my youngest dubbed "Bean-Bean" after the crops he grew) had momentarily wrested away from their mothers.
A number of years ago Uncle John was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and today he lives in a lovely facility near my aunt's home. On our way back from the cabin this year I finally brought him a quilt I'd made this past year. It's always tough to know what to get him for a gift and I hadn't given him anything for the past few Christmases or birthdays (coincidentally, both on Dec. 25). He naps a lot and I thought a quilt might be something he could actually use.
The fabrics are Moda's Holly Taylor
and felt very farm-like to me, with earthy colors, fall leaves, and pheasants. The pattern is Arcadia from Mountaintop Creations
and I bought it all years ago from Blue Bamboo
. Longarmer Linda Kalbaugh, cleverly based her quilting on landform maps and I made a label of that favorite lamb photo. Uncle John seemed to really like it and I hope it will get used. On the label I thanked him for the memories he created for me and my family. Not lost on me is the irony that those same memories have been stolen from him—I hope the photo label might conjure for him those wonderful times.