I drive 40 minutes along the shore to join Phyllis and friends to quilt in a rambling house called The Bee Hive. Phyllis lives in the tiny village of Broad Cove on the South Shore in Nova Scotia. It has old oak avenues, gracious wooden homes and an atmosphere that resonates with olden days. I pause under an oak to breathe in the grounded quietness. Phyllis says when the wind blows onshore, the ocean roars and the air fills with salt and noise.
We’ve been gathering to help Phyllis quilt a twin sized quilt for her grandson, Cooper. It is full of energetic colours, perfect for a small child. We quilt, talk, drink tea beside a crackly wood stove.
Phyllis brought out her grandmother’s 1940’s quilts and spread them over the quilt frame. We gaze at the patchwork, the fine cotton, the tiny quilting stitches. Like sentences in a diary, each patch is a record of housecoats and childhood dresses and dressmaking scraps from an era when women made all the family’s clothing. We stroke the surface texture of the quilts.
Double Wedding Ring, Blazing Star, Log Cabin, Dresden Plate… we know the patterns by heart. We sense the comforting continuum of generations of women who stitch. And so it continues with Cooper’s quilt. We’re doing what women have always done…slow stitching, remembering, talking, helping each other.