I think of my most-prized possession, I draw a blank. I think harder and realize, I have many, in fact so many that I couldn’t possibly talk about them all. So, I look around the room and find one. It is one of my many prized possessions…
It is an assortment of pinwheel squares, made up of little triangular pieces of cloth; plain yellow and printed orange alternating. It is bright and holds memories of times that I considered ordinary then – but feels special now. We were at an auction in the basement of a little church in Ambrose, little outside our town. It was a fundraiser for the college-bound kids, on a cold winter evening. We had nothing else to do, besides huddling ourselves at home, so we decided to go to the church.
The auction was being held at the basement of the church, we walked downstairs. There were so many quilts on display there, all hand-made by the grand old ladies of the town. They spent a few hours every morning “quilting for a cause.” Many people sat on benches having coffee and cookies as they awaited the auction.
At that time we did not know much about quilting. My husband used to say that he didn’t see much point in tearing up a perfectly fine piece of cloth into smaller bits and then sewing them back together, “what a waste of time!” I was fascinated by the use of color and skill in quilting, definately a form of art, but the process felt too laborious and tedious. At that time, moving was always on my mind. So, I would always weigh-in the factor of ”moving”, before even thinking of buying anything new.
The people at the auction were gracious and welcoming, they invited us to have coffee and cookies with them. My boys got busy munching on cookies. “Oh! they are so cute”, many ladies cooed over them, as they sat there with a cookie each, in their hands and crumbs all over their faces and clothes. Everyone sort of knew us from having seen our picture in the newspaper, after all a new family moving into town or a nearby town, was a nothing short of an event. An article along with the family picture had been splashed on the front page of the weekly newspaper.
In a little while the auction started, the auctioneer was a middle aged guy, peppy and full of energy. He had two helpers, who would hold up a quilt for viewing. He started with a minimum price, hands went up in the air, with bids and counter-bids happening so fast, that the quilts were being sold in a hurry. It was our first time at a live auction, we were having fun just watching the process. Some of the bids and counter-bids turned into a game of sorts, with the rivals trying to outbid each other for the fun of it. It seemed like the buyers had examined the quilts earlier and already decided on which one or ones they wanted. So many beautiful quilts were gone in a hurry.
Next, up on display was this beautiful, cheerful looking, yellow quilt that had a bright and a sunny disposition. It reminded me of warmth and sunshine that I was craving for, that dark winter night. I decided I wanted it. My husband liked it too. He raised his hand to bid on it, nobody else countered, so it was ours. Then we bid on another one, for no particular reason, it was a crazy quilt – an assortment of random squares in different shades of blue and we got that one too.
After the quilt auction, it was time for stuffed animals. Two black cats were being held up for bidding, up went my two year old’s hand. There was laughter in the room, as everyone looked at him endearingly. The auctioneer was pleased to see the youngest bidder in the room put up his hand, he asked him if wanted them, my son shook his head in affirmation. When he asked him again, “Five dollars, are you sure sir?” My five year old answered for him “ Yes! five dollars!” “Ok five dollars it is?” said, the auctioneer with a huge smile on his face. My boys ran to get their cats and held on to them possessively, as if they were a little pieces of treasure.
It also holds the memory of a very special friend who visited us when we moved away from this town. She stayed in our guest room and this quilt was in her room at that time. She had put on her glasses and examined the quilt carefully to find some loose pieces with unraveled stitches. She asked for a needle and thread, to sew them up. When I resisted, she said, “ Oh! it will give me something to do, I have stitched doll’s clothes before, but never a quilt.” She deftly sewed the little pieces back together, adding a touch of embroidery of her own. It made her happy.
After the many moves, I have no idea where the stuffed black cats are? But I still have the bright, sunny yellow quilt that lays on my couch. One look at it and all the memories come flooding through.