Everyone Likes Trees
At least I think everyone does. It seemed like a safe and simple theme, since I was adding on a new group this week.
I have added an assisted living center to my quilt stops. I wanted a safe and relateable theme. I figured everyone has some kind of tree memory.
First Stop, The Community Center
At the Center, my props and photos always draw folks to the table, but the art supplies to keep them there.
This was never supposed to be an art group, but art supplies are a tool for helping me with language issues. For some who don't speak English, it helps to have ab extra focus, so that we're not all about discussion. However, when hands are working, the sharing will follow. Art slows things down a bit and sometimes my English & Spanish speakers can help translate for me.
Today, a few worked on labeling leaves on their own family trees. I began to hear stories about parents and grandchildren. Others used charcoal and pastels, and debated over "the very best kind of tree." Most in this group named a fruit tree as their favorite!
On to The Original Quilt Gang
My friends in this group would rather explore the stuff on the table than create a piece of art. It's amazing how many memories are triggered by the smell of a pinecone or the feel of a willow branch in your hand.
It's not all serious talk with this group. Trees can make very good costumes sometimes!
What are they good for?
It's amazing how long the list can get when you brainstorm the use of trees. They give us food, shade and fuel...and they even make us laugh! Betty laughed first and then was perplexed at this photo of a bizarre, sycamore trunk, arching over a sidewalk.
A Surprise About Acorns
Margaret did a little acorn sorting, while I shared one of the (very important) things I learned in college...how to use an acorn lid as a whistle. No one else was able to create the same piercing sound, but I assured them it had taken me 4 hours (on a class hike) to learn the skill!
There was no time for artwork or acorn whistling or games with my last group. They just had too much to say!
Lucille told us about the fall colors in Oregon and how she planted 29 trees after her husband died. Dorothy told us about a big Mesquite tree where they tied their horses.
Sometime the shared memories go way back. Eunice, who just turned 101, told us about the mulberry tree on her farm and the hours she spent as a child climbing in it.
Bud remembered a rope tied to a tree branch over a swimming hole...and an occasional "belly buster"!
Betty remembered how she and her friends buried pennies at the root of a tree. They had planned to dig them up one day, but never did.
We all remembered the fun of a willow tree... using the long branches for hiding and swinging...and whip making. That reminded Katherine of being told to go out and pick a "switch" when she was a child. She told the story with enough of a chuckle, that we didn't have to worry!
Not All Nostalgia
One of the best things about this group is that we don't just talk in the past. We talked about tree grafting and parasites like Spanish moss and mistletoe. One of the most interesting things I learned from the group was that during the Civil War, acorns were covered in cloth and used as buttons.
A Special Tree
As I packed up to leave, some of the folks reminded me to take a look at the wonderful papaya tree planted in the front of the Assisted Living Center.
I did stop to look and I had to take a photo!
What I Learned:
For some of my quilt folks, I just hope they enjoy the time we sit and share around the table. That's enough. But for some of my new friends, I hope they are enjoying the fun of a "lingering theme" like I am. I can't stop thinking about the stories I heard and the comments that were shared. All week I have been pausing to enjoy trees...just a little more.
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.