I have looked forward to this particular Saturday morning for months. My second cup of coffee steams in my hands, and my sewing machine vies for my attentions, as does the aroma of muffins baking in the kitchen. A fire crackles in the fireplace, and the room hums with the happy conversation of ten of my dearest quilting friends.
At this moment, I am content as a warm cat, and Sunday afternoon and the drive home to my real life -- work, telephone messages, the dishwasher, my daughters' math homework and music practice -- seem a million miles away, and for now, I'll just leave them there. We are all spending the weekend in a lovely home in scenic Oregon at the retreat we look forward to each year. We offer each other quilting advice, teach each other our quilting tricks, and share our fabrics and our lives for this one weekend each year.
As pleased as I am by the progress made on whatever quilt I take to this annual retreat, this shared time has added a true and satisfying richness to my life. Far from the ugly, gossipy misnomer "stitch-n-birth", our conversations have been a window to the hearts of women possessed of determination, vitality and joy.
They have struggled with cancer and "the terrible twos", buried children and raised teenagers, lost love and found it again, loved laughter and maintained hope. They are a source of strength and inspiration that I could not have tapped into without setting aside this one weekend each year.
We mark our calendars months in advance, not just setting the days aside, but protecting them from the demands of work and family. We have found ways to skimp on the dollar expenses as we splurge on the elemental of friendship. We set the time aside to quilt, we all sew up a storm, both on our own projects and our annual charity quilt. But quilting is only the colorful backdrop to the friendships formed. This is not idle time. These are life lessons shared...and a quilt to show for it!
So, I'll be staying in my jammies and slippers for awhile, just because I can! After lunch, I'll join Cora and Karen on a walk, while my sister Julia and a few others head into town to visit a quilt shop. Then I'll sew until dinner, when we'll vote on our charity quilt this year, and then -- maybe -- stay up with Pat and Julia to quilt and chat through the wee hours. Wish you were here...