In Part 2, after the song had become all-consuming for children, I told Naomi about the one time this had happened before, eight years ago. A song was beloved to children. They couldn’t get enough. And so, we made a quilt. That was a lightbulb moment, and sparked another quilting journey. Milly the quilter had died, yet she made her presence to give approval to this new venture and to handing the reins over to Donna. Children began to design the quilt by listing all the parts of the song and the book that they felt should be included. This was the most important part of all!
We made a giant sketch. This was hard, as we had to put children’s ideas, that whole list of important parts, onto paper. Every component was important, from footsteps (“I followed my footsteps”) to the Redwood Forest, Gulf Stream waters, and the church on the ‘sad page’. Groton Community School and Gloria are included. She’s flying a kite. The Statue of Liberty is prominent, and the central figure in the quilt is a home with the American flag. Woody’s guitar will rest along the house.
Children were insistent on including Woody’s guitar. They are fascinated with Woody, and ask questions about him all the time. “Jennie, does Woody have children?” I explained how he was a little older than my mother, so his children were close to my age. That took a while to sink in. The Woody questions haven’t stopped.
After the sketch was complete, children colored it in. In that way, it solidified all their ideas and dreams about the quilt. Coloring is a soulful experience.
After the sketch was complete and children were satisfied, the next step was selecting fabrics. What a glorious adventure! Those days were like being in an open air market, full of colorful items. Really, it was like Christmas morning with more than the eye could see.
Once children finished exploring all the fabrics, it was time to settle down and do some serious selecting. This process took two days. Every part of the quilt required a choice, from the chimney of the house to fireworks to the ‘sparkling sands of the diamond desert’. Everything.
When Donna finished many of the parts on the face of the quilt, she brought in all the pieces, and children watched as she placed them together – like a jig saw puzzle. If something was put in the wrong spot, children immediately knew. “No, that’s not where Woody’s guitar goes.” Donna asked the children. “What’s missing?” They knew – the apples on the tree, fireworks, and more. There’s no tricking these children. The song and the quilt are far too important to them.
Once every thing was sewn into place, we had one last look before it headed to the ‘long arm machine’ for the quilting and intricate stitching. But first we still had to choose fabric for the border and for the lettering, THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND. That was the hardest choice of all.
Stay tuned for Part 4 and the unveiling of the quilt. It is far different than what I imagined. I cried.