Monday, January 30, 2012

Wrapped in Love

Wrapped in Love

By Jane-Ann Heitmueller

She rocked gently in the glow of the warm, open fire that frigid winter morning. Harsh winds howled outside, fiercely whipping rough pine boughs against the small wooden cottage. As she softly hummed, the young girl’s nimble fingers moved skillfully over the sturdy, muslin material. She had begun the quilt just weeks ago when the chill of winter had, like a creeping fog, silently eased its way from the mountaintops down into the sheltered valley nestled below.

“Mary,” her mother had always said, “ Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. You must always involve yourself in a worthy, productive project during the cold months when you are unable to work outside.”

She always dreaded the arrival of those bone chilling, dull days spent inside the small log cabin, counting the days until the warmth of spring returned once again to the mountains. Mary yearned to view emerging fragile shoots of green on the now barren limbs. She missed watching fluffy clouds drifting in a sea of blue overhead and the chatter of busy creatures in the nearby woods. How she longed, stitching with daily diligence by the flickering firelight, for the sound of water dripping from the eaves overhead, a sure signal that sunshine was close and warm enough to be a true harbinger of spring. “I feel just like a mama bear,” she frowned and begrudgingly complained, “closed up in my dark cave to hibernate.”

As the days slowly passed Christmas came and went, a new year began its journey and Mary grew another year older, yet the stillness and chill remained. Mary continued to rock and daydream as the quilt on her lap began to resemble a bright flower garden. The same lovely, comforting images that her mind so desired seemed to spring to life before her eyes as the quilt progressed week by week. Would she ever be free to skip amongst the yellow daffodils on the hillside and bend to smell the sweet hyacinth blooms peeking their tiny head out of the warm earth, or surprise her mother with a handful of deep purple Iris that languished with such elegance beside the sparkling mountain stream? She continued to wish and stitch as the days came and went.

A certain uneasiness awakened Mary early that March morning and a sudden need to complete her quilt that day tugged at her heart. While the family remained nestled placidly in their warm loft beds overhead, she slipped down the wooden ladder to tend the embers in the fireplace and resume her sewing. Mary was puzzled by the deep desire she felt inside, yet was determined to follow the intangible, internal directions and settled down to stitch with an eagerness that surprised her.

At the exact moment she completed the last stitch and tied the final knot her concentration was suddenly broken. “Mary,” called her father with a certain urgency to his tone, “come quickly.”

Bolting from the rocker, still grasping the completed quilt, Mary did as her father ordered and scrambled quickly up the ladder into the loft. “Hurry,” he directed, “get something warm and soft to wrap around your new baby brother.”

It was only at that moment Mary noticed the tiny figure cradled in her mother’s arms. No one had told her about the wonderful surprise that was to arrive simultaneously that March morning with the welcomed beauty of spring. Suddenly, as though struck with a bolt from heaven, Mary instantly realized the reason for the unexplained urgency she had felt in the stillness of that early dawn only hours ago.

Smiling broadly, she stretched forth her arms and proudly handed the completed quilt to her father, who tenderly wrapped her new baby brother in the gift Mary had spent the cold winter designing and creating. Her precious quilt of love.