A few weeks ago, when I was at my house in Leola, my landlady showed me several quilts that she had made. They had been sitting in a cedar chest in the basement and she was going to sell them to the auction house because (as she said) “I’m not a spring chicken no more…need to clean out the house.”
When she showed me the quilts, I was moved to tears. What a labor of love! The cutting of material, the piecing of material, the quilting of the material! Yet what I found most interesting was that each quilt told a story. She could tell me the history of the fabrics, the story behind the quilting design, the people who helped her during the process. As she told the story, her eyes glazed over and she seemed far away. It dawned on me that she was remembering those days with a yearning for her youth. It also dawned on me that a complete stranger would only see the beauty of the quilt, not the history of its making.
I bought both of those quilts to add to my collection of stories. They are like books in my library. When I want a good story, I pull out a book. But, with the quilts, when I want to imagine a good story, I can hold the quilt on my lap and shut my eyes, remembering the stories behind its creation.
The next time that you visit Lancaster or Holmes County, stop at a quilt store and let your imagination run wild. Try to learn the history of the quilts…who made it and why? You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn about the Amish just from a few innocent questions about the creators of the quilts.