Art Imitates Nature


Crossing the footbridge across the branch beside the house the other day I was struck particularly by the reds in the old quilt hanging on the line by the shed. Ann had found it in town (at Finders Keepers) in sad need of repair.

So having patched the patchwork quilt and washed it (it held up!) it hung on the line first thing on a sunny October morning.

Against foreground of the single crimson dogwood, the pale pink of the mums and the angular beauty of stacked firewood, the hand-crafted functional art of the old quilt seemed to fit nicely, both visually and thematically. I could live without the black plastic–visually but not practically. Dry firewood will soon be a daily commodity–to keep us warm.

Quilt and stacks of wood: in the end, getting by, when you get right down to the bare bones of it, is all about maintaining body heat, isn’t it?

Click the image above, and when the enlargement opens, click your right arrow key for another view of the quilt showing how the morning light is already setting the ridge aglow even while the house below (and clothes line) is still in the shade of the ridge to the east and bathed in the even light of open sky.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Wonderful quilt. If the side shown in the picture is the top (and not a pieced backing), it may be an African-American quilt. My very amateur opinion is based on the asymmetrical layout that looks more akin to modern art than to other quilt traditions. Thanks for showing it.