A Fine Idea




We walked along the beach for several miles. We pretended to be young and nimble as we scampered back from the water's edge as it rushed up on us and wet our shoes. Finally, back on dry sand, she stopped me from taking another step.

"I need a piece of paper and a pencil," she said, looking at me.

I don't have a piece of paper or a pencil or a pen," I said. I had wet feet. The beach at Morro Bay stretched a short distance along the central California coast.

"You should carry one," she said.

I stepped on some kelp that had washed up on the sand. "We're at the beach," I said. It was a quick trip on the spur of the moment to get away from the summer heat.

"I know, but I have an idea and I have to write it down." She looked at me as if I should have known that.

"An idea about the ocean and the beach and the seagulls?" I asked.

"An idea about quilting," she said.

"We're supposed to be relaxing here," I said.

"I still get ideas. I get lots of ideas."

"All about quilting."

"Some about quilting," she said. The morning sun began to break through the coastal fog.

"Enough so you need to write them down?"

"They're good ideas," she said. "I don't want to forget them."

"Tell me, and I'll help you remember them until we get back to the car."

"I can't tell you about them. They're just ideas."

"But you wanted to write them down."

"I still do, but what I write down won't mean anything to you."

"Because it's about quilting?"

"Because it's just an idea."

"For example?" I bent down to pick up a piece of glass that had been polished by the sea and tossed up on the beach. I held the green glass to my eye and looked through it toward the sun. The sun turned green.

"For example, that old scrap quilt we saw at the antique shop in town."

"You were very good and didn't buy one thing at that shop," I said. She had promised this would be a no-shopping trip, and so far she had kept her word. Of course, that may have been because we hadn't visited any quilt shops.

"Yes," she agreed. "But it made me think how great it would be if I could make something like that." She looked at me and I nodded. I had replaced the green glass in my hand with a piece of driftwood.

"I just wanted to write down that idea so I wouldn't forget it. If I asked you to remember it you would forget."

"You mean like the appliqué with the whales on it we saw at the art gallery yesterday?" She grabbed the driftwood from my hand and threw it into a crashing wave.

"You remember that?"

"You told me to remember that or you would make me sleep in the basement."

"We don't have a basement. But I see lots of things that clever people make that I want to try to quilt some day. So I need to write everything down."

"I could remember them."

"Not if I had a lot of ideas. There are too many for even both of us to remember."

"I could remember them if I had a pencil and paper," I said. She gave me a look that said I might have to sleep in a basement even if our house didn't have one.

"Maybe we should go into town and buy a small pad to carry around," she said.

"Sounds like a fine idea to me." I like sleeping in a bed.

And so we bought a small pad and a new pen to replace the one that had run dry after being in our car for a year.

"This pad's full," she said an hour later as we stood looking at a row of sailboats moored in the bay.

"Full of ideas?" I asked.

"It's very full," she said.

"Full means full," I said. "It means there's no more room. So when you say it's very full, you are saying the same thing twice."

"How would you like me to hit you hard and very hard?" she asked.

"We'll get a new pad right away," I said.

"It has to be a bigger pad," she said. "I might have lots and lots of ideas."

She bought a lined 5x7 pad. By late afternoon, it was full. So, of course, she bought a yellow legal pad. By the time we came home the next day, that pad was full as well. She had had a lot of ideas about quilting.

"I'm going to make a nautical quilt for Beth and Chris," Darling Wife said to me after we came home. She was leafing through her pages of ideas. Our niece Beth is getting married in August, and she and Chris, her husband to be, are avid sailors.

"Fine idea," I said.

But the idea itself wasn't enough. After looking through thirty-four quilting magazines, she found a design to go with her idea. Then she began the quilt. And she quilted. And quilted. Occasionally, I saw her. Sometimes, I spoke to her. Sometimes, I just waved.


The quilt is done. I have my wife back. And because the temperature is expected to reach 105 by Monday, we are thinking about going on another trip, this time to the mountains. An hour ago, she went through the mail that had come to our house yesterday. A few minutes ago she brought me a catalog advertising new computers. "How about if you buy a laptop computer," she said.

"What for?" I asked.

"We can take it on all our trips."

"And what will you use it for?" I knew, but I waited for her to tell me.

"My quilting ideas," she said.

Click here to see Nautica Quilt

Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver

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