Frog Break




Today she spent the day working on a frog. It is not a quilt. It is a stuffed animal. The frog is big and green and when it is complete it will wear a yellow vest.

"That's not a quilt," I said when I saw her working on the frog.

"I'm quilted out," she said.

"You finished two quilts and started another one this week," I said.

"That's not new to me," she said.

"I was just wondering how a woman who quilts ninety-nine hours a day can stop quilting and make a frog," I said.

"Quilting's not my whole life," she said.

"The frog proves that," I said. "Quilting's just a hobby for you," I teased.

"It's not a hobby," she said seriously, her voice carrying a threat that anyone who teased about quilting was in dire need of a new life as his old one was about to end.

"So the frog's just a change for you?"

"The frog is a frog. Sometimes I need to get back to finishing up all the requirements before I take an elective."

"Are you back in school?" I asked, a bit puzzled. "I thought you didn't have any requirements in retirement.

"I didn't plan to have any, but then I got some assignments."

"More school?"

"Obligations," she said. The last quilt was an obligation quilt. This is an obligation frog."

"What's an obligation quilt?" I asked. I had to know.

"Its designated," she said.

"That means what?" I asked.

"That means that once in awhile I make a quilt for someone besides myself."

"You made quilts for me," I said.

"Two big quilts and some small ones," she said.

I wasn't going to ask the next question I had in mind, but then I did anyway. Fools rush in. "Were they designated or obligated or assignments?" I asked.

"They were designated but not obligated," she said.

"Oh, that's good," I said. "What's the difference?" I asked.

"I make quilts that I want to make for me, but I don't have to make them."

"Yes, you do. Once you have an idea for a quilt in your head your whole life is obligated. Mine, too. No force of nature will stop you. It's like an avalanche, a tidal wave. Time and tide wait for no man, uh, person."

"The frog frees me," she said.

"I'm still not sure about this thing about the frog," I said.

"It's a birthday present," she said.

"For your sister?" Her sister loves frogs.


"She just had a birthday. Her next birthday's not for a year."

"I'm doing the frog now so I can quilt," she said.

"Does that make sense to me?" I asked.

"I have a list of assignments to complete. When I make a quilt or a frog or a doll for someone, then it's an obligation. I have to finish it so I can be free to do something that's really, really fun."

"I thought you were having fun making the quilt you just finished."

"I did, but that was still an obligation quilt, so even though it was a lot of fun and a rewarding experience, it was not the same as making a quilt that isn't designated for anyone, that can just be itself."

"A quilt has to just be itself?"

"Sometimes," she said.

"And the frog is an assignment on your list?"

"It's a present. I am making it now so I can finish it now and get back to making a quilt or two."

"More like a hundred quilts by next year," I said.

"But they won't all be designated. Some may be assignments and obligations and designated. But some will be free quilts."

"You don't charge for quilts," I said.

"They're not free free. They're independent free."

"Liberty and justice for all," I said.

"Do you understand one word of what I'm saying?" she asked, her look at me asking if I wanted to keep my own freedom.

"I understand that sometimes you make quilts that are fun to make and satisfying to make but that you feel pressure to finish them because you want to give them away as presents to nice people, and sometimes you make quilts because the quilts need to be made and you enjoy them so much that you would never stop quilting, so you take time off sometime to make a frog even though that may be an assignment as well because if you didn't make it, you would explode. Is that right?"

"Something like that," she said.

"And after you finish this frog?"

"Then I'll work on one of the quilts I've already started or begin a new one or two."

"And then you won't be quilted out anymore?"

"I'm not quilted out," she said. "A quilter is never quilted out."

"But you said you were when I asked you about the frog," I said.

"I take it back," she said.

"Can you take back feeling like that?" I asked.

"Of course. Quilters have lots of feelings and sometimes think things or say things they have to take back so they have more room to quilt."

"What?" I was beginning to turn green.

"You don't look so well. Maybe you should take some time off." She looked at me thoughtfully. "Maybe you're the one who's quilted out."

"Ribbit." Maybe.


Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver

Frog based on Design from V.I.P. (Cranston Print Works Co.)

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