She didn't pack her bags or get ready as she would for a regular trip, but she prepared herself nevertheless. She didn't pack a lunch or take a Thermos of water as she would on a trip out of town. But she got herself ready nevertheless.
She put away the box of quilting equipment she kept at her side as she quilted. She turned off the sewing machines and covered them. She took down the last scrap of color from her design wall. She closed all her quilting books and magazines and put them on the shelves where they belonged. Then she took a long deep breath, smiled, and began.
"You're not quilting today?" I had asked her earlier that morning as I saw her begin the preparations.
"Not today," she said.
"Are you feeling all right? A little tired? Upset stomach? Headache?" Something had to be wrong.
"I feel great, but I can't quilt today."
"You're planning to go shopping for more fabric?" I asked. That was as good a guess as I could make. I never could be sure of what this darling Wife of a quilter might be up to if she weren't quilting.
"I'm staying in the house all day. It's time."
"It's time?" I asked. Did it involve me? Was she going to yank me out of my daily laziness? I didn't want to get involved in any of her plans that day. I had plans of my own that didn't involve anything more than sitting or reclining or lying as flat as I could as I wasted away the day.
"It's Visitors Day," she said, her voice capitalizing the words.
"Oh," I said, wondering at just that moment who was sick and why she hadn't told me about it. She didn't know anyone at any prison in the United States, so I didn't think that was it.
But she knew what I might be thinking. She always did. "It's the stash," she said.
"The stash is sick?" I asked. No, of course not. It couldn't be anything like that."
"It's been a while," she said.
"It's been a while," I repeated as any quilting husband would. I would repeat anything she said until I got it right and understood it. Sometimes that took all day.
"You know what I mean," she said.
"I just told you."
"The stash. I have to visit my stash. Today is the day I've set aside to do that."
At that moment I took everything she said, arranged it in my mind, rearranged it, and it still didn't make much sense to me. "You have to visit your stash," I said, taking the chance that I had heard her correctly.
"Most of the stash is lonely," she said. I just looked at her. "I've been so busy quilting lately, concentrating on what I was doing, playing favorites...." She looked at me as if to see if I was going where she was going. I wasn't. "I neglected most of the stash," she explained.
"Aha!" I said. I could have said, "Eureka" or "Wow" or I could have had a bright light bulb appear over my head. But I still didn't know down what path this Darling Wife of mine was traveling. "Go on," I said.
"Follow me," she said.
As always, when given the chance, I followed. She led me two feet away to the first set of her plastic drawers which was part of her Fort Knox of stored stash. All in all she had twenty-one such drawers in three stacks of seven each against one wall of her sewing room. She pulled a drawer out of the frame that held it "I see yellow fabric," I said. It was exactly what I saw. A plastic drawer full of yellow fabric.
"There are seven tones of solid yellow, she said. "The next drawer has the yellow prints, and under that there are the yellow reproduction designs. I haven't used yellow lately. So all this fabric has been left alone, dark inside these drawers, lonely and worried, neglected for weeks."
"So you're saying hello to all the yellow fabric?" I asked.
"I'm visiting it. I'm looking at it and taking it out and handling it and letting it know that I know it's there."
"You're visiting the fabric?" How dumb could I be? Not just a simple hello, but a real visit. Did she plan to have tea on her visit?
"I have to visit all the fabric today. All of these...." She swept out her arm to let me know she had twenty-one drawers of fabric to visit.
"That shouldn't take long," I said, hoping that it wouldn't take too long and that maybe we could go for a ride to the park and feed the ducks our leftover bread which had been waiting for a visit to the ducks. I understand visiting ducks.
"I have to visit all the stash," she said again, emphasizing the word "all."
"All over the house?" The ducks might starve by the time that was over.
"Some I haven't seen for months," she said. "It needs to be taken out so I can remember where it is, what I have, and how much there is. I forget what I have sometimes, so I have to visit all the stash. I keep finding fabric I've forgotten about completely. If I didn't visit, it might get lost forever."
"Are you going to talk to it?" I asked, knowing that she often talked to her stash. Every scrap, every fat eighth or fat quarter, every half yard, every yard, every bolt of fabric she ever knew, she talked to it all.
"I'm just going to visit and say hello."
"And have tea?" She gave me a look that warned of danger.
"You visit all your books once in a while. You always tell me you found a book on the shelf that you had forgotten you had."
She had me there. "I have to dust the books occasionally," I tried. She didn't have to dust her fabric. All of it was bagged, boxed, wrapped, safe in drawers or on shelves.
"I have to go now," she said, dismissing my answer and me. She had that intent look on her face now that meant that I had better flee to safety before she turned me into stash.
"When will you be back?" I asked.
"When Visitors Day is over," she said.
I went to visit my books. But I didn't go to say hello or talk to them. But I thought about bringing coffee.
Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver
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