Which came first, the baby or the quilt?
"Wait until the baby is born," I said.
"That's too long to wait. I want to give it to her as soon as the baby is born. It'll be born in January and it will freeze without a new quilt to keep it warm.
"It will not freeze. They have heat in the house. They have blankets. They won't let the baby freeze."
"I have to make the baby now," she said.
"I have to make the quilt now," she corrected. "I was just thinking about the baby and whether it will be a boy or a girl."
"It will be a boy," I said.
"How do you know? They don't know and don't plan to know."
"Sarah looks as if she has a boy inside," I said. Sarah is our neighbor's daughter and at the time was expecting her first child.
"She looks pregnant, that's all," my Darling Wife said.
"We'll see," I said.
"I'll make a quilt for either a boy or a girl," she said.
"And you want to use the fabric you just bought?" It was early August and we had just come out of Keepsake Quilting in New Hampshire, and she had bought, for no reason I could understand, three yards of fabric that displayed Noah and his storm splashed cargo.
"I like the fabric and it'll make a nice baby quilt," she said so emphatically that the power of her words blew like the North Wind and sent the heavy rain that was falling on us to the other side of the street. And then the sun came out. "See, the flood's over," she said.
By September she had begun work on the crib quilt, Noah sitting around her sewing room watching, getting dizzy and disoriented at times. At least I think it was Noah, for she had pieces of the fabric on her design wall, and every half day or so she arranged them in one way then rearranged them before re-rearranging them. Riding the ark in a stormy sea wasn't as likely to cause Noah to become seasick as getting moved around day after day on the design wall.
"How's Noah?" I would ask from time to time.
"Noah's just fine," my Darling Wife would say, her demeanor one of mystery.
"It'll be a boy," I said.
"We'll see," she said as she pushed me aside so she could fussy cut some animal for Noah to rescue in his ark. She had animals hanging around with Noah on the design wall, lots and lots of animals.
By November Noah was no longer dizzy. But he still stamped his foot with impatience every once in a while. Then, one morning, she decided to use Noah only for the top and bottom of the small quilt and fill the center with the animals. Poor Noah had been relegated to just a narrow strip at the top and bottom of the quilt.
"Is that all of Noah fabric you're going to use?" I asked. After all, she had bought three yards of the fabric.
"Don't worry about Noah. I'm going to use the rest of the fabric for the backing," she said.
"The boy will like that," I said. But she didn't use it. Just before Thanksgiving she bought three yards of flannel for the backing. It was soft, fuzzy, affectionate, and warm flannel.
"This fabric's more cuddly," she explained.
"And soft and fuzzy," I said. What was left over of Noah and his friends was put in her Noah drawer for the next big rain.
By November she had the animals well fed and rested and placed properly on a background of yellow print that she had found one day after she decided all the three thousand and ten other fabric designs she had in the house wouldn't do and she dragged me to the quilt shop for "just the right yellow."
One morning I watched her sew a moose on a square of yellow.
"Do you think Noah had a moose aboard his ark?" I asked one day.
"Of course! Moose and mice," she said.
"Mice too?" I asked.
"Where do you think they come from?" she asked.
"I thought they came out of that small hole at the bottom of the wall behind the water heater in the garage."
"Before that they were on the ark," she said.
"Probably in the ark kitchen behind the stove where it was warm," I said.
"There's no mouse on this quilt," she said as I looked for one.
"You don't like mice?"
"There's not enough room. It's a quilt, not an ark."
"Well, some boys like mice," I said.
By December the top was done. Each animal had settled down for forty days and forty nights in its assigned space, each separated by a strip of red sashing from the other, though I'm sure they wandered out every once in a while to look around the ark to see if there were any other mice hiding somewhere.
One afternoon she sandwiched the top, batting, and fuzzy warm flannel back together and began quilting. That evening she asked, "Want to see the quilt?"
"It's all done?"
"No more changes? No more kicking some animals off the ark so you could put on your favorites."
"It's all done," she said.
"I'm glad," I said as she held the quilt up for me, turned it to the back and to the front again. "He'll like it," I said.
"If I didn' have all the other quilts to work on I could have finished it three months ago," she said.
"It's done now," I said.
"I still have to do the label," she said.
"Isaac," I said.
"Sarah said that if the baby was a boy, they were naming it Isaac."
"You want me to make the label before the baby's born?"
"You can change it later if you have to, but you won't have to."
In January Isaac was born. He has a new mom and new dad and new quilt. The quilt came before the baby.
Copyright 2001 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "Isaac's Noah's Ark"
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