It was a morning to be respected, bright but cool, with doves cooing in the yard. It was a morning of promise for our walk along the trail by the lagoon. I was eager to be on our way. If we dawdled the rest of the world would wake up and no doubt head for the same trail, tourists galore. If we left early, the trail would be ours to share only with others who knew the pleasure of early, early morning, and we would sing along with the morning birds.
"Are you ready to go yet?" I asked as she moved around the kitchen putting away the remains of breakfast I had forgotten.
"Not yet. I have to go upstairs and stretch," she said.
"You can stretch on the trail," I said sensibly.
"I haven't stretched before, and it might take a few minutes," she said.
"What do you mean you haven't stretched before? You've been stretching all your life."
"I'll only be a while. We have plenty of time."
"Go," I said. "Go stretch away," I said to her back as she was already on the steps.
"I've never stretched before," she said again.
It was an hour before she came back down. I had read the paper, had a second cup of coffee, had watered the plants by the front walkway, and I had given up all hope of a quiet time on the trail. "I can't go now," she said.
"What?" Now, my asking "what?" or even daring to ask "why?" served no real purpose. Her explanation would make sense to her but would only rattle around in my head for a while before I sighed and said, "Whatever," which was like "what" but entirely different.
"I have to learn how to stretch," she said.
"Go on," I said politely, easily, quietly.
"It's an oval," she said.
"It's an oval," I repeated, and I waited for her to go on. I waited. "Go on," I said.
"I have to stretch for the oval," she said.
"Makes sense," I said. No, it didn't. But, of course, in almost five decades of marriage, the definition of sense had never quite been exactly understood by either of us.
"I have to do some learning," she said. "It might take a while, and in the meantime, we'll have to wait for our walk. You can go if you want."
"You want me to go alone on a crowded trail along the lagoon without knowing why you are stretching or have to learn to stretch?"
"It's the binding," she said, and she nodded her head, her smile bobbing with her head. She looked at me to see if I understood. Of course, I did. Binding. Oval. Learning. Stretching. Quilting.
There are times in the life of the spouse of a quilter when it is best to take a deep breath and hold it for awhile. This was one of those times, and I took a deep breath. She knew what I was doing. She waited the hour or two it took for me to exhale, and then she smiled.
"Bias," she said.
"Bias," I repeated after her.
"Bias binding," she went on.
"Bias binding," I repeated. I had years before learned that the word "bias" in her life had nothing to do with favoritism or prejudgment, or leaning in one direction or another.
"Let me guess." I began.
"Guess," she said.
"It has to do with ovals," I guessed.
"Yes," she said.
"You're making an oval quilt," I guessed.
"Yes, my first one, really."
"And you have to bind it," I guessed.
"It won't bind without stretching," she said.
"Stretching that has nothing to do with you putting a foot up on a chair and extending your body to loosen up tight muscles," I guessed.
"Regular binding doesn't stretch," she said.
"Bias binding does," I guessed.
"Do you know what I'm doing?" she asked. She already knew the answer, so she was asking out of kindness.
"I have no idea," I said.
"The binding has to stretch to go around the curves of the oval, and I have to cut the binding on a bias to make it stretch to do that," she said.
'That's what you've been doing for an hour upstairs in your sewing room while I was doing all the chores around the house," I guessed.
"I had to cut the fabric on the bias so it stretches when I sew it around the oval. If it's not on the bias it won't stretch and the edge will be bumpy and lumpy and I will have to face the scorn of every quilter in the world. And even the beginning quilters will laugh."
"Bumpy and lumpy?" I had thought that there were no new quilting terms to learn, but I had just learned two new ones,
"You wouldn't want to see. You wouldn't want to be in the same house with that quilt."
"I'd have to go to the lagoon then, to get away from it," I said.
"No, when you go to the lagoon, I'll go with you. I just have to stretch and sew and stretch and bind a little more first," she said.
"You've already had a few bumps along the quilting way?" I asked.
"Too many," she said.
"You've been quilting for several years now and you never stretched before?" I asked.
"Not like this," she said.
"How much is done?" I asked. Now, that is a question I ask from time to time when she has been working on a quilt for days and weeks and even months, so it was not unexpected, and she answered before I even had the question out of my mouth.
"It's a small wall hanging and you'll like it when it's done, and it's all done except for the binding, and I almost have that right. When I do get it right. I'll finish, and it will be soon."
"A day or two," she said.
"And then we can go for our walk?"
"We can go today. I just have to get started. I don't have to finish it all now."
"All right. Go to it. I'll find something to do. Maybe I'll just stretch out on the bed for a nap."
"That sounds good," she said.
"I should stretch out straight though. I wouldn't want to fall asleep on the bias."
"I'll be back," she said, and before I could blink, she was gone. Quilters are like that. I yawned and stretched out my arms and went to take a nap.
Copyright 2007 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished ""Morning Flight"
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