It's show time
Fall is appropriately named. The season's like stepping on
banana peels. There are the holidays and the next thing
you know, it's spring. As much as this looks like a
Halloween disguise, it really was my earnest attempt to
win the first show of the season, the Cat Show in New
York's Madison Square Garden. Nope. Didn't win best of
show again this year, but y'gotta keep trying, eh? Just
after Halloween, the DEMA show in Florida will usher in a
whole round of dive shows for 2008. Who knows where
that'll take Where's Bob: Boston? Cayman? Chicago?
Columbus? Cozumel? Curacao? Florida? New York? Long
Beach? South Pacific? Wreck Bottom, NJ? Where ever,
filing from interesting locations is the point of this column.
New England is a real battery-charger of a road trip.
Rolling over the Green Mountains past amber waves of
grain conjured thoughts of what makes this nation what it
is. The American Revolution raged here and the fledgling
nation defended in the War of 1812. Many of the state's
men gave their lives keeping this country together during
the Civil War. Quilt-maker Jane Stickle surely must have
been moved by it. In 1863 she completed a king-bed-sized
quilt comprised of scores of 4-inch squares, each unique.
And of some 5,600 slivers of cloth pieced together, no
print fabric is repeated. Jane lived near Bennington, Vt.,
where once a year the local museum shows her quilt.
Little is known of Jane, other than that she worked a
hard-scrabble life raising kids often solo while doing all the
considerable domestic chores women did 144 years ago.
Creating an art quilt clearly was a luxury to squeeze
between making socks from scratch and darning them,
and recycling worn-out rags of homemade clothing into
practical bed spreads, not to mention feeding a family,
going to church, saddling horses and wagons, making
candles and doing everything else people did back then.
While her everyday creations are no longer extant, this one
quilt spawned a school of "Jane-i-acs" who keep her spirit
alive. Rugged individualists still are staking claims here. An
alpaca farmer of five years after a lifetime in New York
City and his native Netherlands was picking up the local
attitude. With 1,000s of knitters passing through, selling
fluffy wool from alpacas is a shoe-in. Dealing with the
guinea hen population isn't easy for a city couple that
doesn't eat eggs and sees traditional livestock as pets.
After seeing transplanted urbanites' shows, it was great to
see the natural one of bumblebees working an aromatic
patch of wildflowers. Their act is built on generations of
surviving in the grassy fields between Green Mountains.