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Calories Consumed Outside the Home Don’t Count…

September 23, 2010

I hope.

My aunt’s are great cooks -

Moosemeat Roast with gravy and home-grown Potatoes mashed with lots of butter and canned milk

Saksatoon Berry Pie

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Raspberry Jam

Fried Pickerel

Wild Blueberry Pie with Ice Cream

Wild Rice Casserole

Bacon and Eggs with Toasted Home-made Bread and Wild Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Did I mention the Wild Blueberry Pie? A little taste of heaven!

I always seem to be hungry when it comes to mealtime here. I can’t believe the amount of food I’ve been consuming. Must be that wild northern Manitoba air.

The abandoned dock at Herb Lake Landing

As many of you know, I am in family country. I’ve come here to reunite with family, and to find out a little more a about my paternal grandmother, Ethel. Ethel was a quilt-maker too. I’ve learned since arriving that Ethel was also trained as a lacemaker, and I’ve seen many samples of her work. She was a feisty little woman who was a good cook (that’s where my aunts get it from!). Her cinnamon buns were known by many. She always had room for another person at the dinner table. She made do. She always had a smile.

As I sit here watching the sun rise over Wekusko Lake, not far from the spot where my grandmother lived, I look at the same lake and islands that she would have seen from her kitchen window, and wonder what her life was like. Though I’ve heard many stories in the days since I’ve arrived, I would love to have heard them directly from her. Especially her quilting stories.

Nana's house - so much smaller than I remember!

When my aunt told me she had some quilts – the quilts that were made by Ethel, I thought there would be two or three left after all these years. But when she opened the trunk and pulled out at least a dozen quilts, I nearly wept with joy. My cousin and I spent an afternoon going through all of them, and I listened as Cathy reminisced about the fabrics that Nana used. “This was Nana’s favourite ‘house dress’. I always loved that fabric with the blue flowers,” she remarked. Or, “Nana made a skirt for me out of that purple and white fabric,” she remembered.

I am sad I don’t have any of those memories, but thrilled that I have someone to tell me about their own memories of my grandmother. They are not pretty quilts, well at least not the pretty quilts we are used to seeing and making today. But they are each beautiful to me. My aunt tells me that the quilts were all made sometime between the 1940’s and 1970’s, and the fabrics Ethel used reflect the times. Sometimes the backings are pieced with scraps of fabric just to make a piece large enough to fit the front. Where there are holes and tears, I can see inside to what she’s used as batting – wool blankets, old curtains. Whatever was available. The quilts are not straight. They do not lie flat.

But they are stunningly beautiful to me.

~ H

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2010 1:23 pm

    I can only imagine the thrill of finding those quilts – the beauty is in the maker and the love that went into the creation. What a wonderful trip – and new memories for you! Blessings, Peg

  2. September 23, 2010 3:26 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing!! See quilt making is in your blood!! How nice that you can take a step back in time and get to know your grandma through her lovely quilts!!
    Take care!
    Paulette

  3. September 23, 2010 7:30 pm

    How lovely for you to know these quilts and the stories behind them! I can’t wait to see more photos from your trip. Safe travels!

  4. Kathy Schwartz permalink
    September 23, 2010 9:27 pm

    Glad your having a wonderful time with your family and that you discovered some great quilting treasures from your Grandmother. Wish the weather had been nicer for you will you were in my neck of the woods.

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