As I write today, I have one particular quilter in mind: my friend, Gwen, who is busy right now with the work of leaving this world. When I saw her, just a few days ago, she worded it this way:
“I’m going back to Mother Nature.”
I hold that thought, as I am holding thoughts of Gwen, as she finishes the difficult business of dying.
Her latest book, The Magic Forest: Tree Quilts by Gwen Marston, is an exquisite little volume: just the right size to hold in my two hands, every page a new treasure. The left-hand pages have images of Gwen’s tree quilts, each stylized image perfectly capturing the essence of that tree. The facing page offers thoughtful and complimentary quotes, lines of poetry and bits of haiku. Some of her choices seem especially pertinent today:
- “a lovely spring night/ suddenly vanished while we/ viewed cherry blossoms” ~Matsuo Basho
- “I hear the wind among the trees playing the celestial symphonies; I see the branches downward bent, like keys of some great instrument.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- “spring begins/ as it has designed to do/ for a thousand years” ~Kobayashi Issa
- “An old banana leaf was once young and green.” ~Nigerian proverb
- “When eating the fruit, think of the person who planted the tree.” ~Vietnamese proverb
- “Take nothing but memories; leave nothing but footprints.” ~Chief Seattle
- “Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” ~John Muir
- “the crow has flown away/ swaying in the evening sun/ a leafless tree” ~Natsume Soseki
- “hazy moon in the pine/ passing through/ passing through” ~Kobayashi Issa
- “beech, with its smooth gray skin in winter/ shows its bones” ~Gwen Marston
Godspeed, dear friend!
(Update: Gwen passed away, the day before yesterday)