several years ago, i started on a quilt based on the book cold mountain. some of you may remember the few blocks that i had made (way back when i was on blogger). why did i stop? well, i wasn’t really thrilled with the blocks or the direction that the quilt was headed, so i tucked them away. it was time to regroup and rethink things. four years later, i finally got my act together and have a definite plan.
if you haven’t read the book, you are really missing out on a great piece of work. please don’t judge the book by the movie; the movie was lame, to say the very least. the book goes so far beyond anything that hollywood did or could capture. charles frazier crafted a timeless piece of work when he wrote cold mountain. yes, i did buy his second novel, thirteen moons, and was disappointed like so many others. it just seemed to jump around so much and you really had to work at finding the plot.
i have read cold mountain numerous times, and i never tire of it. the wording, the phrases, the story…all just beautifully laid out. i’m tempted to give those that haven’t read the novel (ummm..why?) a brief summary of what it’s about, but i know that i just couldn’t do it any justice. i could tell you about the love story between inman and ada…or inman’s struggle to get home and away from the civil war. then there is ada, who is left to try and eek out a living with no idea how to go about it. but it goes so much deeper than all of that; so instead, allow me to quote from the author himself:
It was a very old way of life that had nurtured human beings for millennia, a life dependent on sparse populations and large tracts of common land. And on internal matters as well: the limitation of desire, stability, making do, a healthy suspicion of change for its own sake, extreme independence of thought and action, reluctance to acknowledge authority. Beneath it all, a hint of deep earth spirituality. In other words, they depended on just the opposite of most of the things we currently live by. I knew a few such people as a child, but they were old, and I know no one remotely like them now.
And it’s not just a Southern thing. There’s a strong vein of this worldview in what we think of as Americana. Old-time music is infused with it.
I knew I wanted to write about those old lifeways, but I needed some point of access. I was given such an entry not long after that day on Caldwell Fork when my father told me about an ancestor of ours, a man named Inman who left the war and walked home wounded. The man who killed the fiddler was waiting for him when he reached the mountains. The story seemed like an American odyssey and it also seemed to offer itself as a form of elegy for that lost world I had been thinking about. So I set out on Inman’s trail and followed it for five years of writing.
instead of pulling out my old blocks and picking up where i left off, i decided to start fresh and by hand. i’ve carried my little pouch with me when i go to classes and clinicals, and pick it up when i get a few spare minutes, which doesn’t happen often. but, the little time i do get, keeps me focused on the goal.
what’s the goal? well, a finished quilt would be nice, but there’s more to it than that. once i had picked this project back up, i got to thinking about those mountains and how i wanted to go back again. when i was there several years ago, i remember thinking that i would absolutely love to spend some time there…deep back in those mountains in a little old cabin with no one but the trees for company. most are just happy to take a driving tour, snap a few pictures and buy a t-shirt, and i can understand that. there have been places that have been nice to see, but i have no desire to go back. that wasn’t the case with southern appalachia for me. after thinking about it for awhile, i thought why not? so, as a gift to myself when i graduate nursing school, i’m taking myself on my first ever solo vacation. i’ve found a 150 year old cabin and am renting it for the week (probably sometime in may 2011). who knows, i may just hike up cold mountain as well. 🙂 this quilt will be coming with me, and i want it to be a completed top by then. that gives me 23 months. sounds like a long time, but in reality, i know that i’ll have to really push myself to find time.
this first block is based on inman’s recollection of the battle at fredricksburg…the site that his eyes took in after killing hundreds of federal soldiers.
“a man walking next to inman looked out upon the scene and said, ‘if i had my way, everything north of the potomac would resemble that right down to the last particular’. inman’s only thought looking at the enemy was, go home.”