Spirit Tree: A Novel Idea Quilt

Hello!  If it's February it must be time to think about the Deschutes Public Library's Novel Idea book.  This year the book is Euphoria by Lily King.  I first listened to it in December and didn't like it very much, but I really didn't like the narrators and I thought that might color my opinion of it.  So I read the actual book while in Hawaii and really liked it.  I've always been interested in anthropology and studied it a bit in college.  I found the cultural references to be very interesting because even though they are made up scenarios, they were based on the life of Margaret Mead.  It is really a love story at its heart and that's where my quilt idea comes in. 

When I first saw the cover of the book I was intrigued by the patterning, but I had no idea what it was and how it related to the story.  It wasn't until I came to the section that describes the dwelling of Bankson, one of the main characters, that I understood the cover.  

"My house stood apart from the rest, and hadn't been lived in for many years.  It was built around a rainbow gum tree, which came up through the floor and went out through the roof.  Many Kiona had come to believe it was a spirit tree, a place where their dead relatives gathered and made their plans, and some kept their distance, making a wide curve around my house when they passed by.  They had offered to build me a house closer to the center of the village, but I had heard stories of anthropologists waiting months for their houses to be finished and I had been eager to settle in.  I worried that Nell would have difficulty with my ladder, which was steep and nothing more than a wide pole with shallow notches for steps, but she climbed up, torch in hand, with ease.  She didn't notice the tree until she was inside and the flame lit the room.  I heard her let out a big American 'Wow.'

The gum tree took up a good bit of the room.  Nell stroked it.  Its bark had shed and the trunk was smooth and streaked with orange and bright green and indigo.  It wouldn't have been the first rainbow gum she'd encountered, but it was a striking specimen.  She ran her palm down a swath of blue. I had the odd feeling that they were communicating, as if I had just introduced her to an old friend and they were already getting on well.   For the truth is I had stroked that tree many a time, spoken to it, sobbed against it."

The other day I found myself with some unexpected time in the studio (actually, I was playing hooky from all the other stuff that needs to be done), and so I gathered scraps.  I ended up using only scraps for this piece, except for one gray-brown that I felt it needed.  

Spirit Tree top measures 19" x 37" before quilting.

Spirit Tree top measures 19" x 37" before quilting.

This is the pile of scraps leftover.  I think I did a pretty good job on them!  Quilting will have to wait until I get back from QuiltCon.  If you are local to Central Oregon look for the Novel Idea quilts to be exhibited at QuiltWorks in Bend in the month of April.