Childhood’s Wide Avenues is a quilt about memory, of fixing in time a place and a feeling. I grew up in the mountain west, in Provo, Utah, a town laid out in a grid of wide avenues, criss-crossed with streets that seemed to me to be wide as the sky, although I’m sure if I went back there now, they would be reduced in size and dimension. But that feeling that I could ride my bike to the top of the street near our house and see all the way down to my elementary school, or across the valley, or to the other side of the world has remained in my memory.
The possibilities were infinite.
A few weeks ago, as I was thinking about this quilt and how to express the theme of Urban/Maps, I found myself traveling down another very wide avenue through the middle of a town very unlike where I grew up: San Bernardino, California. But the boulevard was so wide and so straight and I could see it head in a straight line for miles, up into the foothills, that I felt as if I had been transported in an instant back to an earlier place and time. But it seemed impossible, until I learned that Mormon pioneers, a branch off the same tree that laid out Provo, had also laid out the wide avenues of this town two states away, in the early 1850s. Asked to settle this place far from their original homes in the Utah valley, they laid out a grid of wide avenues, and gave them names like Salt Lake Street, Kirtland Street, Nauvoo Street, and Utah Street. These have all been renamed, but those early pioneers left their stamp on the valley not only by naming the cemetery Pioneer Cemetery, but by etching long, wide avenues into the landscape.
I had heard about memory being triggered by sounds, and by smells, but never had experienced memory being triggered by a sense of space, of a geographical series of landmarks making headway into my childhood memories. For days afterward, I thought of the family I grew up in, and found pictures to place on my quilt that evoked a sense of that time (that’s me, above).
Who populates these fictional houses on my quilt? The large pink house is my parents’ and the block below contains houses for my husband and I, and our four children and their families, while the blocks surrounding that central block are where my sisters and brothers might live. And because all of their spouses will want their own families, I scattered the grid of avenues with more houses, so that the circle of family would have place and space. A dream, of course, as none of our children, nor any of my family live near us. But in my world, in my memory, we are all there: gathering Easter eggs on the front lawn, jumping in piles of leaves, finding tarantulas in the fissures in the hillside, cracking open walnuts, and smelling the lilacs at the end of the driveway — lovely, amber-colored scenes.
Tomorrow I’ll deconstruct the quilt, describing the technical side of how I put it together. But for now, more quilts depicting this theme of Urban/Maps can be found at:
Leanne of She Can Quilt
Rachel of The Life of Riley
Betty from her Flickr site
Amanda of What the Bobbin?
Nancy of Patchwork Breeze
Anne of SpringLeaf Studios
Carla of Lollyquiltz
This is a finished goal on my Quarter Three of the 2013 Finish-A-Long, hosted by Leanne of She Can Quilt.
It is also Quilt # 124 on my 200 Quilts List.