Wheel of Mystery -- one of the names given to this quilt pattern of interlocking circles. I pieced my quilt by hand, some years ago, working at it on the days when I was helping to care for a friend whose mind was slipping into dementia. She still enjoyed quilting and we would sit companionably, talking of this and that as she quilted simple projects I had prepared for her and I hand- pieced these curving bits of blue and white. During those quiet moments, it was almost as if nothing had changed.
My friend is gone now but I think of her often. Every time I look at the quilt I realize how our lives were somehow interlocked, just like this pattern.
We met in 1960 during our freshman year of college at Emory University. She lived across the hall from me in our dorm and we were drawn together by the fact that we were both named Vicki (though hers was spelled with a y) and we both had boy friends (whom we desperately missed) at other colleges.
Her name, in all its glory, was Victoria Felicia Thorogood -- a lot of name for a little person who barely came up to my shoulder. (Mine was only Vicki Lane -- no Victoria, no middle name. I felt cheated.)
I transferred to the University of Florida the next year, to be with that boyfriend of mine. She stayed at Emory another year, then married her boyfriend (I caught the bouquet), and the two of them went to France to study. In 1963 I married my boyfriend and the Marines and graduate school and teaching took us various places. But through all of this, Vicki and Vicky stayed in touch by letters.
When in 1973 my husband and I with our year-old son set out to find a new place to live -- Canada or upper New York state were options -- I wanted to stop and visit my friend as we made our way north. She and her husband and their little boy had moved the year before to a farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
We came; we saw; we fell in love with the mountains. Before a month had gone by we had bought the farm that is the inspiration for Elizabeth's Full Circle Farm. It was Vicky who introduced me to a little old lady called Miss Birdie; it was Vicky's husband who told me the story that inspired the Little Sylvie story. Our sons went to school together, our husbands butchered pigs together, Vicky and I swapped work with gardens and canning and quilting.
We should have become old ladies together.
I look at the quilt up close -- looking for meaning. All the bits and pieces fit together into an ever-expanding, always linked pattern. It shifts as I look at it -- constantly changing but always remaining the same.
Wheel of Mystery.