Thursday, August 3, 2017

"Heartwood"





Heartwood 

I often rummaged through Grandma's attic,
thin cedar planks betwixt neatly folded timeworn quilts, 
velvet hats with satin ribbons, bows, delicate silk embroidery, 
and impossibly dainty white gloves with buttons 
all carefully folded and preserved from almost another century.

Was fascinated with her small black and white photos
of Yellowstone, 1915, Marguerite side-saddle upon a donkey -
smooth face, plumpish body, dark hair mesmerizing me.  
Other photos of dashing young men, smartly dressed,
proper women with hour glass figures skirted and buttoned-up, 
images of grandma's arms tantalizingly outstretched 
holding treats for begging bears -

all proof she'd been young once.  I'd put everything away,
carefully descend narrow wooden stairs and look at her - 
try to find 1915 in her sweet dear face.  She'd smile, knowingly.

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The watercolor of an old red cedar graced the walls of first, 
Grandmother's house, then ours.  Great-Grandmother Nellie painted it, 
lived in the Red Brick house just a mile from my childhood home, 
died their 34 years of age - measles and pregnant with a fifth child.  
Other paintings of hers: little yellow chicks, farm scenes, florals. 
Imagine her walking past kitchen garden, beyond white picket fence,
setting up her paints, hair and face sheltered beneath wide brim hat,
brush in hand, humming between laundry and kitchen chores.  

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A red cedar graces my childhood home's lot line,
was there when our house was built.  Recently stood beneath her - 
old arthritic branches extending far above my head.  
Remember the dark purple-blue berries I'd pick
when I was young.  See a young soft sprout and marvel at this offshoot - 

proof of the nurturing force of nature, of an old matriarch's 
protective shade - thankful my father never chopped her down
for firewood.  

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I find a fabric that quilts together these memories
and as I search for complimentary pieces and ponder patterns,
I anticipate wrapping myself up in cedar and berries, 
love and family. 

by Margaret Bednar, August 3, 2017

Painting by my Great Grandmother Helen Augusta (Lyford) Hutchins
Red Cedar trees can live up to 900 years.  The fine-grained, soft brittle pinkish to brownish-red heartwood is fragrant, very light and very durable, even in contact with soil.  Because of its rot resistance, the woods used for fence posts.  The aromatic wood is avoided by moths, so it is in demand as lining for clothes chests and closets, often referred to as cedar closets and cedar chests.

This is linked with "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads - Artistic Interpretations - Quilt Me a Poem"

The Eastern Red Cedar that was standing in my side yard when I was two years old and is
still there - a mile from where my Great Grandmother Helen Augusta lived - I like to think this
is an offshoot of the tree she painted above.  

Painting by my Great Grandmother Helen Augusta (Lyford) Hutchins

16 comments:

Sarah Russell said...

Margaret, I love your "quilted" poem, pulling together the blocks with color and theme. Just beautiful!

kaykuala said...

Paintings can be savoured generations after - a connection that transcends time and space but still within the family! Great quilt poem Margaret!


Hank

Samyuktha Jayaprakash said...

Beautiful collection! <3 a nice walk under the memory tree

Kim Russell said...

Wonderful, Margaret! I can smell the cedar and mothballs. What a treasure trove to find in an attic!

Brendan MacOdrum said...

Art is obviously a family tradition going back generations, like a very long-lived red cedar. The devotion to it is abundant and it will be carried on well in your children. Quilting is such a durable metaphor for long-lasting love of family and place. Thanks for the challenge.

angieinspired said...

very beautiful Margaret, the fabric, the tree, the family, the paintings, your words (especially your title). Thanks for these

Mama Zen said...

This is so lovely, Margaret. I remember that smell of cedar.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I love a post like this one, with so many thoughts and memories shared. One can see where your love of art and nature came from... a long line of sensitive women.

Toni Spencer said...

Your quilt poem is so beautiful. The memories of your grandmother, her paintings, the old cedar, the smells of the attic. Such priceless and precious memories and artifacts. Just from reading this, I have learned to love your grandmother as well. Beautiful.

Martin Kloess said...

I enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing such beauty

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Perfect title, and such a rich piece of writing! Thank you for enriching my day too.

lynn__ said...

Such a cozy family quilt you artfully tied with your words! Love your great-grandmother's paintings too :)

Paul John Dear said...

Fascinating tale of generations of artists. 'Proper women' is the stand out phrase for me.

Fireblossom said...

This is really sweet. I used to do the same thing.

Outlawyer said...

Love your grandmother's painting, Margaret, and the image that you've made of her. Thanks much. k.

rhymeswithbug.com said...

Thanks for sharing these precious memories with us.