Wednesday, October 11

Lights of Home.


This is a quilt I made for my son, & I called it "Lights of Home". The pic doesnt do it justice really, it is brighter in 'real life'- I didnt have my digital camera when I took the photo. It was designed by Ruth Buchanan, who called it "Beacon Lights" & was featured in Patchwork & Stitching magazine, Vol.4 No.5. I kept the colours much the same as Ruth's because I liked it so much. I quilted hearts in the centre of each red square. I really liked that edition of the magazine, & made the 2 Chickadee Cushions for my daughter & SIL out of the same book. Have not got a pic of the cushions- not sure why.

It never did warm up yesterday, & I spent the whole day shivering. I didnt get any sewing done either. I seem to be feeling weary from a cough I have, & even had a snooze in the afternoon! Small dogs cuddled up & kept me warm- very nice.

Have been on the reminiscing trail again, sorting photos.

Best Friend J & I wanted to travel when we were young, & decided a good way to start would be to apply to go Apple picking in the South Island of NZ.

I feel quite ashamed to admit I also wanted to avoid being a bridesmaid for another Friend, who was about to be married. I was fond of the friend, but really not so keen on her husband-to-be- plus I was not really the 'wedding kind'- not being interested in Churches or religion- her stepfather was a minister --I cant even remember what 'flavour' either. She eventually forgave me, & I must say, her husband, though never my favourite person, was very good to her, & they remain very happy to this day.

Anyway BFJ & I got accepted to go to an orchard, not that close to Nelson. So, off we went, an overnight train journey to Wellington, with little sleep, & soldiers getting on & off at the Army base at Waiouru, which was freezing! Brief stops for tea in thick railway cups, & disgusting pies, half cold, along the way. No heating on the train, a real bone-shaking experience. An Inter-island ferry trip was next on the agenda, & the order of the trip seemed to be drinking copious amounts of beer, by all & sundry, including the crew of the ferry! The ferry was loaded with young eager 'seasonal workers' looking forward to the excitement of the unknown! I had never been to the South Island before, so I was lookng forward to seeing something new.

A rowdy, overcrowded, bus trip took us all from the Ferry terminal at Picton, with many 'comfort stops' after all the beer!, to Nelson, where we were to be collected by our various employers. BFJ & I were met by a very small, thin, woman, who was possibly shocked at our state of inebriation, but never said anything. We arrived on a Friday evening, & she asked if we would like to start work next morning, or prefer to wait until the following Monday. Picking was a 5 1/2 day job. Eager innocents that we were, we decided to start first thing the following day. It was only a half day, but it bloody near killed us! We had no idea it would be so HARD. We felt so tired & had aching muscles we had been unaware we even had. Our Cabin for accommodation, was a very rudimentary little dwelling, & we found to our dismay, we had no hot water, so we had to boil a copper, & bale the hot water into the bath. How shocked was I- I had no idea how to get the copper going, & it fell to BFJ to get the thing going, so we could try to ease our aching muscles.

There was another couple working with us, a young married couple, & the wife was from Sweden, & didnt speak English very well. She was so pretty & seemed just as shell shocked as BFJ & I! We never saw the inside of their cabin, but I assume it was as primitive as ours. After we got to know the young couple a bit, we had some nice steam letting chats about our employers- otherwise known as 'slave-drivers'!

The orchard was situated in a lonely area, not very close to any shops or other farms, & we walked miles to meet other 'seasonal working scum' as the locals liked to refer to us. At the weekends we would hike out onto a main road & hitchhike to the local Pub, which is where the pickers all gathered on Saturday afternoons. BFJ & I had been nice & slim from dancing, which was our favourite Saturday night outing, but we soon gained weight from eating many apples, & fresh bread & quick food. We were usually so exhausted at days end, we couldnt be bothered preparing 'proper meals'. Our cooking facilities were about as primitive as our bath set-up, & the toilet was an outside dunny! Very scary for 2 city girls, & the huge pine trees were very ominous in the dark nights. The sound of sheep coughing & wheezing outside our windows proved very disconcerting for BFJ, who had never had close encounters with sheep before.

We learnt all sorts of things about washing in a copper- BFJ learnt that rayon knickers shrivelled down to size nil!! And I learnt that black jeans turned everything else black in a copper too! On Friday nights our employers sometimes offered us a lift into town, where we mostly spent our money on larger sized clothes, as our expanding bodies out grew our original clothing.

We were both smokers in those days, & I must admit I was a much worse addict than BFJ. I have seen me almost go insane for want of a cigarette, & have seen BFJ hide sniggering under her covers to stop me from flying into an insane irrational, frenzied rage, just because she wasnt so addicted! We used to walk miles through a spooky dark pine forest to get to the nearest shop, so we could get supplies. Thank goodness I dont smoke now. What a curse it was.

We did meet a lot of nice people- a lot of Aussies, & other nationalities, & at season's end, most of us moved on down the Island to invade other Southern cities, looking for any work we could find. Of course by April, it was getting very cold in the South, & BFJ & I had a hard time adjusting to the climate. We used to run all the way to work, to try to keep warm. Which was good for the losing of some of the weight gain.

Our travels didnt really take us far. We both met our husbands-to-be, & there ended our travels for some time.

13 comments:

roybe said...

Lovely to read your story Meggie. I've never been fruit picking, but it sounds like a very earthy and fun thing to do. I love the quilt it reminds me of a stained glass window. Thanks for dropping by my blog by the way. Petrea Volobulus should grow down there the leaves are quite hard and sandpaper like. so it should resist light frosts if you get them. your local nursery should be able to say for sure. Happy spring and happy quilting

joyce said...

THat sounds like quite an adventure. We went to the Canadian North when we were young and had similar adventures with no electricity or phone but we were teaching Indains . It was so much fun and we still have friends we met back then in the early 60s.

rooruu said...

The quilt came out really well, Meggie - it was such a delight to see it (um, it was one of my designs!). Happy quilting!

meggie said...

Hi Joyce, our adventure was in the early 60's too! How times have changed, we would hate to think of our grandchildren doing something like that now.

Hi Rooruu, Yes I did give you credit for it! I am thinking of making it again for my other son. It is such a nice pattern & looks so hard, when it is, in fact, a joy to put together!

Stomper Girl said...

I enjoyed your story. Amazed that all that hard work and fresh fruit diet would make you gain weight!
Thankyou for Fixit's birthday wishes, and I loved your quote about paying too much for your money.
Your quilts are lovely.

My float said...

Wow, what an amazing story. I can't believe the fruit made you gain weight? Maybe it's all the muscles you were building?!

I think these types of sojourns are really life's little highlights - things we can look back at when we get older and be proud of what we managed to do when we were young and full of energy!

PS. Thanks for your vote of confidence on my blog. i suspect i'll be counting on it in weeks to come!

My float said...

Oh, and that quilt? Absolutely beautiful.

keryn said...

Beautiful quilt, and great story. It's a good thing we do things like that when we're young, because we're certainly not capable of it when we get older!

Anonymous said...

I've been looking at your quilts - they are stunning.

My husband's aunt is a quilt maker and she has made beautiful quilts for our three children.

I'm so envious of your talent!

meggie said...

Hi everyone, thank you for your kind words about my quilts.

I guess it is one of my life's free treats, that I am able to make them.

I also regard BFJ as one of my life's treats too! She has been a constant & loyal friend through all our ups & downs.

Zoey said...

Meggie,
I am enjoying all of your quilts. You do beautiful work.
I just found your blog from the comment you left on mine.
I will be returning.

Isabelle said...

Yes, I love the quilt, too. Isn't it amazing what one does when young? My friend and I travelled all over America at the age of 20, on Greyhound buses. I'd have a fit it either of my daughters wanted to do this now! But then it seemed ok to us. I enjoyed your fruit-picking story. Maybe it's all the apples I eat that keep me plump...

Molly said...

what a "treat' to find another quilter and reminiscer! Your quilts are beautiful! One of these days I will figure out how to post pictures of my quilts on my blog....meantime, i'll be back checking for more of yours...