pink

By mid November I am realizing that I need to start a quilt for Ben if it is going to be finished for Christmas.  He’s home for the weekend from school and I casually ask him if he’d like a new quilt for his dorm bed, to which I receive an enthusiastic ‘Yes!”  then comes the most important question, I ask him if he has a favorite color he’d like me to use, and without hesitation he replies, “Pink!  I want pink!”  I am a bit taken aback at my own response. Outwardly I smile of course but inside I am rebelling.  I share with Molly my dilemma and she just laughs, teasing, “since when are colors so gender identified for you Mom?”  Smile.  And so I pause and give some space to the idea that Ben’s quilt will be pink, or at least feel pink.  Before I take him back to school that weekend, I ask him pick out ten pieces of fabric from my stash, with the instruction to pick anything at all.  The selection is all over the map too, not all pink, but many pieces that carry pink energy.  I find some old patchwork blocks made years ago, put them up on my design wall and begin to play,

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and within a week, have a top constructed using Ben’s fabric choices cut into large triangles to fill the spaces between, border added, sandwich assembled with batting and backing, and everything basted together ready for quilting….

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I don’t quite finish the hand quilting for Christmas, but wrap it up and give it to him nonetheless.  He has been watching me stitch for the past few weeks since home for the holidays, and is thrilled to discover I have been making this quilt for him.  I spend the rest of the holiday break to finish it, hours and hours of stitching it all together while feeling the significance of Ben’s presence in the house again, home for the holidays.  It is now the night before he leaves and I still haven’t quite finished the quilting, and will still need to make a binding and sew it on.  This always takes longer than I think but deep down I know I will finish so keep plodding along as we send our last day together watching movies and then stretching our legs by walking into town for his favorite chinese food lunch…

In the meantime, a package of salmon is thawing in the fridge.  I rarely make it for just myself anymore, so I imagine making a special last dinner to share with Ben tonight as I take a break from the quilt.  It has to be quick, I don’t belabor the effort, imagine something creamy, and pull a can of coconut milk out of the cupboard.  I gently wrap the salmon pieces (wild Alaskan sockeye with skin on) in a paper towel to absorb the excess moisture, add about a quarter of the can of coconut milk, a splash of water, a few shakes of dried basil, and the salmon, skin side down and sprinkled with sea salt, to the pan and turn the heat onto medium high…

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I don’t want to overcook the salmon.  Once the liquid is bubbling, I turn the fire down to low and cover the pan, and stand watch, literally.  I can feel anticipation rising.  I feel the quilt calling even as I stand here and it is a kind of impatience, not a bad feeling, just a  ‘don’t think it through too much’, and  ‘just keep moving’ kind of feeling. Still not knowing how this dish will be completed, I open the fridge and see the jar of Thai red curry.  Yes.  Then pull out the bag of organic peas from the freezer.  I test the salmon and when it is just barely cooked all the way through, turn to fire off and let it sit a moment.  Then turn over each piece and scape the skin off, remove from the pan, and set aside.

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I add another quarter of the can of coconut milk and a large heaping teaspoon of the red curry to the liquid in the pan and mix.  Turn up the heat to medium high again, add half the bag of peas, and stir.

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When the peas are done (just a few minutes) add the salmon back to the pan to just warm.  The sauce is very creamy and fragrant now and preparing the plates is fun!  And pink!   hmmmm….

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The salmon is moist and flaky, the taste is rich and perfectly blended, and this meal is a hit!   The fact that this meal is also predominately pink, the rich pink flesh of the salmon floating in the soft pink sauce and complemented by the green of the basil and peas….

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is not a coincidence.  I don’t think so.  I feel the collision then of this endeavor of making the ‘pink’ quilt with making home for family these past three weeks, and the poignancy of this rises up to wash through me.  My heart and hands have been fully occupied for weeks now.  And where my heart will continue to be occupied with tugs and pulls of being home alone again once Ben returns to school, I feel the warmth of knowing that I have sent the best of my loving energy with him in this quilt with every stitch made…

It is hard to resist eating it all tonight, but we agree that the leftovers will be perfect with some pasta for Ben’s last lunch tomorrow before leaving for school, which I can already see…salmon & sauce re-heated with rest of the coconut milk and a half pound of orrechiette mixed in…smile.

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It is the next morning, and I am sewing on the binding that will take at least two to three hours to blind stitch into place.

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The thick pink thread I use for the quilting is now also calling to me, as if reminding me that I’m still  ‘in the pink’ and all is well…

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I settle into my spot on the couch and go to work while Ben and I watch re-runs of ‘Friends’ together and laugh out loud, conscious at how these last few hours of stitching are also being infused with the balm of healing laughter.  Finally, it is done! Just in time.  Ben is upstairs packing and I fold up the quilt to get ready to go….

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He’s excited about being back to school and indulges me one last photo for the road…

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and as I drive away I search for and find the glow of pink deep inside to remember and return home with…

3 thoughts on “pink

  1. What a fabulous post, yes, we put a little of ourselves into every stitch that we take. I love hand quilting and that you got this done in perfect timing is terrific, Ben looks like he loves his new quilt,

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