I made a left at the “Jersey” house with the stone wall and drove up the ice covered road that ended at the old white farm house with green shutters.
My car wouldn’t make it up the looped drive so I backed it down the road till I got traction enough to pull up to the back door. Four dogs barked behind the low wooden fence and Ellen and her husband, John came out to help me bring the quilts from my car to the house.
We went into the Library where a giant Christmas tree filled one corner of the room, the top of it touching the tall ceiling, the walls lined with bookshelves. The room had a warm and lived in feeling.
One by one we unfolded the quilts and spread them out.
I told Ellen about each quilt. How I made them and named them. It’s rare that I get see someones reaction to my work in person. So it was fun to talk to Ellen about the quilts and get her point of view about how they suited each of her children, who they were gifts for.
Then we made our way into the kitchen, where I noticed some of my well used potholders scattered around the counter tops. Ellen scrambled some tasty eggs which we ate with homemade, bite-sized, prosciutto and cheese scones and hot tea.
I didn’t expect to stay for over two hours. But it turned out that Ellen and I had a lot to talk about. Work, family, relationships, dogs, books, movies. We covered a lot of ground and could have kept going if we both didn’t have other things to do that day.
In-between our conversation, dogs (some who were her’s and others who were visiting with her children for the holiday’s) came and went and I even got to hold the kitten Ellen’s son got for his girlfriend for Christmas.
Ellen’s been buying my work for a few years and I first met her two years ago at one of her book readings. We’ve emailed each other, but never spent any time together. I’m glad she reached out to me and invited me over and I’m glad I accepted.
My visit with Ellen felt to me like a threshold. Maybe that’s what the holidays are for me this year.
I’ve been working on her quilts for over a month and bringing them to her home on the Winter Solstice was ceremonial in a way. The closing of my creative year. When I go back to my studio after this holiday weekend, it will be a new season. The interior creative space that winter provides, with it short, cold days that make me want to journey inside myself like a hibernating bear.
I feel different about the holidays this year. For years I’ve worked at shedding the past and making them my own. And I feel I’m closer to being able to do that I’ve ever been.
Ellen and her family celebrate Christmas in a big way, one that would have been off-putting to me just last year. But their home had a genuine, palpable warmth about it. The dark side of family wasn’t glossed over, but visibly embraced. Christmas with family is not about a suspension of reality but an acceptance of it. I like that my quilts will be a part of that.
2 thoughts on “Breakfast With Ellen”
Oh Maria, I am writing down your wisdom…. “the dark side of family wasn’t glossed over, but visibly embraced. Christmas with family is not a suspension of reality but an acceptance of it.”
Love it, Kris Moss