I don’t know if I’m a story-teller who quilts or a quilter who tells stories. I do know that I can’t make a quilt unless it tells a story. There’s just got to be a good story involved.
My friend, Sarah, says I’m a “StoryQuilter.” I like that description. And, although I’m not a traditional quilter I think I’ve finally found my home as a fabric artist. I just discovered SAQA, Studio Art Quilt Associates. SAQA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt through education, exhibitions, professional development, documentation, and publications. SAQA defines an art quilt as “a creative visual work that is layered and stitched.” I’m pretty sure that’s the direction my work is headed. I may be joining SAQA soon.
I’m working more on art quilts these days; quilts that are framed and hang on a wall. I completed the first in the next old window series, “Southern Magic.” This first quilt is called “The Midnight Kiss” and it features a full moon, a magnolia tree, southern magic, and true love. Here’s the story that goes with it:
A Magical Kiss Under a Moonlit Magnolia Tree
I’d just moved into my dream home; a lovingly restored Craftsman-styled bungalow overlooking an exquisite little park near Pensacola Bay. Exhausted from unpacking, I plopped down on the couch, cup of coffee in hand, to read the card left for me by the home’s previous owners.
“Enjoy your new home; it brought us years of joyful living. We hope it does the same for you. Leaving was not easy for us; we’ll never find another home filled with such strong southern magic. Take advantage of the short walk to the water’s edge as often as you can. A walk along Pensacola Bay will always sooth a troubled soul. And when you need a reminder that true love lasts forever be sure to stay up until midnight during the full moon. The best view of the midnight kiss under the old magnolia tree in the center of the park is from the attic window. Oh how we will miss that magic.”
I looked out the window and there it was; a bold golden full moon. I sipped my coffee and wondered what I’d see from the attic window at midnight.
What I saw was southern magic in its rarest form…
It began in 1942. America was still mourning the attack of Pearl Harbor. He was a sailor with orders to join the USS Pensacola, a heavy cruiser later nicknamed the “Grey Ghost” by Tokyo Rose. She was a nurse, selected to be one of the first women to serve as a Navy Wave. They were young and in love, and before he left to join his ship he asked her to meet him under the old magnolia tree at midnight. It was a full moon when he got down on one knee and presented her with a ring and his intention to marry her when he returned. She said yes and they kissed, at midnight, under the full moon, under the magnolia tree. Leaning on his southern heritage, he’d selected that precise place and time to propose because he knew southern magic promised that a kiss under a magnolia tree under a full moon would seal eternal love.
He joined the crew of the USS Pensacola where just a few months later he was counted among the 125 brave men killed in the Battle of Tassafaronga, 30 November 1942.
She never stopped loving him. She never married. She dedicated herself to nursing. She rose through the ranks retiring as an officer with a distinguished career as a Navy Wave, then building a second career caring for veterans in the VA hospital. She lived her final years alone in a cottage near the park, visiting the old magnolia tree often.
It was after her death that the neighbors began to whisper of the ghostly figures kissing under the magnolia tree. All these years later, during the full moon, they still meet at midnight under the magnolia tree for a kiss confirming their eternal love.
At midnight during every full moon I climb the stairs to peek out my attic window, and I know that a magnolia tree touched with a little southern magic really can make true love last forever.
About the Artist: Quilt-maker and storyteller, Gina Maddox, was born with sand between her toes. She resides in Gulf Breeze, FL with a water view from every window of her home. Her quilts always tell a story and reflect the beauty of the Northern Gulf Coast.