Mud Season 2

March 11th, 2016

Kristin and I are taking a little spring break!  My dear friend Sara wrote this letter about the Mud Season several years ago. Recently Sara moved to Helena and she mentioned that she found this letter she had written during the process of moving. I loved it back then and Kristin and I decided you might enjoy reading it again.


 A picture of the house in May-no sign of mud then!

Two years ago I had the adventure of living in a little cottage in the big woods (A rental house on 70 acres of land with evergreens. And maples, of course,) in Weston, Vermont. I drove my way east out of Bozeman and visited friends along the way whom I had not seen for many years. From eastern Wisconsin on, I ran out of friends; and arrived in Vermont just in time for January, February and March!
This is an area that is very rural, yet there are lots of dirt roads that network their way around the hills and dales back onto the paved roads. Neighbors seemed to keep to themselves, yet still waved. I was “the renter in the yellow house down the road”, and folks knew I was there. There was a caretaker who plowed the snow, came by to check on repairs ordered by the owner; chip ice off the roof; and look for damage when windstorms came through. Oddly, the township plowed the roads early every morning before sunrise when only even a skiff of snow had fallen.

I kept the thermostat low, and wore many layers. The cottage was charming but old and drafty. The furnace that clunked and chunked in the cellar (accessed from the outside) ran on fuel oil that we in the west hear so much about. That fuel oil gets delivered in a truck. I had no idea what the tank would cost to refill prior to my departure, so I tried to live as frugally with heat as possible.

Life did not take me long to find the quilt shop in Chester, VT. Every time I stopped by, the “quilt shop ladies” were having a grand old time. They LOVED their jobs. They enjoyed each other, and they enjoyed their customers. They were laughing ALL THE TIME while relishing other’s ideas and creations! It was easy to join in their conversation and be a part of the fun and silliness. I think it was perhaps the 3rd consecutive day I was in the shop and one of the “quilt shop ladies” said to me, “Do you have a home?” That generated another round of belly laughs! It just did not quit! There is something “nice” about quilt shops everywhere. You know you will be welcomed. And enjoyed.

As the winter moved along and March found its way onto the calendar, the MELT began. In Vermont, the spring season seems to come very systematically and methodically, not at all like the schizophrenic spring weather of Bozeman. Vermont’s spring is a step-by-step warming; a steady transformation from the season prior. That nicely plowed dirt road gradually turned into a flaccid, bottomless, tacky tar pit. It grabbed and leached itself onto my tires, toes, anything within its metastasizing reach. Until, until, until my car refused to make it around it’s trap! It happened bit by bit each 24-hour period when a departure from the cottage meant a struggle to reach a destination. There was the yuck, the mud, and THE GOOP. There was nothing to soak up the mess; it wasn’t sinking in. It was JUST THERE!!

The caretaker stopped by one day to replace a long ago cracked window. After getting the job done, we stood outside on the porch talking about the weather with the warming March breeze on our faces. This big, burly, bearded man in his 30s seemed to carry a wizened philosophy about this mud season. He had grown up in the area and was working as a jack-of-all-trades for the seasonal residents; he himself had been a renter in the cabin years ago. He had fond memories of the original owners who had since passed away and were buried up at the Priory north of town. You see, I was renting from those owners’ son who had since married but his new family had little interest in the property.
I’ll never forget the caretaker’s words, as they were a stark contrast to my personal feelings about the mud season. He considered this time of the year as rejuvenation of the ground, and of the earth. It is a time when nature is quiet and still. Almost as if a pause and contemplation is needed for the work ahead, before all energy explodes outwardly. An earthly nap, perhaps? He almost explained it as this earthen body we reside on could not possibly produce its bounty without this hiatus and rest. Hmmm . . . this sure beats MY mud perspective. I have since shared his icky-weather philosophy with many friends. I liked his approach.

Isn’t that just so true? That our personal perspective in and about life, is everything? Our perspective we carry becomes reflective of our mindset of many things. By looking at uncomfortable times with a new and softening eye, the discomfort we feel can change. Perhaps we also open our minds to moments of basic appreciation and possible learning?

Consider: Mud Season can become a time of “New Growth” for all of us, and in many different ways. Hmmm. . . . Enjoy the season!


I’m still searching in the garage and finding treasures!  I found these very special thimbles. When I first ordered the thimbles I was told I needed to order all the sizes.   When these tiny ones didn’t sell I asked the maker who they were supposed to fit. The answer was “small Asian women”. Apparently we don’t have any such customers. Thinking about how special they are I wondered who could use them, a child learning to hand stitch perhaps? Maybe you have a very special tiny little girl who you are teaching some special stitches. I love giving and receiving engraved gifts. Why not get the thimble engraved? Most certainly it will become a keepsake! Consider ordering one for a special “wee” person. They will arrive in a black velvet draw-string bag. They are size 3 ½. Offered at 50% off, they are a treasure. Order by following this link.
Congratulate me!! I finally finished the Wildlife of Yellowstone Quilt. I miss embroidering every spare moment! Bev out did herself with wonderful machine quilting. I added the binding. I must admit that it had been sometime since I had completed a quilt by adding the binding and hand stitching. I know the shop gals wondered if I even knew how to bind quilts because I always asked one of the gals to take care of that task in quiet shop hours. I’m missing my willing helpers in the shop! Remember you can follow this link to order your own Wildlife of Yellowstone kit. And there's always room in my monthly stitching gathering. 406-587-8213.

Marcia Leritz has created wonderful graphic designs for me since my Salad Sampler book.  Don’t you love this ad Marcia created for the Spring Issue of the Quilt Sampler Magazine? I haven’t missed advertising in the Quilt Sampler magazine since we were one of the ten outstanding shops in North America in 1998. 
Quilting books for sale. Some at even greater reductions and a new offering!
Baskets and More is from my friends at Country Threads in Garner, IA. I absolutely love the basket motif and this book. The main reason I want someone else to own this book is that I don’t want to be influenced by the great designs. I’m hoping to publish another book myself and I don’t want to be accidentally influenced by another person's work.  The original price was $15.50, now 35% off. Follow this link to order.

Welcome to a fabulous quilted journey through history with these 50 stunning quilt blocks. This remarkable book features fifty quilt blocks to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Although many of these blocks weren't designed until the 1930s, renowned quilt historian Barbara Brackman selected each one for the unique symbolism its name lends to recounting stories of the war during the mid-1800s. Choose from a variety of pieced or appliqued blocks, each shown in two colorways with instructions for assembling two sizes - 8" and 12".

 Regularly $29.95, now 30% OFF! Follow this link to order. 


Stitchin’ for the Kitchen. This book by my friend Judith Lester is autographed. I love her cheerful applications for many kitchen projects. These simple motifs would be wonderful to use for gifts for friends. It’s the same story—even though I love this book and Judith – I don’t want to be distracted. It is my goal to work on my own list of “want to do’s.”  This book was originally $19.99, now 40% off. Follow this link to order.


We still have a couple of these bunny ornament kits. Kristin and I had fun going through our boxes of wool and finding a combination we think you'll really like. Order the kit or pattern only by following this link.

Don't forget about our wonderful Barn Quilt Trail kits. Order by clicking on the picture.



You may remember or be familiar with Crabapple Hill's Gardner's Alphabet. It was originally sold as a block of the month but we have found that we still have a complete floss kit available. We can order the pattern set for you too. Don't miss out on the opportunity to make this stunning piece. Order by following this link. Both are now 20% off and we have great up close pictures on the website.


2016 Retreat Dates at Nine Quarter Circle Ranch have been set!   June 12-14 and September 15-18. Prices for the retreat are $399 for two nights and $525 for three nights. Call or email to reserve your spot. 406-587-8213.

Project details to follow. Join us in this beautiful setting in Gallatin Canyon for a three days of delicious food, quilting and wonderful comaraderie.