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Friel in Season
Gretchen Friel

My husband made a quilt
of his own,
put it together
with a natural eye for color,
delicious cucumber green
zucchini-flower gold
and tomatoes in
variegated, heirloom reds
beneath a mottled border of leaves.
It didn’t start out
as a scrap quilt,
just tidy calico strips,
alternating earthy browns.
But once he laid the materials out,
moved things around a bit,
he realized those beans
from last year needed a patch.
Then my mother gave us radishes
and all hell broke loose.
You could almost see the man unraveling,
his pristine pattern
taking unplanned turns,
looking more like a Log Cabin
than originally planned,
a trellis for the snap peas
stuck right in the middle.
So he did what all good quilters would:
he went out
    to    buy    more    material.
After all, the edges were screaming
for kohlrabi,
and once they’re gone,
you can’t get more
till next year.
He finished the sales spree
with a collection of spices
speaking my kitchen needs
to him at the garden center.
When he returned
he was focused, buried
up to his eyeballs,
fitting in the last rows like
missing blocks,
pressing the seams tight,
spraying them as if with starch,
knowing they would not stay
where he had planted them
for long.
In late June, he stood back,
surveyed his eclectic masterpiece,
and declared that
next year’s garden would be bigger,
squash needs more room.
But I know he wants extra tomatoes for the freezer,
enough jalapenos for homemade chili;
a good quilter,
he wants to keep us warm
all winter long.

From Coffee Break for Quilters: A Patchwork of Original Poems (Tree Deck, 2012).
Used here with the author’s permission.


Gretchen Friel is a high school English teacher with a Masters Degree in Secondary English from National-Louis University. Gretchen is passionate about her family, church, writing, quilting, playing soccer, creating scrapbooks, and trying out new recipes with something from the backyard harvest. Her husband, Shawn, is a gardener, Harley rider, and wood craftsman. A breast cancer survivor, Gretchen recently moved “getting published” up on her bucket list. Now that her first poetry book, Coffee Break for Quilters, is complete, she is working on her first young adult novel. 


Post New Comment:
"Perfection is never achieved but sown underground."
Posted 09/21/2013 06:16 AM
Wilda Morris:
Wonderful metaphor!
Posted 09/07/2013 07:34 PM
Ha, ha, yes, the adorable deer, so inspiring, so hungry! Time for coyote pee.
Posted 09/07/2013 02:23 PM
I love this poem. Very unique and interesting. My garden quilt would have a big deer right in the middle and all designs leading directly to his mouth.
Posted 09/07/2013 12:32 PM
wendy morton:
The quilt of the garden. Lovely. Mine would be a crazy quilt: I have abandoned order for abundance.
Posted 09/07/2013 11:38 AM
A creative combination of hobbies, love of vegetables, and a healthy growing marriage! Thanks for sharing your words and your vegetables with me!
Posted 09/07/2013 10:27 AM
A good quilter and a good poet make a winning combination.
Posted 09/07/2013 08:48 AM
I too love the garden quilt comparison... Also how the garden seems to run the gardener in some ways rather than the other way around. Beautiful!
Posted 09/07/2013 07:55 AM

Posted 09/07/2013 07:53 AM

Posted 09/07/2013 05:22 AM
Great poem! I love the patchwork quilt vegie garden idea.
Posted 09/07/2013 05:13 AM

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