Birds in the Air
The Birds in the Air quilt pattern is symbolic of flight or migration and the dominant colored “arrows” once pointed to the direction of safe travel for the slaves.
The Underground Railroad was a network of abolitionists helping slaves escape to the north. Because slaves were forbidden to read and write the abolitionists devised a way to communicate directions to safe territory. One of the ways was to hang quilts with special patterns on the washing line or through an open window appearing that the housewife was simply washing or airing the quilt.The second book in the Pecan Valley Series, based on the quilt pattern Bird's in the Air, will be available in 2014. Meanwhile here's an excerpt.
Biddie, although dressed in bright crimson and purple, looked forlorn, melancholy and not up to cheering for the Red Hat Society.
“I haven’t heard from her for over a week,” Biddie stated and slumped into a pink shabby chic chair placed in the corner of the antique mall booth. Her wide brimmed red hat, that was askew, barely perched upon bouffant black hair reminiscent of the sixties.
Bea bit her lip, trying to come up with words of comfort for her friend while wondering how Biddie kept the ends of her hair flipped up in a perfect curve.
“Perhaps she’s flying,” Bea offered. “Doesn’t Rina have flying lessons every day?”
Nodding, the hat slipped farther down, but Biddie neither noticed nor seemed convinced that Rina would take off as it were without letting her aunt know.
Putting down the quilt she had been draping over a screen propped against the wall of the tiny booth, Bea slid into a matching chair opposite Biddie and grasped her small hand. Although about the same mature age, Biddie was of smaller stature than Bea. The veins on her hands were raised like meandering blue rivers. Her ankle length violet colored dress pooled on to the floor and rested on dark brown leather sandals.
“Look,” said Bea with more conviction than she felt. “She came here to get away and start a new career. I expect she’s made new friends at the aviation school and is for once enjoying her life. Have you tried calling her?”
“I’ve called, I’ve texted, I’ve sent her an e-mail and left a comment on Facebook.”
It was definitely different from when Bea was in her twenties. You simply left a message on a phone. A phone that could only be answered in the area as far as the cord reached.
“What about her blog?” Bea persisted. “Have there been an updates?”
If her friend, Marge had been here, she would have pulled up the blog on her fancy phone with all the bells and whistles that Bea simply couldn’t fathom.
“I hadn’t thought about that. I’ll look when I get home.”
A commotion from the antique mall entrance made both the ladies look up. Above the partition Bea spotted a sea of red, like anemones stuck to rocks. The crimson, Burgundy and poppy-red hats bobbed up and down and voices became louder and louder as they approached.
“I think the group is here,” said Bea although there was little doubt that the Red Hat Society had arrived.
“Go and have a nice lunch in the tea room with them and I’ll see if I can find out where Rina is.”
“Would you?” asked Biddie and gripped her friend’s hand.
“Off you go now,” said Bea, prizing her hand from Biddie’s clutches. “I’ll just finish up here and go on over to The Cottonwood. That’s the hotel she’s staying in, isn’t it?”
Biddie nodded, adjusted her hat and brought up the rear of the purple and red group, waving a little more cheerfully as she left.
The sounds of chatter faded away and Bea smoothed the creases of a quilt she had finished just yesterday. It was a birds in the air pattern with dark triangles that pointed in one direction and resembled a flock of birds. Biddie had also started work on a similar pattern, hoping to present it to her niece when she graduated from aviation school. But there were several things that had bothered Bea about Rina’s visit. Why had Rina come to Pecan Valley, but decided to stay in a hotel and not with her aunt? Why hadn’t she called Biddie back and what was she running away from? Despite Biddie’s protestations that this was simply a change for Rina, Bea had a feeling there was more to this story than either Biddie knew or was willing to share.
She’d head over to The Cottonwood this morning and see what she can find out. Because in spite of telling herself she was retired, Bea rarely sat still, nor did she like unsolved mysteries so she intended to find that niece of Biddie’s and let her know she needed to be more considerate and at least take her aunt out to dinner occasionally.
With a flick of her wrist Bea threw the quilt over the chair Biddie had vacated and slung her purse over her arm. Behind her she heard squeals of laughter from the red hat ladies and couldn’t for the life of her figure out why a bunch of mature women wanted to dress in red and purple and make spectacles of themselves. On her way to the entrance, she ran her fingers through her spiked caramel colored hair, adjusted the elastic waisted white peasant top and smoothed her hands down her red flowered Capri pants matching the embroidered flowers on her shirt. Her teal blue toe nails failed to match anything in her attire.
“Mature people should dress for their age,” she said with a shake of her head and closed the door.