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Taking Cover

September 25, 2012
by the gentle author

Why does the rain make me want to sleep?  When I hear the drumming of raindrops on my roof, it inspires an urge within me to climb under the covers and sleep, as if I were some hibernatory creature. Even as a child, the rain induced this effect and my parents would sometimes find me peacefully asleep on the sofa in the late afternoon, after returning from school in the drizzle.

On Saturday last, the clear sky presented a credible impression of a summer’s day, but the rain which came down that evening combined with the chill of the night to signal that another season had arrived. In the Sunday market, traders sheltered under canopies and peered out in disappointment at the few customers in the wet streets. Returning from Columbia Rd, cold and damp, I knew I had reached the moment in the year to take out my quilt and put it on the bed in preparation for the coming winter.

After a few judicious repairs, the quilt was ready to serve me for another year, with its glowing woollen colours and satisfying weight, lying on top of the covers to provide emotional and thermal insulation when I lie in the dark listening to the rain. I have written before of how I made this quilt by sewing old tapestries together, in commemoration of my mother in the months after her death – but now it has an age of its own and this receptacle for memory has acquired its own memories too.

There is a sleight of hand – substituting one emotion for another – with my quilt whereby, when my eye falls upon it, I am delighted by its beauty just I am reminded of the one I miss. Similarly, my cat dates from the time when my father died and my pleasure in the antics of this innocent creature colours my sense of loss. Thus, both my quilt and the cat that sleeps upon it serve as antidotes to the sense of enveloping darkness that grief can bring.

As soon as I had spread out the quilt this week, my old cat climbed onto it and curled up to sleep in exactly the same place as he has done each year, prescient of his own position in the order of creation, between the fearsome lion and the docile domestic feline. The pictures upon the quilt have grown familiar to me in recent years, as the last images I see before I sleep and the first I spy upon waking. And so I thought I would photograph some favourites to introduce you to the cast of beloved characters which appear each winter like the cast of a pantomime – the fisherman, the owl, the horse, the bullfighter, the falconer, the dairymaid, and the rest. They have returned to watch over me when the rain induces an irresistible urge to sleep.

This old fisherman was the first tapestry I found.

This is a unique tapestry, not from a kit like the others but copied from an original painting.

This cat dates from the nineteen thirties.

This owl is a favourite.

Notice the detailed stitching on the lion’s face.

These butterflies came from Florida.

This tapestry came from Sri Lanka.

A church in the mountains.

The falconer.

The Angelus from the painting by Millet.

Lowry rendered as a tapestry.

Birds from the Czech Republic.

Vermeer rendered as a tapestry.

You may like to read the original story of

My Quilt

11 Responses leave one →
  1. September 25, 2012

    i had a cat once, ricky ricardo, who would place a perfectly formed 1/2 inch, never any more or less, fewmet on the same brick in the hearth whenever i had annoyed him. which wasn’t often, believe me.

  2. September 25, 2012

    All you have given us today is beautiful. The quilt, the cat, the wonderful use of tapestries and the remembrance of people past. Thank you so much.
    PS: And the cat could be my Jazz’s cousin.

  3. Sarah Lily permalink
    September 25, 2012

    You write so beautifully Gentle Author, perhaps Mr Pussy had met Cat from the 1930′s in another life!
    Thank you, now I even miss damp London and the drumming of raindrops on my Victorian window frame!

  4. Libby Hall permalink
    September 25, 2012

    The beautiful quilt, the added layers of memories, the rain, Mr Pussy… How essential it is to feel safe and secure. How important it is to be cosy. Wouldn’t it be awful to live in a climate that had no changing seasons? How do human beings manage without the need to be cosy?

    Being snuggled up inside with the sound of rain on the roof… made even finer with a cat, and such a quilt.

  5. September 25, 2012

    I admired your quilt when you first wrote about it, it’s colour we need in a British winter, and your quilt glows. Mr Pussy in his glossy black is the perfect foil for all the rich and bright colours. All the different pictures and stories in the quilt might transport you nightly into happy winter dreams! In a nod to the change of seasons and the rain I slept a straight ten hours through last night.

  6. Marianm permalink
    September 25, 2012

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful warm story about your parents and this beautiful work of remembrance.

    My mum also produced many of these tapestries and would post them to me from Tasmania after hours of long lonely work on her part, in the years before she died. I never knew what to do with them and guiltily keep them in drawers, taking them with me whenever I moved house, wondering how to give them the space they deserved.

    You’ve given me an idea now with your article- a small quilt – thought I suspect it won’t be the same without a Mr Pussy of my own!

    Thanks again for your wonderful blog which I look forward to every morning.

  7. Jane permalink
    September 25, 2012

    So absolutely wonderful. I lost my own mother to dementia a year ago so everything you’ve said resonates strongly with me. Thank you.

  8. September 25, 2012

    What a beautiful collection of tapestries: I like all of them. The making of your quilt is a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

  9. September 25, 2012

    Domestic bliss for a rainy day.

  10. Louisa permalink
    September 26, 2012

    A treasured thing created out of love and devotion. The story of your quilt left me quite teary.

    … And Mr Pussy is just too, too handsome for words! I did, of course, have to read all your pieces about him.

  11. Anne Forster permalink
    September 30, 2012

    Oh the coming of Autumn and the placing of your quilt upon the bed. May it never change .

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