Sunday, 7 November 2021

One Strip at a Time

February, 2020: that’s when we started hearing about “that virus in China”. March 2020: Yup, it’s here. Social distancing, self-isolation, and hand-sanitizing become part of the lexicon. April 2020: Debates about masking begin...remember that? 


We tore off the calendar pages as the story unfolded and our knowledge grew. We got the vaccine. And yet,  now it’s November 2021, 19 months later, and we are still struggling. November is  the beginning of the grey times. How will we get through another winter?

Last year, when all this started, I optimistically decided the days would go faster and better if I counted them off, creating a concrete reminder of each day to bring me closer to the end of the pandemic. Sort of like an advent calendar counting down to Christmas. After all, how long could Covid possibly last?

In April 2020 I counted off the days by creating little 2x3" fabric snapshots of something that brought me delight.  I called it my diary of daily delights. 


In May 2020, I shared my journaling thoughts with you. In June, I counted off the days by walking every day. And then the wheels fell off. From July to October 2020, whatever good intentions I had, evaporated. But in re-reading blog posts from those months, I find a repeated theme: left foot, right foot, breathe. Repeat. This is how we will get through this. Keep on keeping on. And I did. I hope you did, too.

Then, at the beginning of November 2020, I decided to create a quilt square every week; I had so many scraps that needed to be used. 


 Each square would consist of 7 randomly cut strips in colours that summarized that week’s events. For instance, 7 grey and black strips to represent a full week of rain; 7 gold and orange strips for the week when the temperatures were blazing in mid-summer; and 7 pink and green strips for the week the tulips began blooming in our garden.


So that’s what I did. The year is over, and I now have 52 squares of 7 strips in a huge variety of colours, all of them together representing one full year, 365 days, of a Covid-dominated life. I just finished the last square on November 1, 2021. 

This practice...of doing one little thing a day, or one little thing a week ... works for me. I may be cranky about the pandemic, upset with the political shenanigans all around the world, angry about the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer, worried about climate change, frustrated that we are hemmed in by Covid, but when I am working on this one small thing, I get lost in the process of creating, and for a little while, I forget about the ugly. Perhaps I’m creating hope. And that hope stays with me.

Now I have 52 squares. When I started, I had no idea of what I would do with these squares, so I didn’t worry about the rules of design. There’s no unifying colour to tie these squares together. I did not use the colour wheel to ensure nothing clashes. I did not map out a design to follow. There was no big picture. These squares were about getting through the pandemic, one lovely strip after another, one day at a time, one small step at a time.

Yesterday I laid the squares out on the floor in the order that I had created them, a bright orange square next to a subdued grey next to a vibrant green, and on and on. Lo and behold, what I saw then was the Big Picture. 


One strip at a time, I had created a picture of life. My blanket of many colours is what life is like: the hours make up a day, the days add up to weeks, and one week at a time, we live through a year. Good days and not so good days, bright weeks and dark weeks, one leading into another. Each fabric, portraying just one day, is beautiful in itself, just as each day has some moments of beauty. Each square is beautiful/interesting/evocative in itself. And when you put them all together, what you have is a picture of this past year, a picture in riotous colours that don’t match, don’t create a pattern, aren’t nice and neat and orderly -- just like life.

And beautiful, anyway. 

If you are a stickler for details, you will notice that there are actually 53 squares here, and that one of the squares is a picture of a tree. That's the week when we got together with our whole family to celebrate our 50th anniversary on the edge of the ocean, where the full silver moon rose every night over the water. I think I will sew all these squares together and create a covid quilt as a keepsake.


1 comment:

  1. Wow, I LOVE these blocks and what they represent :-). Can you make three more blocks that represent something significant from the past year and include them? I love how the colours look great in order!