Quilting An Elephant
By Rosemary Allix
So what do you do when you find yourself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from anywhere, with a bunch of strangers? The answer is simple – you start quilting.
I’ve never been much of a traveller, so imagine the jaw dropping astonishment of my friends and relations when I announced I had booked a four month cruise around the world. “But you don’t do that sort of thing”, “You won’t like it”, “What will we do while you’re away?” – any sudden shift in behaviour patterns makes people feel very insecure.
I’d never done any quilting either. A bit of dressmaking, plenty of knitting, but the opportunity to join an on board quilting classes proved the doorway to a whole unexplored passion. The new adventurous me plunged right in and began tracing and cutting and sewing away with the aim of making a world quilt. It was an ambitious project as the quilt was to be 25 twelve inch squares, each depicting one of the places we would visit on our travels, then it all has to be joined together, backed with padded quilting material and stitched into place. Well I had four months with nothing better to do. And I always enjoy a challenge.
Meanwhile the ship sailed on and I learnt a lot of surprising things. The first shock was that the moon behaves differently when you sail south from England towards the tropics. Instead of slimming from the side and fattening up again on its monthly cycle it gets squashed from above and bounces back up, as if the Man in the Moon is sitting on it. Then I discovered that I love being at sea, I spent hours and hours just watching the waves and the clouds, occasionally spotting a leaping dolphin or a few flying fish, but mostly just bonding with blue emptiness.
Every few days we would stop off at some amazing port, stagger off the ship and explore things and places I had never believed I would get the chance to see. A smiling Polynesian girl placing a flower behind my ear, a crazy jeep ride across sand and rocks to visit a seal colony, floating in silence along an underground river lit by thousands of fireflies, rocking alarmingly in a frail wooden boat on a crocodile infested river.
My plan had been to record all my thoughts and experience in a blog which I would post regularly to keep friends and family updated. How naïve was that! In most parts of the world, especially far out at sea, there is no hope of access to the internet. I was reduced to blog bombing my loved ones with up to ten posts at a time when we discovered a hotel lobby that served up useable internet access with the coffee. So when I got home it seemed the only thing to do was put it all into a book.
And that’s what Quilting An Elephant is all about. My personal view of the world, plus snippets from the creation of my world quilt. Yes I finished the last few stitches as we steamed back up the English Channel.
Rosemary Allix is a writer and poet who lives in Brighton on the south coast of England. Find out more about her and her writing, including four published novels, at www.rosemaryswebofwords.wordpress.com
Quilting An Elephant is available as a paperback book or a Kindle download from Amazon.com https://goo.gl/tECq4P