Saturday, March 17, 2012

Down the Dogwood Trail

For years, our house was known as the "house with the trees". Dogwood trees were the reason why it was known that way.

It started in 1966, when we moved to St. Louis into a little rental house. My new hubby had just started a job as an engineer with McDonnell-Douglas, (now Boeing), we had a little kid and we had moved into a new part of St. Louis--the north part. Many of our relatives equated visiting us with a trip to the "North Pole", because there were no interstates across town to speak of in those days. We had grown up in south St. Louis, and very seldom traveled to the north part of our metro area. We were in NEW TERRITORY for sure!

Hubby took a shine to growing things, something his mother and father did in their tiny yard, which was always immaculate. Not a leaf or stray blade of grass would stay in that yard, they took meticulous care of it. So, in our rental home yard, hubs decided to start to grow some dogwood trees from seed. I still remember the little coffee cans on the side of the house with the little pencil thin sprouts coming up! When we decided to purchase a home of our own, and the little sticks came with us.

Our new house was across the street from the parish church and school. After the little sticks were planted, they were subject to a lot of traffic threatening their very existence, especially when the parish picnic took place directly across the street from our bedroom! So many neighborhood kids would gather on our lawn to watch as they put up the rides and booths! But somehow those little dogwood sticks survived!

The trees grew and grew. Every spring, about 2 weeks after our anniversary, which was April 4, the trees burst into glorious white and pink. They were amazing, because for a tree that likes to live in shade, these dogwoods lived in full sun, and they thrived! They grew so big that they touched each other's branches, even though they were planted about 25 feet apart.

Life moved on, and so did we, sad to leave our beautiful dogwoods behind. We moved to the country where the dogwoods naturally lived in the forest. We walked and drove down the dogwood trail all those years, because there were plenty of them on our 160 acre plot of paradise! We tried and tried to transplant some woodland trees into our yard, but they never made it.

We moved back to the city, and by this time, hubby was ill with terminal cancer, and after his death, the girls wanted to plant a dogwood tree in his memory. We are on our fourth try to get one to grow, we lost three big ones, and last summer planted a little pencil, hoping it would take root and grow. It is showing minimimal signs of life this spring, maybe about 7 leaf shoots, but I am hopeful.

In the meantime, I'm making a quilt in memory of my dear Edwin, lost to us in 2006 after a 22 month battle with brain cancer. When I saw the "Dogwood Trail" fabric, I fell in love with it. My local quilt shop had most of the fabrics in the line, but not the white with the dogwood blossoms. Luckily, Missouri Star Quilt Company had a small bit of it left, and I got the last of it.

My quilt has hearts as the main motif. It is a combination of three different quilt patterns, so I had to do a lot of improvising. I'm not quite finished with it yet, but I have the basic top done, sans borders. I hope to get further on the project by the end of today. When I'm done, I'll proudly display it on this blog.

Here are the raw materials for the quilt, basic "Dogwood Trail" fabrics and coordinates. I started with 2 charm square packs (the only ones left at the quilt store) about 3 yards of coordinates, then more from MSQC, and some pretty pink backing. I embroidered our names, anniversary date and remembrances on several of the blocks, to make it more personal. I'm going to love it, even if it looks like a patched up hot mess!

P.S. My best friend lives on Dogwood Lane, I would love to live on a street named after our favorite tree!

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