We drove on from Las Vegas to Utah, where we were going to sing at the Utah Quilt Guild show. We’ve done a bit of work in Utah before, and have been charmed by the hospitality of its people, and the beauty of its terrain. A couple of years ago we were driving between Salt Lake City and Flagstaff. It was getting on in the day, and we were hungry for dinner. I found a small town on the map — Panguitch — and suggested we stop there. We discovered a charming little cafe and had a lovely meal.
On the way out of the cafe, there was a little round table with brochures on it. One of them had the word “Quilt”, and I picked it up. In the car, I read for the first time about the Panguitch Quilt Walk. In 1864 a number of families had been sent out by the Mormon church to settle in Panguitch. The first year there, their crops failed. In mid-winter, 7 men were sent out to bring food back from the nearest town – Parowan, 40 miles away. Without that food, the settlers were in danger of starvation.
The snow was too deep to keep the oxen and cart with them, so they continued on foot until the snow was too deep for walking. Losing hope, they spread a quilt on the snow and held a prayer circle. They were still about 30 miles away from Parowan. While they were praying one of the party realized they were no longer sinking in the snow, and they decided to use the quilts to walk on top of the snow to complete their journey. Today, almost 150 years later, the town of Panguitch holds a Quilt Walk festival every year.
What a wonderful story! In preparation for our performance at the Utah State Quilt show, I decided to write the song commemorating this event. I love it when quilts are used for more than just keeping us warm at night, and this story had a great ending. They saved the town from starvation, walking on the quilts!
As always, I was very concerned that I get things right in the song, and I consulted several people for help with Mormon prayers and customs. I also was able to find reference to the journal of one of the seven men. In it, he said “If we have faith as big as a mustard seed, we can make it”. I used this quote verbatim for the chorus of the song. I guess I captured the event adequately; the song was very well received in Layton, when we sang it. What a relief!
There were some amazing quilts at the Utah show. Most notably, was a display of more Dear Jane quilts than I’ve ever seen in one place. The Dear Jane quilt is a very popular quilt to make among the obsessive (I have so far been spared this obsession – I have enough of my own!). All hand-pieced, and usually hand-quilted, it reproduces a masterful antique quilt originally made by Miss Jane Stickle, as discovered and made famous by Brenda Papadakis. We call people who make these quilts “Janiacs”. Here is a picture of some of them.
After we left the show, we spent another day with our friends Megan and Dick in Provo. They love living so close to the mountains, and took us up to Sundance (yes, where Robert Redford lives!) to see the fall colours. We rode up a ski lift near the end of the day, and took LOTS of pictures. It was so beautiful. I lived in Ottawa Canada for many years, and have always missed the fall colours since I left. It was so glorious to be back amid the reds and oranges of the maples again!
Sundance ski hill is also a great favourite at this time of year with mountain bikers. This is how they get their bikes up to the top.
It was a great visit. I’m so glad we got to go to Utah at this time of year. I had no idea that autumn was so beautiful here.
Tags: Panguitch Quilt Walk