Alabama, Tornadoes, and Quilting

My mind has been in Alabama tonight. It’s amazing how quilting can bring you together even in the worst of circumstances. When my husband was in the military, my oldest daughter and I would travel back and forth between Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas. If we were headed to Arkansas, our route took us through Tennessee. If we were headed to Louisiana, we went through Alabama and Mississippi.

And I knew where all the GOOD quilt shops were located on both routes.

One particular day really stands out in my mind. I believe we had stopped at Heart to Heart Quilt Shop in Pell City, AL. It was right after lunch, and we needed a stretch break. We got out, we looked at all the pretty fabric. And then the tornado sirens went off.

The owner was fantastic. She let us stay in the store as long as we needed. We listened to the radio, and she was able to say, “that one was to the north of us,” or “that was to the east of us.” Then there was “that one just landed where you came from,” and then “that one is south of us.”

At one point, we were all in the back room, under her longarm quilting machine. My baby was wedged up right next to the bolt of batting. I believe the final count that day was 7 tornadoes in the area. And interestingly, I was able to look up on a chart later, and it turned out that that month of that year (2003 I think) in that spot had the most tornado activity of the whole year. (I had to look it up because Dale thought I had panicked.)

Quilting is more than the fabric and thread. Quilting is what brings us together and makes us friends. I haven’t had the chance to go back, but I sincerely hope and pray that they are safe tonight.