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Voices of Spencer Creek

Spencer Creek Storybook: A Rainbow Quilt, and Maple Syrup?

Rainbows and spring frosts brings Margie's quilts to mind.

By Lois Barton

Posted on Apr 18, 2008

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"Over the Rainbow" Quilt by Margie Fergerson

Who can foretell what adventures life may have in store for each of us? Life is amazingly creative and when one’s mind and heart are open unexpected things happen. My daughter Margie’s life is a prime example of how this process works.

As a school girl Margie watched her grandmother make quilts big and small. Margie actually pieced a four patch which Grandmother helped her put together. In her 90th year Grandmother was still turning out baby quilts and dozens of lap robes for seniors years younger than she was.

Then life progressed. At nineteen Margie was married, She helped her husband build a log house, and home-schooled two sons through high school. Her husband had bought her a Viking sewing machine in 1968. With that she made a wall hanging. I had to be educated to realize that a percentage of quilt creations are intended to be wall hangings.

Always interested in gardening, the time came when she could devote much of her energy to her garden. Several years of hard work into which she poured her whole heart led her to create a beautiful garden which was selected in July, 1994 as one of the gardens on the first fundraising garden tour sponsored by the KLCC radio station. Perhaps 800 visitors signed the guest book amid their ohs and ahs over such a lovely stroll through enticing pathways to other spots of color and design.

In the spring of 1993 Margie hosted an afternoon tea for subscribers to her gardening newsletter. Guests strolled through the garden as part of their tea time experience at the log cabin miles from town and traffic. This was the beginning of a span of twelve or thirteen years of such special teas serving 35 guests at a seating. Teas were designed around special themes from Valentine Day, to Mother’s Day, to Lavender and Lace, to Winnie the Pooh, to Anne of Green Gables, and to Christmas. There was even a Train Theme tea created for a grandson and his boyhood friends.

Margie assembled and printed a tenth anniversary book of Favorite Tea Recipes, copies of which are still available for $15 and postage. (You may request one through this zine, publisher at

One of the tea guests issued an invitation for Margie to visit the Emerald Valley Quilters (E.V.Q.) biannual quilt show. A sister in law, who was an avid quilter, came visiting from California, and Margie took her and her mother to this show in October, 2000. She was hooked by what she saw there; techniques, fabrics, patterns. The die was cast. She joined the EVQ.

From among her many creations of the next few years, three were hung in a Ben Franklin Craft show in Springfield in March, 2003. Two of them took first place for their ilk. In August of that year she had a few at the Lane County Fair, winning a first, 2 honorable mentions and a superintendent’s choice. In 2004 her Bookshelf quilt was included in the Emerald Valley show where it took Viewer’s Choice 2nd place. She taught a class in making bookshelf quilts last spring. Since then there have been many showings in many places, a commission and dozens made for community service via EVQ. Thirty-six 40x60 inch quilts were sent to an orphanage in Nepal. There have been 25 new quilts in a Coburg show three years in a row.

In 2004 Margie replaced the thirty-year old Viking machine with a Baby Lock embroidery machine. The upstairs bedroom in that log house has been converted into an ergonomic studio with cutting, ironing, assembly facilities, including a large design wall. Margie is noted for artistic use of color, design and patterns the skill for which is undoubtedly inherited from her quilting grandmother.

A friend who had registered for a landscape quilt workshop with Joyce R. Becker but couldn’t go offered Margie her reservation in April, 2007. Exposure to this teacher "turned on the light," Margie said. She was instructed to bring a picture, but actually came with a sketch and a book with color elements she wanted to include. She finished her first landscape in three days by working until 3 AM. a couple of nights. She has since completed three other landscapes in ten months. While quilting a table runner for a friend, the process triggered an idea for the Over the Rainbow piece. (See picture above.)

The creator of specialty art quilt hangers came to an EVQ meeting and asked for volunteers to design quilts to fit those hangers for her commercial display at the Houston International Quilt Festival in 2006. Margie volunteered to make one.

Margie says, "I feel quite confident that I will continue to explore various art quilting avenues as well as more traditional quilts." Who could have foretold these adventures and successes 50 years ago?

Maple Syrup?

"Changing of the Seasons" Quilt by Margie Fergerson

After a frosty morning in early March the sun quickly melted all the ice crystals on roof and grass. By the time I’d finished my morning chores that early spring warmth coaxed me to a chair on the south deck where I pushed up my sleeves and dropped my slippers to wriggle my toes in the sunlight, hoping for a touch of color to replace the winter white.

Basking there in 80 degrees and out of the wind, I noticed our eager young cat crouched ten feet from the sugar maple tree nearby. My eyes turned to the tree to discover what held him spellbound in his crouch.

On the opposite side of the tree about five feet above the ground a red breasted sapsucker was absorbed in drinking the sap from several holes he’d drilled through the bark. I don’t know how long he’d been there, but as I watched he defecated a very watery feces. As his head swung from hole to hole I could see sap dripping from those he hadn’t just emptied.

It is the nature of sugar maple sap to run freely on a sunny day after a spring frost such as we’d had the night before.

I grew up in Ohio where my walk to school took me past the sugar camp in a maple grove. Many trees had spikes driven into them with a bucket hanging underneath to catch the sap. Uncle Joe who tended sugar making there would drive his team hitched to a sled carrying a couple of barrels from tree to tree emptying the sap into the barrels, then emptying the barrels into a shallow vat in the shelter. A big fire under the vat boiled that sap to maple syrup after several hours.

As I sat in the sunshine on the deck I speculated on the possibility of collecting sap from our lone maple tree to make some syrup for us. When I recalled that it takes about five gallons of sap to make a pint of syrup I recognized the futility of my speculation. This was definitely sapsucker territory, which the cat admitted after two or three trial jumps.

Copyright ©2008 by Lois Barton

Writer and historian
Lois Barton

Lois Barton is a 90 year old mother of eight children. She has lived on the same rural acreage just south of Eugene, Oregon for more than 50 years. All their children learned to milk, to keep the woodboxes filled, to do their share of household and garden chores. Her first book, Spencer Butte Pioneers, was published in 1982 when her youngest started to school. Since then she wrote five other books: Daughter of the Soil, now out of print; One Woman's West; A Quaker Promise Kept; and Through My Window, autobiographical sketches, sequel to Daughter Of the Soil.

Through the years Lois has been a 4H leader, president of the neighborhood association, a precinct committee woman, election board clerk, editor of the Lane County Historian, and a life-long Quaker. She spent a month in Southeast Asia in 1974 as a member of a church peace mission, after working for ten years as director of the Eugene Chapter of the World Without War Council.

Follow the links of the Voices of Spencer Creek for the most recent articles by Lois Barton, including:

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: nventing a Word for Trauma: Adrien Niyongabo and the Trauma Healing and Reconcilliation Service with Helen Park

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Musings on a Trans-gender Friend

Prisons and Peacemaking: An Interview with Helen Park

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Tuba Christmas and The King's Carolers

Three Tales for the Wintertide: Of Dragons and Dreams

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Visit to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Frank and the Rivers

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: My Friend Peg and the Peaceful Good Fight

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: These Stones Are Speaking

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Lucy McIver, Peace Pole Artist

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Telephones, Then and Now

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Remembering Bovine Tuberculosis

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: What Is a Quilt?

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Quakers in the British Virgin Islands

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Manta Rays, and Dandelions, A Poem, also introducing Carolann Krohn

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Those Husky Macadamia Nuts

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Fender's Blue, a Nine Day Wonder

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Frannie and the Arrow

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Bhavia's Cambodia

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Saga of the Smoking Chimney

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Saga of Big Oak Stables

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Fishy Story

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Different Peace

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Hal and the Mountain

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Rogue River Adventure

Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Obituary for a Country Cat

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Cortesia Sanctuary

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Tree and Me and Lady Slippers

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Cranberries

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Endurance Riding

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Butterflies and Community Development

and The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Last Gift.

See more of Lois Barton's articles in West By online magazine's archives:

Visit the Heron Rookery

Sauerkraut and All That

Charlotte's Overdose - Just who is Charlotte and what did she take?

The Midwife–The midnight call awoke an unusual midwife.

The Mystery of Fox Hollow - Fact and fiction meet in this story of the origins of Faith Rock.

Trees, Tame Trees and Squirrel.

© Copyright 2000-2006 by West By

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