Going Home: Log Cabin Quilts

“Chase your dream, but always know the road that will lead you home again.”

The phone rang. My thoughts about the stories I heard in the Restorative Justice class that afternoon were interrupted.

“Hi, Mom.”  It’s always easy to tell when Rene’ masks her exhausted state with an overly peppy voice. Life as an adult in the fast lane is lonely.

“What’s up?”

A pause on the other end of the line. “Can I come over for a home cooked meal?”

Did she have to ask? I jumped at the chance to create a delectable plate. To quote Rachel Ray, “Good food and a warm kitchen are what make a house a home.”

Going Home

I remember going home. In my pursuit of independence, I took a job teaching on the South Side of Chicago in a small suburb. Three long hours from where my mother lived in Wisconsin. Heavy traffic until the Volkswagen Bug left the interstate for asphalt side roads. On one long trek home, the only vehicles on the toll road were the snow plow with my VW following closely behind in its path. The trip took several hours longer than usual. In an era with no cell phones, there was no way to contact my mother. When I finally burst through the dark night and opened the door of the Fort Atkinson home, my mother had hot chocolate waiting for me. Nothing tasted so good. My mother never seemed so special.

Photo by hagerty.com

Log Cabin Quilts

Maybe my obsession with Log Cabin Quilts reflects a deep longing for home, for relationships, for security. The hand pieced strips of fabric around a central square symbolize emotions that are difficult to articulate. The red center of most Log Cabin designs represents the hearth of the home, the fireplace, the gathering spot, or, in my mother’s case, the kitchen.

Recently, I have learned that the yellow center signals a welcoming light in the window. That makes me think of a mother waiting patiently for a prodigal to return. Anecdotal evidence, based on oral folklore, suggests that during the Civil War, a Log Cabin Quilt with a black center hanging on a clothesline informed Underground Railroad conductors that this was a safe place to stop.

The strips of fabric bordering the center are split between light and dark hues. The home is surrounded by Sunshine and Shadows. Evil and good.  Prosperity and poverty. Hardship and joy. Real life for real people, with a safe place to go.

I’ve incorporated the Log Cabin pattern into quilts that I have made because it fits my philosophical bent. The home is the center of life.

Photo from favequilts.com

Going Home

There are days when I want to go home. The fact that the heart yearns for something that Earth can’t supply is proof that Heaven is really my home. I am just “a passing through”. The more loved ones who go there before me makes Heaven just that more appealing. If home is where the heart is, then my dwelling place is Heaven. Until I reach eternal rest, my Log Cabin Quilt will remind me that my home here on Earth is a unique place. It is where my dear ones gather to feel shelter from the storms of life.

“Nothing is better than going home to family and eating good food and relaxing.”    -Irina Shayk

Photo by quiltingdigest.com


  1. Maralyn Dettmann

    So vivid.. so real… so loving…
    Indeed, the threads that hold home and hearts together are probably invisible… but deeply felt… and understood.

    Quilts… on their own… are a mother’s hug… imagine the comfort when the symbol is that love and relationship… that memory… that encompassing realitlly.

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