Late winter in this part of Montana can be gray. And once we move from constant snow to snow with mud, that grayness feels even more difficult to endure. Which is why the Historical Village volunteers had the great idea to have a late winter community event that promises to rock your socks and raise some funds for maintaining the Village.
On March 3rd, The Wardens play at the Trego Hall starting at 4pm. An easy time of day to drive out and catch this great band from Canmore, Canada. Up in those parts, a ranger is called a warden. These three musicians/wardens have worked in the back country around Banff for a lot of years so know mountains and horses as well as music. Admission for the concert is $8/per with tickets on sale at the door.
We figured once folks come out to Trego to hear good music, they might just want to stay and enjoy themselves a bit longer. There will be a potluck after the concert (starting around 5:30) and then a music jam. Ray and Shirley Jacobs met The Wardens recently and encouraged us to bring them to Eureka. They will be there. Hope you are too. If you want a preview of The Wardens, check out their website here.
So mark March 3rd on your calendar and come out for a good time. Bring a dish to pass if you want to stay for the potluck, and if you play music then please bring your instrument along. Otherwise come to listen and enjoy this late winter treat. Oh, and there will be beautiful handmade quilts for sale as well.
This quilt wasn’t made by the women at the Historical Village. It was actually created by Patty, another wonderful quilter, who lives here in the valley. She must have quilting in her blood as she gets second hand clothes from various places, figures out a pattern that she likes, cuts up the clothing and begins to sew. I am always amazed at what she comes up with. This particular quilt she made as a donation to help refugees. Each time it was taken out to be shown at a fundraising effort, people sighed with delight.
The last time I took it out of a bag, it was to box it up at the post office. The quilt was about to be sent off to its new home and for whatever reason I always seem to do my boxing up at the post office on their counter. Two women in line watched me and when I shook the quilt out to fold it up as small as possible (a trick with a double bed quilt), they exclaimed simultaneously how beautiful it was. I agreed. One woman lamented that she always wanted to learn to quilt but had never had the chance to try. I pointed out she could easily join the Friday quilters at the Historical Village. They would be happy to teach her the joys of hand quilting. There are other quilt guilds in town that would be glad to mentor her along as well. But she had reasons – Friday’s weren’t the best day and she didn’t know if her sewing machine worked and besides where could she spread out a project like a quilt in her house.
There are always reasons aren’t there? Reasons why we can’t study Spanish or call up that older friend we think about. Reasons why we aren’t able to volunteer or clean out the top of the closet. Of course sometimes the reason makes sense. But often times we find ourselves justifying why we can’t do something that part of us really would like to do.
Rather than focus on all the reasons one can’t do something, this quilt made me aware of what we can do. Patty finds the used fabric and inspiration to make quilts. This particular one helped support a family who had the gumption to come to a new country. There is a friend in town who decided to learn Spanish so he bought some CDs, a bilingual dictionary and some books. I must admit I had my doubts about this self-teaching method until a few years later when I heard him converse in Spanish with a musician visiting from Mexico. There’s Bernice Ende, another friend from the valley, who has been a long rider for years now. She rides a horse across to all parts of the US. She tells me she can’t keep track of all the people who say they would like to do what she does. But they don’t. Sometimes their reasons make sense. They have young children at home or need to be available for aging parents. But sometime their reasons are downright flimsy.
So when you hear someone say with sincerity that he or she really wants to do something, tell them – you can! Push aside all the thin reasons they might offer up as to why they can’t. Encourage them to climb on that horse or pick up CDs to learn Russian or walk into the Historical Village on a Friday ready to learn how to quilt. Our world needs people who follow their dreams. Turn those dreams into realities. Yes, you can.
This time of year in northwest Montana, any glimpse of blue sky has everyone smiling. Even while focused on stitching, the women look up in unison when light through the old school house windows gets slightly brighter with a break in the clouds. January not only brought us a few snatches of sun, but also three new Tobacco Valley Board of History volunteers. Not quite enough for all that needs to be done but certainly a good start. Magdalena is new to the area and a great fit for helping with displays as she wants to learn more about local history. Michelle has the energy to help out with the grounds and the shrubbery once we get into spring. Ya’aqov, a retired librarian, is learning to maintain the archives from Cathryn. And having these three awesome individuals step up, encourages us to think there just might be others in the community who want to help maintain our local heritage.
Perhaps though people have other ideas about what to do with their spare time? Maybe they see maintaining artifacts, photographs and historical buildings from the Tobacco Valley as frivolous. Why think about the past when there are sufficient worries for the present? And don’t even mention the future! But our past has a lot to offer, not only to school children who come each spring to visit the exhibits or the tourists who pass through on summer afternoons, but to all of us.
Some locals lament about lack of business in the area and how the town is going to dry up. The old newspapers in the Historical Village files tell of the same sentiment numerous times throughout the town’s history. But there has always been something new that came along. Eureka was once the Christmas tree capital and there was logging. There were the years when the Libby dam and the train tunnel were built that brought many new people and jobs to this area. There were opportunities and change and dry spells and then new opportunities appeared.
The files show how the Tobacco Valley News, our local newspaper that still comes out weekly, got started. There are articles telling about how the valley first got internet and the volunteers who helped set it up. A computer shop now occupies the building where the office supply store used to be (a business now farther up the road in a larger space), and the same building that used to house the newspaper (which moved behind the bank). Things change for sure but there are things to be learned from the changes. How can we make transitions easier? Where do new ideas for our town come from? How have great additions to the valley come about in the past? What can we use from those experiences to continue to make this a place where we want to be?
Quilting has started for the season. The women are hard at it sewing on a lovely one that Lynda pieced. We are getting back into our rhythm sewing together, talk, lunch at noon. Occasionally one of the women will get up to do a chore. Dianne sorts out the change box and pays bills. Cathryn catalogs items that are donated to the museum. Lynda keeps track of the to-do list which seems never ending. The door to the old school house was recently repaired. We are still hoping for enough funding to fix the caboose which is sadly in need of renovation. Some of the quilters mention to me there really should be a photo posted of the woman who won the raffle quilt this year. She is Canadian and a shirt-tail relative of Bev’s. She came down to Eureka to pick the quilt up, saving us postage and allowing for this great photo in front of the museum (thank you, Bev, for taking it). Its a lovely quilt and we all remember stitching on it. Nice to know that it will be appreciated.
And then Gary D. donated an amazing antique quilt to the Historical Village. After much discussion, it was decided we should have a special raffle for it. Tickets are $5/piece or four for $20. Dianne took the quilt to a man who does work with the Antique Roadshow. He said it was made between 1890-1910 and worth about $650. Its quite beautiful and the photos don’t do it justice. The fabrics glow! We will sell raffle tickets for it until the Eureka Montana Quilt Show in August 2018. This winter it hangs in a quilt shop in Bigfork and then will come back to Eureka in the summer for the quilt show on August 4th. A wonderful gesture by Gary to help the Historical Village and a great opportunity for someone to own this lovely piece of history.
It is astonishing how many people reach out to help the Historical Village keep going. Not only the women who quilt all winter, but those who help with the countless other tasks, people who make donations of items or money, those who give time to help paint or trim bushes or dust displays. Those who buy raffle tickets! And yes, those who have us finish a quilt for them. I suppose it could be said It takes a village to keep a Village.
Yes, in only a few days the annual Eureka Montana Quilt Show will be happening. My suggestion is you come early like 7:00am to help hang the quilts and enjoy the cool morning of dew and colors. The town is transformed as hundreds of quilts are slowly hung from Memorial Park down the main street and throughout the Historical Village. Its truly magical as it happens and you can be part of that magic. Afterwards, volunteers usually stop at Cafe Jax or Four Corners Restaurant for breakfast and then go back out to enjoy the day. Quilts galore (previous years had over six hundred!), vendors, shady spots to sit and soak up the day quickly fill the hours til 4:00pm. And besides all the activity that goes along with this annual event, there is the Historical Village itself.
All the buildings in the Village will be open throughout the day of the Quilt Show. So take some time to amble through the museum and the old cabins. There will also be volunteer quilters at a table in front of the museum who sell raffle tickets. The winner will be selected at the county fair later in August. The prize is a lovely quilt hand stitched last winter. Needless to say, we will ship it to you wherever you live if you win. We like getting our quilts out into the world.
Eureka is a special place most of us enjoy calling home. It sparkles in the winter with snow and the summer is bustling with visitors walking on main street enjoying local businesses. Cyclists from all across America come through sometimes camping in Riverside Park, often stopping for a meal or a milkshake. But the first Saturday in August when the Quilt Show takes over the town is spectacular. Eureka is at its brightest! The colors compete with any rainbow. The variety of quilts is astonishing. And the crowds add to the festive sense. Whether you live in Lincoln County or elsewhere in the state or region, think about coming to Eureka on August 5 this year. You won’t regret it.
We celebrated by having pizza last Friday. The Hawaiian quilt is finished! We just began work on a lovely new quilt that contains colors of spring. The pale but vibrant greens and the lilac prints are so much easier to sew on then the other quilt. There have also been a few younger women who dropped by, learning the basics of hand quilting. Their energy and ideas are a welcomed addition. It is a good exchange as they learn the sewing techniques and listen to advice offered by the older women. We listen to them describe their children’s activities, their own struggles to find a place in the community.
Its an excellent reminder of the interconnectedness of generations. I suspect it might be harder to experience this in urban areas, although I could be wrong. But here in a town with just over a thousand inhabitants, paths cross frequently regardless of age. Some of the quilters also help with Friends of the Library. Katie, a young mother who volunteers with that library group, stops by with her children to pick up a key from Joan. Her children come in close to look at the quilt, to watch the sewing. Bev shares photos and stories of her new grandchildren with us. Mary Louise is catching a ride later in the day to watch her great-grandson, a high school student, wrestle. Jan, a fairly new person in our community stops by around noon. We offer her pizza and she asks about the history of the valley, filling in gaps left by her reading.
There is value in having cross-pollination of generations. Everyone benefits. Young people gain a sense of history as well as the perspective offered by a long life. The elders luxuriate in hearing tales of young ones today, their trials and their joys. There are exchanges about technology and travel, cooking and gardens. Everyone has something to offer. Everyone has something to gain. Although we accomplished a lot this winter, we appreciate the arrival of spring.