We spent the winter cutting pieces from dresses, linens, bedding, any thing fabric. We held quilting bees, the women of the community working together regardless of status, politics or religion.
We quilted maps, safe houses, warnings, gathering spots, the next depot on the underground railway. Each stitch held a meaning pointing towards the purpose of the quilt.
We memorized the codes and messages contained in the carefully arranged and quilted squares. Nothing was written down; no record of our work and it’s meaning.* We were simply a community holding quilting bees to pass the slow, dreary days of winter.
Hung on the clothes line in the sweet spring air, the quilts were signposts for safe journeys to the North. Maps for freedom.
*Many believe that the idea of quilts as symbols to escaped slaves is a 20th construct. No where in the annals of slavery is there a mention of quilts. Nor recorded by the white underground railway workers. While books have been written supporting this idea, the story is often built on suppositions, analyzing quilts from the time period, and suggested by detractors, perhaps a little bit of fantasy.
When I read the prompt, the quilt story came to mind.