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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Memories of Juneau, Alaska

I attended our first Town and Country Quilters club-night earlier in the week, and was pleased to have something for Show and Tell.  That doesn’t happen every month, I can tell you.  The (long winded) story of my eagle wall-hanging dates back to 1999, and goes like this.

We were busy planning our big 3 month OE to England in 1999, with a stop over at Disneyland, and my pen-friend Diane suggested we visit her at Juneau, Alaska. So we did - what an opportunity, it was too good to pass up.  We stayed with Diane a week and had a great time. It was salmon spawning season, and the salmon were flapping about in the water as they made their way up the streams to lay their eggs. We were thrilled to see bald eagles everywhere, perched on top of the tall trees, and down by the water as they caught and ate the salmon.  This magnificent bird has been the national emblem of the United States of America since 1782.

In 2007, the bald eagle was removed from endangered and threatened species list kept by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  Their successful recovery is due to years of concerted conservation efforts along with the ban on the pesticide DDT in 1972.  Living near a constant source of water, bald eagles feast on fish, ducks, snakes and turtles. They will also eat rabbits, muskrats, and dead animals. Utilizing their acute sense of sight and powerful talons, bald eagles attack their prey by swooping down on them at an angle, reaching speeds of 160km per hour.  With a 2 m (7 ft.) wing span, a weight of 3-7 kg (7-15 lb), and an overall size of 71-96 cm (28-38 in), the bald eagle is one of the largest raptors in the world.

Diane took me to the local quilt shop, where I looked for something with a local flavour to remind me of our trip. The Eagle Spirit pattern was just what I was looking for, but I got myself into a bit of a quandary. Shall I buy the more pricey kit, with all the fabrics included, or just the pattern? (We were just starting our 3 month trip of a lifetime and I was worried about spending too much cash so early on our travels.)  Finally, sense prevailed - with all the fabrics, including the different colours of ultra suede for the eagle heads, the kit would be the more sensible buy. 

DSCF6191 Assembling the eagle heads from ultra suede

Sadly, the eagle wall-hanging pattern lay forgotten for quite some time. I finally traced the pattern pieces out last year, and after working on it spasmodically, it was eventually completed in early 2014. The trees and the black eagle were machine appliquéd in place, then I machine quilted the whole piece. The eagle heads were constructed from ultra suede, and hand stitched in place. There – all finished. Good things take time!

P2030005 Memories of Juneau, finally finished

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