Editor’s note: Following is a page from my spiritual notebook.

One late September Saturday morning. the sun shone its fall-slanted rays. At 7:30 I turned into Gate 2of the Goshen, Indiana Fair Grounds. A boy wearing a rainproof poncho held out a yardstick, pointing where to park. My tires squished as I drove over low places in the four-inch kelly green grass near a white rail fence.

I pulled my raincoat’s hood up to keep off the drizzle. As I hurried toward the quilt barn, I picked my way around large puddles in low graveled areas before I reached the paved walkways. Rain fell all yesterday and into the night. The Relief Sale must have been affected. (The annual sale supports efforts for people around the world to have clean water.) I want to see the rest of the quilts.

Late the previous afternoon I had run through pelting drops, determined to get a look at more than three hundred quilts and comforters to be auctioned. Last year I promised myself I would buy something this year.

Still not sure what that “something’ might be, I side-stepping a large puddle on the walkway, as I scampered toward the quilt display. Maybe I’ll buy for Hubby’s queen bed in Florida. Maybe it will be a small piece to hang in that larger Florida home. I might even see a double bed quilt I could use here in Indiana!

I picked up a blue booklet listing the names, sizes and donors of the quilts, wall hangings and afghans. Pulling out a pen, I intended to mark any I thought might fit my needs. Walking along the aisles hung with quilts on both sides, I was immediately lost in beauty. It’s like walking through a huge well-tended flower garden.

I had to leave before I saw them all due to a social engagement. I’ll return early tomorrow to make up my mind.

Saturday morning I was drizzle damp as I stepped back into the auction barn. I’ll take photos of a couple of quilts that might work for JK’s bed. As the phone flashed, I remembered the note I’d left my sleeping mate. “I’ll pick you up for lunch about 11:00.”

Maybe I will have a quilt by then—or not. I loved #196 called “Blueberry Patch.”

I continued to focus on blue hues for JK’s Florida bed. Another I liked was #165, Glacial Blues.

Glacial Blues

It’s time to take action on last year’s promise to myself. The first step is getting a bidder’s number. Many who bid raised a hand or nodded. Once they won the item, they held up their number for the auctioneer to record.

While I had never before gotten a number, I knew where to go. Taking a deep breath, I walked up to a line of several women sitting with computers at the far south end of the auction barn. Here goes!

A young, dark- haired woman smiled and asked, “Have you had a number before?”

I shook my head. “I’m not in your system.”

She nodded. “That’s fine. I just need some information and your driver’s license.”

I pulled them out, including a credit card. Waiting for her to tap in my data, I glanced around the large echo-y pole barn. The quilt display hung at the opposite end. In the middle stood two sets of bleachers and rows and rows of folding chairs. At my end, volunteers sold coffee, breakfast sandwiches, pie, huge cinnamon rolls and large decorated cookies. A few folks sat at nearby tables munching and chatting.

“We’re all set,” said the lady looking over her computer screen. She returned my information and handed me a number.

bidder’s card

I stared at my bidder’s card. In the more than twenty-five years I have come to this event, this is the first time I’ve been prepared to buy! I’ve changed from spectator to participant!

At eight o’clock the auction began and people moved toward seats. Joining them, I thought back. No. Two years ago, I helped prepare the quilts. That was the beginning of my participation.

I sat in the bleachers by other ladies from church. Two of them had donated wall hangings. Each was recording winning bids their booklets. We all watched quilts being auctioned.

While prices were lower to begin with, nothing I wanted came up early. The pieces I marked are all in the hundreds.

Watching people walk by and also engrossed in the auction, I blinked realizing it was nearly eleven o’clock. Time to go get JK! The quilts being sold were only in the 60s. Hubby can look at the two quilts and decide which one he prefers!

Half an hour later, I returned to the auction barn with JK trailing. I urged him, “Come on! Look at these two quilts!”

Inside the pole barn the auctioneer sang his bids over a microphone. Stepping in, JK put his hands over his ears. I tugged at his sleeve, “JK! Come on!”

He shook his head. “So loud…”

“But the blue quilts!”

Shaking his head, he protested, “Too loud.”

I looked longingly at the racks of waiting quilts. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw JK standing near the entry, hands over his ears. He looks so lost! I can’t just leave him and go bid.

I sighed, turned and led my husband away from the metal building. Outside, I suggested, “Let’s go look at lunch choices.”

Circling the food tent, we saw apple fritters made on the spot, BBQ chicken quarters as well as Indian, Chinese and Russian foods. We settled on eggs rolls and fried rice. No adventure but Chinese food is still a treat.

JK eats an eggroll.

I look back on the quilts-I-didn’t-buy. Perhaps participation and buying are a process. I’ll do more next year. Meanwhile, since The Relief Sale funds help God’s people, I can make a donation.

My promise and participation journey may be about being more generous. Time will tell.

Frances Fritzie

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