Inspiration in Unexpected Places

When my husband, Dale, was in grade school, in the suburbs of Los Angeles, CA, he missed the answer to a question on a geography test. The question went something like this: Would Nebraska be considered: a. flat, b. hilly c. mountainous. His grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived in Nebraska – he had been there many times so he knew the answer; b. hilly. But the teacher marked it wrong and in bold red ink circled: a. flat. Obviously, the teacher had never been to Nebraska.

Kansas, sitting right below Nebraska, gets the same generalizing assumption about being flat. Have you heard it’s flat and boring, not a tree in sight, nothing, absolutely nothing, to inspire a person? Wrong. Granted, there are flat parts of Kansas. Yup, flat as flat comes, but even then the road might curve around a river and on the banks of that river you might see trees and wildlife or colors and images that inspire. My own yard is wooded. Not just a tree here and there but lots of trees among wild brambles along a trickle of a creek. I get a lot of inspiration in my own yard but it’s good to change scenery for a few days. It stimulates my creativity.

Dale and I recently took a trip across a section of Kansas (see Quirky Kansas Tour). It was my goal to visit off-the-wall attractions, not to intentionally gather inspiring images. But when you are a quilter you can hardly separate the two so here are some of the colors and shapes, place names and literature collected along the way that caused me to pause and notice.

Interesting color combinations. Is that a white pumpkin?

Interesting color combinations. Is that a white pumpkin?

Swaying sunflowers. I love things in rows.

Swaying sunflowers. I love things in rows.

Just a week after taking this photo I found a fabric that reminded me of the texture.

Just a week after taking this photo I found a fabric that reminded me of the texture.

Random arrangement of shapes compliments of Mother Nature.

Random arrangement of shapes compliments of Mother Nature.

Rows of shells compliments of man circa 1960. Lucas, KS

Rows of shells compliments of man circa 1960. Lucas, KS

More rows and texture. Lucas, KS

More rows and texture. Lucas, KS

Bathroom floor tile. Wilson, KS

Bathroom floor tile. Wilson, KS

Kansas Fish and Game brochure: Fish Identification Guide. Colors, shapes, textures, Mother Nature is a good teacher.

Kansas Fish and Game brochure: Fish Identification Guide. Colors, shapes, textures, Mother Nature is a good teacher.

Kansas Wild Flowers Chart on the back of a scenic byways map.

Kansas Wild Flowers Chart on the back of a scenic byways map.

Kansas Wildflower brochure detail. Great lines in the starburst flower.

Kansas Wildflower brochure detail. Great lines in the starburst flower.

Scenic Byways map - even the names have a bit of inspiration tucked into them.

Scenic Byways map – even the names have a bit of inspiration tucked into them.

Carpet in the hotel hallway

Carpet in the hotel hallway

There isn’t a specific quilt in the works based on these particular inspirations but that doesn’t matter because the images are now logged deep in my subconscious and someday a remnant of one of them may inspire a design. Imagine that – quilt inspiration out of: a. flat b. hilly or c. mountainous Kansas!

Have you found inspiration in an unexpected place?

By the way, my answer is – Kansas is: b. hilly. If you find that hard to believe try riding a bike across it!