I noticed the ad while thumbing through a local travel guide during lunch at Beulah’s Cherry Hut. Pie sat on my fork, waiting to be popped into my mouth. Ice cream melted on the plate in a swirl of plump cherries and creamy vanilla.
State of the Art Framing and Gallery, the ad read, along with a photograph of a quilt unlike anything I’d seen before. Northern Michigan’s forests and lakes exploded from the tiny picture, as if they’d always been created from fabric, needles, and thread. Landscape quilting, it was called, which seemed an understatement.
I had to see these quilts in person.
Time slipped around me, pooling into infinity, completely unimportant on a cloudless summer afternoon with nightfall hours and hours away. Our bikes were propped against a rack outside the Cherry Hut, and State of the Art Framing and Gallery, according to the ad, waited only a few blocks away.
Miles of riding stretched in front of us: a circumnavigation around Platte Lake then back along Lake Michigan to Frankfort, my favorite sort of afternoon—exploring the world by bicycle with stops along the way for cappuccinos, lunch, and cherry pie. The kind of day–without boundaries or agenda, as limitless as Lake Michigan’s sand dunes–that practically screams for a side-trip to a gallery.
A few minutes later, we pedaled down the quiet Beulah streets to the gallery’s simple storefront, but what waited inside belied the deceptive exterior. All the seasons burst from the walls in brilliant and muted colors. Trees, fields, flowers, and lakes came alive. Ann Loveless’s quilts brought the outdoors inside, as if she had the ability to sew nature.
Later, while biking next to Crystal Lake, I compared the blues of the water with Ms. Loveless’s creations. And it occurred to me how beauty and wonder are everywhere, whether watching a dragonfly flit over a pond or admiring the skill of a quilter. All it takes is the slow rhythms of a summer day and the freedom to allow oneself to explore it.