Whatever is hiding amongst the oleander? Oh! It’s a Wild Thing!
Julian’s Wild Thing! I gave it to him for his 22nd birthday – the first birthday we celebrated together. He had a copy of Where the Wild Things Are when I met him – sitting there amongst the computer programming tomes and science fiction novels. It was his favouritest book as a little boy. I knew it from my childhood as well – but I must confess, I had been scared of it. So when I spied this fabulously fierce little fellow at the University Bookstore, I just knew upon whose bookshelf it would feel right at home.
A few years later, one of my wee cousins, Alastair, came for a sleepover. He stomped up the stairs to our flat, pleased as punch to be so grown up as to have a sleepover all by himself, and whilst his mum and I had a cup of tea, he had a little explore. After peering into our bedroom, he ran straight back over to his mum and whispered tremulously in her ear “Mum! There’s a Wild Thing in there!” It was so sweet/funny – and formal introductions had to be made before Alastair could be convinced it was indeed safe to stay.
Wild Things have been a firm favourite in Bootville ever since. Julian’s copy of the book became very battered as it was read over and over and over to Abby – by the time she was 3, both she and I could recite the whole book off by heart! We made a copy of the audio book, borrowed from the library, and that was played on Abby’s little tape recorder until it literally wore out. And there’s been many games of Wild Rumpus enjoyed at the kitchen table – always accompanied by lots of shrieks and the frantic slapping down of cards.
When the film version came out a few years back, just before we left for Melbourne, Abby took along 5 of her lovely friends from primary school to see it for her birthday. Oh how we all loved it. I do think Spike Jonze did a brilliant job – no, it wasn’t an immaculate translation of the book, frame by frame, but as an interpretation it was outstanding. Exquisitely and imaginatively filmed with such a real and touching story. As for the soundtrack – oh I went out and bought a copy the very next day. We used to drive around Brisbane with all the windows down, the breeze rushing in at our faces, singing along to the second track at the top of our lungs. Even now, I only need to slip it on and that beautifully haunting, childlike music transports me.
Needless to say, when I visited Spotlight a few days before Julian’s birthday this year, and there were bolts of Wild Things fabric lined up at the counter … well, all previous birthday present plans went out the window and I made him a Wild Things quilt instead.
I bought the red, yellow, lilac, purple and black contrasting plains at the same time, went home, sliced them up into squares with thin black strips for borders, then spent a whole afternoon puzzling over just how it was supposed to go together. I finally settled upon this layout a) because I felt it was the most striking whilst allowing Maurice Sendak’s beautiful illustrations to shine, and b) ’cause it reminded me of strips of film – a film of the Wild Thing playing through our lives in all its incarnations. Then I had to take Abby back to the shop with me to choose the perfect green for the border – an adventure set deep in the forest. I have a tendency to choose very olivey greens – none of which looked right – thankfully, she knew just the appley green it needed.
I pieced it frantically over the weekend before his birthday and had it a-l-m-o-s-t quilted in time for the birthday breakfast. Backed with a beautiful vintage blanket and quilted with my scribbly-wibbly lines. And the binding – Julian’s idea – he wanted something with all the colours in it.
The birthday boy loved it! For the first few weeks, it graced our bed. There is something very endearing about coming to bed late, after knitting into the wee hours, or working on an essay, to find my husband, snuggled up under his Wild Things quilt. Especially since Julian doesn’t have any mementos from his childhood.
But now that the cooler weather is here, he’s brought it out into the living room where he sits with it warmly tucked around his lap each eve (we’re having our second winter without heating – saved a fortune last year!).
I adore that our quilts are shared and loved and dragged around the house, out into the car, on picnics, taken on school camps, piled up on sleepovers, squished up into balls, spread out onto the grass, cuddled into by doggles, and quietly retreated under when an afternoon nap is needed.
As for a Wild Things quilt – well it’s sure to stand the test of time.