“The two of them walked the rest of the way in silence. At the place of parting, Hennie put her hand on Dick’s arm. “I don’t want you to be in discomfit, Mr. Spindle. Women here are as tough as these mountains,” she said, “and your wife’s a mountain woman now. She can handle anything that comes down her trail.”
“Prayers for Sale” is an enjoyable novel about life in a mining community in the early 1900’s, in Colorado. Times are tough and life is harsh. Hennie has lived there for 70 years and she has lots of wisdom (and stories) to share…and she doesn’t hesitate to share them with Nit Spindle, a young newcomer, to Middle Swan, Colorado.
What would Nit (Dick’s young wife) do without Hennie to help her through adjusting to life in a rough mining camp?
Women lost their husbands in mining disasters or through illnesses like pneumonia or influenza (in those times, life-threatening diseases). The vagaries of mining made for hard living, and ‘scraping to get by’. If one was fortunate, a miner’s wife might own one single (chipped) china platter that she would proudly set out to use during a special event like a quilting bee. The women in the quilt gatherings shared what they had though, and no one showed up at a quilt gathering empty-handed, whether it was a raspberry pie or a jar of pickled preserves.
“Quilts are like lives. They’re made up of a lot of little pieces,” Nit said.
“There’s a difference. You can take out the pieces in a quilt. There’s not anything you can do to change what you’ve done in life.”
Hennie thought a minute, wishing that weren’t so.’
Hennie, although reaching out to a young wife and a newcomer, also has her own challenges to conquer. Years of living during the Civil War and its aftermath have taken their toll on her own life. How many years does it take to be able to recover and deal with the hurts of the past?
“Since I first saw that sign, I’ve woken up every morning wishing I could buy your prayers. but I knew nothing I offered would be enough. I believe I’d sell my soul for your forgiveness.” He paused, and when Hennie failed to reply, he added, “I’ve lived my life trying to do good, to make it up to you.”
Hennie takes her solace from the struggles of living in the cold Colorado mountain winters by quilting. Taking Nit Spindle under her wing, she introduces her to her quilt circle to help her make her way in a new town that is not always friendly to strangers.
“Hennie Comfort felt Mondayish as she watched the snow come down outside her window, a real blizzard. The flakes were thick and soft and endless, and fell straight from the sky, as if they were being dumped from a giant bushel basket. She sat beside her quilt frame and stared through the green leaves of geraniums that all but filled the frost-etched window, to the snow beyond. Her stitches were loopy and uneven and would have to come out. She might as well quilt with noodle as a needle, she thought….the stove wood was stacked in a box in the kitchen, the brass coal shuttle was full, and the pot of chili that simmered on the back of the range would last until the storm was over. Besides, she had the memory of the night before to keep her warm. She had invited the young couple to supper again.”
A novel of friendships, berry picking on the mountain, quilting and gossip around a quilt frame, relationships and forgiveness, “Prayers for Sale” is an enjoyable read!