Surely, you’ve seen the colorful hearts draped over the lovely crab apple tree in our front yard. The explosion of color against the flat gray February sky is the perfect anecdote for the longest stretch of New England winter.
These calico, striped and rainbow hearts dot trees and porches throughout town. You might wonder, as I did, how this kind tradition began. It all started with Helene Cabour, an avid quilter looking for a second life for the abundant scraps left over from projects. A friend suggested making hearts and hanging them from the tree in front of her house on Bacon St. She went right to work and began stitching together and stuffing the hearts with excess quilting supplies.
That first year, almost 30 years ago, Helene hung about 70 hearts from the tree in front of her Bacon St. home. It was such a large tree; she didn’t think anyone even noticed. So, the second year, with an arsenal of hearts built up, she and a friend hung 400 hearts. “Then”, she says with the spunk of a less-than-90-year-old, “they paid attention!”. The following year they multiplied to 1500. The current residents of the Bacon St. house still honor the tradition.
In the following years parishioners Nancy and Carl Hagge began hanging hearts anonymously at night at the homes of friends and shut-ins, anyone who might need a boost of cheer on a winter dawn. It’s such a heart-warming gesture and one that has been copied by others.
In 2006 a group of crafty parishioners began making “heart kits” for people to make at home. The hearts are sold at the Christmas Fair and in the office as a fund raiser. An ample supply of hearts is still available for sale in the office each year.
Each year following the Annual Meeting, the tree is “hearted” by parishioners. Fred Benson removes them later in the month and then Alison Taber tackles the monstrous task of untangling them all and then hanging them to dry before packing them up for the next season.As the Christmas candles fade in the distance these spectacular hearts are just what we need to inspire some happiness mid-winter. As Helene so eloquently put it, “If these hearts can make someone smile, even just for a minute, they are worth hanging.”
Written by by Linda McDonough