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It is chilly now in the Big Bend of Texas, and dry as a bone. Most all the leaves blew off the pecan trees in the last windstorm, carpeting Marfa in a potpourri of yellows, browns, and deep orange hues. The space heaters churn away to take the edge off the chill, but not much more. I find myself going to bed earlier and earlier. My dog agrees and decides to furiously dig at all my cheap, store-bought quilts to create her own bed of stuffing and cloth. A couple of mornings after the ripped-up bed-cover incident, I happily venture to the Quilt and Craft show at the First Presbyterian Church in Alpine. Customers weave in and out of the pews, which, being it’s a Saturday, serve as a display gallery for hundreds of finished quilts and quilt tops. The design choice is almost overwhelming, and people take their time deciding, studying the patterns, allowing the church volunteers to lift and unfold the quilts with care. I wander about taking in the colors and designs, and find myself standing next to an older woman as she caresses each quilt. I apologize for startling her. Joan Webb says, “No, that’s fine.” Her reverie interrupted, she smiles up at me. “All this,” she says, looking up at the throngs of people, “helps me to remember my own family and the qui ties we held years ago. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hold a giant quilting bee at the river’s edge? It could be so easy.” She pauses to think as reality seeps back into her musing. “Well, maybe not now.” This is not a typical quilt sale. The quilts are from Boquillas del Carmen. Until recently the small Mexican community was easily accessible: a five-minute boat trip across the Rio Grande and a short donkey ride into town. Tens of thousands of tourists visited each year. Then came 9/11, and in May 2002, the U.S. government closed the unofficial “class B” river crossing. Now only the hardiest tourists make the arduous seven-hour trip overland to Boquillas. And the community is struggling to prevent a slow, painful death. Over the last eight months, a band of volunteers with a Terlingua-based group called Fronteras Unlimited has made multiple trips to Boquillas, bringing community-donated fabric, copper wire, beads, and assorted accoutrements for handicrafts, and returning with quilts, quilt tops, crocheted table covers, walking sticks, and tons of elaborate, copper animal sculptures. Many shoppers at the church donated fabric to the effort months ago, and one can hear their cries of recognition as they discover what the artisans have done with the raw material. lting par DECEMBER 1, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9