Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Real Leap

by Willow Vanderling from the Threadville Mystery series by Janet Bolin

Every Friday evening, Opal hosts an evening of storytelling at her shop, Tell a Yarn. We sit around her dining table and work on our latest handcraft projects while listening to stories and to flames crackling in her fireplace. And we talk.

Last Friday, Threadville’s librarian, Karen was struggling to keep a huge piece of red flannelette in her lap, and hemming the edge of what appeared to be a never-ending ruffle.

Opal’s daughter, Haylee, my best friend among all these good friends, asked Karen what she was making.

Karen didn’t lift her head. “A petticoat,” she muttered.

After a silence, a flurry of comments and questions erupted from all of us.

Edna, one of Haylee’s other two mothers, burst out laughing. “You’re going to ask someone to marry you!”

To my amazement, Karen nodded.

“How did you figure that out?” Haylee asked Edna.

“Easy. Wednesday is Leap Year Day, the traditional day for women to propose to men instead of the other way around.”

“But,” I spluttered, “what does a red flannelette petticoat have to do with that?”

Karen looked up at us. Her eyes sparkled in the candlelight, and she grinned. “If a man turns the woman down, bad luck will follow him unless the woman is wearing a red flannel petticoat and a corner of it shows.”

“Any man who turns you down would automatically have bad luck!” Naomi, Haylee’s third mother, asserted.

Karen brushed her hair out of her face. “But I don’t want him to . . .”

“Awwww. True love.” Opal looked teary. Was she wishing she had asked Haylee’s long-lost father to marry her?

Edna stared straight at me. “Now’s your chance, Willow,” Edna chirped. “Ask Clay to marry you!”

Sometimes these women had very odd ideas. “Are you kidding? I barely know him!”

“Then ask him out,” Edna persisted.

“Edna,” Haylee teased, “Isn’t there some man you would like to ask out?”

I’d never seen Edna blush before, but in the flickering glow of the candles and fire, this blush was quite obvious.

I glanced at Haylee. She just smiled.

What about you? Have you ever used February 29 as an excuse to do something you might not ordinarily do?

You can learn more about Willow and how she helped solve a murder in DIRE THREADS, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First novel, and available in stores everywhere.

Talk to Janet Bolin on facebook and twitter.

And watch for THREADED FOR TROUBLE, arriving in stores June 5, and available for pre-order now!


  1. Hmmm, well I've never thought of stepping outside of the box and using the 29th to do something I normally wouldn't, but what a great idea! Can't wait to read more of your story :-)

  2. I don't think I'll ask anyone out, but maybe I'll try something new, like baking a torte.

  3. I might now! Where could I buy some red flannel?

    ~ Natasha

  4. I've never heard of this custom.

  5. I think you're chickening out, Willow! From what I've heard, the 29th relates only to affairs of the heart. But, I'm chicken, too. Maybe next leap year...

  6. Natasha, come up here to Threadville to my store, The Stash. I have enough red flannel to make one more petticoat.

  7. Dru, I think Karen found out about it from the Internet.

  8. Lizzie, waiting until next leap year? I might not be the only one chickening out around here!

  9. Oooh, I don't think I'll take advantage of that custom! Has anyone ever seen the movie Leap Year? Great take on the tradition.

    1. Oooooh, Victoria, I think I would like to see it!

  10. Good question! I really havent used February 29th as an excuse to do something that I might not ordinarily do.

    I really enjoyed Dire Threads! cant wait to read "Threaded for Trouble"
    Here is my review for Dire Threads

    1. I guess the idea is that the date doesn't really exist, so we can't make mistakes? Not sure if that works . . . My author says, "Thanks, Melissa! That's very kind of you!"