Thursday, September 30, 2010
Since Halloween and Day of the Dead are not far away, this seemed like a good time to confess....
I have a morbid fascination with cemeteries. Although I'm not brave enough to go strolling in one at night, and there is a local cemetery that is so spooky I avoid it even on a bright sunny day, for the most part I find them peaceful and melancholy. At this point I should clarify that I have no interest in modern, flat, bleak cemeteries where convenience in maintenance has pushed out poetry, art, and shady trees with benches under them for quiet contemplation. There is also the horrifying new trend of people leaving recordings of their voice which is later inserted into the grave marker, so relatives and friends can, at the push of a button, listen to “the voice from the grave.” Can’t you just imagine it? “Hi, my good friends. Gee I miss you all. How’s the wife and kids? How’s my dog holding up now I’m gone?” That whole idea creeps me out.
But old cemeteries have a dark romanticism about them. As I quietly stroll, I often think of the short-story by Peter S. Beagle, titled "A Fine and Quiet Place" where the lead character spends lovely hours in a cemetery conversing with a female ghost. In marble and chiseled stone the grave markers tell the stories of the people who rest there, the times they lived in, and the battles with disease they fought and lost. Some have been resting, peacefully or not, for hundreds of years.
Carved doves, angels, urns, leaves, obelisks, all mark a life lived, even if that life lasted only a day. Especially poignant are the family plots where due to some epidemic, the graves of the parents are surrounded by the small markers of their children, all perishing within weeks of each other. Or the gravestone of a beloved wife who died in childbirth within the first year of her marriage. Reading tombstone poetry can reduce me to tears.
The last cemetery I visited was in Ferndale, California, an old lumber town now more of a tourist attraction due to the beautifully preserved Victorian buildings. The cemetery, situated and terraced into the side of a hill, with hundreds of carved tombstones, flat crypts, and a few dark stone mausoleums, is an acropolis of the dead. As I took photos, my husband and I wandered for about an hour, before the heat became unbearable, radiating off the tombstones like hot ovens.
I have visited cemeteries in Riverside, CA (where my grandparents are buried), Port Washington, WI (A beautiful, romantic cemetery), Santa Barbara, CA (at the Spanish mission), Solvang, CA (another mission cemetery), Jacksonville, OR, and the really spooky Granite Hill Cemetery in Grants Pass, OR, where I live. That’s the one I can’t bring myself to go back to. I just know, in the older section, Dracula and his minions sleep there...or an Oregonian version of Dracula.
So, this is my entry for Halloween. A picture taken at the Ferndale cemetery, and played with in photoshop.
Hic requiescat corpus tuum — Here may your body rest.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
This is a quick note to my few Followers. I am not ignoring your comments, or your blog sites. I am having problems replying, or leaving comments on my own and other blog sites. I keep getting bumped, and it gives me a blank comment box again. So, bear with me until I get this figured out.