Monday, September 18, 2006
My fascination with cemetaries has been long-standing. There is a family story of my disappearing from the backyard of the house when I was small, only to be discovered in the cemetary that backed up to the property.
Imagine my delight years later, when I discovered that the tiny little sublet apartment that I was living in in Paris was in the 20th Arondissement, very close to Pere Lachaise Cemetary... yes, final resting place of Jim Morrison among many others. (I will find those French accents on this keyboard one of these days...) Pere Lachaise is truly a city all its own, and is beautiful. Try the following link for a "virtual tour." www.pere-lachaise.com
New England cemetaries hold a similar allure. Slate stones arrayed at odd angles, large and small "headboards" and "footboards." Some are so old that time is gently wearing away the information, and certain details are being lost. There are graveyards that hold the famous like Thoreau and Emerson, or Louisa May Alcott. But it is the "everyday" stones that hold some of the most poignant tales... Like the extra-wide piece of slate that contains names and ages sadly young, and death dates all within weeks or months of each other.... leaving me to wonder at the epidemic that must have swept the area at that time, taking away an entire family.
H and I share this interest... for him it was probably picked up from his younger days trailing his genealogist mother on her various hunting expeditions. A cemetary in Nova Scotia made us smile when we discovered the last name "Mailman" on a headstone. And also the name "Whynot" and it's variation "Wynacht". And we felt the icy chill of history when in the same graveyard we came upon rows of headstones that marked the final resting places of some of the victims of the Titanic.
Fall presents a wonderful graveyard-trailing time. There's the smell of woodsmoke in the air, and the trees in our local cemetary turn a blazing orange. I'll see if I can post some pictures as it happens, it is truly spectacular. Daniel has some bundled-up walks in store for him this season!