Tag Archives: Cemeteries
Sure, there’s a lot of stone in cemeteries, but there aren’t a lot of rocks. They always grab my attention when I see them. This one in Rolla, Missouri was about the size of a Smart Car.
They can’t help but be striking, some for the sheer size of them.
How do you choose a boulder for your loved one? Is there a store? Is it a rock from the deceased’s favorite mountainside…a beloved picnic spot? Once you’ve picked one out, how in the world do you transport it?
Sometimes the natural beauty of the stone makes it pretty obvious why someone chose it.
And I like the functionality of this boulder in Dungeness. Two people’s remains are encased there. I’ve seen this type of burial from Washington to Florida. Sometimes whole families will be entombed in the same stone. I bet it’s a greener way to go.
Sometimes you just know there has to be a story.
Are natural stone memorials a common sight in your part of the world?
Is it weird to seek out a quiet hour on Christmas Eve and find myself in a cemetery? I can see some of you nodding. “Yes, Laura, it is kind of odd.” I’ve got to admit that when I got in the car and left my family – not in a huff, my family’s great – with Google map in hand, to drive to a part of Nashville I’d never seen,(after twenty years of visiting for the holidays), I wondered a little myself.
But when I found the City Cemetery and got out to walk around, that familiar sense of peace settled over me and I knew that at least for an hour, I was in exactly the right place.
It’s a beautiful, old cemetery with some really interesting stones. Like this one. Does anybody know the story here? The plaque reads, Ann Rawlin Sanders. She was 21 when she died. No, wife-of or beloved daughter. It was 1836. It would have been quite a feat to move a boulder this huge. It crossed my mind that the rock is a natural feature of the spot, the tip of the iceberg so to speak. But then how could they bury someone under it?
There were three great angels.
Erosion had washed away details on this last one, leaving rather more to the imagination than the sculptor probably intended.
The second shot shows the outline of a wing better, giving the sense of the angel carrying off the dearly departed much better than the first shot – in which I got the wrong idea all together.
This was an interesting marker. It reads, Thomas B. Coleman, Mayer of Nashville, 1842. Really? The mayor with a misspelled, plain, wooden plank? There’s got to be a story here too.
It’s a lovely place. I would have stayed longer if it hadn’t been getting so late. Stop by next time you’re driving through Music City.
I felt reluctant to blog about my love of graveyards this week in the wake of the horrific tragedy in Connecticut. But it’s not death that I blog about. It’s not death that I see in cemeteries. Not really. It’s peace and healing.
I see every grave marker as a step on a journey for both the living and the dead.
Grave decorations represent an outpouring of grief. There’s often such a raw sense of intimacy around the newest ones that I feel like an intruder just looking at them. And yet, they’re also a kind of invitation, grieve with me, support me.
And they’re always beautiful, full of color and life, often even a sense of humor. I’ve never found anything ugly or angry left at a grave. Doesn’t that show a spirit moving out of darkness into light?
I believe that the children who died in Connecticut on Friday are already at peace.
Though our hearts are breaking and it may take a very long time, the funerals that start today are their families’ first steps to finding peace too. My thoughts are with them.
My vacation itinerary always includes a cemetery or two…or three. Sure, I love checking out the art scene in a new city, historical sites, shopping and eating. I’m a foodie too, definitely. But you see an entirely different side of a place when you visit its graves, don’t you think?
On my recent trip to Seattle, I did my usual vacation prep and Mapquested cemeteries in the area. There are about six, but with the coffee and the chocolate and the glass museums and the history and… did I mention the chocolate? I only had time for Lake View. What a jewel!
Lake View was established back in 1872 and sits up on Capital Hill northeast of downtown Seattle. One of those cool, old neighborhoods that just oozes character has grown up around it so it’s a bit of a twisty trek to get there. But worth it! The monuments are a great mix of styles, old and new, East and West.
A murder of crows claims the cemetery grounds and every monument in them. The birds are smart and wary and hard to get a decent picture of, but their raucous chatter never stopped.
So, for a short visit to Seattle, I’d put Lake View, the EMP Museum (AWESOME), the Chihuly glass museum and all the European sipping chocolate you can sample on my list of must-do’s. Anybody have any other suggestions for a Seattle trip? I definitely want to go back. I know that Jimi Hendrix is buried in Greenwood Memorial nearby. Anybody been there?
I’m back. Life and travel kept me from posting for a while. The good news is I brought pictures!
Have you ever noticed how many cemeteries have names like: Fairview, Grandview, and Lakeview? Or how about the ones that feature their landscaping like: Walnut Glen, Tall Oaks, Floral Hills?
Are there professional cemetary landscape architects? Must be. Their handiwork is obvious sometimes. At the very least, in most cemeteries somebody planned out the roads.
The cemetery above commands the view from the highest hill in town. It probably used to be gorgeous. Though I wouldn’t call it that anymore, it’s still interesting…vital…colorful?
As gorgeous as some of the more manicured cemeteries are, I love the good old-fashioned graveyards best. The ones with narrow, winding roads, or paths, or nothing at all.
Those graveyards tend to have a lot of benches. I always make a point to take a seat. It felt uncomfortable at first, but a bench is an invitation, right? It’s kind of rude to ignore it.
Do you think that people take such care to make cemeteries beautiful for the living or the dead?
Ninety-nine percent of the time that’s all you get, names and dates.
Often “Mother” or “Father”, “wife of.”
But as I’ve said before, that can be enough to set my imagination running. For instance, did this woman’s momma really name her Grandma? Or had she been one for so long when she died that everybody’d forgotten her first name…and the rest of her life?
Harry and Mary Tootle, you know they just had to be a fun couple! And I’m always on the lookout for Moore’s. It’s rare, in the Midwest not to find at least one in every cemetery. Someday, I’ll do a more and more Moore’s post.
And this little one had to have been somebody’s darling. It’s amazing how much a name and dates can say.
These two little guys definitely had someplace to be. I spotted them trotting up the road through Walnut Glen Cemetery in Booneville, Missouri this summer.
Note the lolling tongue. It was one of those 104 degree days. Mine was lolling too.
But enduring the heat was worth it. This is a great old cemetery. Aptly named. The towering trees must be at least a century old.
Not sure if it was the dappled shade or the sweltering heat, but unlike the dogs, I was in the mood for a long, slow ramble through the grounds.
There was plenty to see.
Just FYI, I don’t put captions on my photos, but if you hover over them you usually get their location and sometimes a comment. If I ever neglect to tell you where something is that you’d like to go visit yourself, just ask.
If only we had a century long time-lapse of this tree’s life and death growing up around this tombstone. Pretty cool.
Another little side note; I decided to stop here on my trip because Walnut Glen’s the name I gave the cemetery in my novel. It was total chance. I thought I’d made it up. I’m always looking for my characters’ names too, and mine, friends and family. Is that maybe a little morbid? Haven’t found them yet, at least not first and last together.
But cemeteries are great places to find character names!
Here’s one of the carved tree stumps Artsifrtsy commented on a few posts back. You’ll find them in almost every cemetery of a certain age. She told me that many were made for members of a service organization called Woodmen of the World that still exists. I had no idea!
This little guy was only about an inch long, but his colors caught my eye. What a beauty! RIP
Catherine Tracy clings to her only daughter Kate, who died in 1854 at the age of seventeen.
The neglected lichen-covered monument still vividly evokes a mother’s grief even 150 years later. I imagine Catherine coming to stand at the grave when the statue was new, then ten years later and twenty-five. The stone’s forever. I wonder how her feelings about it changed.
Sculptures always get my camera clicking when I explore a graveyard. Some are just gorgeous. Others tug at my heart stings or get me thinking. There are the ones like Kate Tracy’s that are obviously there for the particular benefit of her grieving family.
And then there are the in-your-face, ostentatious monuments. The only thing they say about the deceased is, I WAS RICH! I like those too.
Ordinary stones are great. Heck, I can get excited just reading the names and dates – Did they lose all of their kids in the flu epidemic? – She died in childbirth. He never remarried? – She may have been poor, but somebody sure loved her….
But sculptures can say as much as epitaphs. Maybe not what the mourners intended. Maybe much more. Take a look at nine-year-old Ryan Allen Scott Vanden Broeder’s guardian. This one astounds me. I know there’s a story here, but no amount of googling revealed it. What do you think?
My fifteen minutes of blogging fame are over.
I love sharing my passion for all things burial, but it’s especially great exchanging thoughts with all of you.
Your comments got some excellent speculation going about why people put little fences around graves.
Marking territory was the most common thought followed closely by fulfilling an impulse to continue protecting lost loved ones. I think both of those are true.
The best explanation for the origins of the practice came from VLS. She postulates that it all started when folks buried their families out on the prairie. “Oh give me a home…where the buffalo roam…where the deer and the antelope play.”
If you didn’t want a cow or bison leaning on the tombstone that you’d put a lot of care and money into, you put a fence around it. This idea made a great deal of sense to me and explained why the practice is most prevalent in the Southwestern U.S. Thanks, VLS!
I’m not a genealogist, though I admire those of you who are up to the challenge. I’m not a photographer. Mostly I just point and shoot in beautiful places. But for reason’s I’ve never been very good at articulating, cemeteries provoke and ground me at the same time.