Thursday, October 04, 2007

Halloween Season is Just Too Durn Short

I'd wanted to do a Halloween Theme post every day this month. But as you can see, it's already four days into October and am I organized? Nooooo! Big surprise there, huh!

I'm getting organized though. Only a week and a half before I have a mobile grandbaby in the house, so I have gone into overdrive to finish doing something with the boxes and unfinished painting in the front rooms. Too, I need to get things done so I can decorate for Halloween. And get my favorite Halloween dishware and mugs out and start using them. I really need to start all this in the beginning of September instead of waiting until October. I know people will think I'm wierd, but since they already do, does it really matter?

Yesterday I went uptown to snap a photo of my favorite autumn leaf tree in the area before it finished peaking. It's an early changer and sports multi-hues of red, orange and gold. As you can see, even a glimpse of it two blocks away catches your attention.

Here it is. This photo doesn't do it justice. In real life it glows in almost neon colors.

Since I was there, I decided to wander around and enjoy the old homes and other autumn colors up close and on foot. This Virginia Creeper looks great against the black wrought iron.

And since it was only another a couple more blocks, why not stroll around the cemtery on beautiful crisp autumn day.

This is my favorite gravestone in the cemetery. I've taken a photo of her many times.

For some reason I have never thought to read her epitaph before. Today I discovered that her name is Majorie. Majorie Mae I think. Oh, now I'll have to go back and check. There's something about this wee angel with her broken wing (can't tell in this photo, her other wing is broken off) that endears her to me.

I suppose it's telling that I've been to the cemetery often enough to a) taken photos of her on numerous occasions and b) have a favorite gravestone. But I really love cemeteries. I know I'm not the only one who does, either. I've googled and there are lots of cemetery visitors out there. What do I love about them? Well, they are generally peaceful places, not to mention full of history and art and garden vistas. And, on a more frivolous level of course, being a general lover of all things gothic, spooky, and mystical, the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer setting appeals to me.

I always feel as if I'm visiting the home of those who are buried there and I talk to them, say "excuse me" when I need to step across someone's grave. Not that I think I'm particularly adept at sensing ghosts. I have had my psychic moments and spiritual encounters, but I'm no Ghost Whisperer. No, I'm just talking about visiting the cemetery occupants on an intellectual level and talking to them as a form of respect, just as I talk to flowers and bees and trees and animals and even buildings or doors or cars. Uhm, you guys talk to things too, right?

I started reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. (thanks for the recommendation Deb! Although I had a different reaction to it, being pulled in to the story immediately!) It turns out to be a perfect October reading choice, moody and dark like the old classic novels the protagonist loves. I mention it now because there's a scene early in the story about how the main character thinks of herself as a caretaker of the authors of the old books, keeping the last memory of them alive in the same sense as a gardener tending old gravestones cares for the last remaining history of the people who slumber there. That's how I feel about visiting cemeteries. It's like acknowledging the lives and stories of people who came before me. Even if their stories are unknown, they still have an affect on us I believe. Like the ripples of a pebble thrown into the water, all those lives tossed into the stream of time culminate in the world we live in at this very moment.

Oddly, I don't have any personal desire to be buried in a cemetery. Cremation is fine. Spread my ashes over as many beautiful places in this world as possible. I'll have moved on. My hubby, on the other hand, feels a strong need for a burial plot when his time comes. He wants a big ol' gravestone and we have conversations pretty regularly, serious but amusing, about all the possible odd or unique designs and epitaphs his life inspires. (My favorite, although not seriously in the running - when asked what quote his father was known for saying, a young Sam thought about it and then his face brightened as he said "I know! He always says "Put down the toilet seat and flush the toilet!" " In a strange way, it works, doncha think?)

Oddly again, cemeteries don't make me sad. Oh, on occasion. But I usually don't associate them with my own losses. Joshua isn't buried in a cemetery. His ashes are in the sea, where I have always gone for personal comfort and guidance. The ocean has always symbolized the unknowable mystery to me and Joshua has indeed returned to that mystery on a soul level. It wasn't my decision to do this, but I'm content with the choice, it seems right.

The only family I know of who are buried in a cemetery are my paternal grandparents and, tucked in his mother's casket, my father's urn. It never occurred to me to visit their graves until I traveled to Wisconsin to visit relatives a few years ago and my sister, who also lived far from there, requested I visit the graves on her behalf.

My aunt drove me out to the cemetery. The front office was closed that day, or perhaps it was after hours, so we couldn't ask for a map. She had only a vague idea of where they were located in a very large vista of markers. We drove around for awhile on a narrow ribbon of asphalt that wound through the lawns until finally I suggested we stop at an upcoming curve in the road for me to get out. Perhaps I'd walk around on foot for awhile even if we couldn't find the family plot.

I stepped out of the car and walked over to the first gravestone in the grass. It was my grandparent's stone. Although I had taken on the trip for my sister, standing there reading their names, I realized how thankful I was that I had come. I took a photograph of their stone. I thought I'd posted it here years ago (have I even had this blog that long?) but apparently not, so I'll have to find it and post it some time this month.

I like how the tree has it's own "gravestone" too.

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