Monday, March 14, 2005

Cemetery with mountains

Cemetery and Mountains Posted by Hello

This is a view over one of several adjoining cemeteries that fill the middle southern part of Nanticoke, looking south by southeast*. In the background are the buildings of Luzerne County Community College (L.C.C.C., sometimes referred to as the University of Nanticoke) and some of the local mountains that form part of the northern Appalachian range. (Invisible in this picture are Interstate 81 and Route 309, both of which run along the mountains in the background, affording wonderful views of Nanticoke and the entire Wyoming Valley.)

I've always liked photographing cemeteries. I've got pictures of cemeteries in Ireland and Salem, Massachusetts, and I took photos in this very cemetery for a high school project on World War I.

There's something special about an old cemetery that is still actively taking on new residents. There's a confluence of the ancient and the modern, of the natural and the manmade, of the seeming permanence of nature and the transience of human existence. Markers set to memorialize loved ones are worn by weather and toppled by vandals or sink into the ground due to settling, or even due to the constant activity of earthworms who churn the soil. Trees grow, flowers die, vigil lights flicker, and every once in a while the ground is broken for a fresh grave. Some of these graves go back a century or more; some are probably just a few days old. Some of them are visited regularly by grieving relatives, and some of them hold the bones of people long dead and forgotten by their children's children's children. Birds and rabbits and squirrels hunt and hide and play, using the natural landscape and the man-made additions to their advantage.

Someday I'll have to gather together my other cemetery photos and publish them. The ones from Ireland are majestic, with great Celtic crosses marking many of the graves. The ones from Salem are beautiful, taken in the old cemetery in town the morning after a snowfall. But for now, I give you this.

*Sharp-eyed readers may notice that the fence in the foreground, the mountains in the background, and everything in-between seems to be sloping down to the right. This is in part because this photo was taken during one of my walks with my dog Haley. Her leash was wrapped around the wrist of the hand that was holding the camera, and she was probably tugging on it as she was quite eager to go and sniff something interesting.

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