Friday, October 17, 2008

Cemetery Walk

The Green Cross

A post that Lauren did last week on going for a photo expedition in a cemetery near her house inspired me to go on one of my own. Last Sunday the weather was sunny and clear, the leaves were near peak color, and I decided it would be a perfect day to pay a visit to the Cemeteries of Nanticoke.

Home-cast marker, no name or dates visible

This is actually a grouping of several individual cemeteries, each with its own characteristics. The major dividing line is the brick road that I have photographed and painted multiple times, but there are other more subtle dividing lines within the fenced-in areas.

The cemeteries on the East side of the brick road are made up of simple, older tombstones, with newer ones added as new residents move in. There are few trees, and while there is nothing bleak or desolate about this place, it still lacks the charm and beauty of the somewhat more opulent grounds on the other side of the road.

Cosmos among the rubble.
Standing near the brick road, looking East.

While the East side cemeteries are quite adequate for their task, the ones on the West side of the road seem ready to double as a park, perfect for jogging or just taking lazy Sunday afternoon strolls. This side is full of trees, and something else I never noticed before: terrain. Gentle slopes provide vistas like this:

I think it was in this general area that I noticed a terrible racket of crashing and snapping. A little investigating revealed the source of the noise: a chestnut tree was losing its leaves, and as each one fell it bounced off a dozen others on its trip to the ground like a pachinko ball.

I had to laugh when I saw this one. "Mensch", it turns out, is also a Polish name, but all I could think of was the Yiddish for (roughly translated) "whatta guy." At least it doesn't say "SCHMUCK" or, much worse, "PUTZ."

Squirrel at play. I watched the squirrels dash around, vaulting over tombstones, posing on tiny markers. I was watching this one when I noticed something much larger moving on the edge of my vision...

...a woodchuck! It froze when it saw me and did its best to look like just another marker, but it wasn't fooling anybody. But what was it doing here? And what was that pile of dirt around that tombstone behind it?

I was able to zoom in for one more picture before the woodchuck broke its freeze and vanished into a hole in the ground - right near the gravesite behind it. I found this simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

A few more shots of the Yellow Brick Road. This isn't the last of these brick roads in the area - in Wilkes-Barre, there's a fairly modern road with some Wilkes-Barre sized potholes in it, and where the pavement is missing yellow bricks like this are visible underneath. I remember sitting on the porch of my grandparents' house - now my house - with my grandfather, watching the city pave over the yellow bricks. It was sad to see them go, but I'm glad that this piece of Nanticoke history remains.

Another view of the Yellow Brick Road.This is a very photogenic spot.

One last look at the Yellow Brick Road. I never really noticed until last week how amazingly tall that tree is.

I may go back to the cemeteries for a return visit this weekend. Or I may have another project to do, one that I started several years ago but have let languish since then. We'll see.

Bonus: Here is a video Lauren made for the post that inspired this expedition. Please read her story to understand the context.

Cemetery from Lauren on Vimeo.

Video by Lauren, pictures by Lauren. The song is "Gravedigger" by Dave Matthews. The lyrics...if this song doesn't give you goosebumps, you may already be dead.

Cyrus Jones, 1810 to 1913
made his great-grandchildren believe you could live to a hundred and three
A hundred and three is forever when you're just a little kid
Cyrus Jones lived forever.

when you dig my grave
could you make it shallow
so that I can feel the rain



Isis the Scientist said...

These are lovely pictures, D.B. James Madison is buried in Lancaster, PA and that is a really lovely cememtary too -- an interested mix of graves from the 18th and and 19th century and more contemporary graves. As creepy as this sounds, it's a regular stop when the Isis family is in town.

Todd HellsKitchen said...

I'm a fan of cemeteries myself! Love taking photos there...

whimsical brainpan said...

How very beautiful D.B.! Thank you for sharing.