Sunday, October 31, 2010


I understand why cemeteries are usually thought of as unhappy places- it is, after all, a place full of the dead, and death is often an unhappy concept.  Personally, I have never had an aversion to cemeteries.  I find them to be quiet and peaceful, and usually very pretty.  I don't really have any loved ones buried in cemeteries, so that feeling of sadness and loss do not accompany me when I go strolling among the final resting place of others.  

I'm not sure when my fondness of cemeteries began.  I know my mother always found refuge walking through them and I probably picked it up from her.  Also, adjacent to my parents property in Redwood Valley is a small Pomo cemetery.  It is modest and usually quite overgrown with weeds and wildflowers, and it has always been a part of the general landscape of home- not something spooky or foreboding.

Pomo grave with abalone shells 
And if having my home next door to a cemetery wasn't enough to get me comfortable with the idea, my high school was across the street from the only cemetery in town.  It too is a pretty resting place- with a few winding path ways and large shady trees-- a perfect place to be out of reach of the Ukiah High campus police and steal a smoke (of course, I never did such a thing).  I often walked through the cemetery after class to go to meet my mother at work, since the Public Health Department was on the side opposite of the high school. 

Russian River Cemetery in Ukiah, visited by deer
Course, it's not just rural places where cemeteries are pretty and peaceful.  Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles is such a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city that thousands of Angelinos spend their summer nights there, watching movies projected off of one of the buildings.  And I hear they also host a wonderful (and popular) celebration on the Day of the Dead.

When I travel to a new place, I like to *respectfully* take a walk through their cemetery.  There is a lot to be learned there! The history of a place, of its people and culture, is told in the way the dead are buried.  These last few pictures are of cemeteries I have visited recently- 

Granary Cemetery in Boston
Old graves near the church in Boxford, England

Kirk-side cemetery in Fort William, Scotland
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague

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