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Book of Days


Filtering by Tag: cemetery

January 11: Last day in the Keys

Kristen Lindquist

Paul came up with another haiku today, to commemorate our morning visit to the Key West Cemetery:
Epitaph on stone
reads, "I told you I was sick."
Death gets the last laugh.
We also came upon a stone for a family's pet deer:
Later today we visited the National Key Deer NWR on Big Pine Key for the first time to see the little Key Deer, a subspecies of the (much larger) White-tailed Deer.
We once had a dog
bigger than this dark-eyed doe
and much less placid.

January 9: Impermanence

Kristen Lindquist

Stopped in a Tibetan market tucked inside St. Paul's Episcopal Church and bought from a Buddhist monk a bracelet made of turquoise skull beads. The helpful enclosure reads: "Buddhists incorporated skull images into bracelet to represent the impermanence of life and the limits of human knowledge. Skull-shaped bracelet beads help chanters reflect upon the inevitability of death and the necessity of embracing lives filled with compassion."
We pondered death further on a walk amid the white crypts and statuary of Key West Cemetery: all those above-ground tombs, and also, quite surprising to us, many very large reptiles crawling around the kingdom of the dead as if they owned it.
Tibetan skull beads.
Walk through the cemetery
startled by iguanas.

November 11: Moth

Kristen Lindquist

To make the most of yesterday's sunlight and relative warmth, and hopefully find some interesting birds (winter finches are arriving all over Maine now), I spent a couple of hours walking around my neighborhood, binoculars around my neck. I ended my outing in the cemetery just a couple of blocks away from home at the base of Mount Battie. The sinking sun cast a pink glow on the craggy west-facing talus slope of Mount Battie and gave added definition to the headstones.

I've always enjoyed walking around cemeteries--for the quiet, for the glimpse into a community's history, for the variety of inscriptions and engravings on the stones. Cemeteries are poignant places, orderly reminders of the ever-present fact of mortality. This cemetery in particular has meaning for me because some of my own family are buried here: my grandfather, great-grandparents, and a great-uncle.   

So it was in a pensive state of mind that I wandered the neat rows of headstones as the shadows lengthened. I paused in front of one old stone to read a moving inscription, something along the lines of, "Here all our hopes lie lost." That's when something weird happened. A little brown moth fluttered by. As I wondered if it might be one of those winter species that tolerates cold weather, it headed right toward me and fluttered against my lips. It fluttered there for so long, several seconds, that I eventually had to brush it away. 

Kissed by a moth. In a cemetery. Hard not to read some deeper meaning into that--a visitation from a soul wandering loose among the stones, some sort of reminder to cultivate silence... But the rational side of my brain wants to tell me that the moth was undoubtedly just drawn to something mundane like the heat of my breath or the carbon dioxide of my exhalations. 

Moth's fluttery kiss--
a restless spirit
or my honey lip balm?

Postscript: Poetic license aside, I wasn't actually wearing any lip balm...

February 20: Birthday

Kristen Lindquist

Thanks to the fact that this year they decided to make my birthday a federal holiday, my husband and I got to spend the day birding the Midcoast, with a late lunch stop at Morse's Sauerkraut. We made yet another unsuccessful pass through the Samoset to look for the snowy owl, heard fish crows in Rockland, wandered some old cemeteries in the Thomaston-Warren area, saw about a dozen bald eagles, hiked up Beech Hill, and just generally enjoyed a relaxing day off together.

I've always been drawn to old cemeteries. I love to read the inscriptions that telegraph each family's history, some even including narrative: "drowned at sea," "died in Nova Scotia," etc. One we visited today had stones more than 200 years old, the words and images carved in the tall slate slabs still legible. Old oaks, maples, and elms hang over the graves, their roots mingling with the long-dead under the soil. They're places for quiet, for reflecting on how brief and precious life is, and occasionally, for finding an interesting bird (like a flock of fat, red-bellied robins).

I'm not too old yet
to enjoy walking around
old cemeteries.

February 5: In the cemetery

Kristen Lindquist

My husband got some new binoculars recently so I decided to walk over to the cemetery and try them out. I don't think I heard or saw a single bird, but I always enjoy roaming around the headstones and finding my maternal grandfather's. He died when I was three, so I have only the haziest memory of him, but I've been able to locate his grave in the cemetery ever since I was five and we lived in a nearby apartment in this same neighborhood. His grave and the adjacent ones of my great-grandfather and great-uncle, whom I never knew, have served as literal touchstones for me throughout my life. I calculated once that I'd moved 15 times before I was a teenager. But no matter where we lived, I always knew where to find my grandfather's grave in Camden, even on days like today when the marker's buried under snow.

The snow revealed signs of previous visitors to these silent rows--light footprints of other humans barely visible on the crusty surface, as well as the deeper tracks of cats, squirrels, and a crow which had walked on the snow before it froze. The squirrel tracks had melted and then refrozen, and their softened edges made them look like a meandering row of hearts.

Familiar gravestones,
heart-shaped squirrel tracks in snow.
I keep coming back.