Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cemetery Treat

I have been living in Albany for ten years now – closer to eleven – and how time flies. I remember when I moved I explored a lot of haunts remembered from childhood holidays and found some new ones. Always I saved the old cemetery as a treat. Yes, a treat for a time I was bored, or a bit down and needed something special to do. Now you are confused? I really enjoy visiting cemeteries, as a historian I find the family relationships, disasters, love affairs and fashion, spread out for all to see fascinating, encouraging and sometimes a little sad.
Some headstones resound with grief and a sense of a family that can not go on, and yet neighbouring plots will reveal that those same relatives lived to ripe old ages and gave joy to others, somewhere they found strength. The graves of children bring a lump to my throat, and yet these ancient headstones also serve to make me very grateful for the time I live in, where so many more children grow to fulfil their potential.
Today I needed some photos for an altered book and so I ventured into town for a blissful afternoon, feeling a little sad that I was ‘using up’ this treat.
I was caught in a dilemma – as often is the case when I visit cemeteries: Indulge my slight obsessive compulsive tendencies and visit every grave in order from beginning to end, reading every headstone; flit from section to section following the trail of family relationships or follow my camera and capture the afternoon shadows and shapes. I ended up doing a little of all, and resolved both to visit without a camera and in a morning so I can shoot with my back to the light.

Archer seemed particularly interested in this tiny grave for sisters Emily and Violet. I was heartbroken to see the work of vandals, not for the sake of the dead, I know their souls have long departed, but for the history, for those who left these markers. How beautiful was the plot of identical plain crosses home to the bodies of departed nuns, how poignant the messages of love left ... These cemeteries of of old seem to resound with hope for future meetings and a belief in the life after death, and yes, art.

8 comments:

Still Waters Studio said...

I agree, cemeteries are interesting. Please post a picture of your altered book when you are done.
Sherry

Holly Stinnett said...

When I was in Paris I spent 4 hours alone in a cemetery. I was amazed at how huge everything was, and how quiet. I loved it and found myself wandering further and further... I really enjoyed the dozens of wild kitties that were perched on their chosen headstones. It was quite a sight to see and I got some great photos.

This was a great post and your pictures are really wonderful.

Holly

Judy said...

Lovely post Julie.

ATCLindaB said...

good for you sharing this, I think it is wonderful, I love to visit the cemetaries too, the tiny baby ones always make me weepy eyed

Me said...

I love cemeteries. When C was little I spent a lot of time visiting all the cemeteries around us. C likes cemeteries too and will make comments like 'that cemetery has good stones.'

I have hundreds and hundreds of cemetery photos.

I have discovered that men who work at cemeteries (and have done so for a long time) have a very philosophical view of life.

Dot said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post Julie. And can understand your fascination with cemeteries because of your love of history.
The photo's are beautiful too.
Love the one with little Archer. He is a sensitive and curious little one isn't he?
Look forward to seeing photo's of your pages for the altered book too. I know they will be magnificent.

carmel said...

what is it about cemeteries? I used to visit one near my primary school. The church dates from the 12th century so you can imagine the tombs inside and in the cemetery I always remember the headstone with the 'pirate' symbol of skull and crossbones carved into it. Also the church door has spear marks from Cromwell's soldiers when they used it to stable their horses! Limerick is over a thousand yrs old so it has lots of interesting cemeteries/churches/castles. You would love it Julie! but cemeteries has those feelings you describe because of the people and our wonder of how they lived their lives. Lovely post, hugs, Carmel xx

jessica said...

this was a very nice and sensitive entry julie.
the photos are lovely.