When was the last time you visited a cemetery?
I went to the cemetery yesterday. It was quiet even though the cemetery I went to is right on the edge of the city. It was a nice bright day after a week of ice, snow and cold. It always snows before Halloween. Yesterday the snow started to melt and this will continue on into November and then it will snow again and be WINTER!
I went to the Pioneer Cemetery. It is the oldest cemetery in the city. It is a cemetery because it was planned out from the beginning.
Graveyards are attached to churches, or homesteads. Graveyards are free-form, willy nilly, almost as if the corpse has been left where it had fallen. As if, there was no time to anticipate the end.
Cemeteries are ordered, plots planned, in rows, flat, easy to maintain & mow. A way, I suppose, for us to control the uncontrollable.
The headstones are over a hundred years old; some are too worn to read all but the most basic information. Along with the quiet, I go to cemeteries to explore the history. I like to think about whom these people were and compare their life experiences to mine.
This is one of the first tombstones in the cemetery. Isn’t it elegant. I find it amazing that the text is still readable after 100 and some years. I wonder who bought and paid for it? I wonder what it cost.
This tombstone belongs to Edward William Meeres who died at age 27 in 1888 after being trapped in a blizzard, making his way home from a neighbour’s house on the spacious prairie. He wanted to check his livestock and lost his way. The location today is approximately the corner of Broadway Avenue and 10th Street.
He lost his way only a few blocks from where I live which is now the center of the city. I am a prairie girl, I know how quickly a snow storm can turn into a blizzard and how easy it is to get lost, even now, as the snow blocks your sense of where you are even when you have a sidewalk under your feet and buildings a foot or two away.
I don’t know if he had family. He had cattle he worried about. He was young. He left a party and never made it home. Unfortunately, that is still the reality here in many small rural towns where boredom and alcohol run rampant.
This tombstone says Marr, so therefore those buried here must be related to these Marrs, one supposes. The Marr Residence is one of the oldest in the city and again is in my immediate neighbourhood. Every where I go, I am surrounded by history, by soft, whispering voices, by ghosts.
The Marr Residence was used as a hospital during the Riel Rebellion. Perhaps this member of the North West Mounted Police survived the Rebellion only to be gone early in the next century at a relatively young age. Young, such a ambiguous term. In the context of his historical time, he was probably considered old, well now at the same age, I like to think of myself as middle aged, decades away from his fate.
The Pioneer Cemetery was in use for 64 years. There are 162 souls buried here and 51 of them were children and half of all the graves are populated by those who died before they were 16. This fact brings home to me how much more dangerous life was then, how fragile, how unforgiving of weather and sickness and time.
Minnie never survived her first winter. Did it help heal her young parents’ hearts to decorate her grave with a lamb? Was she starting to crawl? Did they miss her laugh? What could have Minnie become? She was too soon gone.
Ethel only barely survived her first year. She’s been in the cemetery longer than she was ever in her mother’s arms. There is probably no one around who remembers her or her family. This is why I go to the cemetery; to remember those who time has forgotten.
In every city (town, village, hamlet…nay, country) there are little hidden gems. They lurk half hidden, half forgotten, off the beaten path and just out of reach around the corner. Above is one of ours; I call it the Statue Graveyard; others have called it a Sculpture Garden.
It is located in a back corner of the University adjacent to the river and the Meewasin walking trail. It is the final resting place of statues that have been donated to either the University or the city (I think); statues that may have had other homes or statues that are lost and lonely (perhaps).
Most of the statues are nameless as well as homeless. They are seldom seen. I came across them when I was temporally homeless myself and went to live at one of the campus dorms for a month a summer or so ago. These pictures were taken the Fall after on a cloudy, stormy Saturday. I haven’t gone back for winter pictures as the Statue Graveyard is over an hour walk from my place when the trail is walkable (and right now, for various reasons, it is not). So, I would have to take the long way around which would take two to three hours that I don’t feel like giving up right now. Even though, today I am being lazy and a stay-at-home enjoying the sunshine, like a cat, through half curtained windows.
Here, you can see University buildings in the background and construction cranes, from last year’s project, to the left and the right. I wonder, are the satellite dishes artifact or operational? Here is a field perfect for flying kites or family picnics right beside another of our museums. But no one goes to visit; the Statue Graveyard is always empty of living, breathing individuals, when I go there. There are, however, numerous gopher holes – watch your step if you go. You wouldn’t want to twist your ankle.
Starting this week and to the end of February, I will explore three of the statues and make up stories for you about them. I have a few supposes for you but little fact. I will be a pirate plundering pleasure from hidden treasures for my own (and hopefully, your) enjoyment.
See you next week.
Yesterday was Halloween (Samhain) and today and tomorrow I will be in the midst of El Día de los Muertos. This time of year I reflect and honour the goth within. You may have noticed this from last week’s post. I’m continuing the theme this week as I participate in two different memes today and answer them both in a roundabout way!
First off, we have a fall, harvest, halloweeny picture for you. He looks a bit bored, don’t you think. I don’t know how many Trick or Treaters he saw but I had none. This is one of the perils of living in a downtown apartment. Most people with children are in the suburbs! I didn’t put him up. I just took his picture and cropped it for my own pleasure.
It seems strange to have Halloween on a Saturday. I don’t remember weekend Halloweens as a child. I don’t even remember Trick or Treating in the light. In my memories Halloween is always dark. I remember rushing home from school, grabbing a pillowcase (that was our treat bag – it was a small town and we planned on hitting every house) and going out with my friends and my younger brother and his friends. The next day was spent in a sugar hangover from all the treats we didn’t normally have.
I have a bit of a sugar hangover today. I saw coloured popcorn at the Farmer’s Market yesterday and just had to have some. Grandma Katie (she wasn’t related to us, she lived next door until we moved when I was thirteen) always made coloured popcorn for special occasions. It’s what she gave out for Halloween. Her house was always our first stop. Every child in town got a small lunch bag full of popcorn; the bags were probably six inches tall. She must have made popcorn all October so that she would have enough. It’s a shame that Treats are no longer homemade! So, the popcorn I bought yesterday was way too sweet – Grandma Katie’s popcorn wasn’t sugar flavoured, just coloured.
El Día de los Muertos is a new tradition. I discovered it when I was in Montreal. I’ve always been a bit on the goth side. My best friend and I use to hang out in Graveyards and I still love a quiet afternoon in an old graveyard. I think it’s important that we remember who came before us and that some day we will be gone. Then all that our loved ones will have will be memories or stories or the odd picture (I hate having my picture taken – always have).
I love the fact that you can buy skeleton paraphernalia that depict your dead friends and relatives. I want to make a skeleton reading a book, hiding in the corner, surrounded by her cat and dog. This would be me; this is how I would want to be remembered even though the image is old. That was me over forty years ago though, on second thought, it’s me now too minus the cat and dog. Though I wish I could have a cat here in my apartment. Oh, how I ramble on!
So, Weekly Geeks asks are things getting a little more weird and creepy than usual. My answer would be no. My life has always been weird and creepy. I was a child in the sixties when trolls were a popular childhood toy, a teen in the seventies when Stephen King started writing horror but then again I’ve always been drawn to the Gothic. Never had the money for the wardrobe but horror is something I read widely in. And I covet the clothes.
Right now, I’m listening to Wicked and I must say my sympathies lie with Elphaba.
This weekend remember all of us are only here for a moment and can only hope that someone will remember us as we really were. Me, I’m weird and goth and like to hang out in graveyards.
Chartroose over at Bloody Hell, It’s a Book Barrage! tagged me with a meme. The rules are simple: choose 10 favorite things beginning with a single letter of the alphabet and explain why you like them. The only catch is that the letter is assigned to you by the person who wrote the post you’ve just read. On February 9, 2009, Chartroose assigned me the letter “R”.
So, as promised last week, here are ten things I like beginning with the ravishing letter “R”.
1) The colour red. Vibrant, brass, and deep. Blood red and fire engine red and auburn red (hair). So full of life and brightness and vitality.
2) Raspberries, which can also be red. The best ones are red: a deep, lush red. They are best mixed in a tub of chocolate ice cream and eaten on a sunny summer’s eve
3)Root Beer. It has to be A & W Root Beer. In a classic frosty mug, of course.
5) Royalty in Movies:
Princess Giselle in Enchanted;
Ever After…etc, etc, etc.
(Bonus points to anyone who can tell me the movie reference.)
6) The Russian Revolution. Anything written about it, that is. I’ve read everything I can find on Anastasia. Honestly, I just find the history of women in Russia to be intriguing. Especially Anastasia and Catherine the Great. It has to do, I suppose, with the fact that such a rich lifestyle is foreign to anything I have ever experienced. I hope some day to visit St. Petersburg, but honestly I’d rather time travel so that I could see it as it was.
7) Remembrance. Things lost. Nostalgia. Memoir. I live within the curse of an examined life. Forever, examining and re-examining my past, my present, my history – the history of everything.
(I wish I could draw an image to invoke the remembrance of time and history).
8_) Renovation Shows. I live in an apartment. I covet the the freedom home owners have to invent and reinvent their spaces. I want a man like Mike Holmes in my life
And then there is the British import – How Clean is Your House. These are my guilty pleasures. The shows that cheer me up because I know my space will NEVER ever get that messy or dirty.
These are my gossip shows… these are my famous people and their problems that I gloat over!
9) R & R; Rest and Relaxation. I learnt the value of a good nap early and still practice the art of napping every chance I get. I had a nap today. I plan on a nap tomorrow!
10)A revolting, refreshing sense of the absurd. I don’t know if I am macabre or goth. I do know I have a weird, eerie sense of humour.
Here are some of my favourite things:
- Queen Mab & all things fey;
- Oscar the Grouch;
- Para Abnormal;
- the Loch Ness monster.
And, in conclusion,
Yeah, he’s good, like an angel is good. But we ain’t made t’mess wit angels, girl. Angels draw up to all the evil and all the hurt in the world. They watch babies dyin’, that’s what they do. They take all the pain and shout it out. Angels livin’ with evil and with death. That’s their stock in trade. Murderers and thieves and times so hard that you could cry blood. That’s where you find angels. … I’d kill myself before I’d break bread with an angel.
(p. 238 - RL’s Dream by Walter Mosley)
Anyone who is interested in doing this meme can leave me a comment and I’ll give you a letter to explore.
Thank you Chartroose for letting me explore myself within this meme.