“And I will show you something different from either your shadow at morning striding behind you or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” (T.S. Eliot)
I was a Cemetery Girl. This was before goth was a thing. As a child, my best friend and I use to wander the local graveyards exploring and reading the gravestones. It was peaceful. It was quiet. It was a pleasant way to spend a coolish Fall afternoon.
It was usually Fall when you would find us in the graveyard. Leaves would be falling and the world’s axis was spinning into winter and long, cold days of nothing to do. Fall is my favourite season. It is cool. School is starting. There is a quietness in the air. Halloween is just around the corner.
Most of the cemeteries we haunted were country cemeteries; the closet one was a block outside of town. The other one we visited regularly was a mile out. We hardly ever saw anyone else there. It seemed a shame. There was so much beauty and peacefulness there and everyone else was missing it.
We come upon an old woman in black, holding an umbrella against the sun, sitting in front of her husband’s grave on an overturned bucket. She speaks to us in her own language, pointing at the face on the black headstone, crying into a hankie. Lisa gives her a fresh bottle of water. (p. 244)
Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training
by Tom Jokinen
Toronto:Random House of Canada, 2010
I still haunt graveyards. I’ve taken pictures of cemeteries all over Saskatchewan, in Scotland and recently in Anchorage, Alaska. I’m always going to regret not being able to get to explore the historical cemetery at Skagway.
Death intrigues me. No, how we process death intrigues me. No, the history sitting around in graveyards entrances me. I am an explorer of the past. I like to explore what use to be.
I also wonder about what is beyond – beyond the shadows, beyond death. What is the next step? Knowing the plan calms me. I like to know the steps, what to do, what ie expected of me at each turn. Don’t surprise me. I hate surprises!
I delight in exploring cemeteries and graveyards. Did you know the two terms are not interchangeable? A cemetery is an area set apart for or containing graves, tombs, or funeral urns, especially one that is not a churchyard. A graveyard is a burial ground, associated with or beside a church.
The latest funeral industry book I bought is Caitlin Doughty’s book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Caitlin oversees the blog The Order of the Good Death that I regularly read and has a series of videos about death and the way we (as a society) deal with it. Scroll down this page for the book video.
I am a cemetery girl. I haunt graveyards. Death is my familiar. I fear not.
Taken with iphone 4 on auto – I was standing on the sidewalk trying to keep the bottom of the fence level, not sure if it worked or not. I like the photo just not sure why. It’s not a personal connection – I don’t know anyone who lives in that house or built that fence. It’s not something that I can articulate, it just makes me smile. I love the colour of the wood, the way the sunlight hits it and the clear blue above. I love the way the shadows dance on the wood.
I go out for my morning walk without my camera because I just plan to walk; it’s too cold to fiddle with a camera and really, how much has the landscape changed anyway!
However, Friday’s photo memes are peculating in my head.
Shadows are easy. It’s an early morning walk; the sun is just coming up and it’s at my back. I just have to remember not to get my shadow in the picture.
The most interesting things about the picture I don’t even notice until I get home and start manipulating the image. My focus as I shoot is on the smiley face. I don’t notice the angel shadow to the left and is that Santa’s sleigh still stuck on the roof?
By Robert Louis Stevenson