Oh, Pioneers!

Antioch Pioneer Cemetery, Overland Park, Kansas

Finding this beautiful little cemetery was one of those brakes screeching, right-turn-without-a-signal moments for me. It was a rainy day.  I hadn’t planned on visiting anyplace that didn’t involve parking close and scurrying into an open door as quickly as possible.

Quaint, little church still standing on the site.

Lucky for me, the Antioch Pioneer Cemetery called to me, and I had my camera in the car.

Exquisite, marble flutist.

I’m a sucker for an elegant marble statue and these girls took my breath away.

I need to go back and take more pictures on a day when I don’t have to worry about keeping my camera dry.

Surprises like these keep me digging graves.

Visit this one sometime.

Rocks of Ages

Rolla, Missouri

Sure, there’s a lot of stone in cemeteries, but there aren’t a lot of rocks. They always grab my attention when I see them. This one in Rolla, Missouri was about the size of a Smart Car.

Ashland Cemetery, St. Joseph, Missouri

They can’t help but be striking, some for the sheer size of them.

How do you choose a boulder for your loved one? Is there a store? Is it a rock from the deceased’s favorite mountainside…a beloved picnic spot? Once you’ve picked one out, how in the world do you transport it?

Genoa, Nevada

Sometimes the natural beauty of the stone makes it pretty obvious why someone chose it.

Dungeness, Washington

And I like the functionality of this boulder in Dungeness. Two people’s remains are encased there. I’ve seen this type of burial from Washington to Florida. Sometimes whole families will be entombed in the same stone. I bet it’s a greener way to go.

City Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee

Sometimes you just know there has to be a story.

Are natural stone memorials a common sight in your part of the world?

Christmas Eve, Nashville, TN

Twilight at the City Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee

Is it weird to seek out a quiet hour on Christmas Eve and find myself in a cemetery? I can see some of you nodding. “Yes, Laura, it is kind of odd.”  I’ve got to admit that when I got in the car and left my family – not in a huff, my family’s great – with Google map in hand, to drive to a part of Nashville I’d never seen,(after twenty years of visiting for the holidays), I wondered a little myself.

But when I found the City Cemetery and got out to walk around, that familiar sense of peace settled over me and I knew that at least for an hour, I was in exactly the right place.

It’s a beautiful, old cemetery with some really interesting stones. Like this one. Does anybody know the story here? The plaque reads, Ann Rawlin Sanders. She was 21 when she died. No, wife-of or beloved daughter.  It was 1836. It would have been quite a feat to move a boulder this huge. It crossed my mind that the rock is a natural feature of the spot, the tip of the iceberg so to speak. But then how could they bury someone under it?

There were three great angels.

Erosion had washed away details on this last one, leaving rather more to the imagination than the sculptor probably intended.

The second shot shows the outline of a wing better, giving the sense of the angel carrying off the dearly departed much better than the first shot – in which I got the wrong idea all together.

This was an interesting marker. It reads, Thomas B. Coleman, Mayer of Nashville, 1842. Really? The mayor with a misspelled,  plain, wooden plank? There’s got to be a story here too.

It’s a lovely place. I would have stayed longer if it hadn’t been getting so late. Stop by next time you’re driving through Music City.

Remembrances

Happy Homestead, Lake Tahoe, Nevada

I felt reluctant to blog about my love of graveyards this week in the wake of the horrific tragedy in Connecticut. But it’s not death that I blog about. It’s not death that I see in cemeteries. Not really. It’s peace and healing.

Genoa, Nevada

I see every grave marker as a step on a journey for both the living and the dead.

Dungeness, Washington. I love that she comes here to journal.

Grave decorations represent an outpouring of grief. There’s often such a raw sense of intimacy around the newest ones that I feel like an intruder just looking at them. And yet, they’re also a kind of invitation, grieve with me, support me.

Ashland Cemetery, St. Joseph, Missouri

 And they’re always beautiful, full of color and life, often even a sense of humor. I’ve never found anything ugly or angry left at a grave. Doesn’t that show a spirit moving out of darkness into light?

Moore Cemetery, near Liberty, Missouri

I believe that the children who died in Connecticut on Friday are already at peace.

Muddy Forks Cemetery, Kearney, Missouri

Though our hearts are breaking and it may take a very long time, the funerals that start today are their families’ first steps to finding peace too. My thoughts are with them.

A Tombstone Tourist Does Seattle

Lake View Cemetery, Seattle, Washington.

My vacation itinerary always includes a cemetery or two…or three. Sure, I love checking out the art scene in a new city, historical sites, shopping and eating. I’m a foodie too, definitely. But you see an entirely different side of a place when you visit its graves, don’t you think?

Lake View Cemetery, Seattle, Washington

On my recent trip to Seattle, I did my usual vacation prep and Mapquested cemeteries in the area. There are about six, but with the coffee and the chocolate and the glass museums and the history and… did I mention the chocolate? I only had time for Lake View. What a jewel!

I wondered who left the flower, descendant or art lover.

These gnarly, twisted trees were everywhere.

Lake View was established back in 1872 and sits up on Capital Hill northeast of downtown Seattle. One of those cool, old neighborhoods that just oozes character has grown up around it so it’s a bit of a twisty trek to get there. But worth it! The monuments are a great mix of styles, old and new, East and West.

This one says, “The more people I meet, the more I love my cat.”

I love the name and the calligraphy.

A murder of crows  claims the cemetery grounds and every monument in them. The birds are smart and wary and hard to get a decent picture of, but their raucous chatter never stopped.

Keeping watch over her domain.

He knew his grave would end up being a perch for crows anyway.

So, for a short visit to Seattle, I’d put Lake View, the EMP Museum (AWESOME), the Chihuly glass museum and all the European sipping chocolate you can sample on my list of must-do’s. Anybody have any other suggestions for a Seattle trip? I definitely want to go back.  I know that Jimi Hendrix is buried in Greenwood Memorial nearby. Anybody been there?