Monday, September 18, 2017

Salisbury, Maryland

The Cemetery as an Aviary: From the wetlands of the Delaware to the wetlands of the Chesapeake, ducks are popular components of headstone design. These look like wood ducks. Nevertheless, like all ducks, they symbolize decisiveness and the ability to leave the past in the past. Parsons Cemetery. [2017]

Friday, September 15, 2017

Port Penn, Delaware

The Cemetery as an Aviary: Mallards are all over the Delaware River estuary: nothing unusual, just a part of the landscape. It is no wonder that their images, seemingly in full motion, would appear on tombstones throughout the region. The mallard, like ducks in general, are symbols of decisiveness. Hickory Grove Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Pennsville, New Jersey

The Cemetery as an Aviary: As a coastal state with lots of wetlands, New Jersey should have a fair share of water fowl in its cemeteries. So, it is no surprise that people who have seen herons, egrets and cranes on a daily basis may choose them for their headstones. The heron is a symbol of poise, tact, and elegance. St. George Episcopal Church Cemetery. [2013]

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cynthiana, Kentucky

The Cemetery as an Aviary: "I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free, For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." The words are by Civilia Martin (1905), but the inspiration comes right out of Psalms and the Gospel of Matthew. There is no more ordinary bird, yet the sparrow's value is no less than any other. Battle Grove Cemetery. [2015]

Friday, September 8, 2017

Earlville, New York

The Cemetery as an Aviary: Owls are not cute, not graceful, and not flirtatious. They often get bypassed in the race to choose a symbol for the ages. Yet, the owl has its devotees. It stands as a symbol of wisdom, learning, intelligence, status, and wealth  Maybe surprising it is not seen more often in cemeteries. Wilcox Cemetery. [2017]

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Pine Grove, Pennsylvania

The Cemetery as an Aviary: Wild turkeys are not a common component of tombstone art, but when you have an avid turkey hunter, they are exactly what you need to define your life for those who may not have known you personally. The turkey is a symbol of abundance, blessing, satisfaction, and community. It should not be surprising that Benjamin Franklin wanted to make it the national bird. Jacobs Lutheran Church Cemetery. [2017]

Monday, September 4, 2017

Cheyenne, Wyoming

The Cemetery as an Aviary: The eagle is mentioned 34 times in the Bible. Probabably the most famous verse is from Isaiah, who tells us that those who serve the Lord "shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be  weary, and they shall walk and not faint." What a promise! And, what an explanation for the eagle's frequent appearance in cemetery art. However, we all know that most eagles in cemeteries are there because the eagle is the secular saint of American patriotism. On gravestones, the eagle is often used to symbolize patriotism, freedom, pride, and the power of dreams. Olivet Cemetery. [2013]