Monday, April 29, 2013

Jamesport, Missouri

Poet-ery in the Cemet-ery:  Sorry for the poor orthography, but April is National Poetry month and rhymes are prime. Call it the result of poetic license. Robert Frost would probably cringe. You can read his words on this headstone. What bravado issues forth as an everlasting memorial to the deceased: "It was a risk I had to take ... and took." [2008]

Have I not walked without
an upward look of caution
under stars that very well
might not have missed me
when they fell?
It was a risk I had to
take...and took.
Robert Frost

Friday, April 26, 2013

Suffolk, Virginia

Happy Arbor Day!   We should like our native species best, but that seems not to be the case.  Bradford pears have become the preferred planting for spring-time beauty even though they are an invasive species from eastern Asia.  On Arbor Day, though, we should give all trees the rights they deserve, regardless of national origin.  Liberty for all, especially in the spring!  Liberty Spring Christian Church Cemetery.  [2012]


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Santa Rosa, California

Getting Ready for Arbor Day:  During the first half of the 1800s, the Rural Cemetery Movement spread from France to England and the eastern United States.  In the 1860s, it hit California.   Rural cemeteries were landscaped cemeteries, and trees were usually a big part of the landscaping.  So were obelisks.  Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery.  [2005]


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cartersville, Georgia

Getting Ready for Arbor Day:   Cemeteries are more than places to bury the dead.  They give trees a place to flourish and let our cities breathe.  Here's a deciduous silhouette, in fact, that looks exactly like human lungs.   Come spring, these lungs will breathe again, perhaps engendering some cryptic jealousy.  Oak Hill Cemetery.  [2013]

Lung or Tree?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Prattville, Alabama

Honoring Arbor Day:  Back in February, the magnolias were already blooming in Alabama.  There are dozens of varieties in a range of pink and white.  They make the cemetery more like home, since many homes also have magnolias out front or out back.  Memory Gardens.  [2013]


Monday, April 22, 2013

Courtland, Kansas

Honoring Arbor Day:  Arbor Day is coming up on Friday, and this is the part of the country where the holiday was initiated.  Not surprising.  Trees are scarce on the Great Plains, so their value increases.  Since you can't farm the family cemetery, trees take refuge there.  Like the picture?  You can take a second look at Geographically Yours:  [2009]


Friday, April 19, 2013

Thomasville, North Carolina

To the Ocean, White with Foam:  Maybe this couple, while they were both still alive, envisioned heaven as the Outer Banks.  They married young and made it last. He was 19 and she was 17. In 1983, when they tied the knot, the median age of first marriage for men was 25.4 years and for women 22.8 years. Today, it is 28.9 years for men and 26.9 for women. The demographics displayed on this headstone are becoming rarer in America and in America's cemeteries. Fair Grove United Methodist Church Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Utica, Maryland

To the Ocean, White with Foam:  Over three hundred years ago, English poet John Dryden gave voice to the sentiment behind the etching here:  "To die is landing on some distant shore."  What a perfect metaphor!  In keeping with the poetic theme:  see how the epitaph rhymes with the geometry?  St. Paul's Lutheran Church Cemetery.  [2010]

Forever in Our Hearts

Monday, April 15, 2013

Steinbach, Manitoba

To the Ocean, White with Foam:  In so much of literature, the ocean stands in for the great unknown, the edge of civilization, the limit of existence. Sand is often used to symbolize infinity and quantities that are uncountable. David tells us that God's thoughts about his creation are limitless: "they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!" (Psalms 139:18). How do you interpret the two remaining elements of this tableau, the heart and the foam? Heritage Cemetery. [2012]

Friday, April 12, 2013

Austin, Texas

From the Mountains:   Why mountains?  (1) Read the epitaph:  mountains divide the rising sun from the setting sun just as the grave divides the day that is coming from the day that is gone.  (2) Read the place of birth and place of death:  El Paso means 'the pass,' and the highest mountains in Texas are just to its south.  Why mountains?  The answer lies in both physical geography and metaphysical geography.  Texas State Cemetery.  [2009]


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lewisburg, West Virginia

From the Mountains:
Almost heaven, West Virginia . . .
"I hear her voice
In the mornin' hour she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away
And drivin' down the road I get a feelin'
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday"
Who could say it better than John Denver? 
Rosewood Cemetery.  [2012]

Monday, April 8, 2013

Burnsville, North Carolina

From the Mountains:  Unlike many of the stylized mountains that appear on tombstones to symbolize the ascent to heaven, this marker is true to Burnsville's place in Appalachia.  It's the closest town to Mt. Mitchell, highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains.  Can you identify it on this memorial?  'Love of place' is called topophilia by geographers.  When you really love a place, you take it with you to the grave.  Burnsville Cemetery.  [2012]


Friday, April 5, 2013

Waycross, Georgia

Field of Dreams - The Gridiron:  There was a time in his life when he would have owned that field and defended that goal like a bulldog.  Now, the gridiron, as a symbol of youthful prowess, blankets his grave with memories.  What football hero wouldn't want to be buried under the 50 yard line?  Oakland Cemetery.  [2012]


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sulphur Springs, Texas

Field of Dreams - The Diamond:   So much energy is built into this memorial.  The name is in strong capital letters:  he lived life large.  The jersey number is as big as the name:  his team was as important as he was.  Name and number are italicized:  he lived a life of action.  The frame is a baseball diamond:  every muscle in his body is working for a win.  A winner he is:  he is safe at home.  Sulphur Springs City Cemetery.    [2012]

Safe At Home

Monday, April 1, 2013

Norfolk, Virginia

Field of Dreams - The Racetrack:  Joe Weatherly became known as the Clown Prince of Racing, so it is fitting that he be honored on April Fool's Day.  The accident that took his life happened at the 8th flag on the Riverside Raceway in California.  That raceway is now his memorial, but he is also memorialized in two (yes, two!) other venues:  The Motor Sports Hall of Fame and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.  Forest Lawn Cemetery.  [1986]

Clown Prince of Racing
Riverside Racewary