Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wandering a Forgotten Cemetery on a Spring Day


Cemeteries hide behind every corner here.  I'm not sure if all places are like this,  but in Madison County, Alabama cemeteries are part of the landscape.  They go almost unnoticed, they have become so common place.  There is one in the woods behind our neighborhood and another by Target in between the Mexican restraunt and the interstate.  There's one across from karate and several on the small road that leads to downtown.  I found an entire neighborhood that was built around a potter's field.  A potter's field is an old word to describe a poor person's cemetery.  Apparently,  the developer couldn't identify any of the names on the markers, so legally he couldn't relocate the bodies.   So the developer just made a square of houses around the cemetery with the houses backyards opening up directly onto the graves.

I decided to visit one of the old cemeteries I pass everyday.   There is no easy way to get to the cemetery.  There is no official parking.  All the graves are so old no one goes to visit anymore.  The youngest tombstone there is dated 1944.   The cemetery was beautiful,  hidden beneath old trees that rustled in the gentle spring breeze.   I chose this cemetery because a website I visited said that it was haunted.   According to the site,  there is a rocking chair on the porch of the nearby church that rocks on its own and footsteps can be heard following you through the cemetery as you walk through it.  

As I walked through the old graveyard,  I heard leaves crunching behind me.   Of course,  it may have been squirrels or birds scurrying in the undergrowth behind me, but I imagined that there were ghosts walking with me as I wandered the necropolis.  Shadows danced at my feet and the light made a lace on the tombstones.  It was a beautiful day and the cemetery offered a solitude that is rare in modern life.   It is amazing to me that such beauty can surrround us every day and go entirely unnoticed.   I have to wonder,  are all places like this?  Do tiny graveyards and necropolis's dot the landscape of every city hiding behind buildings and highways or is Madison County unique?

3 comments:

Autumnforest said...

I have to admit that our older cemeteries here are out of the way, but the ones within the city, are tucked behind freeways and crowded into subdivisions. There's a lot of those godawful ones that have flat headstones so the groundskeeper can mow over them. They have all kinds of rules about what you can leave at the grave and such--I hate that! I go to the ones where people hang wind chimes from the trees, solar lights around the graves, plates with birthday cake, flowers and figurines...Our Hispanic population makes the graves of their loved ones a kind of second home with comfy chairs and lots of decorating for each holiday. It's actually a joyous place to visit instead of the usual stoic forgotten loved ones unattended. I do miss the moss-covered headstones--they're beautiful! Don't cemeteries make wonderful parks? I love to just stroll too.

Jessica Penot said...

I love the new cemeteries too. The one were my in-laws are buried has windchimes in the trees and little garden gnomes on the graves. There is one grave with an elaborate garden on it. They really are like little parks! There is a big cemetery downtown with a playground in it and people jog through it.

Above the Norm said...

I love those cemetery pictures especially the ones with the unique headstones.