While I was in Boston this past weekend, I went to Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. I love to go there in the fall to see the autumn colors, but I was too early to see the changing leaves this time.
I will be going back with my husband in a couple of weeks, and we’ll see if we get treated to a show. Since this summer in New England was unusually hot and rainy, the leaves will not be yielding up their glorious display like they did two years ago, my first trip back in autumn since we left Texas. The colors were so amazing, it brought tears to my eyes. I had missed it more than I realized.
I remember that drive up the Eastern Shore. My husband does all the driving on our long trips north, giving me the gift of writing time. I had my notebook and pen handy and jotted down some thoughts and feelings:
Conflagration of the hills
The story of Moses and his burning bush must have been set in New England in late October
Ribbon of blue cutting through banks of grey cirrus clouds
Van Cliburn hammering out Paganini‘s theme
Trees who flamed out early and now regretted their lifeless limbs
Bare white birch trunks stark against the hillside color yet beautiful for all their starkness
Narcissus admiring his own reflection in the pond
When I went to Mt. Auburn with my sons and daughter-in-law, they told me that they had taken a friend there who was visiting from California. He did not like it at all. In fact, he found it kind of creepy, walking on people’s graves. I don’t know why that bothers some people. I have always liked walking through old cemeteries, reading the gravestones, wondering who these people were, what their lives were like. It keeps them real. I want people to walk across my grave and say my name so that when I am long gone, my name will still be spoken in this world, reminding it that I lived and mattered.
As I walked along Mt. Auburn’s paths and witnessed such beauty surrounded by solemn gravestones, stirring up the musty pungency of fallen leaves like fragrant death, I wondered how many of these residents laid here had walked these same paths, awed by the same grandeur. How many of them flamed out before their end, reawakening to a spring I will one day see? Walking on graves in autumn somehow makes me see life more completely.
Here are some of my pictures from that amazing autumn trip two years ago: