Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sort of an update

Hey all.

As you may have noticed, the last few days have been rough on me.  I've been going through something that I would just as soon not discuss, so please forgive me for that.

Anyway, I've been trying to find some peace in the everyday things in life, so I've done some wondering (as usual) and I've found some interesting subjects to photograph.  Please indulge me while I post some of the more interesting(moving) photos.

As you all know by now, I find comfort and tranquility in cemeteries.  I also find a strange sort of excitement as I walk among the gravestones, it is a feeling that I find hard to describe.  It's as though I am connecting with the past each time I read a name or a date, and when I look at the verses or the pictures that are engraved in the stones, I realize that I am not just among the dead, I am in the midst of people who were loved, who lived and died and were sorely missed.

Below are a few pictures I snapped on an outing with my neighbor on Thursday.  We went to several old cemeteries, and I enjoyed every moment.

This is a photo of the hills beyond St. Paul's cemetery.  The colors are just beginning to come out, and it looked so peaceful.  This photo effects me because to me it represents change, the leaves are changing from the healthy greens that grace our wonderful hills all summer to the golds, reds and oranges that signal a time of rest and renewal is heading our way.  The fact that I have the graves in the foreground says (to me) that none shall escape that final change from life to death to life again.

This is a carving that graces a child's headstone.  When I first saw this one, I walked past it because it didn't really "do" anything for me.  But as I walked through the rest of the grave sites, I kept thinking about this stone.  The carving is of a child picking out toys from a toy chest, in this case it represents a child that is no longer among us in this realm.  The thought that this child (and all children) continue to "be" children after they pass through the veil of death is a thought that I shall forever hold in my heart.  I lost a grandson a few years back, and I am now able to think of him not just as my dead grandson, but as a child playing with his toys in a place that is better than this one, I always knew he was somewhere better, somewhere safer than the place into which he was born.  This stone reminded me he is in a place where he can safely play with the toys the Creator has placed there for him.

This photo was taken at Mt. Olive cemetery.  It is a photo of an angel standing watch over a grave that has no marker.  At first I thought the grave stone had fallen over or been damaged, but as I looked around, I realized that I was in the oldest part of the cemetery.  Many of the graves here have no names carved in stone, no beautifully engraved stones with verses meant to bring a tear to the eye.  These resting places are marked with simple field stones.  It seems as though there wasn't time to carve a stone with which to mark the graves, it seems as though the folks left behind knew that they would remember who laid where, when they died and what age they where when they passed over.  Maybe it was during a time of great sickness and the living demanded the time that would be used to mark these graves, or maybe it was a raid that took the lives of those that lay here.  We'll never know for sure.  But the angel, she stands there silently watching over those long forgotten graves, remembering for those of us who have forgotten, praying for those without names.

Here is a view of some of the older graves that stand silently on the hillside. These are the graves that the angel (above) watch over. I stood there in silence wondering who these people were, when they had lived and what caused thier deaths. It almost seemed fitting that in a land where the first settlers faced dangers unknown to us now, where survival depended upon strength, hard work and more than a little luck, where the beauty and peacefulness of the mountains can work wonders on a damaged soul, here would rest the men and women of the frontier, silent and forgotten to all but the mountains that surround them.

This tombstone isn't in a cemetery.  It sits along side the road, in a nicely kept spot where the sun shines and the hills hold back the wind.  It's a stone marking the resting place of a race horse.  No one I've talked to seems to know how she came to rest here, or why someone would go to all the trouble to bury a horse and order a stone for her.  I think I know.  I am a pet owner, no let me rephrase that, I share my home with little furry creatures whom I love.  I am responsible for them, but I no more "own" them than the slave owners "owned" the human chattel they bought and sold so many years ago.  If I were able, each and every one of my pets would have a beautiful place in which their mortal remains would rest.  I would mark their passing in the same way as this person marked the passing of this horse.  I would leave a stone to show the world that my pet, my friend, wasn't just some animal to be cast off and forgotten, but a living creature to be honored and remembered.  I hope Dolly is happy in the Summerlands.

Yesterday, Friday, it rained in the morning.  Then the rain stopped and the sky cleared for a time.  I decided to take a walk, never straying far from my home in case the rain decided to return. (And believe me, return it did!)  I took a few pictures of things that inspired me, why they inspire me I don't know, but they do.  Here are those pictures.

I found these odd looking things on a vine in the woods behind my house.  I'm not sure what they are, but I found them to be interesting.  To me they look like strange bugs or perhaps the wild hair of the mountain men that once roamed these hills.  Or maybe some exotic flower that found it's way to Calhoun County West Virginia by mistake and took root to flourish in the rich soil.  I don't know.  What about you?  What do they look like to you?  

Pretty simple looking pictures isn't it?  Well, it's the knot on a fallen tree that rest in the edge of the woods.  It doesn't look near as interesting in this picture as it does in real life, but I still find it a simple inspiration, the way the colors vary slightly, the grain of the wood, the way the fallen leaves lay in the crook of the knot.  (I told you I was odd.)

Coming back to the house I found one standing goldenrod.  The rest have dried up and fallen over.  This one was still standing proud and blooming with the golden color that gives it it's name.  If you look closely you'll see several yellow jackets.  They are busy gathering the last of the pollen from the flowers that are left.  I know it's getting close to winter because it was chilly and still these industrious inscets were out there working, abet a bit slowly, taking no care of the chill or the wind.  We could all learn a lesson from this.  If we don't put away for the cold and barren parts of life we will not make it through to the sunny, warm days.

The sky began growing dark and the clouds were rolling in.  I stood still and listened, in the distance I heard the rumble of thunder, a warning of what was to come.  I ran to the house and a very few seconds later the storm was upon us!! (The fact that I was outside during a storm is a monumental feat!  I am TERRIFIED of storms, but I tried my best)

The rain came down in sheets, cold and hard.  It sounded like the drums of a marching band as it rapped against the tin roof of my little house.  

The road was a small river, running swift and silently, carrying along the leaves and twigs that the wind had torn from the surrounding trees.

And then suddenly, it was over. Only a few drops fell to the ground to join their brethern in a journey through the storm drains to the river and then on to places that will remain unknown to human-kind.  The storm that drenched the ground, flooded the streets, tore leaves from the trees and beat a tempo on the tin roof that sounded like a thousand war drums, left me feeling alive.  As the storm died, so my soul began to stir.

And I let it pass without saying a word of thanks.  That is my pride and that is my shame.

Blessing all.

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