I have long liked cemeteries. Maybe that's because I grew up so close to spooky old Salem with the tales of witch burnings still lingering on autumn breezes. Maybe it's because I lived so close to a large cemetery as a child. In any case some of the best cemeteries I've ever seen are here in the Boston area. The older tombstones you can find here are exquisite and at times odd.
As a teenager I'd visit the little cemeteries in little towns around Acton, MA, where I grew up. In the town of Harvard, there is an old Quaker (or is it Shaker?) cemetery in the woods by a traditional Quaker/Shaker home. The graves are marked by little, both thing and short, stakes which held aloft oval plackards with information about the deceased offered. All the grave markers were the same except for the info. They were perfectly rowed at one time, now they were slightly askew. Tall tall pines crowded the little graveyard one the other side of a tumbling stone wall.
In college I used to, um, do college type drugs, and then go run around in a big NH cemetery with friends. Sometimes playing hide and seek with hearts pounding.
After college, in Georgia, I used to hike along the buffering woodlands which surrounded various power cuts. One such trip lead me through a springy-earthed forest, under and over spider webs which housed emerald green orb-weavers and to the oddest cemetery of all. A tiny little lot edged by a waist-high stone wall that ran maybe 15x10 feet. There was no threshold through which to enter. But, inside were grave stones. It was surrounded (sometimes closely) by tall trees, no road lead there, only the weakest of footpaths lead to it. I pondered on who those people were. Was it the graveyard of a slave family? Was it an old farm family?
And, in Italy I visited the graveyard which serviced the 2 small villages where my ancestors came from. Familiar names adorned flat, horizontal (rather than our commonly verticle stones) markers. Many had photos under domed glass or metal detailing. It was a very small cemetery and very crowded by American standards.
But, back to the Boston area for the ultimate cemeteries. Mount Auburn ( LINK
) and Forest Hills ( LINK
) Cemeteries were established in the early 1800s, designed as parks and arboreatums as much as they were graveyards. They are places of beauty, with adult specimen trees and shrubs, wild flowers, woodlands and fields, lakes and ponds, roads and footpaths and even art exhibitions. They are both truely extraordinary places.