Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I visited this cemetery shortly before dusk during our Memorial Day weekend trip this year. It's about two miles out of the small Eastern Washington town of Conconully. Paul, his brother Glenn and father Rod spent the weekend riding ATV's all over the countryside and I had some blessed peace and quiet. I spent much of the time beneath ancient willow trees at the town park across from our RV site. It was perfect weather for laying in the grass and looking up into green branches, thinking and doing nothing in particular.
The night before we left I took a walk to this cemetery. It was sometime after 6pm and the day was beginning slide towards nightfall. I figured a walk would do me some good, so off I went. About halfway there it occurred to me that walking alone up the main highway wasn't probably the best plan for a woman, especially when you're out in the middle of nowhere. But did that stop me? Noooo.. I had a graveyard to explore! Thank goodness for those who watch over fools.
It was getting close to sundown when I walked through the back gate of the cemetery. The first thing that struck me was how brown and brittle everything seemed. I kicked up dust as I walked alone along the mowed pathways between the graves. The grass grew wild, tall strands waving in a stiff breeze. I snapped a few pictures iron fences enclosing a family plot and a strange and unmarked headstone. There were some surprises: the lilacs were in full bloom and their perfume lingered in the air. And one grave had some glorious purple irises beginning to blossom in sharp contrast to the dead grass and plastic flowers all around them. It was peculiar to see such vibrant life and color what felt like such a weathered and desolate place.
I got a strong feeling that I'd better be out of the cemetery before nightfall, which was not far off by the time I left. As I walked back into town, I watched the sun beginning to set over the mountains in the West. I reflected on what it would be like to live and die in this part of the world. And I thought, as I watched the the last rays of the sun fall golden on the lake below me, that maybe it wouldn't be so terrible to be buried there. After all, you'd have the glory of the mountains around you, the lilacs and irises in the Spring and hawks flying overhead year long. And that would be no bad thing.