Saturday, September 26, 2009

Roslyn, Washington

One day in August, my friend Penelope and I decided to take a trip to Roslyn, specifically to investigate the cemetery there. I'd heard about it years ago and finally found myself in a car on a hot summer day travelling over I-90 to seek it out.

Mind you, we only had some general directions and ended up wandering around the back roads of Roslyn searching for it. At one point, we were at a stop sign and I started feeling kinda weird. There were trees all around and no signs to point us in the right direction. Penelope turned to me and suggested we drive to the left because "that way felt cemetery-ish." I agreed whole-hearted. Low and behold, there it was. It's enormous. It's actually made up of 26 connected cemeteries, each one dedicated to a certain lodge (as in IOOF, Moose, Elk, etc) or ethnic group. The fact that the town visitor center has a pamphlet and cemetery map should tell you how many people seek this cemetery out. Because there are so many immigrants buried there, I imagine a lot of people come here to seek out genealogy information. It's truly immense and in various states of repair. We only investigated a few sections in the hours we visited and I hope to travel there again one day to explore more.

One of the main reasons I wanted to visit was to see the "Druids" section. Of course, I will admit to some disappointment that it wasn't a dedicated burial place for those of a pagan bent. I discovered this entry, which says:

"The Druids were an Italian Lodge which is no longer exists in Roslyn. This being so, there is no one to care for the cemetery, so it has become and abandoned cemetery, with no records to be found. "

"Until the day breaks and the shadows fade away"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery, Gilroy, California

When I travelled to California in July, my friend Jon and I chanced upon this cemetery in Gilroy. We were driving back from the San Jose airport and I pointed out the cemetery as we passed. We must have spent a couple hours roaming the grounds. I'm so grateful that I have friends who understand and indulge my quirky sides.

This cemetery is quite large and well contained. It also feels divided, with the more older families on one side while the newer graves take up most of the other. Many of the graves date from the mid 1800's and it's obvious where the older, pioneer families are buried. Most pioneer families had plots and many of the the headstones were quite large. Many of the older graves were lacking green grass, something that a native Washingtonian like me would find strange. The ground was dust and rock and sticky clay where the sprinklers were raining down.

The newer graves had more grass but were incredibly crowded together. They were also quite ornate with lots of angels, Mary and Jesus statues. It was an interesting contrast. The newer section also had a huge statue of Jesus, as well as a shrine of sorts to Mary. I wondered if the older section used to be more secular, for there seemed to be less religious references on that side. In any case, there were plenty of interesting headstones and names to discover. Including a woman named Salome, which made me smile.

I love detailed and ornate headstones.

This grave was quite a contrast to the more sedate headstones nearby.
This cemetery also had a fantastic number of beautiful trees.

I saw several headstones with hands, either pointing upward or to the side. I really need to get my reference books so I can look these things up. I expect I will do a post sometime in the near future about the different ones I've discovered.

This headstone struck me in it's age and broken-ness.

Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Seattle, WA

This cemetery is north of University Village, which is located on the east side of the University District. I had tea at the Queen Mary's with a friend last weekend and we wandered over after a delicious repast. Funny that many of my favorite places have a graveyard nearby. And convenient too.
I'm always astounded at how well these memorials withstand time and the elements. So many of them in this cemetery were unique, ornate and beautiful representations of the love people have for those who have died.
This weeping woman had an unfortunate nose situation, yet she still gave off a deep feeling of loss.
I had to laugh a bit when I saw these too (above and below photos.) They were across the path from one another and I wondered if there was a bit of competition going on, be it between family or faiths or something else entirely. On one side a glorious white marble memorial that would be quite fitting for performing a Greek tragedy or other more pagan rites. Across the way is a truly enormous Celtic cross in a warm reddish marble, complete with sarcophagus.

This photo was a mystery. I almost missed this angel, it was that well hidden. Across the road from the Greek pillars was a glorious weeping willow. It wasn't until I felt drawn to walk beneath it's drooping branches that I discovered a huge cross, complete with what is obviously a Guardian Angel. S/he had a black feather tucked in his/her hand and candle wax coated the inner arm. It's obvious that in the past people have done some sort of spiritual work there. It felt like a liminal place, betwixt and between. I took several pictures before reluctantly moving on.

This photo is the guardian of the section where Catholic nuns are buried. There were many, many, many headstones there. I enjoyed reading the names, though my friend Kat found the best- Dionysus. *giggle* I'll bet she loved that. This guardian statue had a harsh and piercing glare. Very stern indeed. That poor angel at her feet looks like he's hoping to avoid a caning.

And I leave this post with a photo from one of my favorite memorials. About midway through the cemetery I needed a sit down and found a welcoming black marble bench with this lovely beastie guarding it. Although he's asleep, this lion gives off such a sense of well-being that I couldn't help but sit for a while, enjoying the sound of the crows whirling in the trees above and watching the clouds go buy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pioneer Cemetery, Santa Cruz, CA

This cemetery is special to me for several reasons. It's one of the first cemeteries where I felt the presences of many different beings: trees spirits, unsettled spirits, guardians and guides and unexplainable things. Here I had my first experience of the air turning frigid around me on a hot summers day. I felt the heavy gaze of watchers who we cannot see, warning me not to stray from the path. To others this might sound a bit cheesy, but to me they are real experiences and I know I'm not the only one to have them. Especially in this place.

The cemetery itself is in seriously disrepair. It's obvious that transients bed there on a regular basis: whisky bottles and drug paraphernalia litter the grounds. At least half of the graves are desecrated and broken, either by the natural turnings of the earth (earthquakes) or by deliberate human actions. Every time I visit I am struck with sadness at it's state. And yet there are the other things that bring a smile to my face. Giant guardian trees. A headstone for a woman named Joy that is hidden beneath and behind a truly enormous cedar tree.

I have to wonder what it would look like if people actually gave a damn about the graveyard. It's obvious that the main promenade was gorgeous in some distant past. I visited it again in July and discovered that sometime recently a woman was buried there. So maybe there is hope that people will be motivated to restore it to it's previous beauty. I certainly hope for it.

Ocean Shores Resort, Ocean Shores WA

Paul and I took an RV trip to Ocean Shores in July. Since the public campground was closed, we randomly picked another place and ended up at a pretty place just outside Ocean Shores. The sites were quite private and shady, just the way we like it. As we drove around checking it out, I saw a sign back from the road that said "Pioneer Cemetery." Of course this made me laugh and settled the matter of whether or not to stay there. Paul's beginning to think he can't take me anywhere without finding a graveyard close by. Thank goodness he loves me with all my quirks.

Pioneer cemeteries are just that: the places where the pioneers of an area buried their dead. I find it interesting that many are still used today and are an option available for those not wanting to be in a modern memorial garden or cemetery. There were very few graves in this cemetery, mostly belonging to people who passed quite some time ago, mostly Native Americans who lived in the area. It was a quiet and neglected sort of place, not exactly welcoming to the living. Then again, I visited on a particularly dark and gloomy day, when the fog was rolling in off the Pacific Ocean, so maybe that influenced my thoughts and feelings about the place. I only stayed a short while, enjoying the sound of rain dripping from the enormous and obviously guardian tree, before finding my way back to a strong cup of Scottish Breakfast tea to warm me up.