It’s really nice, sitting here with my leg up, to know that someone is out there having adventures. In this case it is my brother Peter Zimmerman, who is making his way through New England and closely observing as he goes. Pete, a writer and photographer, has a web site and a book about exploring the various Podunks across our sprawling country. If there is a cluster of old grave markers in a small town, he will find it.
YESTERDAY (writes Pete), while driving south through the Connecticut River valley, I stopped at a gas station in Northumberland, New Hampshire, and struck up a conversation with a psychiatrist who lives just across the river in Guildhall, Vermont. He recommended an old cemetery, the Nellie Smart, about five miles south of Guildhall on Route 102.
There’s nothing like visiting an old boneyard when you need to gather your thoughts and get away from people – living ones, that is.
The oldest grave is that of Phebe [sic] Whipple, who was born in 1749.
Some of the black-slate headstones are less than half an inch thick.
One side of the Nellie Smart graveyard faces a pasture…
… and the other side, the road.
Over the past two weeks, I reckon that I’ve visited some two dozen cemeteries while rambling around Maine, Quebec, and Vermont. Usually there’s a corresponding church next door…
Usually Jesus shows up in one form or another.
And the cross.
Some of the graves are quite poignant.
I wonder what kind of accident he died from… in 1916? Automobile? Stampeded by moose?
I conclude with a few of my personal favorites. This foggy scene reminded me of the famous Yorick soliloquy…
Put ’er there, ponder.
The short and simple annals of the poor…
Tomb with a view in Island Pond, Vermont.
This memorial south of Jackman, Maine marks the site of a former POW camp.
So you best get your pins in a row!
6 responses to “Tomb With a View”
I have a firm hope that there is something in store for those who have died, and something much better for the good than for the wicked.
Once visited Ferncliff cemetery where Malcolm X is buried and John Lennon cremated. Some gravediggers directed me to where Thelonious Monk is buried and I was surprised to find it unmarked. So I wrote “Epistrophy” (the name of one of his songs) on a big rock and put it on top. A few years later, I returned and found a headstone in place of the rock!
Thou mayst of double ign’rance boast,
Who know’st not that thou nothing know’st.
Stunning. A friend in Lancaster, PA, worked with the local chapter of Grave Concern; when we visited the tomb of President James Buchanan (15th U.S. president), we were taken aback by its undistinguished appearance, so we pulled some weeds.
As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
Creatures of a day. What is someone? What is no one? Man is the dream of a shadow. But when the brilliance given by Zeus comes, a shining light is on man, and a gentle lifetime. (Pindar, Pythian VIII)