Jun 21, 2015

Through Bush, Through Brier - A Midsummer Eve Visit

I followed the honeysuckle and grape vine hedge until I found a small opening. The vines had grown up over the fencing and the gate was hidden well.  I pulled gently at the vines and they offered me just enough room to slip underneath them and through the fence, all the while being serenaded by the buzzing of countless bees that were working on the flowers in the hedge.

The vines were likely planted to soften the view that the neighbours observed when they looked out their windows. The old cemetary was stark and harsh to look at. A small plot of land with no greenery to speak of, covered in a layer of white rock and tiny coloured glass shards. It was hardly displaying any romantic, gothic charm.

Undaunted by the glare of the sun and the heat radiating up from the white rock, I wandered the rows looking for the right headstone. It had been a while since I had been there, and my return was long overdue.

It took little effort to notice that the grave sites had no adornment. No flowers or statues or other such benefactions were left for the residents there. Perhaps the hedge was also meant to deter visitors, save for those whose will to pay their respects was stronger than the vines.

As I wandered closer to my destination, I noticed two large glass jars at the head of a grave. Each jar was open, and contained what looked like small bits of folded paper. I had a moment of biting curiosity, but I moved on. The papers were not my business. I was there to find Gladys.

A more well-cared for, well-loved cemetary that I like to visit.

I found her grave, beside that of her husband's, and wondered at the date of her death. She was only 55 when she died, passing two short years after he had.  I had brought water to wash her headstone and I set to work,  noticing that one of the coins I had left for her at my last visit still remained there. Who or what may have wandered off with the others, only Gladys knew.

I returned what I had borrowed, with thanks, and left her a bouquet of gladiolus. I appreciated the word play between the plant and her name, and I imagined that she might have liked the flowers quite a bit when she was alive. 

I walked back to the living, buzzing gateway - the perfect liminal space to separate the cemetary from the residential area beyond. 

There were dimes deposited at the threshold, a moment of being neither here nor there, and then I was out in the world again.

My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,
For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger,
At whose approach ghosts, wand'ring here and there
Troop home to churchyards. Damned spirits all
That in crossways and floods have burial,
Already to their wormy beds are gone.
For fear lest day should look their shames upon,
They willfully themselves exile from light,
And must for aye consort with black-browed night. 

~ Puck, to Oberon - A Midsummer Night's Dream

It may seem an odd thing to mark the shortest night of the year by visiting a cemetary, but if we dare to believe that the unseen is more visible or here, at this time of year (and at its opposite on the calendar) then why not give thanks, honour, or commune, while the connection is a bit more clean. The months of intense heat have come, and that can create some static for those of us who don't operate well in the sweltering weather.

Until the cool breezes return, be well good spirits.