Today one of the errands on my to-do list was to go to the hardware store to get two propane tanks filled: a task I do every spring in advance of the summer grilling season. Next weekend, there will be a line of suburban folks waiting to get propane for their Memorial Day cookouts, but today it was just me and one other man standing outside the fenced enclosure at one corner of the hardware store parking lot where the propane guy duly fills small tanks from a much larger one.
Next to the enclosure where the propane tank lives is the South (or Winchester Street) Burying Ground, a historic cemetery with 357 graves, the earliest of which dates back to 1802. Although I stand right next to this cemetery every spring while I wait for the propane guy to fill my tanks, I’d never before today set foot in it because I could never figure out how to get inside. Like the big propane tank I visit for a fill-up every spring, the South Burying Ground used to be enclosed in a chain link fence, presumably to keep vandals and other troublemakers out.
Today, however, the fence separating the hardware store parking lot from the cemetery next door was gone, and someone had put Betsy Ross flags–American flags with a circle of 13 stars–on several of the graves, presumably those marking the resting places of veterans. Although I didn’t have much time to explore the now-accessible old cemetery, the simple act of tearing down a fence and putting up some flags completely transformed the place, turning it from something that looked grim and foreboding–somewhere you’re not supposed to explore–into something more inviting: a green and grassy place where mockingbirds sing.
It seems strange to contemplate a plot of centuries-old graves while waiting for a propane fill-up, but that’s how life is, isn’t it? On one side of a now-absent fence lie folks now largely forgotten; on the other, living folks like me go about their mundane chores. It doesn’t seem fair that the dead should have to put up with the traffic, hubbub, and general disregard of those going about the business of living, but when has it been any other way? The best the dead can hope for, I suppose, is to be forgotten enough: forgotten by vandals, overlooked by troublemakers, and visited by nobody other than mockingbirds and the occasional birder or blogger.
Although the South Burying Ground lies beyond my own block, today’s post does represent a bit of local color. If blogging your own neck of the woods sounds alluring, you might consider taking this week’s “Daily Post” writing challenge, “Blog Your Block,” written by yours truly. Enjoy!