The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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She spins, she knits, she blogs about it all.

Monday, May 05, 2008

G is for...


No, I am not being morbid. Old cemetaries in the west have a character all their own. This particular one is the old cemetary at Fairbank. Fairbank, if you recall, was my "F" entry a couple weeks ago. If you follow a well marked trail north of the townsite for about a quarter mile or thereabouts, you come upon the old town cemetary. It is situated on a hilltop overlooking the surrounding mountain ranges.

As is typical in these old graveyards, the graves themselves are covered with rocks and are seldom marked -- any markings that existed are mostly gone now.

A few graves are watched over by wooden crosses.

Some still have wrought iron fencing surrounding the ever present mound of rocks.

But even the fencing gives way to the ravages of wind and time.

Only a very few of the gravesites have stone markers, most of those broken and crumbling. They date from the early nineteen-hundreds. Some of the crosses are adorned with plastic rosaries and flowers; someone still comes to visit their ancestors' graves. In the silence one listens to the wind and wonders about those who abide here. Do they rest quietly now on their hilltop?

A few years ago Joe did a graveside service at the Tombstone cemetary. Not Boot Hill, that tourist sensation on the northeast side of town, but the actual cemetary. I had come along because we were going someplace else when he was finished; I waited by the car and watched. The wind was blowing cold and steady, the hills were gray and the ground hard and dry as dust. There were only a couple mourners, and as I took in the stark, lonely scene it suddenly seemed to me that I was seeing something from a hundred years ago. A preacher in black, and two women in long black mourning dresses, veiled and shawled. The wind, the hills, the sky, the hard cold empty land, all the same. And when the service was done, the two mourners walked back to the town and to their hard, empty life. No time to grieve, only to make a life for themselves now without the husband, the father, the son.

It's been said of Tombstone and the surrounding area that the past is not past, it is still now and is still happening. That afternoon in the graveyard, under the dry hard sun, that saying was very easy to believe. The hilltop cemetary in Fairbank is the same. Life in the high desert has not changed much at all. Those who have gone before are still there in memory. When you walk among the rock covered gravesites, a hundred years are as yesterday.

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Blogger Margene said...

Beautifully written. The pictures show the harshness of the desert West.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Abigail said...

I adore Grave Yards - full of history and stories that linger for us to find.

Thanks for sharing such an interesting place.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Oh Pat. You're so right. And so skilled at describing the scene and feeling. Now I want to read your story of the lace family again. *sniff* :)

11:02 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...


I had no idea. My graves are so different out there. Fascinating. Thanks for the well written post.

1:17 PM  
Blogger KnitNana said...

What a lovely piece you've created here - the words as well as the photos...and so true.

I've wandered through New England graveyards over the years, and the inscriptions on the tombstones are fascinating!

8:23 AM  
Blogger thegabbyknitter said...

I really enjoyed reading your post.

4:46 AM  
Blogger Roxie said...

A magazine-worthy post. Photos and words superbly matched to give a vivid and evocative picture / feeling / story.

8:43 AM  

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