I’ve been yearning for a way to get out of the house safely, other than to wander around in my yard. A friend was explaining how he takes care of gravestones in the military section of a cemetery. In my mind I imagined a cemetery as a pretty empty place. At least, above ground. In other words, it occurred to me that spending some time at a cemetery would not expose myself or others to COVID-19. And my friend agreed that to be responsible, we could visit together and keep our distance from each other. While we living folks kept eyeballing the six feet between us, we closed the distance between the people interred there, and ourselves. We honored them by thinking about them, putting together puzzle pieces of their lives, acknowledging their humanity.
The idea came up because I was on a harangue about moles tearing my land to bits. He said moles were bad in the military section of the cemetery near his house. We made a plan that we’d meet up at the cemetery. I would show him how I find underground tunnels and bait them with poisoned worms. In exchange, he’d show me how he cleans the gravestones.
We spent a good two hours placing worms. He was a quick learner and I think we have done some serious damage to the mole population in that part of the cemetery. I kept trying to remember to ask him to take a photo of me, but I kept forgetting. I have no photos at all of myself or of the worm/mole operations.
If you’re gentle-hearted, you need to understand that my blog is not the safest place for you. The last time I posted about killing moles, a long-time subscriber stopped following my blog because of the casual way I approached the murder of other beings. In that post I was also killing fleas on the cat, as well as rats, that I thought at the time were murdering my chickens. There was also a heron murdering frogs for its supper. In a way it was a violent post. To reiterate: killing is periodically discussed in this blog. Sometimes I’m the one doing it, most of the time I’m watching wild animals ravage each other. But either way, it’s just how my blog is, and I expect it to continue this way.
The weather turned out to be great for our volunteer work. It was cloudy and about 40 degrees F (4.4 C), and I started out in a winter coat. But the work kept me just active enough, and the sun poked a few rays out every so often, that I ended up taking off the coat and tossing it to the ground. I had snow boots and gloves on, to help with blood flow in the extremities.
Next he showed me the steps for clearing up a gravestone. Most of the stones in this section of the cemetery are the gravestones provided by the Veterans Administration, designed to lie flat, so a lawnmower can easily keep the grass trimmed. As the years go by, the grass grows and eventually covers up the stones. He chose three in a row that had a story. I’ll let you try and guess the story first, and I’ll tell you later on.
While he was doing the slow and physical task of tearing out unwanted sod, I took photos. It’s a lovely cemetery. Birds were enjoying the lake, but every time I pointed my lens at the water, the birds took off. I got a view blurry distant shots of the ducks. I wasn’t that interested in the Canada Geese until I spotted a solo one under a tree beside the shore.
After he moved on to the next stone, I got to work on the first one. I grabbed his bucket of supplies and began brushing, then scrubbing. I took the empty bucket down to the lake and got water to rinse the stones off afterward.
So what do you think of their story?
Doris and Richard have a baby boy (just one child? – there is no room saved for more graves at this spot). Gordon looks up to his dad and joins the Army to make Richard and Doris proud. And they are. And just like that, pfffft… Gordon’s life is snuffed out. Richard and Doris carry on, but Richard eventually dies. And Doris, the only one who isn’t noted to have military service, is granted the honor of lying between her two men in death.
We spent 4 1/2 hours there yesterday. We saw some people, mostly people out getting exercise in groups of two or three. A couple showed up to honor a stone up on the hill near us. We called Hi from a distance. I never even hugged my friend hello, which is weird, because I’m a hugger. But I was crouched on the grass with my hands in the dirt for 4 1/2 hours, and that was physical touch coming from the veterans, so it was ok.