My brother emails me from the Near North, Ontario, just below Lake Nipissing where the northern half of the province begins, to wonder if the recent diary entries are not some sort of metaphor for my current state of health and/or emotional wellbeing.
Hmmm. I opined back that I hoped not entirely, since today’s piece is scheduled to be about the tranquil Allendale Cemetery.
And besides, one’s writerly subconscious notwithstanding, not everything that’s written is a metaphor, and (thank you Shakespeare) not all that glisters, gold. Sitting here looking over Allendale, from the graveyard’s perspective, we can take significant solace from a very lovely, if quite windy day, with gigantic white fluffy clouds puffing through a robin-egg blue sky, and intense interludes of brilliant sunshine. Life goes on, even in the face of death, which could be nearer, or further, than we ever think.
Mortality, or the recognition of our own mortality, comes too soon to us all, that’s for sure. But cemeteries, no matter how a particular culture positions them, keep the cold and absolute presence of death quite close, within the village confines as it were, even if we try our hardest not to acknowledge it, not for ourselves, just yet.
I walked, quite alone, through the entire plot this morning, starting with the new row beginning just on the near side of the path, and on into the old and older part, where some significant tree surgery has been undertaken, and then doubling back, glancing all the while at the Wentworth side of the valley, until I finally found the Woodland burial site, just to the immediate left of the main entrance as you go in, which currently has about 17 quietly placed and flat-marked graves. Often a tree is growing next to the grave, sometimes not yet.
Of names on the stones and markers, I only recognised those from the past three decades, or about two long rows worth. And, okay, I did wonder when my name might be found amongst the stones there. Mostly, stimulated by some loving words left by grieving families, I wondered what sort of pithy inscription might be used to sum up my life: ‘A stranger to these parts’ . . . certainly a good start, but how to finish off?
The gravestone markers have their own poetic sense, and I guess it’s up to the families themselves to finish off the epitaph — not really something you can do for yourself, is it?
I moved on down into the village to pick up the Sunday paper, and was struck by the haphazard, yet delightfully ‘alive’, parking arrangements on the square, especially since I’d just come from the formal, precise cemetery layout. The idea of commenting on the parking in Allendale has been suggested by others, so my mind was attuned, and with that lightness of heart that comes from having the next day’s entry ‘in the bag’ as it were, I stretched out in the sunshine-warmed car and relaxed until noon when my pickup service was required. Temporary tranquility is just fine by me.