Walk in Peace

As I have mentioned in a few previous posts, I’ve been walking in an effort to lose some weight and get back in shape. I’m happy to announce that I have reached my goal weight. Total pounds lost: 16. That’s since late March. Not too shabby.

Of course, the problem now becomes KEEPING them off. I’m no longer in the strict phase of the Best Life Diet. Now I’m onto maintenance. I’m pretty sure the key to it (besides staying away from large bags of Lindor Truffles) is walking.

My spring walks on the farm soon came to a halt when I started picking quantities of ticks from my scalp. I switched to walking on the bike trails around the area. But I found this to be…well…BORING. Walk out fifteen minutes, walk back fifteen minutes.

My solution? Variety. I still walk the Montour Trail some days. But I’ve found some portions of the trail to be more aesthetically pleasing than others. And I’ve discovered other places to walk.

So I’m starting a series of posts here about my favorite (and less-than-favorite) places to walk.

First up: the cemetery. Yep. You read that right. The cemetery. Specifically, the Mount Prospect Cemetery, which is a few miles from my house. There are three loops and it takes me a half hour to do all three of them twice.

One of the things I like about this cemetery is that I have family and friends here. I feel the calming presence of my ancestors. My grandparents are here.

So is Zelda Rommes who used to work us like fiends all summer and in exchange, gave us enough of the hay we baled on her farm to keep our horses fed all winter.

My dear friend, Betty, who died much too young of leukemia, rests here. We didn’t know each other long, although our families went way back. But we bonded almost instantly over our mutual passion for horses. I needed a place to board my mare while we weaned her colt. Betty needed help with her own horses as she battled her illness. It was a perfect match. I continued to help her husband with the horses after she died until he finally moved away several years ago.

Finding her grave brought all those memories flooding back.

Sometimes I come across a grave that brings back sad, tragic memories like this one.

This cemetery has existed since 1903 and there are three distinct areas within its grounds. The oldest section has markers that are worn beyond the possibility of being read. Tombstones crowd together as if someone tried to jam as many graves into a space as they could. Now those stones lean into each other in an odd jumble.

Monuments are fascinating things. There are the massive old ones stating the family name and then the surrounding smaller stones of the individuals. Beloved mothers, fathers, and children, all in a row.

There are newer versions in shiny, polished black marble. But those weather-worn ancient gray ones can’t be beat for personality.

I especially love this one.

Doesn’t it make you wonder? Was this guy the first environmentalist “tree hugger”? The carving is exquisite. I had to look twice the first time I saw it. I thought for a moment that it really was a tree. It’s not. It’s stone.

But mostly, as a writer, I love the potential stories that abound in this place. For instance, there’s the civil war veteran who died in 1885, but whose grave is still meticulously decorated with live flowers.

Who was John Speer? And what descendent still cares enough to maintain the grave?

The children’s graves are the most poignant. Little one-year-old Carl Vernon McCain’s monument to innocence is set in the most serene spot imaginable.

And the grief felt by the parents of Karlene McDonald is palpable 75 years later.

I wonder about the person who still grieves for two-year-old Gladys Taylor and still plants a single white geranium in her honor, when the child left this earth 85 years ago.

My writer's imagination spins out their life stories, filling in the blanks. There are an endless supply of tales in this place. And all I have to do is keep on walking.


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