Monday, August 3, 2015

Friends and Cemeteries

I am thinking tonight about friends.

Gary and Wanda lost their beautiful home to a fire two weeks ago--not just the house but both vehicles, their pool, hot tub, every single thing.

Many of my storytelling friends are still in Kansas City at the National Storytelling Conference and sending glowing reports of all the fun and fellowship of the gathering of our close-knit clan.

Heather is back in the hospital after yet another back surgery and a year of pain and struggle to heal.

Liam lost his beloved grandfather.

Julie took gorgeous photos of the blue moon last night.

John bought a 450-pound anvil.

Victoria and Mark had car troubles.

Warren captured yet another honeybee swarm.

My musician friends are mostly down at Clifftop, the old-time music gathering in the mountains.

Vixi brought her husband home from a care facility for his birthday.

Judy lost a good storytelling friend.

Ellouise explored more story sources at a military museum.

Cousin-in-law Hazel was on hand in Cambridge to see the flowering of a giant arum that has not bloomed since 2004.

The list could go on and one. I know all of these things because of Facebook. This internet thing keeps me connected to people I would never be able to keep up with otherwise, living as I do in a rural area far from all of these friends and family. I love it. I like seeing their faces every morning when I check in and I like reading about their adventures, their funny comments. I am glad to be able to join with others in sending prayers, congratulations, supportive words or just laugh at the funny, silly, odd things they share. I avoid political and religious posts, because if someone is my friend it's not because of either of those things.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to connect again, in person, with other friends I see only rarely at the Inland Waterways Festival in Marietta, Ohio. I was there to tell stories, but seeing people is a fine side benefit. Perhaps it is because there are days with no contact with anyone except my husband and my dogs that these face-to-face opportunities are so enjoyable, Perhaps it is because when I am home we see no cars, homes or other signs of humans--we are truly removed from contact here, with the except of phone, radio and computer. We can sometimes hear vehicles passing, but that's about it.

Then another opportunity to connect came to me in one of those odd, unexpected places.

 When I finished my performances at the festival, I intended to just go straight home. I was tired and hot. But I had heard of a cemetery in Marietta that encircled an Indian mound. All these years we've been going to Marietta to work on our booth, and I never saw this place! So I figured I could take a few minutes to have a look at it. Of course I went the wrong way first, and wound through streets of beautiful old homes. But I found the cemetery eventually. It was even prettier than I expected.

Now I know it sounds strange to visit a cemetery where I have no family buried, but I expect that most readers of this blog have a similar interest. So much history can be found in cemeteries, and there is something about being in such a place and honoring those buried there that just feels right.

The mound was, as I had heard, in the very center of the cemetery. It is surrounded by a moat, which surprised me. I went the wrong way around the mound too, which was fine with me since I got to see the entire cemetery. I found the steps leading up to the top of the mound--45 of them. They were surprisingly easy to climb.

At the top were benches and in the center a time capsule that will not be opened until 2026.

I sat down and looked around me.

 Large trees shaded the graves and muted traffic sounds. Below I could see a couple meandering among the stones. Although the day was hot, there was a cool breeze on the mound. I considered what was beneath me--were remains still in place in this burial mound, or had the early explorers raided it, as happened with so many mounds before people realized that was not a good thing to do? If there were still remains and other artifacts in the mound, I figured they were probably far more intriguing than the time capsule contents.

A woman came up the steps and joined me on the benches, and soon her husband also arrived. We began talking--about the mound, Marietta, the river, steamboats and early history, storytelling, ghosts, and more. This couple, Bill and Karen from Columbus, go "adventuring," just picking a place at random and going to see what they could find. We talked for an hour, three people meeting unexpectedly on top of an ancient mound, surrounded by the sleeping former residents of a frontier town. It was a most pleasant, leisurely conversation, none of us in a hurry to go anywhere.

We finally said goodbye. On the way home I thought about that meeting--had I not gone the wrong way first, walked the wrong way around the mound, I might have been gone by the time they arrived. Life throws us random chances sometimes, or perhaps it was all as it was meant to be.

I hope one day our paths will cross again. I bet it will be in some other out-of-the way place.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

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