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Posts Tagged ‘winter’

I’m taking a risk here, but I’m writing this post as my farewell to winter. The photos on this particular post were taken Valentine’s Day weekend, when Cleveland experienced our first spring-like weather for 2011.

Goodbye to winter.

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Goodbye to the soft stillness of being alone in the cemetery with only the occasional chittering of a squirrel for interruption, but goodbye also to monuments disappeared by snow.

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Goodbye to monuments silhouetted against the striking contrast of winter-gray skies, but also goodbye to grave offerings buried in snow.

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Goodbye to the sparkle of snow that turns ordinary surfaces to a glittering blanket but goodbye also to cold noses, cold toes, and windburned faces.

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Whitney Monument

I’ve always loved winter. My mother was a ski instructor for a number of years, and Dad is now Ski Patrol after many years as an instructor. Some of my enthusiasm for cold weather has dissipated now that I am the one who has to drive in it, but I still can’t deny that it looks beautiful. I spent my college years living in the snow belt and experiencing lake effect snow at Edinboro University, and I was by some strange twist of fate crowned Snow Queen my sophomore year (possibly the only one – I’m not sure that festival or the absurdly named Snow Ball dance happened ever again).

Broken tombstone

But in the cemetery, my enjoyment of the beauty of snow and ice is tinged on the edges with the knowledge that it could be damaging the stones. Snow and ice aren’t the only things that wear away at tombstones, but they dig at me because I so enjoy the look of them.

Louise Behnke tombstone

I know that as the snow melts and drips down into tiny crevices, if the temperature happens to dip to freezing again, the water will freeze and expand and push just a little at the stone, weakening it from the inside.

Damaged Monument

It is a bittersweet beauty to walk through an old, snow dusted cemetery and see the white blanket draped across the broken, cracked tombstones.

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Hopefully I won’t be pelted with refuse for this, but I enjoy watching the cycle of seasons in the cemetery. In Cleveland, we know that winter and snow (and ice) are just around the corner.

Massiello Monument

Gaylord Monument

But eventually winter will give way to spring, and the plants and flowers in the cemetery will bloom again.

Hartness

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Spring leads to summer. The day I took these pictures, the cemetery was so hot and sticky that I was afraid the camera lens would fog.

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And then summer will inevitably turn into autumn, with all its attendant colors.

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I’ve been increasing my trips to cemeteries lately for two reasons. One is that my schedule has freed up with the wedding reception over and fewer nearby events for the SCA for a little while. The other is that winter is coming. You can see it every time you walk into the cemetery and see the blaze of colored leaves hanging off the trees and creating a brilliant blanket around the monuments.

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I don’t necessarily like the cold, but I like the look of winter, even in cemeteries. I like the gentle undulating waves of windblown snow and the branches curving slightly under soft white weight. Snow and ice coat everything in quiet and stillness, and when the sun does emerge from behind the gray clouds, the snow glitters like so many diamonds scattered on the ground. Statues and large monuments photograph well in the snow, but it obscures the lower ground-level markers or ices over the words on tombstones. So for material other than just pretty pictures, I have to go when the snow either hasn’t yet fallen or is just a dusting, and in Cleveland, winter looms on the horizon earlier than in other places.

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