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Posts Tagged ‘cemetery’

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

~ Edna St, Vincent Millay

The beautiful, the tender, the kind, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.  They represent to us the best that we have to offer one another.   Certainly among their ranks was navy diver Craig Blake, who was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb on May 3rd.  He was only 37 years old.  His funeral is today at Shearwater.

This past weekend I walked through Bowes Cemetery with my grandson.  The sun was shining, birds were singing in the spruce trees and tiny bluets were blooming everywhere in the grass. 

Together we read the names on the headstones and talked about those whose lives had ended:  some in infancy, some in childhood and many in young adulthood.  To die at any age brings sadness, but this is especially so when someone’s lifespan has not yet reached half a century.  It’s also especially sad when someone’s life ends in the spring of the year, when all of nature is busy renewing itself and creating new life. 

Goodbye my friend it’s hard to die
When all the birds are singing in the sky
Now that the spring is in the air…
With the flowers everywhere
I wish that we could both be there.

~ Terry Jacks, Seasons in the Sun

And blue has never been bluer
True has never been truer
Honey never tasted so sweet
There’s a song in the breeze
A million voices in praise

A rose has never smelled redder
The sun has never been brighter
If I could find the right words to say
If you could look at my face
If you could just see this place
You wouldn’t cry for me today
You wouldn’t cry for me today

~ Mandisa, You Wouldn’t Cry

 

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The word cemetery has its roots in the Greek, meaning ‘sleeping place.’  In Cow Bay, this place is the Bowes Cemetery located just off Cow Bay Road. 

  

Typical of many outdoor surfaces in Cow Bay, both the cemetery sign and several headstones are covered with lichens.

The ones on the sign include usnea hirta, also known as Old Man’s Beard. The lichens on the headstones are particularly bright in colour.  This provides an especially striking contrast on the dark stones.

Yellow lichens contain usnic acid.  Some German scientists have researched the site preferences of different types of lichens and concluded that the yellow varieties are most likely to prefer sub-strata that is also more acidic.  

This cemetery is the only place in Cow Bay where I’ve noticed yellow-coloured lichens.  Most are the dull greenish grey characteristic of the Old Man’s Beard.

Jessica at Jessica’s Nature Blog has photographed several bright varieties of lichens in her neck of the woods in the UK.  When I first saw them, I wondered why these brighter varieties were less common here in Cow Bay.  Perhaps the sub-strata is more acidic in her area.

Regardless of the science behind their preferences, these lichens add their own distinct beauty to this special sleeping place overlooking the ocean.

A grave is braced not just by a tombstone but by angels as well.
~Adabella Radici

For more information on the Bowes Cemetery in Cow Bay, see This Life of Mortal Breath.

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bowes cemetery

A small cemetery overlooks the ocean in Cow Bay. Hidden from the road by trees, it holds numerous graves, many of which no longer have markers.  It’s quiet and peaceful as many such places are.

gravestone

One of the gravestones dating back to 1889 has the following words by Henry Longfellow engraved on it:

There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
Whose portal we call Death.

Longfellow himself died in 1882, just a few years earlier.  [The American Longfellow is well known in Nova Scotia for writing Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, which relates the story of the expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia in the 1700s].

The word elysian in the poem refers to the final resting place of the virtuous dead.  A place so named refers to paradise or the afterlife.  The ancient Greek poet Pindar described it as a place “soothed by ocean breezes, surrounded by blazing flowers and shining trees. ”

At the centre of the cemetery, where there are most likely unmarked graves, cranberries grow despite a recent lawn mowing.  They’ll likely provide sustenance for birds in Autumn.   Seasons change and Man comes and goes, but Nature carries on its work from age to age.

cranberries

Lord, make me to know my end.
And what is the extent of my days.
Let me know how transient I am.
Behold, Thou hast made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight.
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.
~ Psalm 39: 4-5

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horses in cow bay 2

It seems like a long time since there have been horses in Cow Bay.  It’s nice to see that we have them in our midst again.    Almost twenty years ago, it wasn’t unusual to come across tracks made by horses’ hooves along the trails in the woods or see young women riding horses along the side of the road.   At the time, local resident Evelyn Ramey was the only female blacksmith shoeing horses in the Maritimes.  She taught horseback riding to 4H members in Eastern Passage.

horses in cow bay

These large mammals are both expensive and time consuming to raise and maintain.  Their disappearance from the landscape has been fairly quick.  I wonder how many horses lived in Cow Bay just before motor cars were introduced.  Back then,  farmers in the area probably depended on them for farming practices and for transporting their produce to Halifax markets.
grounds in cow bay

Years ago I heard about a cemetery off Autumn Drive, where horses were once buried.  Every community must have had such a place to lay to rest creatures that lived their lives serving people side by side.  Cow Bay would have been no different.  Now, most of the lots on that street have been developed.   Only the odd lot, such as the one pictured above, doesn’t have a house sitting on it yet.  Whether the cemetery was near the present road or a distance from it, is unknown.  Much of the nearby area is boggy.

These days it’s nice to once again see people riding or walking next to horses along the road and see horses grazing in the fields.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.

~ Winston Churchill

Photo Credits:  Jeremiah Bell

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