Green-Wood Cemetery: Spring
Last Saturday it rained all day here in New York. I'm not exaggerating when I say all day—it may have even rained continuously for more than 24 hours. I love seasons and I try not to get grumpy about the weather, but rain in the city is the absolute worst. I will take extreme dog-mouth heat and below-freezing blizzard conditions over a mild spring rain any day. Part of this disdain probably comes from my inability to find a proper rain shoe, but in a city where you're forced to walk outside, rain basically ruins everything. Since I did absolutely nothing on Saturday, I was up early on Sunday, eager to get outside and do something—anything—before the rain was supposed to start up again in the afternoon.
David lives two blocks from Green-Wood Cemetery, so we headed over there to check out the spring blooms. I became enamored with the bright, beautiful azaleas at Green-Wood last spring, and I was happy to be able to catch them again this year. A few of the bushes were already past their peak, but most were spectacularly full and the contrast of the bright flowers with the dark, heavy stones and statues was so fun to photograph.
In addition to all of the beautiful flowers, Green-Wood is quite literally so green right now. The previous day's rain made everything feel so lush—I don't think that a shade of green exists that isn't currently represented in the cemetery. Ok, so maybe I just convinced myself that rain does indeed have a purpose, BUT I still contend that the perfect rain shoe does not exist.
Being surprised at the passage of time is such a boring thing to talk about, but I was trying to think of the last time I was at Green-Wood and realized that it was back in February after a big snowfall—it barely looks as if it could be the same place. That variation is one of my favorite things about seasons. I understand how people could be intolerant of long winters or humid summers, but I think I'd die of boredom in a place with consistent weather and no seasons.
While we were walking around, we noticed that there were a lot more visitors than normal, and it took me a while to realize that it was because it was Mother's Day. I actually feel really strange when I run into other people in cemeteries, and it's not uncommon for me to be (or at least feel as if I'm) totally alone. Green-Wood is a popular place for tourists (although it feels weird calling cemetery visitors "tourists"), but with so many people actively visiting graves and mourning, I often felt as if I was intruding.
I visit cemeteries so frequently, focusing on the typography, design and history of the stones that it's easy to forget that each stone represents a person or persons. Someone who lived a life—however long, short, easy, hard, complicated, virtuous, painful or joyful—and it seems unfair that they don't get to enjoy the beautiful landscape beneath which they're interred.