My second explore

Sunday morning, my Patient Husband kicked me out to go biking (the only benefit of going to the late Mass: time to do things beforehand.)

If you remember, last time I went through the dirt trails at the park and had a magnificent time. Saturday night, it had poured rain, and I opted against biking over dirt on the grounds that it would be mud.

The road I live on is divided into three parts. I live on the Paved Part. Across the state route, the road continues as a dirt road, complete with potholes big enough to put a stock pot. If you take my road in the other direction, it ends at the Creepy Zone, and then (apparently) there is another segment of the road which used to connect to my section. I know nothing about that road, although someday I may try to see if a path still connects the two.

I went up the dirt road to another street that runs parallel to the state route, but doesn’t see much traffic. It’s the back road I take home from the library, so I figured I’d bike to the library and back again.

About a mile and a half away, at the Angelborough Cemetery where I’d turn to go to the library, I realized the road actually terminated in the cemetery itself. I changed plans and biked into the cemetery. The posted regulations didn’t say anything about not biking there, not exploring, not wandering — so I went in.

I’m not sure of the etiquette here, so weigh in please: was that wrong? I don’t think so; at the cemetery where Emily is buried, I frequently saw joggers and walkers, and it never bothered me. I stayed on the roads for vehicles and prayed for the dead while I went through. No one else was there. I feel I passed through respectfully.

But this cemetery — this gorgeous cemetery. I should go back with a camera, but I’d never capture the sense. For one thing, you’ve got gravestones going back to the American Revolution, some older. Many stones were worn to flat forgetfulness. The paths took circular routes within one another, and in some of the encircled areas, the grassy grave area dipped down in steppes, maybe as far down as twenty-five feet. When I was at the center of the cemetery, the trees parted (there were maples everywhere) and I realized I was at the top of a tremendous hill, roads spiraling everywhere and the graves laid out in a cascade downhill.

After that, I explored the “newer” part of the cemetery, with polished granite markers and more clear definitions of sections (I believe they call that “orthogonal planning”) and then returned home by the back road.

I never would have done that in a car, but somehow on a bike, it felt more intimate to be there, less of a disturbance.

The whole ride took about half an hour, and I’m hoping to do another “explore” next week.


  1. Lane in PA

    Yes, you should take a camera. One of my favorite hobbies is to explore historic cemeteries and photograph the amazing sculptures, especially the angels. Here in Pennsylvania, a lot of the graves date back to the 1700’s, and I read the names, take note of the ages of the deceased, and wonder what their lives were like. One family site greatly saddened me as there were 4 childrens’ graves — they had all died within a year. They were so young, and I could only assume that disease had taken them, probably an illness that is easily curable today.

    I don’t believe there is anything wrong with visiting these cemeteries and giving those who lived many years before us another moment of life in this world through our thoughts, prayers and appreciation for the hardships they endured.

    And who knows, you may capture an image of a real angel.

    1. philangelus

      I’d much rather not photograph a real angel, actually. I think it’d be kind of creepy-feeling.

      We explored the old section of a cemetery in Kansas and found a family that had buried five babies, one after the next after the next. Most of them were under a week old when they died, and after the first, none of them had names. Just Baby Smith (or whatever the last name was.) It’s as if the family had given up on the babies surviving until after they made it through the first week.

      We live in a very lucky time, really, when you think about it.

  2. Promise

    Ooooh. Old cemeteries are so beautiful and peaceful. They’re a great place to do rubbings. Sometimes you can pick up things on a rubbing that you can’t see with the naked eye on the older, more worn grave markers. Sounds like you’ve found a terrific place for bike riding!

  3. Ken Rolph

    I found it very interesting to move to a new place as an adult. I didn’t really begin to feel part of it until I started walking with the dogs. Then we would go into vacant paddocks and down laneways to interesting little parks. I began to understand my world the same way I understood the world I grew up in as a child.

    As an adult, normally I just drove around to the main places (shopping centre, library, post office, storage unit). This really gives a very superficial attachment to a location. You’ve to to get out there at a very slow pace, not looking through the windscreen as the landscape wizzes by.

    It wasn’t until the kids grew up and left home that I really began to do this again. Something to look forward to.

  4. cricketB

    It would be very sad for a cemetery to get no visitors.