It was a really peaceful weekend. Saturday I spent walking on the beach along with others who were doing the same, then took a mini road trip down Highway #1 which runs along the coast. It goes through one small town after another with some beautiful scenery between. Driving, for me, is a way to regenerate myself, to recharge my batteries along cleaner, clearer lines. Plus, it was an opportunity to see more of my new turf and what it has to offer.
My first stop was a natural food store called New Morning which provided part of the lunch I was planning for friends on Sunday, a hummus that was pretty darn good. Yummy, in fact. I also bought some Tupelo honey, which is made from the blossoms of the Tupelo gum tree. Double yummy. Naturally, ahem, I thought of the Van Morrison song, "Tupelo Honey."
As I drove on, I started wishing for an old cemetery which Maine is rife with, to check out dates, epitaphs, the stuff that cool old cemeteries are made of. And, there it was, up on a slight hill, surrounded by pine trees that looked as old as the cemetery itself, with a little road running through it, lined with headstones.
I parked my car beneath the pines and walked the narrow road, acquainting myself with its inhabitants, most of whom passed in the mid 1800's. There was Nellie Downs, 25 year old daughter of Ithamar and Sarah Downs. Next to Nellie was her much younger brother, Freddie, who passed at 1 yr. 1 mo. 17 ds. I am always grateful I haven't had to endure that almost unendurable pain. These parents had to, more than once.
Sometimes you see the patterns of life through the dates. The flu epidemic of 1918 took more than its share of young lives, as did The Great War, a story told in many cemeteries. Over and over again. I'm often reminded of a line from Lonesome Dove, where Gus says, after the death of a young cowhand, "Life is short. Shorter for some than for others." I wish it wasn't so. I believe in the eternality of life, but cemeteries tell their own stories and the lives of some of my closest friends are a testament to it.
Close to Nellie and Freddie was a man who had been bestowed this epitaph:
Near the home of his childhood.
In the dust we have laid.
His spirit is happy and free.
He has crossed the dark valley.
Of the shadow of death.
To brighten the pathway for me.
Not too far from the cemetery is the Wallingford Farm Store. It was not yet open for the year, but I had to take its picture, as well as the house that was attached. Large old houses attached to barns are everywhere in Maine. They create some very interesting architecture. This one had gone through a reincarnation, with a new life as a nursery. It was the peach color that drew me in and made me pull over for another look.
Then, a graying clapboard house, which had served as someone's business, caught my eye with its wooden carousel horse in the window. When I turned around and pulled over across from it, I realized it also had a totem pole, of sorts, on one side of the door. It was the horse I couldn't resist. Framed by the aging wood, bedecked with bits of colored glass, it created a scene I had to capture. The loon at his feet completed it.
Driving around, keeping my eyes open to little bits of life, is one of my favorite things to do. It always seems to provide questions worth considering. Last night, I came across a few quotes by Rainer Maria Rilke, which affirmed the feeling I have for this place I find myself in, looking at life from a new perspective. I'd like to share one of the quotes with you that seems particularly apropos.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.