Grave Stone with No Name

Friday was cold but beautiful: sunshine, piercing blue skies, a high temperature near freezing. A good day for walking on crisp, crunchy snow. But bundle up warm first!

I have adored cemeteries since I was a child, and I visit them every chance I get. I don't often post my graveyard photos here because, although I enjoy them, I fear that people might find such pictures too sad. Everyone has suffered loss; tombstones bring back those memories. But as my Aunt Ella Mae once told me, "It's all part of livin'." And so it is. Like it or not.

On this day, we stopped by Benner Cemetery, a lovely, historic cemetery on what used to be state prison lands, now transferred (along with much of Spring Creek Canyon) to Penn State. For many years, while it was on prison lands, you weren't even allowed to come here. But - shh! - don't tell anybody, some of us might have used to sneak in anyway! Mentioning no names, of course . . .

The cemetery is tiny and it sits in the middle of golden Pennsylvania fields, near woods. A small wall surrounds it, lined by neat trees that look like overgrown broccoli. The grave stones date from the early to late 1800s, and include names like Benner, Heverly, Kepheart, Sellers, Waddle.

There were many tracks around the cemetery, but mine were the first human tracks inside it since our most recent snows. We saw two hawks wheeling and winging about in the sky overhead. On the far wall of the graveyard, a set of feathers, tipped in red, bespoke a meal someone recently had. Maybe one of the hawks? A fitting place for the remnants, I thought.

This crumbling grave stone - with no name legible - seemed to speak of the impermanence of things. What does it mean when even your name no longer remains?

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