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Beautiful Stone

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

To come to Boston is to see beautiful stone. The Swedenborg Church in Cambridge is so sweet. It’s a functioning church, but there are a lot of weddings there, too. The Busch Reisinger Museum is beautiful, and so is its shadow on the not-so-beautiful William James Hall.
The witch hazel was in bloom, smelling wonderfully of fresh mimeo paper. Mmmm. My kids don’t even know what a mimeograph is. My father bought a used mimeograph machine when every public school in the world was offloading them. He put it in the master bedroom and ran it from time to time. About the only thing he needed it for was letters to the family. So there was a rush of letters there for awhile, until he ran out of mimeo fluid. And then it was a piano-sized doorstop.
Kris and I made a pilgrimage to Mount Auburn Cemetery, which celebrates its 175th anniversary this year. My old stomping grounds, the place where I saw most of my life songbirds. There are so many great monuments here, and you see more every time you visit. The Argonaut stone. Reminds me of a chapter in Gift from the Sea, an odd little book whose gentle but searing truth makes me weep uncontrollably. Kris commented that this was probably a huge departure for a headstone in the late 1800’s, probably caused lots of controversy in the family. It just made me think of an argonaut drifting free on the ocean's cradle, a lovely thought for a headstone.
A Celtic knot cross. Wow. How would you keep all those ins and outs straight with a chisel as a tool? I couldn't even do it with a pencil. And each knot panel is different. Wow, wow. The whole affair, about ten feet high. Is anyone committing such artistry to stone any more?
A Civil War era tomb. I would imagine it’s tough to carve stone ribbons. Very nice hat, too. It had weathered a bit in the acid rain, but was still lovely. Once again, a lost art, frozen in stone.
This picture is blurry because as I was shooting it, Kris commented, “Somebody’s gettin’ a wedgie.”
The faithful dog. I am a sucker for faithful dog monuments. Maybe I'll put a little stone Baker over my grave, or wherever they scatter me. I wouldn't mind fertilizing a good tree, maybe a sycamore, from inside a thin pine box. Not much on the embalming/casket thing. Blecch.
Mount Auburn saved my life when I was living in Cambridge. Here, I could see something resembling woodland. I retreated there again and again. Such a beautiful place, so well cared for and well loved.
Afterward, Kris and I dug into an egg and homefries breakfast at the Watertown Diner. It doesn’t get any better than that. Thank you, dearest Hodge, for our time together.

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