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Stone Dog, Birthday Owl

Thursday, August 6, 2015

I have so many favorite things at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, but I have to put the stone dogs at the top of my list. 

I couldn't remember having seen this fantastic monument, this faithful marble fella. Hodge said, "You've seen this one!" but I'm not sure I had. My memory is becoming such that I'm having delightful new experiences all the time. It's much more fun not to remember that kind of stuff. Then it's all new again!

Hey puppy, why the long face? Why the stony look?

Well, I miss my master and I have a feeling he's not coming back. But I've kept watch here for oh, 70 years, and I'll be watching another 200 or so.

Your strong marble paws, so eloquent. And there's a random lion's foot behind them, too.

On the side of the monument, Dad's coming home from a trip. Mom's been holding down the fort. Maybe he's bringing a little sled full of toys. Baby looks kind of like he was copied from a Renaissance painting of Christ, like a miniaturized person. Head's too small in relation to the body. The toddler is better proportioned. Daddy! Daddy! Did you bring me toys?

And on the other side, the grieving widow is receiving his ashes, Hodge speculates. Too soon he left them, aged 31. Even the mastiff outlived him. The turquoise blue bleeding off the bronze (or copper?) frames is so beautiful. Like the colors you see shooting through icebergs. 

For a story about this monument that was not a product of my fevered imagination, please see
 this link, kindly supplied by Jessica Bussman of Friends of Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Turns out it's kind of a monument to express package delivery. Probably not ashes. :)

Spectacular hydrangeas. I love the hydrangeas here.

Phoebs finds a person with her exact birthday! That's some little monument, like a birdhouse for a spirit. A spirit-cote.

We walk on to The Dell, where Hodge rarely fails to find a great horned owl. We hear titmice scolding and scolding, and know there must be one near. But we can't find it. Three of the best sets of eyes I know, then mine. I'm of little help here. Finally Hodge says, "Oh! There he is!"

He is?? Wha wha wha?? Where?

He IS!!

Hodge finds so many owls on her peregrinations around Fresh Pond and Mt. Auburn that she doesn't really get how rare it is for we mere mortals to see any owl at all. She seemed surprised by our reaction. 

"You guys are birders. I figure you see them all the time. Don't you?" Um, no. No no no. We birders still freak out on the vanishingly rare occasions that we see an owl. You, my dear, are remarkable.

***Follow Hodge on Instagram @khmacomber***

I am traveling light; I didn't bring my big rig. I snap these pitiful photos of a pine tree with an indistinct growth in its armpit. They're the best I can do. The iPhone 6 camera is a miracle of engineering and capability, but it is not a camera for distant wildlife.

As I'm cussing and fussing, Corey grabs Phoebe's iPhone, and using his knee as a stabilizer, holds it up to one eyepiece of his BINOCULARS
(don't miss Phoebe's proud expression)

and without any fanfare whatsoever produces THIS

iPhone DigiBino'ed Image by Corey Husic

which makes Hodge's day, my day, Phoebe's day and perhaps his. Hard to tell with such a self-effacing young man. This would be remarkable enough, but Corey is the Last Living Person On Earth to Not Own a Cellphone. The Harvard Crimson even interviewed him about it. 
So he grabs a random iPhone, makes a tripod out of his lanky body, and produces this image. And we all have something good to remember that beautiful owl by. The lens flare at the bottom just adds to the magic, I think. 

For the next ten minutes, I tried valiantly and failed to produce anything usable. Then the owl turned and hopped into deeper cover. He was done with us and our yakkin'. 

iPhone DigiBino'ed Image by Corey Husic

Phoebe's comment: "He can do ANYTHING." I'm inclined to agree.

photo by Corey Husic

He took this photo, too, which pretty much sums up the perfect birthday in the perfect place: Mount Auburn Cemetery. Sweet Auburn! home to magnificent trees, flowers, sculpture, coywolves, wild turkeys, foxes, sparrows, warblers, wrens, thrushes, orioles, tanagers, the all-seeing, all-noticing Hodge and OWLS. 

Thank you, MAC, thank you Corey, Phoebe, and Hodge, for spending the perfect day with me.


Another post where my emotions were all over the place! First, tears are running down my face from the monument with the mastiff. The snippets from the man's short life had me sobbing. We know on some level that the person in the grave left behind an entire life (brief though it may be) and loved ones who mourn him. This monument, however, really drives that home.

And Corey jerry-rigging a telephoto lens! Even I was proud of him, and I only know him through your posts! I also admire him for not having a cell phone. So many people cave in to peer pressure and purchase things just because "everyone else has one." It takes a certain kind of courage to say, "You know what? I just don't need one, so I'm not buying it." Way to go, Corey!

Posted by Anonymous August 7, 2015 at 3:56 AM

Beautiful! You have captured the essence of what makes cemeteries such wondrous places as marvelously as Corey captured the elusive owl!

Posted by Gail Spratley August 7, 2015 at 5:42 AM

Hi Julie,
Thank you for spending your birthday at Mount Auburn! Sounds like a lovely visit. Although we enjoyed your imaginative take on the Harnden monument, here is a post that explains the symbols and images: Harnden Monument We hope to see you again soon!

Julie, did you ever see this one?

Have to say, Julie, I enjoyed your interpretation of the Harnden monument much better than the actual meanings.

Posted by Gail Spratley August 7, 2015 at 4:11 PM
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