Here, I learned that the trees really do have a voice and the land, sometimes, remembers things we have forgotten. It will tell you its stories if you can listen long enough and carefully enough. A patch of lily of the valley that blooms each May marks a lost grave missing it's marker. The plinth that a stone angel once stood on tells the tale of a family's sorrow over their daughter's death (a fragment of the sweet face carved in marble is all that is left and she sits, locked away in a museum case). Broken and repaired grave markers are testaments to someone's disrespect of others and other people's attempt to repair the damage and restore the past with a great deal of love, but little skill. Plots never filled and the mix of languages and birthplaces carved into stone speak of global diaspora. There is a a great deal to be learned in a cemetery, and there is even more to be learned from nature creeping back to overtake the space once again, to re-appropriate it into the world, rather than leaving it as a pristine time capsule. Moss and lichen gentle erase carvings. Wildflowers mix among those flowers planted in memory of the dead. Ivy winds up trees and fences and threatens to cover all. The soil here is expansive, soaking up huge amounts of water and swelling with the winter rains; in the dry seasons, this causes the large monuments to sink and list the side. The land of this cemetery was once part of the fertile wetland border of a shallow lake that the native Ohlone made use of for their subsistence. The Hawthorn trees were a gift from an Irish family, and a connection to their homeland. They once formed an avenue, but their age is showing and they begin to their slow deaths and decay. Across the creek, huge, old oak trees filter out the noise of the nearby freeway, making it a hum rather than a roar. They have long watched the changes made here: from wetlands to the Mexican rancho to small pioneer town to a city. Connections were forged here to Nature, to people, to the past, to myself.
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