Last weekend, Yang and I paid a twilight visit to the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence. It’s a beautiful cemetery on the bay, encircled and populated by graceful old trees. The graveyard is designed in the Romantic style initiated by the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge and emulated by others, such as Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain, the Lowell Cemetery (guess where), and Sleepy Hollow in Concord – Tarrytown, too!
This style is characterized by sloping greens; stately, shady trees; ponds; and monuments created to reflect both the sadness of loss and the serenity of eternal peace. Keats and Shelley would just die, so to speak, for a sojourn here.
This cemetery is surrounded on the street side by a stone wall of large rocks. So, it captures the New England tradition of dry stone walls, but adds solemn majesty by using boulders as its dry stones. I love this configuration near the entrance. We came here close to dusk because Rosie and ‘Tasha kept us out later than usual walking in the yard. So, we had to hurry a bit and were unable to stroll and take photographs at our leisure.
The posture and positioning of many of these statues seem to tell a moral about death. Perhaps women were usually chosen to immortalize in keeping with Poe’s dictum that the saddest thing in the world is the death of a beautiful woman. Each of these beautiful figures seems to convey a message back to the living. This woman looks down on our world, bearing a veiled gift. The broken column signifies a life cut off. I’m not sure where I learned about the column, but I do remember it was a legitimate source.
Here, a woman peers off into the beyond, urging us to look upward and outward, past this vale of tears – or is that veil of tears? Either makes sense in this context. She also holds an anchor on her far side. Does it symbolize that she is anchored to us, though she is looking to attain something beyond the earthly realm – or is she from a seafaring family?
I’m particularly interested in this figure, looking down at us from the heights of a pillar, perhaps symbolizing she is no longer anchored to this earth but soars above us toward the empyrean. Still, her gaze of concern is fixed on us suffering mortals below.
I found this stylized monument of an angel particularly intriguing. Yang thought it had an Egyptian look, but I find it much more art deco. It seems to flow down into the ground – or does it shoot upward?I didn’t have a chance to check the date on it to see if it fit into the deco period. I’m so impressed by its soft but still clean lines.
The weathering of this limestone angel blurs and softens it’s features so that it seems ethereal – and more than a little eerie. What do you think? What does she perceive hovering above even her? Don’t blink!
The cemetery has other lovely qualities. There is a pond surrounded by hedges, but I didn’t get any pictures this time. We had to rush. However, I did get a shot of this gazebo. What a wonderful place to sit and read. Yang graded papers here, while I attended a Renaissance Conference in town one time.
I have to add that there are some impressive selections of Celtic crosses. Some in family groupings.
I especially loved the balustrades or curved stone work surrounding or leading up to family burial plots. The first of these pictures shows a lovely plaza surrounded by a bowed stone rail. I remember when there were actually a barrier of tall yews forming a second circle inside the balustrade. You couldn’t see within the green cavern it created. One of the grounds-people told me they had to cut down the yews because weird stuff went on in there at times. This was some time ago that I heard this tale. I hadn’t heard any tales about these gently curving steps and barrier, leading to this prominent family’s plot. I do love the graceful shape.
Of course, here are the pictures that all you faithful Lovecraftians are waiting for: Mr. Lovecraft’s family plot and monuments. We actually had some shots of me next to the monuments, but I looked awful enough to give a Shuggoth the willies. So, vanity prevailed and I ditched them. You may notice that there were deposits of presents by Mr. H.P.’s grave. If you look carefully on the gravestone, you can see that his birthday had been just a few days before.
There are lots of beautiful scenes that I hadn’t time to photograph that twilight, but seeing that I couldn’t fit in all the wonderful images that I took this trip, I don’t feel too bad now about not getting them. There should be another trip, maybe when the fall colors are aflame. Won’t that be a treat to see? So, with this proud, victorious angel, I will bid you adieu and slip away into the gloaming – whatever the heck a gloaming is!
A few weeks back, Yang and I had the pleasure of a stroll along the cliff walk in Nyack by the Hudson river. My friend and author Mya O’Malley had told me about this beautiful hike the day before when we went to see her at the West Nyack Free Library Book Fair. The walk runs along the bottom of these magnificent cliffs, just above the Hudson. Here’s a view of river and the trail as we started off. Even the area near where we started was really neat, check out the stone walls above.
While we strolled along, we were preceded by this charming fellow for the first 10 minutes of so. Does anyone know if this is a dragonfly or a damsel fly? Is this guy a particular breed of either? He was certainly a pleasant companion. Speaking of pleasant companions, there were plenty of people of all ages and backgrounds bicycling or walking (often with a dog or two), though not so many to make you feel crowded. Everyone had a friendly hello or smile or was happy to chat about the gorgeous day and the magnificent surroundings – such as the cliffs you saw if you turned to your left and looked straight up.
For much of the trail, woods rose up and obscured views of the striking rock wall, but frequently they cleared to show you these inspiring cliffs. Yang pointed out that you can also walk trails along the top of the cliffs – and walking along the river trail, you could see some trails leading upwards through the woods. I think a return in the fall, when autumn colors are blooming is clearly in order!
We didn’t see a much wildlife, but I was curious about these berries. They look a great deal like black caps, but they are much bigger and the pod left over after the fruit is gone is definitely larger and a different color from that of black caps. Anyone have any conjectures on identity?
Something else we saw that I found fascinating were curious rock formations. Now look at this one. Isn’t it much like a monstrous head? Note the circles of lichen that are shaped like and located where you’d expect to see eyes. Then there are the indentations between those circles, evoking the image of a nose. How can you miss the giant, horizontally elongated mouth with crooked teeth of rock?
Right here is one of the most interesting formations in the cliff. Can you pick out the skull in the upper part of the cliff, just to the right of center, with almost square indentations for eyes sockets and an upturned nose with the slash of tiny mouth beneath?
No? How about in this close up? Seems like an inspiration for a story of horror or fantasy, doesn’t it? Maybe more fantasy than horror, since the skull seems to be a bit on the cheery side – or is it delighted at the prospect of perpetrating hideous havoc?.
The towering cliffs certainly inspire an intimidating, eerie grandeur, don’t they? I wonder if they inspired Mya O’Malley when she wrote her supernatural mystery/romance Maggie? I could see them when I was reading her novel.
Still, the hike was not entirely eerie. As I said, we met and talked with many nice people – some of whom suggested different roads we might take along the trail. This was my favorite sight on the trail, the handsome guy who accompanied me!
| We’ve been enjoying nature quite a bit this summer, between our own yard and our peregrinations about the Northeast. Several of my friends have been posting images of their luscious vegetable gardens, so I thought I’d show how well our plants are doing this season. We’ve planted one patch with tomatoes, yellow beans, egg plants, and peppers. As you can see they are growing beautifully!
We have tomatoes growing apace and even eggplants developing. The plants are so much taller than in years past, probably because we have had so much rain and sunshine this year. I’m looking forward to harvesting the tomatoes and making salads and sandwiches with them – or just slicing them up and snacking on them with either a little salt or some of my homegrown basil – which also is doing nicely! Some evil insect has been gnawing on my dill, but I have still grown enough to season my cucumber sandwiches and a mackerel pie (It’s like salmon pie, except you accidentally grab a can of mackerel rather than salmon – tastes almost the same.). Fortunately, we also have lots of sprouts of dill that have reseeded themselves from last year.
The soy beans are also coming along splendidly. We actually have two patches. Homegrown ones are a little crunchier that what you get from the store. Yum. The pumpkins are also going great guns now, as well. When the embryos become visible, or even get fertilized, I’ll take some more photos of them. The plants have actually grown thicker and are starting to travel now, since I’ve taken this photo. I have all different sorts: little orange pumpkins (Jack Be Little), little white ones, big orange ones, large white ones, and various types of gourds. Some are commercial seeds and some are saved from the pumpkins that I bought last year. So far, the older home-collected seeds aren’t doing so well, but the newer ones are growing. The commercial ones are doing pretty well for the most part. What’s really interesting is that seeds that didn’t germinate from last year seem to be taking off this year. Odd, isn’t it?
It’s a good thing that we have fencing up around our vegetable garden, because we are not alone.! This is one of the rabbits that we’ve seen in our yard. He’s the smaller one. One night, Natasha saw him and chased him, though Yang’s hold on her leash prevented a disaster. I think he might have come back armed (the rabbit, not Yang), because the next evening, ‘Tasha saw him and went skulking back to the house, whimpering. Of course, I probably shouldn’t embarrass her this way. She might have just seen Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. Scary looking bunny, isn’t he? He was also quite the little stinker. Seconds after we took this picture, he sat up, snipped off the stem of the purple flower in the picture and then spit the whole thing out! Here he is, giving us a Nyah-Nyah look right before he strikes!
Herr Hare isn’t the only visitor to our yard. One afternoon, when I went out to feed the fish in our little pond, I was startled as I came around the house to see this enormous visitor! We’ve had lots of turkey sightings all over the Worcester area (and Boston, Rhode Island, the Cape, New York state), even on our street. However, this is the first guy I found in our yard. I was surprised he wasn’t in a flock, even a small one, as most of the turkeys I’ve sighted have been. He returned for several days, coming out of the woods behind our house at around 8:00 in the morning or 6:00 in the evening, but I haven’t seen him in awhile. We started calling him Raymond Burrd – I’ve been watching reruns of Ironside; what can I say?
Another neighbor’s cat tried to stalk the turkey a couple of times and was ignored at first. Then he made a charge and that bird just did one arched extension of the wings – Clover took off. My cats enjoyed watching that, since Clover was on their turf. Anyway, I haven’t seen him in some days. I guess he found some more fruitful scratching grounds. The birds on my feeders apparently weren’t dropping enough seed for him. We did see three adults and several chicks the other day about a mile or so from our house. Unfortunately, by the time we turned our car around to go back and take a picture, the birds were deep into someone’s yard, and we didn’t want to trespass – even if the turkeys weren’t so particular.
I haven’t seen my friend the Fox, whom I call Mulder, around lately. Maybe it’s fortunate for the rabbit. I think the turkey might be a little much for him. However, on a bicycle trail in Fairhaven, MA. Yang and I got a good look at a beautiful black fox kit! He came out of the woods next to the road, looked us over, ran to the middle of the road, gave a little hopping prance, then ran back the way he’d come and disappeared into the woods. From his size and leanness, he looked much like pictures of black fox kits that I found on line. Apparently, though black foxes are rare in England (see this cool article), they are not so uncommon here in North America. Darn it all! he was gone before I could get out my camera! But here are some shots from the web that perfectly match the neat little guy that we saw. Here’s a Youtube video of a Fox hunting mice, for your edification.
Black Fox photo #1 https://www.pinterest.com/pin/85779567874103887/
Balck Fox Photo #2 Source no longer available