On our walk this week we stopped at a small graveyard, Peck Cemetery, now in a corn field, surrounded by a “chain” (now plastic) fence. We enjoyed reading the gravestone names and dates and imagining what was once daily life, now history. It is fascinating to note the farm, settled in 1790, is still in the Peck family. Many of the engravings were no longer legible and some of the stones were, like the bodies below them, returning to the earth and, as a result, unreadable.
The night before I’d heard one of my favorite authors, Bernd Heinrich, talking about his new book, Life Everlasting—Life of Animals after Death, so it was appropriate to find ourselves among the dead, now on their way, as Dr. Heinrich says, to being “resurrected” as new life forms.
Among the most remarkable life forms in the cemetery was an immense Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus). Next to it was the well-rotted remains of a stump of another, even larger White Pine. My guess is they grew on their own rather than being planted, but how fascinating it would be to travel back in time and know. At the same time we could visit with some of the folks who lived their lives and died in that area nearly two hundred years ago. Lichen too had enjoyed the spot and produced large colonies.
I certainly don’t have “answers” about death. I do feel strongly we are and will continue to remain intimately connected with all thing living and not. Life Everlasting is a wonderful investigation, by one of the finest minds in field science and a great writer, of what that might look like.