I can’t say I’ve ever spent much time in a cemetary until we moved here. The modern soulless versions with their sad little plugs of fake flowers have no visual appeal, nor do they invite lingering visitors. The very starkness of their appearance is enough for me to ask my husband for cremation when the time comes – no sense in taking up space in a place where you’re clearly unwanted.
That said, the old cemetaries here are quite lovely. Headstones and monuments mingle with huge old trees, and families long since gone to dust planted bushes or plants on their loved ones’ graves. It’s still relatively ghoulish though, and the dimpled indentations in front of the grave markers creep me out. Morbid or not, the cemetaries are irresistible for a photographer fascinated with interesting little details and shapes.
Today I visited (again) Albany Rural Cemetary, specifically the St. Agnes portion. Albany Rural is still in use, but the old portions are divided into several sections with windy little roads that circle up and down hills and around trees. The cemetary is huge. I tend to drive around every few plots, getting out to walk the section with my camera. While driving to the next section, I stumbled on an old water pump, rusted and out of use, but recognizably a pump. There’s a story behind it, I’m sure – who puts a water pump (and drills a well judging by the concrete cover underneath it) out in the middle of an old cemetary?
I need to go back some day when it’s cloudy (it was cloudy when I left instead of printing, but the sun came out once I got there) and finish photographing details of the crypts for my series Doors of the Dead. The crypts at Albany Rural are perfect little stone houses complete with elaborate doors and windows in a really creepy way. Some of the crypts on the older side that are set into the hill have disintegrated, leaving horribly suggestive holes in the crumbling mortar. I am not fascinated with death, but the crypts with their attempts at normalcy do intrigue me.
Albany Rural serves as a park of sorts – I can’t help but focus on the plethora of life in the most unlikely of places. One of my better shots I captured today unexpectedly snared a bluebird – I was taking the shot anyway, and the bluebird just happened.