As I've mentioned before, I'm working through Kim Manely Ort's book Adventures In Seeing with a group of online photographers. The adventure this week had us looking for and capturing the essence of a place. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around that until I read this definition of essence. Essence is the "attribute or set of attributes that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity." The last phrase stuck with me. I began looking at places with the question "if this or that were taken away, would it change what this place is?"
As I entered the gates of the cemetery and gazed around, my eyes first noticed the shapes and sizes of the markers. The size usually depends on the wealth and status of the deceased in their community.
I found grave markers trimmed with simple things such as marbles, rocks, or shells. Other markers were so weathered or covered with lichen that they were impossible to read.
Many graves were outlined with concrete. Sometimes items such as rocks were placed in the concrete or the concrete was carved with names. Some plots, mostly family plots, were enclosed in ornate fences.
There were markers to honor veterans from the War of 1812, the Civil War, and both World Wars.
Wandering through old cemeteries leaves me with a sense of peace. It's quiet. Usually the only sounds I hear are the birds and the rustle of leaves beneath my feet. I can reflect on those who are buried here, the lives they may have lived, the sorrows they endured, and I can whisper a prayer of gratitude for those who served our country.