Past reminders and modern highways

So I spent my spring break doing a lot of driving and a lot of visiting, headed north in spite of the fact that I rarely hear of anyone going that direction for spring break. Usually it’s south, of course, in some form or another. But the folks I wanted to visit are north of here, so that’s where I headed.

I especially noticed cemeteries while I was putting in those 1,800+ miles, even though – or maybe because – I spent most of my traveling time on interstate highways,

It’s rather odd, I decided, to be zipping along on a four-lane, 70 mph, no-stops, get-there-as-fast-as-possible road and then see a reminder of the past in the form of an old cemetery where all that’s left is a handful of ancient, faded tombstones standing sad and lonely. What a contrast.

The ones that were closest to the interstate made me think about how much of the cemetery was lost when the road came through. Did the engineers know about the cemetery when they planned the road? And what happened during construction? How long since someone had been buried there, and what about their families?

One of the graveyards I motored by was so close to the overpass that one end of it almost appeared to be hanging out over the interstate. It was no fence, no gate, and no sign, just a sad little row of weathered-bleached tombstones sitting out there all alone in our 21st century fast-paced world. Such cemeteries could well have been in remote locations at one time, before progress and civilization moved in.

Near one of my destinations on this trip I saw a cemetery that I had never noticed before, even though I had driven up and down this road at least a hundred times when I spent several summers in that neighborhood. But that was always during summers when there were leaves on the trees surrounding it. This one was next to a country church, with the cemetery on a hillside next to it. I’m sure the cemetery is still being used for new burials, but the stones closest to the road were old and tired.

There’s just something about country cemeteries like that one and others I noticed on this trip. Regardless of where they’re located, they are peaceful, but yet somehow melancholy as well. Those that have been disturbed by progress in terms of highways and freeways and bridges and buildings have lost the serenity they once offered to those buried there.

It doesn’t hurt to remember that as we go whizzing by.


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