Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Cemetery

If you double-click on this image you'll see the headstones for Smithers Cemetery right across the creek from my parents' dock, where I shot this picture one recent misty morning.

Cemeteries have always been fascinating to me. As children, Middle Sister and I would swim across this creek, usually at low tide, to mill around the graves. This ought to be proof enough that there was very little to keep a child entertained around here in the days before DVD's, pPods and Wii bowling. OK, so they're iPods. It so happens I'm more familiar and comfortable with pea pods.


Just down the way from this cemetery lived our friends. Friends who had ponies.

One day Chesapeake Bay Middle Sister, Chesapeake Bay Woman and Neighbor Friend rode these ponies bareback along the creek while the mothers sat safely indoors discussing the pros and cons of Dippity Do, Aqua Net, Hai Karate and Aqua Velva. Meantime, the children were galloping on wild ponies bareback and barefoot along the shoreline, with hardly a grain of sense among the bunch.

After taking the ponies on a tour of the grave yard, by which I mean to say that we perhaps trod unintentionally on the resting places a few dearly departed citizens, we eased the ponies back down the embankment towards the creek.

Once they realized the trail ride was over and feeding time was nigh, the wild beasts ponies took off running towards their stable, with nary a regard or consideration for the passenger(s) who may have been astride their withers.

And so it came to be that Chesapeake Bay Woman OR Chesapeake Bay Middle Sister OR Chesapeake Bay Woman AND Chesapeake Bay Middle Sister (because I can't remember) rolled off the rump of a horse directly into the creek mud. (It may have even been The Friend. Rest assured someone fell off a bucking bronco who couldn't wait two minutes for his handful of grain.)

One could say we got what we deserved for riding ponies on grave sites. Or one could say that if this was the worst that happened when our mothers were doing who knows what flipping through Avon magazines while watching Search for Tomorrow, we made out pretty darn good.

Tell me something you did when you were young that you cannot imagine happening today. (For example, the last time I saw children riding ponies in Smithers Cemetery and/or Queens Creek was this time: only when we did it.) Or, tell me about playing in cemeteries.

Or, please confirm that we led a bizarre life growing up in such a sheltered world, where the only thing to do was discuss Dippity Do with friends frolic unsupervised on horses with no saddles and no supervision, other than from the dearly departed.

Or, please let's just laugh nervously and never talk about this again.

Or just count how many times I use the word "or."

Congratulations for sticking with me this far. If reading this is even a fraction as painful as it is to write, my sincerest sympathies. As a reward, I offer the following:

A temporary reprieve from my incessant, relentless ramblings is coming...later this week. More details tomorrow on Three Ring Thing Thursday.


Grandma J said...

In fourth grade, my best friend and I used to pack a picnic lunch and take it to the cemetery. we did this on several occasions to visit a deceased playmate. Not that we mourned or anything, just filled her in on stuff. It was really a fun time for us, but then fun was my middle name.

Yeah, it's past my bedtime, how could you tell?

mmm said...

We used to rent a farm house on Stutt's Creek. The owners of the farm (actually an old plantation) had two ponies and a small cemetery - maybe 10 marked graves. We used to ride the ponies and I was thrown once or twice, but I can't say I ever rode the pony through the cemetery. Oh, the story that might have been.

I could write about the way the male pony would try to remove riders from his back by running under trees with low branches or close to the tree trunks, but he never got what he wanted, so there's no story there either.

Or, I could write about how some those folks resting in the cemetery have the same surname as my family - minus one letter, but we never did find a link in our family trees - just an odd coincidence.

No, not much to talk about today...

Just have a nice day, everyone.

Anonymous said...

We had docked our boat at Oxford's Ferry Landing when I was about 9. My parents thought they would take a break for their 3 youngish children and take a romantic ride across the Tred Avon. We were good kids (really) and were told to be the good kids that we were when they left. Well we got board, so we thought we would go swimming. Well a half hour later we were jumping off the pier polings which were a good 7 feet high off the piers, 12 feet off the water, great for high diving. One, we got splinters getting up the poles, two we looked like wild hooligans, three we were very lucky we didn't break our necks (who knows what was under that water), and four, sea nettles. My parents still like to tell the story about coming back on the ferry and seeing their children jumping off the polings.

IslandGirl said...

Hey CBW! Cemetaries! The one on the Island use to scare me. I would be scared to ride by it on my bicyle, so I would get my speed up on the little hill before it and zoom past it so nothing would get me. Obviously as a teenager that fear let me, because on 2 different occasions I went parking in two different cemetaries. What is up with that. As I write that isn't it a little strange that Mathews(beign the size that it is) has so many cemetaries. Wow! Speaking of grave sites, thanks for putting the flowers on Baileys burial site. That makes my heart sad. She was a sweet doggie.

Mental P Mama said...

We used to play in the Confederate Cemetery, and then we'd go to Carnton Mansion around the corner. It was haunted. Trust me.

MommyTime said...

I ADORED horses as a child. I had one friend who took riding lessons. We managed to convince my grandmother that it would be a good idea for the other girl and I to ride our bikes to the stables to see the horses one afternoon after school. We must have gone about five or six miles (riding on the shoulder of a road with a 45 mph speed limit) before we got so tired that we realized perhaps we would not reach the barn in time to make it back for dinner, so we turned around. I'm not exactly sure how fast a Huffy Cactus Flower with a banana seat can cruise when pedaled by a determined 9 year old, so I can't swear exactly how far we went, but I do know that we biked for about three HOURS to get out there and back, never once seeing a single horse, let alone riding one (which ride I'm sure we thought would magically be offered us just because we showed up at the stables). NEVER in ONE MILLION YEARS would I let my children jump on their bikes at that age and ride so far along a busy road. But we were fine, if exhausted, at the end of it.

Pueblo girl said...

What I can see has changed since I was a chld, is street play in cities. As a child, I was allowed to play unsupervised in our street in London. That's unthinkable now, in Madrid, for example. No parent would permit it. So many people talk about how unkind it is to keep a cat or dog in a flat, but what about a child, I ask myself? I feel sad about what these kids are missing out on.

Anonymous said...

Can't really remember who was on the horse when we fell off; thinking it was Neighbor and myself, but not sure! I do remember that the ride through the cemetary was spooky and then we rode through the woods....I think we had to go through some other seemingly abandoned property to get there, too. The horses were agitated by the time we got them in the water and I think their feet were getting stuck in the mud, which is why the ride was so awkward. Anyway, it was fun! Glad there were no broken bones!! We sure did get away with a lot in those days.

Middle Sis

Anonymous said...

Mother, you used the word "or" 9 times!

Wild horses? I have to admit this is strange behavior even for you!


Anonymous said...

I'm just going to point this out. When you took this photo did you mean get the goose turdsin it.



P.S. It's probably impossible to not get goose poop in the picture what with all the gesse running around!

Anonymous said...

Pueblo girl, I agree. I lived in the city before moving to Mathews in the 7th grade. We used to play hopscotch in the street, kick ball, oh and don't forget running through the neighbors yards to play kick the can and hide and seek. A lot of kids I have talked with now don't even know those games. I had one kid have no clue what pick up sticks or jacks were. But ask them what a wii is and they can give you an essay. God help them if the electricity goes out. LOL
Was it really such and innocent time? When did I get so old and become my mothere LOL

Big Hair Envy said...

OK. I had to go back and look for the goose turds in the photo. Bwahahahaha!!! (Thanks, CBD!)

We lived in Dale City when I was in grades 1-5. There was a HUGE hill in front of our house...all asphalt and sidewalks, of course. We used to FLY down the hill - in the middle of the street - on big wheels, roller skates and skateboards. It's a wonder no one was killed!!! The parents didn't mind...they were inside having cocktails and listening to disco music!!! (Have you ever seen "That 70's Show"??)

Anonymous said...

Ya really don't want me writing anything...while looking at a picture of a cemetery shrouded in a heavy mist and knowing that the reader (CBW) is afraid of what 'might' be in the water.

Stephen King

(not really, SMBS)

tj said...

...A friend and I used to ride our bikes about a mile one way to an itty-bitty nearby town called "Cottleville" where we would visit this itty-bitty liquor store/post office/market to buy candy. One time on our way back someone had hit and killed a mother opossum and she had babies still hangin' on her so my friend and I got all the babies and put them in our bike baskets and brought them home, we had 22 babies in all. We felt we had made quite the haul with bike baskets full of Bubs Daddy Bubblegum, Candy Cigarettes and of course Candy Necklaces hangin' around our necks AND 22 baby opossums to boot! lol... :o) Those were the days I'm tellin' ya... :oD

...Loved the cemetary story CBW! Lordy, what I wouldn't of given to have had access to a pony back then...*sigh*

...Blessings... :o)

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I believe you'll recall my story about the cemetery Easter Egg hunts? Where the Church Moms would boil up and color REAL EGGS and hide them 'round the tombstones, and we kids would run among the dead and collect all the eggs. Well, MOST of the eggs. The teenagers who mowed the graveyard grass would invariably locate the few we didn't find in, oh, JUNE, and you can imagine how awesome that smelled.

I also seem to recall a small family cemetery adjacent to a friend's house, but we were too skurred to wander into it.

Nope, I don't think your weirdness comes from all that time spent in the graveyard. Rather, it could be held up as further proof that we were separated at birth.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ-Your description of children talking to a dead comrade is so poignant. The fact that you were only in fourth grade makes it all the more impressive. Loved it.

MMM-I know that house you lived in but had no idea steeds were part of the package. Indeed it's a little known fact that ponies back in the 1970's were bred specifically for their ability to liberate themselves of their soon-to-be-injured riders. In other words they were ornerier than H@!!.

Anonymous - Your description of jumping off the poles is perfect, up to and including the part about splinters, which I've conveniently blocked out. Those splinters were The Worst. But your image is wonderful.Thanks.

IslandGirl - So good to hear from you. Yes, Bailey will be missed, what a sweet dog, and your poor brothers and nephew have a huge void to fill. Regarding parking in cemeteries, I'm sure you were talking about watching submarine races which were indeed quite popular at cemeteries. Quiet, dark, likely nobody's coming there late at night....

MPM-A CONFEDERATE cemetery! Oh, I'm jealous, really. You must write or tell us in July about the haunted house.

MommyTime- Love it! That Huffy with the banana seat could move. I coveted (aka borrowed aka stole) Middle Sister's my entire life. What a great story, and you're right about it not happening anymore. So true.

Pueblo girl - Today at Someplace Which Pays Me I was perusing the Daily Telegraph from the U.K. and there was an article on just this topic. Today we as parents are so caught up in protecting our children + technology discourages outside activities, therefore the message was that children will tend to be risk-averse. I am now starting to completely rethink my (over)protective instincts with my two....

Middle Sis- I was so daggone tired when I wrote this last night, but in the original version there was talk of the Uninhabited Property on Which We Trespassed to get the horses from Neighbor Girl's House to Cemetery. Since your memory is as foggy as mine, let's just say that Neighbor Girl fell off. Let's also say that nobody got hurt up to and including dearly departed citizens....

Dear Daughter: Somehow I knew you'd count my "ors" but never underestimate the strangeness of your mother's behavior. Actually you'd have loved hanging out with Middle Sister, Baby Sister and I back then. Like you, we loved being active, outdoors climbing trees, making forts, riding crazed horses through cemeteries and turning the barn into a haunted house for Halloween. For example. Love you.

p.s. to CB Daughter- You hit the nail right squarely on the head regarding the goose guano....there was so much of it on that dock that this was the only angle where I could get the cemetery, the dock poles, the reflection of the trees and the water without showing four hundred pounds of it. (You really do make me laugh.)

Msseabreeze-Your savvy street sense of the city life and my ability to navigate crab pots while going 30 mph down Queens Creek in the darkness is the very reason why we were/still are such good friends. We balanced each other out perfectly. Plus, I really loved your Pinto-mobile.

BHE-Loving the nostalgia surrounding the rollerskates and Big Wheels...and oh yes. Chesapeake Bay Mother LOVES --that is present tense relating to reruns--the 70's show. There are so many parallels....

Stephen King-I'm less afraid of what lies in that cemetery than I am of what is beneath that water...or atop that dock courtesy of the geese....

tj-What a *fabulous* story with such vivid images--loved me some candy cigarettes and necklaces. 22 baby opossums? Would love to hear more about that, especially the look on the adult's face when y'all walked in to announce the arrival of 22 baby marsupials....and perhaps 2 sugared-up children.

LOVED reading these! Thank y'all so much. - cbw

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Meg-Yours came in just as I was creating mine. Truly, we were separated at birth. Can't wait for the family reunion in July. (Seriously, bring your/my mother.)

foolery said...

My friends and I had horses and ponies, though never at the same time as each other, strangely enough. But somebody was always up for a ride, and it usually meant doubling up, and most of the time bareback, or maybe just a pad.

Once my friend Cindy and I took our horses behind her property to the creek. There were some well-worn trails through the trees and brush. We, of course, opted for the less well-worn trail. When it was too narrow to turn around we realized we were completely surrounded by very large garden spider webs hanging across the trail. We galloped full-speed, bent over flat against the horses and keeping our heads down until we were out in the sunshine again, screaming the whole way. The post-ride full-body pat-down for spiders was fierce and dramatic.

Yeah, I've always been a wuss.