This photo is of the Rexford family monument, taken in February 1998 on my first cemetary photography trip. I passed by this cemetary every day on my way to work and had gotten into the habit of looking for the eagle as I drove by.
It was an unseasonably warm (40 degrees) day in February when I loaded up the camera with film, grabbed a few area maps, and took off in search of interesting things to snap. My first stop was this small cemetary 8 miles north of my house. The earliest graves date back to the mid 1800's; several locally important people are buried here, including a nearby town's founder.
There is a low, stacked stone wall which runs along the front of the cemetary. On the north end of the wall there is a beautiful weather-aged wrought iron gate which unfortunately is in a state of disrepair with several of the decorative bars missing. To its credit, however, it appears to have survived several valliant attempts of removal at the hinges. Another thing that caught my eye was what I thought was a mausoleum. There was a writeup in the local newspaper about this cemetary. According to the article, this building was used during the winter to house corpses for burial in the spring when the ground was no longer frozen.
I walked along the north edge of the cemetary, looking for long-lost graves in the tall dead weeds which separated the north side of the grounds from a small pine grove. I noticed a sweet smell, like hyacinth flowers, while walking in this area. This was strange as I was walking not 10 feet from towering pine trees, their needles underfoot even at this distance from them. The scent of pine should have been prevalent. I found an old 16 ounce glass coke bottle and wondered how long it had been there. The last time I saw Coke in a bottle like that was 1988 or so....
I started walking to the south, amongst well kept graves and small monuments. Again, I smelled the sweet hyacinth scent, more intense and longer lasting than the time before. I looked around and saw no flowers left in pots, or coming from the ground. It was February; the ground was frozen, it rarely rose above freezing during the day, and even in the stores it was still a few months away from the time to sell grown-in-a-greenhouse potted spring flowers. I smiled and wondered if I had an unseen someone accompanying me on my tour.
I walked through the southern part of the graveyard where the newest graves are, the sweet flowery smell drifting in and out in front of me as if I had been walking on a breezy day next to someone wearing a little too much perfume. I turned and walked north, stopped at the Rexford monument and looked at it closely. I could see the eagle's head had come off at one point (weather? vandalism?) and been re-cemented in place. I wondered what this family was known for, as this was one of the larger (and costlier) monuments in the cemetary.
Then again, stronger than before, the hyacinth smell. I stopped and inside my head I asked "Who is there? If you are friendly, please introduce yourself. If you are not friendly, leave me alone." Not surprisingly, there was no answer. I turned to continue walking through the old part, the hyacinth smell still with me. I heard something skittering in the leaves behind me. I thought maybe I had stirred up a field mouse or a squirrel had come out to investigate the stranger wandering through its domain. I stopped, and the rustling continued. I turned around and three leaves were chasing each other widdershins in a small tight circle, rising and falling from the ground to roughly eight inches off the ground, like they had been caught in a tiny tornado. There was no breeze. The air was perfectly still. This time, I quietly asked out loud, "Who are you?".
I didn't get an answer. The leaves spiraled to the ground and remained still. I turned and walked to the car, and the hyacinth smell faded.