Michael Wolf
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Please Unlock That Cemetery: Cemetery Adventures and A Case For Making More Greenspace

Background

It's Halloween-time as I compose this post, my favorite time of year. With the cool autumn air of Ohio filled with the near-inescapable smell of burning leaves and bonfires giving an excuse to pull out thrift-store sweaters I recall trying to summon spirits with a handmade ouija board, wandering aimless and anonymous down transformed neighborhood streets and woods filled with adolescent mystery. There are certain albums I can only listen to in the months of October and November and some stores that, when told in those months, hold the same punch as the first time I heard them. Although I can't experience it in the same visceral sense that I once did in that place that has seasons and open fields, I look back happily on those memories and know that I will one day find that atmosphere again.

But I'm not writing about Halloween in particular, but about those plots of land that gain a special bit of notoriety around this time of year: cemeteries. Cemeteries differ around the world, based on geograghy, tradition, and means. There's the Hanging Coffins of Sagada, the swamp-proof Metairie, and the towering temples of columbariums in Asia. However, my focus in this piece are those chunks of land, often flat or slightly rolling, grassy hills of tombstone-pocked soil where many Americans have buried their dead.

The gravesites I grew up around were of a couple different classes, often distinguishable in style by their age and religious affiliation.

Bethel Cemetery
Bethel Cemetery
Dexter Memorial at Spring Grove Cemetery
Spring Grove Cemetery
Spring Hill Cemetery
Mt. Auburn Cemetery
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery