Looking out my back door, I was reminded of my stolen snow shovel from a few years back. One wintery Friday evening it was snowing like a mother, so our friend Tom asked to stay the night. As we sat inside holed up and ordering Chinese food, Tom thought he saw someone through the glass at our back door. I figured since there really wasn’t anything worth stealing back there I didn’t even get up to look. Next morning, I was chagrined to find my snow shovel gone – with fourteen inches of snow to shovel! I closely scrutinized the hardware toted by the vagrants who came to my front door over the next few hours asking for twenty dollars to shovel my walks. Could anyone possibly have the nerve to steal my shovel and then try to charge me to shovel my walk with it? I ended up paying two neighbor kids to do the work.
|Headstone, Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia|
Philadelphia Free Library (Benjamin Franklin Parkway) on “Historic Cemeteries of Philadelphia.” The exhibit will feature predominantly Laurel Hill, Woodlands, and Mount Moriah cemeteries.
As it happens, each of us had long ago and for various reasons chosen one of these cemeteries on which to concentrate, so we each have many images of these institutions spanning a ten-year period. Frank Rausch (who literally lives in Laurel Hill Cemetery), Robert Reinhardt (who has done extensive photography and research in the cemeteries of Scotland), and Ed Snyder (starring as himself), will be presenting their photography of Laurel Hill, Woodlands, and Mount Moriah, respectively.
From the photos I’ve sprinkled throughout this article, you can see that I was rather taken with the light covering of snow on everything. Rather than cover up, it seemed to accentuate small details, which I have in the past, missed. Of course, the last two times I was here it was actively snowing, so I didn’t walk around as much. From the lettering on headstones to small carvings such as the boat propeller above, the eye is drawn more to the shapes of things than their intended meaning. The geometric lines of crosses and crypt covers jump out at you, begging to be photographed. A dusting of snow on the cold shoulders of these Victorian mourning statues make them appear far more alone in their grief.
|Runners at the Woodlands|
“The trees that adorn the cemetery are some of them of majestic growth, leading to the scenery and the grounds the most impressive effect. The vistas beneath the foliage, or between the separated groves, conduct the eye to distant prospects, varied on every hand, and by every change of position,; there, the spires and public buildings of the city are beheld; here, the windings of the Schuylkill [River]; and more distant, the bright surface of the Delaware [River] and the blue hills of New Jersey skirt the horizon; while flowers and shrubs are scattered plenteously around, shedding a cheery influence in shaded lawns, or among the tombs. All that taste can suggest or science demand, consistently with the solemn purpose of the place, has been added to the superior advantages already possessed.”
– From "The Stranger’s Guide in Philadelphia …," 1852.
|Woodlands' entrance gate|
References and Further Investigation:
The Woodlands Cemetery website
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