Monday, December 16, 2013

O Christmas Tree

The young woman could have climbed over the fence and out of the cemetery if she had really wanted to. She even told me so.

A few minutes earlier, as she walked down the icy sidewalk outside the cemetery fence, a large man moved slowly toward her from the opposite direction. A few car lengths ahead of her, he darted into the dark street, bending low behind the parked cars while she passed him. It was there behind one of the cars that he found the glove he had dropped that morning.

Picking up the frozen glove, he turned back toward the cemetery entrance and noticed that the woman had gone inside. He followed her. 

Stopping just inside the main gate and aware of her presence, he began to photograph the decorated and electrically-lit Christmas tree in front of the old bier house. She watched him hesitantly. After a moment, she said, “I’d love to go further into the cemetery, but I don’t want to be locked in. The fence looks easy enough to climb, but …” She didn’t have to finish the sentence. Who would want to do that in twenty-degree weather, surrounded by snow and ice at night, with a camera around one’s neck? Well, maybe the person who REALLY wants that perfect shot …!

It was five o’clock and the sign on the gate said the place closed at five. It was dark. Someone would be around soon, I supposed. 

I’m not always capable of my clearest and most sensitive thinking, so I probably should not have followed her into that graveyard - but I did want to photograph the tree. After a few shots, I figured that this might be a threatening situation for her, so I blurted out how pretty the tree was and how my friend’s son was part of the tree-lighting ceremony the previous night and how I came back here to retrieve my glove. Although I wanted to photograph the tree from the area where she was standing, I decided to leave and let her resolve her own dilemma. I wanted to be helpful, so I suggested she leave a note on the gate asking the attendant to shout out for her before he locked up. As I said goodbye and turned to leave, I realized how stupid a suggestion that was. Sure, she’s going to leave a note for a stranger saying, essentially, “I’m here alone in the dark. Come and get me.

But you know, sometimes, if you really want that shot, you have to throw caution to the wind ... and the cold and ice. Lord knows, I’ve gotten myself locked in cemeteries a number of times, sometimes even on purpose. I don’t know if the woman ventured further in or not. If she did, I bid her tidings of great joy.