It seems only fair to me that the inhabitants of this small cemetery from the 1800s overlook a fine and lush green field. All around them, sheep graze as they have always done in these fields. The grounds are well cared for as are all Maine cemeteries, even though this one stopped accepting applicants a long time ago. The denizens of this cemetery lived and worked very hard a long time ago, and they have a right to now rest in the place they loved.
One of the things I like about the old Maine cemeteries is that they are usually set down right in the midst of life. There’s no sectioned off part of town where the cemetery is placed away from its members’ descendants. There are no walls or bars surrounding them. There are no “keep out” signs, no office of inquiry, and no permanent groundskeeper or employee. They are set down as easily and purposely as a cornfield might be set down, and because of that, there is no air of fear or spookiness about them. Well, at least not in the daytime.
|Partridge Cemetery, Woolwich, Maine.|
Because Maine still allows people to be buried on their own property, it is not unusual to drive along the road and find a grave or a small set of graves. In fact, it’s quite common. Like the old cemeteries, these graves are not pushed off to a place where no one wants to go. They are set out in the midst of life so that those who died might be among the living and in the place they loved.
Some people might find that morbid, but I don’t. Often, visitors to Maine will be shocked to see roadside graves or graves on the side of a pasture near a house. They have been conditioned to think that death must be avoided at all costs and that the living must never mention it unless absolutely necessary, and even then it must be done in hushed tones. But this is not how everyone feels. I think that might be more of a city idea. The fact is that death is a part of life and the two are inseparable, so why bother to hide one? There can be no death without life and no life without death. That’s part of the agreement we made when we came here.
So I’m glad the old cemeteries overlook the sheep and the cornfields and the cows and all those things that bring life to the country folk around them. It only seems fair that we honor the dead for having paved the way for us and taken care of the Earth that we might now live on it and enjoy it. Soon we, too, will be silent, stationary members staring out at the rich and lush fields before us, glad that our souls have been filled with the life around us.