collecting cemeteries

Thoreau wrote in his journal, “I farm the dust of my ancestors, though a chemist’s analysis may not detect it. I go forth to redeem the meadows they have become. I compel them to take refuge in turnips.”

Scattered and hidden in our Maine woodlands are cemeteries with ancestors redeemed and compelled to become oaks and ferns.

One headstone among sprouting trees and blueberry thickets reads on Bird Hill reads: "Eli H. Cushman... died... 1876. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace."

This old inscription is not too weathered to read, but it would have been better preserved in slate. Slate beats granite all to pieces for grave markers. Being originally clay, and having endured the stages of compaction and metamorphism, slate weathers far better than granite. And it's evident in these old grave markers where words in slate are legible long after those in granite have crumbled away.

The image was taken today at Whitman Cemetery up an old lane into woods off The Old County Road.