December 27, 2008

Winter fog... cemetery...

Winter cemetery

Winter cemetery

Winter cemetery

Winter cemetery

The suddenly warm temperature on top of deep snow raised a lush fog. Last night, driving on a narrow road next to the lake, I said, "This is what death looks like in the movies. Driving into nothing." All the familiar landmarks had become invisible, and I felt lost even when I knew exactly where I was.

The fog remained, but it was easier to see things in the morning. I remembered the photographs I'd taken in the graveyards last December -- here and here -- so I went back to that place to see what the fog was doing to it this year -- and to do some things to it myself with the fisheye lens.

As I drove into the cemetery, just by chance, on the radio's "Sinatra" channel, Van Morrison was singing "That's Life." I can't find the Van Morrison version, but here's Frank Sinatra. Lyrics (by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon):
I said that's life, and as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks,
Stompin' on a dream
But I don't let it, let it get me down,
'Cause this fine ol' world it keeps spinning around...

That's life and I can't deny it
Many times I thought of cutting out
But my heart won't buy it
But if there's nothing shakin' come this here July
I'm gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die
What a crazy song! It's all life affirming and then, impetuously, suicidal.

IN THE COMMENTS: Original George says:
Keep On the Sunny Side...
William says:
I like the Jewish custom of leaving a pebble by the tombstone -- a pittance of memory by the eternity of death. Even if you could find them, a few bright flowers on a day like today would be overwhelmed by the bleakness of nature. Sad that the Irish custom of taking a whizz on the most elaborate tombstone has fallen into disuse. A few yellow streaks against the mausoleum of some forgotten notable reminds us of the transience of life and the abiding value of malice and envy in human affairs.
Sir Archy -- our favorite ghost! -- says:
I know, Madam, that Entertainments of the Nature of a Turn through a Graveyard, such as you have taken, are apt to raise dark & dismal Thoughts in tim'rous Minds and gloomy Imaginations; but, for my own Part, because of my Sanguine Nature, I do not know what 'tis to be Melancholy; and can, therefore, take a View of Nature in her deep and solemn Scenes, with the same Pleasure as in her most gay and delightful ones, especially when contemplating such Pictures as you have made upon this Occasion.
Dark & dismal Thoughts in tim'rous Minds and gloomy Imaginations... I have these sometimes. But I must say that this morning, I wasn't the slightest bit spooked by the thought of all the dead bodies as I stalked about looking for the oldest headstones and the most gnarled trees. The winter cemetery is more evocative of death than the green one, which I have also photographed, but in winter, I work more efficiently. I'm not here for meditation. I'm here for art. I concentrate on that and on not stepping in snowbanks higher than my boots.

George says:
You can get van morrison's version at amazon as an mp3 or on the album 'The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3', on rhapsody, and on itunes...
Ah, yes. Good point. Done, with iTunes. Now, I'm listening to it on infinite repeat as I write this.

47 comments:

Original George said...

Keep On the Sunny Side
It will help us every day.
It will brighten all the way.

Let us greet with a song of hope each day.
Though the moment be cloudy or fair
Let us trust in our Savior always
To keep us everyone in his care.

Mother Maybelle with Helen and Anita

TitusSuedehead said...

I am watching Suzie Orman's Women and Money.

We are working on our 8 qualities.

We have gotten through the first four:

Harmony
Balance
Courage
Generousity

TitusSuedehead said...

Next is happiness which is an essential quality for a healthy woman. I totally agree.

Next is cleanliness.

What are you saying about money and yourselves if your closet or car is dirty?

TitusSuedehead said...

Finally, we as women have beauty and wisdom.

Wow, I am excited.

Those are the eight qualities of a wealthy women.

Don't ever put yourself on sale ladies!!!!!

phx said...

Van Morrison did that too? That could be interesting.

TitusSuedehead said...

Finally, we are all going to stand up and say our name.

Why is it so difficult for us to say our name and take credit for who we are??

We are all just our names.

Now lets stand up and say our names ladies.

TitusSuedehead said...

Say your name, NOW.

I am TITUS!!!!!!

Beth said...

Beautiful - (the pictures, not Sinatra.) What are those trees, with red and/or gold leaves?

Meade said...

"What are those trees, with red and/or gold leaves?"

I'll take a guess and say Hydrangea, maybe PeeGee. But I'll bet Bissage, Peter Hoh, and/or chuck b. will know.

Great photos and post - one of Althouse's best ever, imo.

Chuckles said...

Shades of Phantom...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5rsc4GLrd0

TitusSuedehead said...

Did you know that Karen Black was in Children of The Corn V?

save_the_rustbelt said...

Mid Michigan had rain last night, now pea soup fog and flooding. 16" of snow becoming mush.

Hey God, Give Michigan a break?!

Rose said...

Titusyoucrackmeup!

William said...

I like the Jewish custom of leaving a pebble by the tombstone--a pittance of memory by the eternity of death. Even if you could find them, a few bright flowers on a day like today would be overwhelmed by the bleakness of nature. Sad that the Irish custom of taking a whizz on the most elaborate tombstone has fallen into disuse. A few yellow streaks against the mausoleum of some forgotten notable reminds us of the transcience of life and the abiding value of malice and envy in human affairs.

Host with the Most said...

Stunning Photos, Ann!

You could have made a career of photography if you had so chosen.

Hope you don't mind that I have downloaded many of your photos with autumn/winter themes to present as a big screen slideshow background during my wife's piano student recitals. Everyone wants to know where the beautiful photos came from.

Please continue with the pictures.

EDH said...

Wow, flashback. I can remember problems I had with certain Sinatra lyrics that upset me as a very small child. I think when you're just learning to speak only so many words can be understood at a time. And it's especially hard to follow a melody. So, it's easy to take a lyric completely out of context. "Roll myself into a big ball and die" was one of them.

One other was "Fly me to the moon." Whenever my mother would play and/or sing that song, I would start crying because I thought she wanted to go to the moon and leave me.

Actually, the full lyrics are quite endearing, but the tune is hardly upbeat and sends out mixed emotions with an almost melancholy feel. As a child, that and the first verse were all I heard. So, from an early age I've recognized a certain incongruity in Sinatra's music.

Fly me to the moon
Let me sing among those stars
Let me see what spring is like
On jupiter and mars

In other words, hold my hand
In other words, baby kiss me

Fill my heart with song
Let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you.


Okay, I think our time here is just about over, we will continue to explore my abandonment issues at next week's session. Thanks for sharing.

Sir Archy said...

To Professor Althouse.

Dear Madam,

As the Ghost of a Gentleman, dead these 260 Years and more, you may imagine that I should have a deep Knowledge of Death. I beg your Pardon if I cannot much enlighten you or your Audience on this Subject in such a brief Epistle as this. I can only say that, as the Lives of all People are different within the Degree of their Humanity, so are all their Deaths.

Further, it seems impossible to know in advance the Fate of each Person's Soul, in apparent Vindication of my former Calvinistick Religion. This profound Ignorance does not, however, vindicate any Human Doctrines, no matter how Divinely Inspir'd: It may slightly vindicate St. Paul when he says we see through a Glass darkly; but, you may consider, Madam, such an Ignorance would have Something of its own to say about the Want of an easy Highway to the Presence of GOD.

Dryden, in an excellent Preface to his Poem of Religio Laici, makes a Point along these Lines as follows, viz.:—

' That there is Something above us, some Principle of Motion,
' our Reason can apprehend, tho' it cannot discover what it is,
' by its own Virtue. And, indeed, 'tis very improbable that we,
' who by the Strength of our Faculties cannot enter into the
' Knowledge of any Being, not so much as our Own, should be able
' to find out by them that Supreme Nature, which we cannot
' otherwise define than by saying it is Infinite; as if Infinite
' were definable, or, Infinity a Subject for our narrow Understanding.'

Since Adam's Fall, those who occupy the Uplands of Life have always been in some Anxiety about their appointed Slide into the Grave. Many take excessive Care that their Fame & Fortune should survive them, as if things of this World would somehow live on and replace their Existence; but, almost every Body, regardless of Rank or Wealth, would have the Passage to Death o'er the River Styx, as the Ancients believ'd, be a smooth one. Some would hire a Coach & Six, as they had in Life, to convey them over an elegant and well-pav'd Bridge; others, more modestly, wish only a smooth & brief Excursion, with a polite and cheerfull Boatman, like a good gondoliere at Venice, to amuse them. What all fear, is to be dragg'd, screaming in the Water, across an icy or firey Course by Hooks tearing their Flesh.

I cannot say that any will escape such a Fate, but only that my own unfortunate Death was more like unto a Fall from a Horse than a Boating Party sailing into a Fog. I shall not importune the good Audience, Madam, at this, your Theatre of Topicks (as I call it), with Particulars of my own Passage from Life, except to say that I quickly & easily enter'd into an Existence of a disembody'd Spirit; which I am growing damn'd Tired of, haunting various Brains all these Centuries. But, I should make as little Complaint as I should Importunements; for, my Purpose here is to improve the Publick, not to render them, as we us'd to say.

I know, Madam, that Entertainments of the Nature of a Turn through a Graveyard, such as you have taken, are apt to raise dark & dismal Thoughts in tim'rous Minds and gloomy Imaginations; but, for my own Part, because of my Sanguine Nature, I do not know what 'tis to be Melancholy; and can, therefore, take a View of Nature in her deep and solemn Scenes, with the same Pleasure as in her most gay and delightful ones, especially when contemplating such Pictures as you have made upon this Occasion. By this Means I can improve my Self with those Objects, which others consider with Terror. When I look upon the Tombs of the Great, every Emotion of Envy dies in me; when I read the Epitaphs of the Beautiful, every inordinate Desire goes out; when I meet with the Grief of Parents upon a Tombstone, my Heart melts with Compassion; when I see the Tomb of the Parents themselves, I consider the Vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow: When I see Rulers lying by those who depos'd them, when I consider rival Wits placed Side by Side, or the holy Men that divided the World with their Contests & Disputes, I reflect with Sorrow and Astonishment on the little Competitions, Factions and Debates of Mankind. When I read the several Dates of the Tombs, of some that dy'd Yesterday, and some hundreds of Years ago, I consider that great Day when we shall all of us be Contemporaries, and make our Appearance together.

Praying that you shall enjoy every good Fortune that this Life has to offer in the New Year, I am,

Madam,

Your most humble & obt. Servant,

Sir Archy

ricpic said...

Cemetery Blues

Melting melting melting away
On a melting winter day,
All the shapes threaten to melt away --
Only the inmates must stay.

ricpic said...

What's with this "we women" routine, Titus? Did you finally go all the way and have that threatened sex change?

ricpic said...

Or did you join Meade and go lesbian?

ricpic said...

Not that there's anything wrong with that...or that.

RJO said...

Sir Archy channels Sir Thomas Browne -- well done!

"The number of the dead long exceedeth all that shall live. The night of time far surpasseth the day, and who knows when was the equinox? Every hour adds unto that current arithmetick, which scarce stands one moment. And since death must be the Lucina of life, and even Pagans could doubt, whether thus to live were to die; since our longest sun sets at right descensions, and makes but winter arches, and therefore it cannot be long before we lie down in darkness, and have our light in ashes; since the brother of death daily haunts us with dying mementoes, and time that grows old in itself, bids us hope no long duration."

George said...

wonderful photos, ann-


"when I meet with the Grief of Parents upon a Tombstone, my Heart melts with Compassion; when I see the Tomb of the Parents themselves, I consider the Vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow"

thank you, sir archy and joseph addison-

siyeh pass said...

Great pictures - I especially like the first. Thanks.

MadisonMan said...

Yes, those are hydrangea. Very old ones by the looks of 'em.

I drove down Speedway after dark last night, in between the two cemeteries, and it was really right out of a horror movie. Fog rolling out of the cemetery, shadows cast by streetlights. All I needed was for the car to mysteriously conk out, which it didn't.

A very spine-tingling thing to do is to walk the dog through the cemetery at night. Especially a windy, foggy night like last night.

MadisonMan said...

..and I'll add those are fabulous pictures -- even if you didn't include any of my relatives.

George said...

not particularly wild about frank or the song 'that's life'-

you can get van morrison's version at amazon as an mp3 or on the album
'The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3', on rhapsody, and on itunes-

that is, if you're interested; I'm not-

I have always liked his 'brown eyed girl', which was originally titled 'brown-skinned girl'; I understand he was never really that happy with the song-

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickenlittle said...

I'm lichen those photos--especially the last one.

TitusHairdresseronFire said...

I think you forgot to mention what Titus said in this post. I am sure it was a silly mistake but you can go ahead and fix it now.

Is that the cemetery by West High School? That elementary school by West High School is cool looking too.

TitusHairdresseronFire said...

Not all gays want to be women, contrary to popular belief.

But on occasion we do refer to ourselves as she.

I have no interest in getting a sex change although I would like to be Madonna for a day and fuck as many men as possible.

TitusHairdresseronFire said...

I am eating a Tomstone pizza that I purchased in Wisconsin while home for the holidays.

Today my gay neighbors asked me to take their dog if they died. They are very nice but like 30 years old. I asked if they planned on going anywhere and they said no but they wanted to know that their dog was in good hands. She isn't rare but she is cute so I said yes.

TitusHairdresseronFire said...

I got blown this afternoon at the gym.

TitusHairdresseronFire said...

I also purchased my vitamin c skin care products from The Body Shoppe. Madison or Wisconsin for that matter doesn't have a Body Shoppe. Get with it Badgers.

My sisters both have good jobs and make decent money but are very cheap. Every year they give me crap gifts for Christmas. Last year one of them gave me a "Chip Clip". This year she gave me chapstick, the other one gave me blank 5 blank cd's. I am not looking for a lot but come on. I give them nice gifts because I want to and like to but I would hope that they would make a little more of an effort than they do. Am I being ungrateful?

TitusHairdresseronFire said...

My mother always tells me not to spend any money on them because they won't on me but every year I do because I would feel weird giving them something as cheap as they give me.

TitusHairdresseronFire said...

If you could be a dove and do a little fixie wixie and give me a tag that would be terrific.

thanks much.

and

many thanks

EDH said...

Why do I always think of this video when Titus tells us about his living situation / home life?

Beth said...

Hydrangea - thanks, MadisonMan!

MadisonMan said...

I thought there was a Body Shoppe at one of the malls, West Towne or East Towne. If my daughter were here, I'd ask her -- she's up on all the mall stores.

Omaha1 said...

You posted a similar photo last year around the same time. I posted this comment then:

Though you partake of life and breath
We rest here in the frozen earth
And celebrate the peace of death
While you observe your Savior’s birth

Our quiet bones, beneath the snow
Forswear the warmth of Christmas cheer
Excited children will not know
The love of those who slumber here

When snow and fog their vigil keep
In quiet moments, contemplate
The silence of eternal sleep
Someday will also be your fate.

I have been a loyal reader but infrequent commenter lately. Sorry for being derelict in my duties as an Althousian!

kynefski said...

The commentary here is so refined, I hope I'll be forgiven for thinking of this

Darcy said...

That was beautiful, Omaha1.

And the photos are appropriately hauntingly beautiful as well.

Lem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

From Argentina Joan Manuel Serrat's song Pueblo Blanco. (did the best I could translating)

Hanging from a cliff
my people sleep white
under a sky that forced
not ever saw the sea,
forgot to mourn.

By its narrow streets of stone
no one pass not even the war,
oblivion only walks slowly
along the creek,
where no flower grows
Nor a pastor his sheep.

The clerk has seen
The Priest get old,
The Priest had seen the Corporal
and the Corporal the Sacristan,
and my people thereafter
saw the three killed,
I wonder why are people born
where birth and death is no different.

From planting to harvest
Living in the tavern,
the murmur Wives
its history, in the umbral,
of their lime homes.

And girls make bolillos
looking behind the curtains,
for a young man
forged night after night in their mind,
strong for a master
and tender for love.

They dream of him,
he dreams of leaving far away,
from its people, and the old
dream to die in peace,
and dying for dying
they want to die in the sun
breathless heat as lizards
half hidden an esparto hat

Scape tender People
that this land is sick,
and not wait for tomorrow
which did not gave you yesterday,
there's nothing to do.

Take your mule, and female and your Arre,
follow the path of the Jewish people
and find another moon,
maybe tomorrow fortune will smile
And if it's your turn to mourn,
is better facing the sea.

If I could join
a flight of doves,
flying through the hills
leave my people behind,
I swear for I was so
I would leave here
but the dead are in captivity
and they don't let us leave the cemetery.

http://tinyurl.com/8dds7r

Cedarford said...

William say:
I like the Jewish custom of leaving a pebble by the tombstone -- a pittance of memory by the eternity of death. Even if you could find them, a few bright flowers on a day like today would be overwhelmed by the bleakness of nature. Sad that the Irish custom of taking a whizz on the most elaborate tombstone has fallen into disuse. A few yellow streaks against the mausoleum of some forgotten notable reminds us of the transience of life and the abiding value of malice and envy in human affairs.


I suspect that the habit of drunken Irish pissing on headstones of the more prestigious departed is about as valid as greedy Jews digging up corpses to find and loot gold dental work, valuable buttons, even pennies off the eyes of the dead. Or William's declaration of Jews leaving a pebble to acknowledge the diminishment of all earthly matters attendewnt to death except for the rich few who legally capture and guide their wealth into the future via Foundations/Philanthropies...or ordinary Jews seeking atone for the Jewish grave-looting where a pebble is left.

Chris Wren said...

These images are absolutely stunning. Beautiful.

bearbee said...

~~Ebenezer Scrooge~~ ~~EBENEZER SCROOGE~~