In a lonely graveyard

I was walking through Mountain View cemetery yesterday, wishing there was some kind of camera that I could use to take a snapshot of a sound.

Oh. Wait. I guess a voice recorder does that.

Okay, I wish that I had quick and easy access to it, like the phone on my camera.

Oh. Wait. I think there’s something like a memo recorder on my iPod, and on my phone.

Okay, I wish there was a place and a community that encouraged the sharing and appreciation of sounds, the way that Flickr does for photographs…

Oh. Wait.

Okay, scratch all that. Starting again.

I was walking through the Mountain View cemetery yesterday, just before sunset, appreciating the silence. I had headed off to one of the lesser maintained corners. That place has stunning private mausoleums, and amazing historic sections, and beautifully maintained grounds, but there are a few corners that are… different.

Last week I found the corner that was reserved for “Homes” back in the 1800s. They must have donated the space, since they certainly don’t do a thing to keep it up. It’s covered with pine needles instead of grass, and most of the stone is broken or missing. There are a slew of identical cement-framed rectangles, with a step at the front proclaiming them for use of the Oakland Orphanage, or for a Home for Unfortunate Ladies, or a dozen other fascinating charity names. No personal names inside the plot (except for a few prominent Sisters), just the place name at the front, and a big communal square of anonymity.

But I digress. That was last week. Yesterday I was in my other favorite corner, just as old, also bereft of fertilized green grass, but slightly more maintained, with several intact personal headstones. It’s actually my favorite spot, with eucalyptus trees covering the gentle hills, and there’s always the sound of a breeze coming through the trees there.

Yesterday there was another noise. The rain from the weekend was still coming down from the many hills above this spot, and about 50 feet from the bottom of the path, the old gutters had split, and were clogged with leaves and debris. The water could not get any further, and it clearly had made its own path. Straight down. I could hear a muted waterfall, diving into god-knows-what space below the graves.

Are there catacombs in California? If not, there may soon be.


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