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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cemeteries in the Snow

Cemeteries in the Snow?

Okay, call me a taphophile if you must, but I REALLY love photographing stones and statuary in the snow. Most people I "used" to know only went to cemeteries when they had to. You know, funerals and to maybe place flowers at Memorial Day or special days such as birthdays etc.. The people I know now spend a great deal of time in cemeteries walking, having lunch, studying genealogy, taking tours , and also practicing photography.

Whoa. Let's back up a bit.
What's a "TAPHOPHILE" you ask?
Taphophilia is a passion for and the enjoyment of cemeteries. The singular term is a taphophile. Taphophilia involves epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, art, and history of (famous) deaths. I love it all! All except the gravestone rubbing because it can actually hurt the stone and affect its appearance after awhile.

Epitaphs can be funny as well as advice laden.
Here are a couple:

Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime
Dean Martin

Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,

To digg the dust encloased heare!

Blest be the man that spares thes stones,

And curst be he that moves my bones.
William Shakespeare

I have been a fan of cemeteries and I'm not really sure where that came from? My earliest memories of actually spending any amount of time in a cemetery was when my parents would haul all of us to remote Webster County WV cemeteries to clean stones and place flowers. Having lunch on a blanket was a typical event during those afternoon treks as many southerners have done and still do.

My love of cemeteries entered into my professional life in 2005 and  leading cemetery tours seemed a natural addition to leading ghost hunts and haunted tours. I loved grabbing my candle lantern, donning my civil war era cape and leading people into the dark shadows among stones and the somewhat eerie crypts.

I have led nighttime tours of cemeteries since 2005. Cemeteries I have done professional tours at include:

Massillon Cemetery (Massillon OH)
Akron Cemetery (Akron Ohio)
Seville Cemetery (Seville OH)
Gnadenhutten Cemetery (Gnadenhutten OH)
Summersville M.E South.Cemetery (Summersville WV)
Pioneer Cemetery (Canal Fulton OH)
Schoenbrunn Village cemetery (Tuscarawas County OH)

But getting back to cemeteries in the snow...
Cemeteries in winter take on a whole new feeling. It's a fresh and clean landscape. Gone is the grass and the muddy car tracks and in it's place lies a crisp white coat of snowy pureness.

Snow on the hillside cemetery

  Photo by Renee Deal, Summersville WV 2010

One of the reasons I love cemeteries in the winter is because of photos like this.
Statue's tell stories and they are made all the more poignant when dusted with snow.

Angel draped in white snow

Cemetery in Canton Ohio

The symbolism of the two hands clasped represents a union of sorts, marriage or a couple who were partners in life. Stone's tell stories!

While winter is still upon us, take time to venture out to a local cemetery. Grab your camera, some hot chocolate to go, and head off into the fresh snow.

You may be surprised at some of the beautiful sights you will come across!

(or is it??)