Thursday, January 31, 2013

Maplewood Cemetery #4

Gordonsville, Virginia 

"Fred" was a dachshund; the "late and sometimes lamented companion" of writer E.B.White.
"One day last fall I wandered down through the orchard and into the woods to pay a call at Fred's grave. The trees were bare; wild apples hung shamelessly from the grapevine that long ago took over the tree. The old dump, which is no longer used and which goes out of sight during the leafy months, lay exposed and candidrusted pots and tin cans and sundries. The briers had lost some of their effectiveness, the air was good, and the little dingle, usually so mean and inconsiderable, seemed to have acquired stature. Fred's headstone, ordinarily in collapse, was bolt upright, and I wondered whether he had quieted down at last. I felt uneasy suddenly, as the quick do sometimes in the presence of the dead, and my uneasiness went to my bladder. Instead of laying a wreath, I watered an alder and came away.

"This grave is the only grave I visit with any regularityin fact, it is the only grave I visit at all. I have relatives lying in cemeteries her and there around the country, but I do not feel any urge to return to them, and it strikes me as odd that I should return to the place where an old dog lies in a shabby bit of woodland next to a private dump. Besides being an easy trip (one for which I need make no preparation) it is a natural journeyI really go down there to see what's doing. (Fred himself used to scout the place every day when he was alive.) I do not experience grief when I am down there, not do I pay tribute to the dead. I feel a sort of overall sadness that has nothing to do with the grave or its occupant. Often I feel extremely well in that rough cemetery, and sometimes flush a partridge. But I feel sadness in All Last Things, too, which is probably a purely selfish, or turned in, emotionsorrow not at my dog's death but at my own, which hasn't even occurred yet but which saddens me just to think about in such pleasant surroundings." E.B.White

E.B. White - from "Bedfellows" in Essays of E.B. White - HarperPerennial, 1999


  1. I'll be adding Essays of E.B. White to my reading list, thanks Edd. I feel Fred's presence in that first photo.

    1. Robert, E.B. White is one of the masters of English prose--I always enjoy anything that he writes.


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