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Cemeteries at Night and My Pumpkin Mission

A photo of Johnnie’s grave during one of my recent visits.

 

Tonight I simply wanted to log on and tell you about my return trip to Johnnie’s grave to retrieve the pumpkin I left for him. 

I left a pumpkin at Clara’s grave, too. I knew they would be fine for a month or so, but also knew I had the responsibility of going back to pick them up before they rotted. I mean, I didn’t want to see Linus and Lucy waiting for the Great Pumpkin next fall if I return for a visit. That would be embarrassing, and I’d feel really bad. So yes, I was stressing out just a bit about getting back to dispose of the pumpkins. The only problem? After Halloween, when we get busy with our lives again and “fall back”, I’ve discovered it is nearly impossible to get to a cemetery (unless you live right next to it) before dark! Even on days where I get to leave work at a decent time after school, it’s getting dark on the way there! I had every intention for over a week to get back to both of these cemeteries, but lack of sunlight was really making it difficult. 

When it comes to cemeteries (and most situations in life, actually), I’ve always followed the accepted rules. For most cemeteries, unless otherwise posted, you are prohibited from entering between dusk and dawn. Well a few nights ago, I rushed out of school as early as I could, but darkness beat me once again. I was already en route to Johnny’s cemetery when I decided that this mission to dispose of a pumpkin was important enough of a reason to go to that cemetery in the dark. I was frustrated and tired of the daily race and wanted to check this off my to do list.

I’ve spent hours and hours in cemeteries, both as a child and as an adult. They’re like peaceful parks to me. Though I don’t recall a cemetery visit after sundown, I was pretty confident that I wouldn’t have any fear issues. I thought back to the day I returned to do some follow-up investigation at an abandoned farmhouse… in the dark… without my team… and how good it felt to prove to myself that I could do it. I had no worries. My confidence wavered a bit, however, as I tried to locate Johnny’s grave. In the daylight, I knew that path like the back of my hand. At this point I’d been there probably ten times. But I assure you, it’s a whole different story in the dark.

By the time I made it to Johnnie’s grave, I was more worried about cops or someone in one of the few houses nearby thinking I was a trouble maker. This is also why I didn’t use a flashlight. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. But surely anyone would be understanding of my pumpkin mission, right? I felt a bit rude dropping by for such a brief visit, but I quickly greeted Johnnie and explained that I was taking his pumpkin back. I hoped he understood. I sent a quick prayer for him to be at peace and then crouched down to search for the pumpkin. In the shadows, my eyes finally settled on it. It was still there. It was either upside down or no longer had its stem, but it was hard to tell. I grabbed with both hands, but my fingers went right through the pumpkin. I had to hold back from blowing chunks right there. I waited too long. Fortunately, I was prepared with a trash bag and managed to scoop it all (or what I hoped was all) in the bag. I think I said something goofy to Johnnie about this awkward moment before heading back to the car that was parked nearby on one of the paths in the middle of the cemetery.

In the car, the next priority was finding my hand sanitizer. Once my hands were taken care of, I had a fascinating moment just sitting there in a silent car. I was enjoying the surroundings and realizing this wasn’t something you see every day. I wasn’t too frightened. In fact, I could have stayed there a while longer, admiring all of the silhouettes off in the distance. Once again, the fear of police lights driving up the hill to the cemetery got me moving quickly. I made my way to the main road and headed for home, while planning the next day’s rushed visit to retrieve Clara’s pumpkin. Would it be in the same condition? In my head, I made a few quick notes on the lessons learned during this trip to grab a squishy pumpkin in the shadows. 

 

You may be interested in my other posts in a series titled “Adopting Graves”, where I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey of adopting and researching two graves during the autumn season. For previous posts, visit:

 

Adopting Graves 2013: My Thoughts and a Look Back on a New Tradition
Adopting Graves: Second Visit with Clara and Johnnie

Adopting Graves: Some genealogy on our little Johnnie and his family
Adopting Graves: More on little Clara and her family
Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013)

 

 


Pumpkins and the Annual Trip to Rombach’s Farm (2013)

Yesterday Joe and I went with my parents on our annual trip to Rombach’s Farm to choose our family of pumpkins (soon to be jack-o-lanterns, aka “punkin’ heads”) for our front porch. Except for the off and on light rain, it was a perfectly overcast and cool autumn day. It was nice to be able to take my parents. They were here on a rare visit.

Joe took this really awesome picture. I love it because it looks like he would have had to be lying on his belly to get this shot. I don’t think he was, but it would have been a great photo opportunity for me if that was the case.

 

Rombach’s is huge. Though they give you the option of hunting through the actual patch for your pumpkins, we’ve always enjoyed shopping around in the huge rows of pumpkins that have already been picked and separated by size and price. The above photo shows just one of the many seasonal or spooky displays that they set up every year. They also have animals, a maze, a mini haunted house (that you have to be brave enough to walk through to pay for your goodies), and a play area. At the checkout, I usually grab some apple or pumpkin butter, but this year I grabbed five assorted flavored honey sticks and had them consumed by the time we got to dinner.  

 

These are some of the enormous pumpkins from the patch. I’m not sure how one would lug one of these to the checkout counter. We struggle with our normal sized pumpkins as it is. 

 

In choosing our pumpkins, we like to be drawn to the ones that resemble each of us… our pumpkin family, if you will. Joe’s pumpkin is usually skinnier, my pumpkin is usually short and fat, and Meril’s pumpkin (not yet in the wagon in the photo above) is usually smaller and round, just perfect for his paw to be carved into it in a couple of weeks. 

 

So here is our 2013 family of pumpkins on the front porch. Joe and Meril are on the left and I, because of being so enormous, am on the right by myself. We’ll carve them one week before Halloween. I’ll take plenty of photos.

 

Want to see some of our past family of pumpkins photos? (I know you’re excited. Don’t act like you’re not.)

2012

2012

2011

2011

2010

 

You might also like: 

An Update in Four Photos (Big Séance)

2012 Family of Pumpkins (Big Séance)

From Pumpkins to Jack-O-Lanters 2012 (Big Séance)

 

 

 


2012 Family of Pumpkins…

This year’s trip to the pumpkin patch.

 

Our 2012 family of pumpkins… soon to be a family of “punkin’ heads” (AKA jack-o-lanterns)! I’m not as happy with how they look on our porch this year… not sure why. What I do know is that the size and proportion of my pumpkin (the one on the right) matches me perfectly this year. 🙂 Meril’s pumpkin (which will probably feature a carved out paw print soon) is the smaller one on the step.

 

Meril proudly displaying his pumpkin… (he has been upgraded to a much larger pumpkin this year)

 

Meril proudly sniffing his pumpkin…

 

 


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