Whenever I travel I tend to be drawn to the mundane: Where do people live? Where do they shop? What do they eat? Somehow, I often end up passing a graveyard. Over time and many trips, I have started to make observations about the different traditions that are observed around burials. And as a gardener, I find I am often drawn specifically to take note of and/or document the plant life that grows there as well as the small gardens that families plant on or around individual plots.
In Dominica I spent more time in cemeteries than is usual as I was specifically looking for any traces of my ancestors that I could find. With little resources or space, burial grounds are regularly overturned to make room for new bodies so it was rare to find a gravestone older than 20-30 years. Edited to add: Commenting below reminded me that Hurricane David completely devastated Dominica in 1979. That’s would be a major factor in why there are few gravestones before 1980.
I did not expect to find anything, but Davin and I looked carefully just in case. While searching, I took the time to document some of the interesting things that I saw, specifically the plants. I thought you might like to see it too and even though it has taken me three years to post these images, I had you in mind when I took them.
This was the closest I came to locating a distant relative in a graveyard. I was never able to determine if I am related to her.
I’m still engaged in the long process of catching up on developing and scanning a backlog of film dating back a few years. There are lots of plant and garden related images within this pile that I had forgotten about. It is bringing up old thoughts, ideas, memories.
For instance, looking at this image taken in NYC last August has me thinking about unusual gardens. I found this one attached to an auto body/detailing shop on the Bowery. I had to stop and capture it for my memory.
Gardens like this are some of my favourite. They are a surprise. They are little gems that lie tucked within the overlooked nooks and crannies of the city. Blink and you will miss them. They are not beautiful in the traditional sense. They are dismissed. They are not celebrated within the glossy pages of horticultural magazines. There are no unusual/rare/designer plants here. The pots are ugly/handmade/crude; they were not purchased in contemporary shops. They are messy. They are dirty. They are not special.
They are brilliant. They are magic. They make the city come alive.
Happy New Year!
I wrote my first year-end wrap-up post in 2010 and continued with it in 2011. As I sit here at my desk the end of 2012 [note that I began compiling this post just before the New Year], the garden buried underneath a blanket of snow, I feel compelled to continue the exercise, in part, because I can hardly remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, never mind what I did over the last year! I have a tendency to be onto the next thing the second the last thing is done. Exercises like this are a good memory jog and a way to slow down, look back, and remind myself of the things I accomplished in the recent past.
2012 began with a tranquil week in the desert or more specifically, coastal Baja California desert chaparral. Oh, how wonderful it smelled. There was rosemary in bloom and sunshine on my face. There was an organic farm with a head gardener who could match me in his enthusiasm for seeds and interesting edibles. We plunged our hands into warm soil and pulled out fresh carrots. We spent our nights cozying up to a fragrant wood fire and toasted our escape from the frozen, scentless world at home. I loved every minute of it.