Today Music Man and I took the boys to our local cemetery. It has wonderful stone walls all around and a bunch of very old hand forged gates, one of which appears above. It sits smack dab in the center of our town at the busiest intersection. There's no creepy sense of isolation in this cemetery, it's actually quite inviting and friendly. In this cemetery there are 2 monuments that look like granite but are in fact made of metal. It was quite a fun adventure for me to try to locate them, which I never could do as I thought they were headstones, not monuments. Music Man showed them to me today. Apparently as the story goes they are members of a family that had a brother that owned a foundry, and he had them made. A neat little tid bit of history from our little villa.
Our purpose today was not only to show the boys a bit of the history of the town, some of the founding fathers names and such. They were particularly affected by the number of children that are in there. That lead to an interesting discussion of why these children all died so young. And a good lesson on how vaccinations have made childhood deaths fewer and further between nowdays. Maestro is at the age and understanding of the fact that these children were just like him and his brother. We talked about how one family lost 3 children in less then a month, and we hypothesized about what could have happened to them, why they all died so close together. The thing I didn't say to him, but passed the prayer along to their mother how sorry I was that she suffered so much loss of all three of them so close together. I can't imagine how I could go on in the face of that pain. As she was still alive and died almost 50 years after her children, that's a long time to suffer such sadness. But, I suppose they accepted that it happened to a lot of people then, but I still don't know how you could ever recover from that pain.
I also particularly like to look at the artwork on the headstones. I attended a really fascinating talk about 4 years ago on what all the particular symbols mean that were carved into the stone. We noticed today some peculiar ones that I've not seen before but want to look up to see what they mean. In addition to lots of urns, willow trees and faces with wings, we saw some hearts with diamonds in them (some right side up, some upside down) along with some coffin shapes that were also either upside down or right side up and some celtic type designs. I don't know why I'm so fascinated with old cemeteries, but I am.
The other reason we wanted to take the boys into the old plot is that there is a letterbox hidden there. For those of you that may not be familiar with letterboxing, it's a fun activity whereby you get a clue from the website, follow the directions on the clue until you find the box containing a stamp and journal someone has hidden. Each person or family have their own stamp which you bring with you along with your own journal. When you open the letterbox, you stamp your journal with their stamp and their journal with your stamp and write a little something in it such as the date, weather or anything else you might find fun to jot down. Then in our journal we write where we found it, the date and any fun memories that happen to accompany the day and hunt for the box. Then, you place everything back in the box and re-hide it in the same spot for the next "hunter" to find. It's so much fun, and a completely family friendly activity. Though it's by no means relegated to families. I know a number of grown ups and retirees a like that enjoy it. It gets you to places you'd perhaps never see otherwise. We've been to many neat places, some of them miles in on a trail, or at a harbor or lighthouse. My favorite, by far, however is the cemetery boxes. And when I find the clue on line for one, I always save it for autumn. Something about wandering around a cemetary in the crunching leaves looking for a mysterious box it's super fun for me. And the kids really enjoy it, too.
Autumn is proving to be on it's way for sure. Letter boxing, fall and cemeteries go together like pumpkin spice tea, smores and fall campfires. If you've not heard of letterboxing before or are interested in a simpler style entertainment every member of your family can enjoy, check out http://www.letterboxing.org/ . It teaches the kids lots about how to follow direction with the adventure of the stamp as a reward. Fun time, free time and especially great as an autumn activity.
Wishing you stamps and cemetery adventures of your own, ~Peacemom