I woke up in a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mood. The anticipated snow day did not happen, yet there was enough snow to make everything harder. The trip to school was slow and slippery, and my 13 year-old passenger’s mood matched mine. After my school run, I tried to come up with ideas to improve my day, but it was like trying to plan dinner when you are not hungry. Nothing sounds good. I thought about what my friends might do if they were grumpy. Barbara would bead, Rachel would breathe, Isabel would try a new recipe, Cynthia would Facebook, my mom would just press on, and Carol and Judy might seek out someone to torture just a little (the front-runner idea at that point in my game). I was on the verge of a major “What about ME?” whine, when I was struck with an AHA! I decided I would grab my camera and head to the neighborhood cemetery.
It may sound odd to you, but I enjoy visiting cemeteries. Perhaps it’s in my DNA. My mom and her sister were often sent to play on their grandfather’s grave as children. I was delighted that Joe shared my enjoyment, so we often wandered Chicago cemeteries and visited his mother’s grave from time to time. When Cole was about three, he raced around the cemetery blowing bubbles with his “grandmother up in heaven.” Just before we left, Cole took his bubble wand and put it on his grandmothers grave, in case she wanted to blow bubbles later.
When Cole started school, Joe routed their morning drive through Rosehill Cemetery. When I picked Cole up from school each afternoon, I loved hearing the stories of interesting tombstones, the number of coyotes spotted or how an owl grabbed an early morning squirrel or bunny snack before heading off to bed. When I asked Cole if he was sad when the Owl flew down grabbed the squirrel and flew off for a squirrel breakfast, he gave me a stern cemetery lesson 101: Owls have to eat, too. I guess so.
Cemetery drives took on new meaning when Cole, desperate to take the wheel of the family car, concluded I should let him practice driving in the cemetery. Not a bad idea, I thought, If he scares me to death, it’s convenient, and as Michael Gartner points out in his family story, Right Turns Only, who could he hurt?
Back to the story of ME and my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mood. I took my grumpy self and my camera and headed over to the neighborhood cemetery, which is about ½ mile from our home. As I drove through the entrance, I could see the work of Father Winter. The snow was deep, crisp, and even. Tree branches drooped under the weight of snow that had not yet been blown off, and the winter fairies had been decorating with icicles. Tombstones boasted a splash of color from the occasional leftover Christmas wreath or bow.
The best part, however, was yet to come. I slowly followed the turns of the freshly plowed cemetery paths and was delighted to see two beautiful coyotes romping and playing, rolling in the snow and engaged in a game of tag. It was so engaging to watch first-hand, that I didn’t capture a picture of their play, but I did catch a few pictures reflecting both their beauty and curiosity at being watched. They were wily and fun, and when they decided they had enough of my curiosity, they loped off and disappeared.
As I left the cemetery, I realized my grumpy mood had vanished. My spirits had lifted.
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