Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Cemetery Blogging

It rained again last night. This has been a really wet spring. I love nothing more than rain - the sound, the smell, the taste. Flashes of light and thunder at midnight. It's all good! As a result of all this rain my flower beds look wonderful and I've barely had to water my garden. The weeping willow tree hasn't yet gone into water shock and lost half its leaves, but the grass/weeds have to be mowed more often.

There is a national wildlife refuge not far from here, south of a town called Muleshoe. Jackson and I sometimes stop there in the dark of the night. There is a picnic area at the top of a hill on one side of the draw that runs through the reserve. We like to pull off the highway and park next to the picnic tables. There are no lights for miles. We sit in the back of the truck and listen to the howling coyotes. In the spring you can hear the cries of the baby coyotes. If you have never heard that, you've missed something incredible. You would swear it was a human child screaming somewhere out in the middle of the night. Coyotes are extremely cool.

One day we ended up at the reserve during the daylight. We decided to drive down the long dusty road that lead to the ranger station. I remember wondering what sort of federal sin a ranger had to commit to get banished to such a god-forsaken outpost. The wildlife they are reserving at this place? Rattlesnakes, lizards, jackrabbits, all manner of insidious bugs and the aforementioned coyotes. Nothing cute and fuzzy. Nothing large and impressive. Maybe a ratty old white-tailed deer on a good day.

Sure enough, the ranger turned out to be an old guy about two days out from retirement. He was pretty philosophical about it all and genuinely glad to see other human beings. He showed us around and then set up the interpretive slide show of the reserve for our viewing pleasure.

We viewed it. With pleasure.

There were an awful lot of pictures of beautiful wildflowers in the photos. I've lived around this area all my life and I've never seen anything that looked as well populated, botanically, as these pictures. I mentioned this to the ranger. He just grinned.

He said the slide show had been produced about ten years ago after one of the wettest spring seasons in history. They had wildflowers everywhere, many of which sprouted from seed that had lain dormant for decades. It was the only time before or since that he'd seen anything like that either. The government sent a photographer out from back east to do a slide show for the reserve.

The ranger laughed about how tourists (tourists? here?) occasionally come through the area, see the presentation and then are horribly disappointed by reality. He'd had a group of people from Great Britain just the week before (really? here?) who had been rather shocked by the barren expanse they were expected to explore. (Not much exploring to it - just stand outside the front door and look around. You can see it all from there.)

And what does this all have to do with cemeteries?

Just this - I thought I would post pictures of one of the ugliest cemeteries ever. This place is somewhere between Fake Cow County and Muleshoe. Here is the cemetery sign:

Notice that they recycled a sign from a defunct church and spray painted the cemetery name on it. BULA CEMETERY. This is the lovely view from the gate:

And the only monument:

Evidently, something happened to all the individual stones - I have no idea what. This is the only monument in the vast expanse. It lists all the names of the previously deceased. But what I really wanted to show you was the vast and verdant landscape stretching out behind the monument. If you look closely, you will see, well... nothing.

Do we know how to do wide open spaces around here, or what?


Quotidian Grace said...

Great Friday post, as always. Sure looks like the Panhandle!!

Presbyterian Gal said...

Hey Rachel, My mom and I are sittin' here laughin'. My mom says she grew up there, but it was Imperial Valley!!! See, we are just as wide and open in California. Though I think we have more headstones.

Just hopin' that all the people listed on the monument there aren't buried stacked up on each other...........Unless it was a reallllllly close family.

DogBlogger said...

Lovely lead-in with the seemingly-unrelated story...

And I haven't heard baby coyotes that I know of, but I've seen some grown-up ones and dang, are they cool. Several Advents ago, during worship, I saw one walk across the field outside our sanctuary. There were snow flurries falling, and it was such a lovely sight. It took much restraint for this choir member to refrain from interrupting the sermon by yelling, "Look! A coyote!"

Mile High Pixie said...

Oh! Oh! I want to camp here! in the cemetary! I find cemetaries so very cool and interesting, and I find the missing tombstones so intriguing--note that some of the birth years are missing from the names. Perhaps the original stones were actually carved wood, and locals were asked to provide names and dates, hence the missing dates.

Trace said...

Oooh-wee, how gruesome and lonely is this cemetary?!

annie said...

Weird...and lonely, I bet. I'd like to go sit on the hill and look into the darkness (on a coolish night, with no mosquitoes!)

Do you think they meant the name of the cemetery to be "Beulah", as in "Beulah Land, I'm longing for you, etc, etc." and they misspelled Beulah?? (You know that song that gets sung quite often at funerals? It starts out "I'm kind of homesick...for a country...that I have never seen before...)

Miss Kitty said...


Please send some of that rain our way when you get a chance. We've had 1/8" in two months.

beth said...

Oh, man. Laughing. Out loud. Having spent some formative years in Lubbock, this reminds me of so many things.

Like why I couldn't wait to leave.

God. Forsaken.
(no offense, being that it's your home and all...but geez, louise...)