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resting places

i've mentioned before on the blog that i've always loved cemeteries and that i grew up playing in one, which for a lot of people probably explains some things about me. i love photographing them, but one thing i regret is that i moved away from halifax before the advent of widely available digital photography, which made amateur professionals out of all of us.

halifax actually has a lot of centrally located cemeteries with fascinating histories. many of the victims of the titanic are buried there, including the one whose name james cameron borrowed for leonardo dicaprio's character in some movie. apparently, there were teenaged girls making pilgrimages to the site of his grave, the strains of celine dion still plucking at their heartstrings when the film came out.

there are the usual assortment of local historical characters interred there. a friend of mine from high school snapped a picture of me raising a bottle of keith's while sitting on the grave of alexander keith, but unfortunately, it's been lost to the ages. and i'm sure i was drinking underage. i poured the beer out. or found the bottle empty. i most certainly didn't drink it.

one of my favourite cemeteries in halifax, however, is the tiny one in the middle of downtown [or what used to be the middle of downtown, since the decline of barrington st. has made that area seem like a far-flung suburb from what i can glean] called simply "the old burying ground".

it is well-named, for many of its residents have been there since shortly after the city's founding in 1749. the graves there are noticeably different than in other places, too, bearing the more sombre symbolism of the eighteenth century, like skulls and bones and hourglasses turned on their sides to remind you of your own mortality.

i've been haunted since i was in my early twenties by the image you see here: a combination of the darker images with the mid-eighteenth century shift towards the power of resurrection imagery. the soul rises from the body and gains eternal life beyond the physical, beyond the bones, beyond the power of the hourglass.

when i was younger, i desperately wanted to get that image tattooed on the base of my back. it seemed appropriate, since the base of the spine is often considered the root of the soul. but i put it off and procrastinated and the next thing i knew every woman had a tattoo on the bottom of her back, to the point where most people i know refer to it derisively as the "tramp stamp". i still play around with the idea of doing it, because i still absolutely love the image and it would seem to be an appropriate tribute to my lifelong fascination with burying grounds in general, but any time i even mention the placement, i'm greeted with groans and rolling eyes. given the size and shape of the image, as well as the meaning of having it placed there, it would feel weird getting it anywhere else.

woe is me.

until then, i just keep reminding myself that the next time i visit, i'm taking the big camera, so that i can get all the shots i need of the graveyards of my youth.

the top image is one that i took myself. the bottom one, i'm embarrassed to admit, could come from anywhere, including myself. it's been on my computer forever and i've no idea where it came from. it was in a folder that contained a mix of found images and old images i'd taken from my cell phone.

oh, and in case you were wondering about mental health mondays, i'm giving it a rest for the week. it'll return for august, fresh and new.

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