Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cemetery Prairies

There are two Pioneer Cemetery Prairies in Ohio, which are the Mecca to prairie enthusiasts. Two small patches of ground, never tilled, never grazed. Their original plant communities from 160 years ago are still intact.

Royal Catchfly, Silene regia is the regent of prairie plants. Listed as endangered in Ohio it was once only known in Bigelow Cemetery. Normally a robust red, this off-colored salmon one spoke to me.

These stones are caressed by the prairie sea: waves of coneflowers and grasses in a place where time has stood still. Much of western Ohio was prairie until Mr. Deere's plow conformed it to farm fields.

Smith Cemetery
, a scant 5 miles away from Bigelow has its own unique personality: fewer flowering forbs, more grasses, and a sentinel of Bur Oak trees. Gravestones witness to the hardship of prairie life in Ohio. The heart break of infants' graves convey a sorrow to me that goes beyond the short lives of men cut down in their prime. I am already long-in-the-tooth compared to these
pioneer people.

And I wonder, what good my knowledge? What purpose does it serve to know, this is Flowering Spurge, Euphorbia corollata? Perhaps, people and relationships are more important than the facts we acquire.
Maybe this should be known simply as the "flower-woven-into-crowns" for barefooted children. I can almost hear their songs.


  1. Very nice post, Cheryl. Thanks for coming down and joining us! It was a very nice day!

  2. Thanks for the invite Janet- those tracts are very special places to me.

  3. Ooh, I can't wait to go there.

  4. Thanks for the pics and the post. It was a great place to visit. I wish I could be buried in such a beautiful, spiritual place..better than being fertilized each year for lawn care! I would like to frame your picture of the "prairie Sea".