A couple of weeks ago my soccer-loving husband had a small knee operation. It was the third time on the same knee-very much a weekend warrior injury!
The surgery was scheduled at Cambridge’s Mount Auburn Hospital for 7 AM and I needed to be reasonably nearby to get him at discharge. Hours of unscheduled time? I knew immediately that I would pass the morning at Mount Auburn Cemetery, one of my favorite haunts in all of Boston. I actually keep the cemetery’s map in the glove compartment of my car- just for a spur-of-the-moment visit.
Established in 1831, Mount Auburn was one of the country’s first garden cemeteries. Members of the Massachusetts Hortiucltural Society helped with the design- and it shows. There are 70 miles of walkways that wind among the headstones and through woodland gardens and scenic overlooks with charming names like Primrose Path, Viburnum Avenue, and Snowdrop Path.
Mount Auburn is open to the public and is still an active cemetery. It is well known for having some the most famous graves in Boston. Some of its high-profile residents include Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Winslow Homer.
Making time for time on a beautiful late-autumn day, I found beauty and tranquility without the crowds. For nearly 3-hours I wandered the grounds looking at the adornments on the graves and reading the headstones. I stumbled upon wood salamander boxes left by citizen scientists in the forest and I climbed a grassy knoll for a fantastic view of Boston in the distance. And I totally geeked out when I randomly came upon the graves of Charles Bulfinch (the colonial-era architect) and Louis Agassiz (the 19th century Harvard biologist).
I was also on a quest to find the Hygeia Statue by Edmonia Lewis which was commissioned in 1870 by Harriot K. Hunt for her grave site. Hunt was one of Boston’s first female physicians, Lewis one of the country’s first black sculptors- and the story is a wonderful 19th century example of women supporting women.
I was deep in the furthest reaches of the cemetery when the surgeon called me to tell me that my husband’s surgery was a success and that I could collect him. (And he is already planning his return to play!)
Thinking about the approaching winter I am reminded yet again, that while I am safest from Covid-19 at home, I am often happier being outside. How I approach the cold, dark times ahead will make all the difference as I wait out these final months of the pandemic. It’s not going to last forever.
Images courtesy of Mount Auburn Cemetery