Wednesday, August 12, 2015 | Category: Reflections, Travel Stories, Travel Tips
And when my spirit wants no stimulus or nourishment save music, I know it is to be sought in cemeteries: the musicians hide in the tombs; from grave to grave flute trills, harp chords answer one another. ― Italo Calvino,
My birthday happened to fall on the weekend that just past and we wanted to do something special, so we decided to take up a friend’s standing offer to visit him and his wife on the South Fork of Long Island. We have been out several times over the last 20+ years, but never to celebrate a birthday. The weather promised to be perfect and we knew that, for a variety of reasons, it would be our last chance to have a little vacation in the next few months because Tim is running for local office here in Salem, Massachusetts. But that is surely the subject for another post.
We bundled up the doggie and the bathing suits, a few bottles of fabulous Italian wine, and booked reservations on the Cross Island Ferry. We were going. And it was everything we hoped it would be: Beautful home. Gorgeous location in Springs, New York — just north of the Town of East Hampton. Fabulous dinner at The 1770 House. Magical beach day. Great home-cooked meal with friends. Figs, home-grown tomatoes and a panoply of herbs. And we finally got to spend some time with our friend’s new wife. Kind, gracious, caring . . . I couldn’t ask for anything more for my dear friend of 30 years, who has been through the mill health-wise lately.
But that brings me to one of my weekend highlights. Those of you who are regular readers know that I am kind of a nut for cemeteries. Springs has one that is certainly worth visiting, and if you know someone who is buried there (my friend’s late wife) it is even more fascinating.
There is no river in sight near the Green River Cemetery, so who knows where the name came from? Established in 1902, it was originally meant for the bonakers — local working class families who supported the mansions in the main village. In fact, many of the original bonaker families in Springs were among the earliest settlers of the town, having come from England in the 17th and 18th centuries.Today they survive as Millers, Bennets, Conklins, Strongs and Kings and the families have been interred in Green River for generations. But since 1956, the bonaker families have been somewhat pre-empted in their traditional final resting place.
That was the year that Jackson Pollack, local artist and Springs resident, died and was buried under
a 50-ton rock and put Green River on the map as an artists’ and writers’ cemetery, where even the headstones are works of art. The cemetery is small, somewhat unkempt and the farthest thing possible from grand. Still, it has become the Père Lachaise of the Hamptons, being elevated to a pilgrimage site.
Apparently, Green River is sold out, and having a plot there might just be the ultimate Hamptons status symbol. Also, apparently, there are finer resting places in the area, featuring the graves of Childe Hassam and Jospeh Heller, among others. But I hear that spots are filling up fast everywhere. Location, location, location!
Never mind. I wanted to see my friend’s grave again and get some photos of the arty and famous to show you. So here are some of my favorites.
And finally, our friend, dear Micki:
If you’re not a walker of cemeteries, I urge you to try it, especially when you travel. Italian cemeteries, for example, are stunning tributes to the interred. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon, and we can all use a little serenity now and then. Grab it while you can.