The Ghosts of Spring

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(Host) Commentator Alan Boye took a walk recently that spooked him – just a bit.

(Boye) What better place to see a real-life ghost than a cemetery? No, it’s true. On a recent morning I came face-to-face with a living ghost.

A wonderfully free weekday was ahead of me: the boys at school and Linda buried in her work. I realized that I had never walked the grounds of my town’s oldest cemetery. I know, it seems rather odd to want to walk in a cemetery but I really don’t mind. Despite the sorrow they remind us of, cemeteries are also¿ well, parks. They are places to learn our history, and places where – even in the midst of cities – we can witness the peace that is at the heart of nature.

Anyway, I walked straight out of the house and up to the iron gates of the cemetery without a thought of ghosts. Pine trees as high as heaven lined the cemetery’s brick lane. The lane came to a maze of paths, stone walls and tombstones. Then a curious thing happened. I gave in to a spirit of complete aimlessness. I simply wandered around the graves.

A brilliant spring sun turned the grass to fiery green. Off in a tree, a newly arrived Baltimore Oriole sang like a child’s first whistled song. The warm sun against my skin blanketed me in a deep, silent calm. Ah, to be at peace. In this life there are so few moments of such quiet and solitude. I climbed up a small hill and came upon the gated burial ground of one of the town’s founding families. A short wall – no higher than my knees – surrounded several gray, mossy tombstones. You would think, if I were going to see a ghost in a cemetery, now would be about the right time for it to appear. But no, not yet.

Nearby a single, ancient tombstone rested in the shade of a large maple tree. Just as I bent to read whose name the tombstone revealed the voice spoke. “What are you doing here!?” it said. I spun around. My son stood looking at me. “Dad?” he said. “What are you doing here?” He looked like he had seen a ghost.

“Me?!” I nearly shouted, “What are you doing here?” He told me that his school had come to the cemetery as a field trip. I looked at my son. “Have you ever been in this cemetery before?” I asked. He stared back at me. “No. Have you?” I must have looked as though I had seen a ghost. Then we burst into laughter.

Now, you can quibble with me that since my son and I are both alive, we did not technically see a ghost. But that is precisely what makes that day so full of wonder. For an instant, a son and a father recognized the mortality they both faced, but there was no fear or even sadness, there was simply a spring morning full of the peaceful rebirth of everything around us.

This is Alan Boye, just walking the hills of Vermont.

Alan Boye teaches at Lyndon State College.

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