I’m really tired tonight for some reason, but I wanted to write about this afternoon before the day is over. I had volunteered to bring Dean’s car in to the car dealership for a service appointment, and I wanted to visit the Ancient Burying Ground in Hartford today, so he suggested I ask them if I could get a courtesy shuttle to take me there. (I actually told them I wanted to go to Travelers’, which is across the street, since that sounds less weird than going to a cemetery.) The car dealership is right across the river from Hartford, so it was super quick and worked out perfectly! I didn’t have to drive in Hartford, find a place to park, or anything—they just drove me and dropped me off, then picked me up again after the car was ready! And I didn’t have to wait around bored at the car dealership. So brilliant!
The Ancient Burying Ground was closed this spring for renovations, but they reopened at the end of June, and I had been wanting to go and check out the changes, which include a revamped and more welcoming entrance, lovely new pathways and benches, and improved landscaping. Most of all, I wanted to see my brick! Dean originally tried to get me the brick as a Christmas present back in 2010, but it didn’t work out at the time because the walkway improvements were stalled. But the very gracious secretary remembered me from my e-mails and contacted me again this winter when they planned to put in new bricks (!), and it’s there at last! It looks fantastic, and I love knowing that the money went toward preserving the Ancient Burying Ground.
The best thing, though: the coolest and most amazing coincidence happened…! When I arrived at the burying ground, I was slowly pacing back and forth on the walkway looking for my brick, and one of the Hartford middle school students who are in a summer program to give tours of the burying ground approached me and asked if I wanted a tour. I had had one a few years ago, but I said sure, and she started the tour. Less than a minute later another lady walked up and asked if she could join the tour, so I said of course—we had just started and I didn’t mind starting over.
When the girl passed us off to the boy who was doing the next segment of the tour, he said to my companion, “I recognize you! You’re Mr. Holcombe's daughter, aren't you?” I turned to her in surprise and asked, “Are you Anne Holcombe?!” I introduced myself and she knew who I was immediately. Anne is the secretary of the Ancient Burying Ground Association, and the person I have to thank for my brick being made and installed! (Her father, Shepherd Holcombe, was the president of the ABGA and the spearhead behind the ongoing restoration program that started in the 1980s, the reason the site is in such beautiful condition today.)
We continued the tour together and then talked for quite a while afterwards. It was such a pleasure meeting her and I can’t believe the incredible coincidence in timing! Wow!
After she had to leave, I stayed for a little while longer and took some photos. It was the first time I had been back in the Ancient Burying Ground since meeting my friend and gravestone mentor Rick there last summer, so I was thinking of him a lot (especially because his memorial service and burial were this weekend in New Hampshire), and I made a point to visit the mulberry tree where he had introduced me to picking mulberries. Mulberry season has passed, but as I stood inside its leafy shade, I missed him very much and thought about how lucky I was to know him. I smiled fondly as I wandered through the stones and was greeted by the familiar Gershom Bartlett and Glastonbury Lady Carver faces (both of which Rick was studying, and we’d admired together).
It was a lovely day, and only about 80°, so I stopped at Carini’s on the way home to pick more blueberries, then realized as I was picking that it was a fitting tribute to Rick. I didn’t know it until he died, but berry picking was one of his passions. When my berry bucket was almost full, I heard something struggling on the ground in the netting that protects the berry picking area. It was a robin with his head caught in the net. When he saw me, he started squeaking and flapping ineffectually. Poor robin! I put down my berries and carefully lifted the netting, freeing him, and he flew away! I was so happy!!! :-)