On Ash Wednesday, I took a meandering stroll through part of Vancouver's Mountainview Cemetery. I grew up beside a cemetery in Ohio, and enjoy visiting cemeteries both for times of solitude and to enjoy their layouts and information. Sadly, in my experience, Mountainvew is the most disappointing cemetery I have ever entered, poorly designed, only adequately maintained, with few stones of beauty or interest. The city deserves better. There are surprisingly few grand trees, unlike the world's best cemeteries, so vast stretches of acreage recalled to me a wet barren field of stubble, with almost nothing on the horizon drawing me onward. Mountainview cries out for a another thousand trees and for many more paths. During my two-hour visit, I encountered nobody, not a worker, jogger, visitor, walker or anyone tending the grave of a loved one. It was desolate.
We will soon be performing the Brahms German Requiem, something I first sang 50 years ago. I know the text, but wondered what it would be like to listen to a performance on earphones while walking among the dead. Since Mountainvew was at hand, it is where I headed. My visit was anything but a stroll in the park. This desolate place reminds one more of death than of the possibility of their being beauty after death. It was nevertheless an utterly powerful experience as the words I was singing by memory took on new meaning among those rows of desolate tombstones, some slowly disappearing into the ground on that overcast holy day. Memories of Dad washed over me as I recalled the words.
I took a few photos, each and every one filled with a gloom which was so utterly foreign of the texts Brahms set to music.