PHYLLIS ODESSEY

memento mori

img_4400Every gravestone is a small garden.   I first realized this in Denmark years ago.  The Danes are tidy, well-organized and love nature. Their cemeteries reflect the desire to surround their loved ones with nature. Cemetery plots are reflections of the style of gardening a particular country prefers. This generalization did not hold true in southwestern France.

cypressAll French cemeteries are surrounded by cypress trees. As you drive through the countryside, if you see a rectangular formation of cypress trees, you know a cemetery is inside that space.   In classical antiquity, the cypress was a symbol of mourning.  “In the classical tradition,  the cypress was associated with death and the underworld because it failed to regenerate when cut back too severely.  Athenian households in mourning were garlanded with boughs of cypress. Cypress was used to fumigate the air during cremations.” – Wikipedia

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The preference for ceramic flowers and plaques of various descriptions are the most common homage to loved ones. These non-perishable markers are evidence of those cherished and remembered.

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