Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A cloak of gold

Miranda, one of the great characters in Clint Eastwood's film version of John Berendt's "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," refers at one point to Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery as "the office," something I identify with --- although Miranda was into voodoo and I'm not. Miranda never goes into the office on Sunday, she tells the film's narrator.

So I waited until early Tuesday for the run out to my "office," the Chariton cemetery --- filled with data writ in stone --- to clarify the spelling of a surname, Cortelyou, belonging to a family long since died out and misspelled in a dizzying variety of ways. Tombstones lie, too, now and then --- but infrequently.

The bonus was a view of the Bates Lady clothed in gold, and she looked especially fetching I thought --- although the colors in the photo are not what I'd hoped for --- the light was a little too watery and the sun had not yet angled sufficiently out from behind a pine grove to light the lady herself. But I was in too big a hurry to stalk the light, which is what must be done to ensure perfect color unless you care to cheat and manipulate it in a photo editing program.

The lady marks the graves of Benjamin Franklin Bates, who built the Bates House hotel; his wife, Emma (Lounsbery) Bates, and their adopted daughter, Augusta (Bates) Buchanan.

She's not my favorite tombstone in the Chariton Cemetery, but close. That honor goes to the wonderful confection erected by Edward Ames Temple, founder of the Principal Financial Group, and despite somewhat smaller size so rich in symbolism I've stalked the light around it for years. One of these days I'll pull all of that together.

Later Tuesday, the sun vanished entirely and we were treated to a gray afternoon, but the sun's due back today forecasters say and the eastern horizon is pink right now, at 6:13 a.m., so I'm hopeful.

No comments: