I was lost in thought, blatantly trespassing in rubber boots and the hot sun.
It was a long way to walk, over the sharp stubble.
Suddenly the harvested field came to an end. I hadn’t yet reached the tree, so I crossed over to the harvested field on the other side of the field’s edge, knowing that I’d now disappeared from Andrew’s view.
Now I really was alone.
As my feelings of isolation grew, so did the size of the badger holes.
This one stopped me in my tracks.
I should’ve put my hand in the pic to compare… but I was pretty sure an angry badger would gnaw it off.
I came to the edge of the field, had to cross over a bit to the next. More steps, now through beans, careful to not trod upon them. And then, it was there before me — the island of wildness. Of long-forgotten family history?
A tree… but also perhaps a monument, or an obelisk. Up close, I realized it was a concrete marker of some sort. I reached out, and gingerly touched it. What was it there for? Who had placed it here?
Badger holes. So many badger holes.
Most of these cemeteries I’ve visited have badger holes… but this… this was something else entirely. Here the badgers have enjoyed life completely undisturbed by human visitors.
But this only reinforced my instinct, my heart-pull, what I felt I already knew: this was it. This was the cemetery I had been seeking. I took cautious step after cautious step.
In Glen Klassen’s story about his cemetery hunting experience, he has written that some badgers get aggressive… and they dig into graves… and they pull out pieces of the people buried therein. I once read about a badger digging up a braid in Kronsgard, East Reserve.
I looked down, the ground beneath the deep, deep, impossibly tall grass was ridiculously uneven, every step was careful, but I was never sure I wasn’t going to find my foot descending into a giant badger hole and come in contact with the bones of my ancient relatives.
I listened, but all I could hear was the strong wind, whipping the grass every which way, confusingly.
Was I standing on a tombstone? I tried to uncover one… but it was piled with dirt from the badgers and I just wasn’t prepared to do this kind of work, I didn’t want to damage an inscription. I turned instead to investigate the lone tree. Vowing to return another time, I was very near to leaving, when I realized there was a gravestone right here at the base of the tree.
When I bent down to photograph it, I saw another in the distance.
And then another.
All of the names: Ens.
My grandparents are Neufeld’s. But I recalled there being Ens’s connected to these Neufeld’s in Grandma’s Window.
And then I saw the biggest badger hole ever.
It’s like a CAVE.
A cave that descends to a grave.
A warren of grave-caves.
I noticed someone had put a barbed wire fence around this site… a very long time ago. (How had I entered this barbed enclosure without realizing?)
I made my way carefully back to the car. A half mile trek in the hot sun, windswept and sunburned and my heart beating strangely.
What had I just seen?
This is part of a trilogy. Here are links to Part 1 and Part 3: