Andrew’s probably been wondering why this book has been sitting on our dining room table (A.K.A. my office) for the past few weeks. Simple. I couldn’t resist this hand-written self-published gem dedicated to old cemeteries…and the mushrooms that grow therein.
This beautifully illustrated book is called Stepping Through Silent Stones: A Perspective on Cemeteries In Rural Manitoba and it’s by Bill Chody and Gordon Hancock. I like how they placed their names on the front, as if on a tombstone.
But why the mushrooms? Bill writes that his mother passed away while he was working on this book. One of her very favourite activities was picking wild mushrooms…so the mushrooms drawn into the book are for her. I think that’s one of the most beautiful tributes to a mother I’ve encountered.
When Bill and Gordon visit Clear Springs, retired local farmer Ed Laing welcomes them and shows them around the carefully-kept cemetery.
Clear Springs is the very first pioneer settlement in this area, settled by people from Scotland and England (including the Laings) before the Mennonites arrived. The East Reserve kind of nestles in around it.
Another local gentleman named Jac Kroeker joins them, and is quoted as saying, “I know most of the people in there; close friends , or at least nodding acquaintances. I feel as though I’ve paid them a visit while reminding myself of just what I am.”
I like that.
They proceed to visit Steinbach, and tour the cemeteries with Jac Siemens, who today is a City Councillor, but at the time this book was created, he was the Director of Parks & Recreation. I like how they refer to Jac as a “young man”.
Ben Sobering related this interesting story: “A man’s wife passed away; he re-married and outlived his second wife. He requested that he be buried between both wives. It required the relocation of one of them but we honoured his wishes.”
Now I want to go find that unusual burial arrangement. I think it’s somewhere in the Memorial Cemetery at the corner of McKenzie and Brandt.
I think this book was completed in 1991. I wonder how the Clear Springs Cemetery is doing these days. I’m adding it to my list of places to drive out to this spring, when the snow melts.
And, if this book interests you, let me know and I’ll happily give it to you. If you live nearby, that is. 🙂