Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Across the street from our house is a city park, Baker Park, that we go to a good bit to throw the ball with Pippin or push Jude in the swing. I suppose it's the same with all city parks, but this is one of those places where you would not want to go after dark, and you certainly wear your rubber soled shoes. Other than the more than occasional used condom (um...?), you don't want to be wearing flip flops for fear of stepping on broken glass or a stray needle. Nevertheless there are kids playing there during the day and there is a nice (graffitied) playground, fields for soccer and baseball, and a basketball court that is always occupied.

So one day, about four years ago now, we were at the park throwing the ball to Pippin when we noticed a chain link gate in one corner. I figured that it could only lead to deep dark places, but of course Kevin wanted to check it out. We walked through the gate and down a little dirt path, and all of a sudden the sky cleared and a ray of sunshine fell on our path. Two Robins flew down to us tweeting a familiar song and they were each holding a small wreath of flowers that they dropped down on our heads. Green grass magically spread before us as an ancient Willow tree bowed down, plucked us off our feet, and set us in the middlle of a strange sparkling land.

Well, that's how I remember it anyway. I called it Narnia at first, and then the Secret Garden, and then decided that it was more like Terabithia (minus the rope swing and menacing creatures). It's actually a very old cemetary, full of very old gravestones and very old trees. I asked our neighbor, Bill, if he knew it was there and had ever walked there before. He looked at me like I was crazy and asked, "doesn't it smell?" He's a bit supersticious and apparently doesn't know about embalming.

Usually the only people that we meet on our walks in the cemetary are other dog walkers, whom we greet like we are in some kind of secret society. I get the feeling that they are like us and don't want too many others to find out it's there. There is an occasional Crazy in there too, like the guy who Kevin has seen twice piling up leaves and then diving into them and swimming around.

Kevin and I have had so many important talks here, and now that we are leaving NJ, every walk in the cemetary reminds us that we won't get to take it with us. It's been our end of the day ritual to take a long walk and talk about whatever is important to us at the time. Years ago we talked about maybe starting to try and have a baby. Then we talked about adoption, and then all the implications of in vitro fertilization. Then I dragged my huge pregnant self out there and we read all the names on the graves trying to discover a goodie. We imagined ourselves pushing a stroller along the pathways. Jude's first trip to Terabithia was when he was a week and a half old.

Here are some pictures that we took in our premature nostalgia.

This is the entrance to the park right accross from our house

These are just some shots of Jude tolerating us swinging him. I think he wonders why we get so excited about pushing him in this crazy contraption

Here's Kevin and Jude crossing over into Terabithia through the gate in the corner of the park

Here are some Terabithia shots. Wait, now I'm nervous that i've built it up too much. Disclaimer: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and these beholders live in urban New Jersey where trees are scarce and front lawns are littered with Goya soda bottles and Cheetos bags.

this is a picture of what is right outside one of the gates

Junk yard dog on one edge of the cemetary that would love to get his paws on Pippin

Tomb of Robert Wood Johnson (of the Johnson & Johnson family)

And my personal favorite tomb in the entire cemetary