In the dead of winter, the Old City Cemetery is…anything but dead! Migrating birds from the far North feast on the plentiful berries of the Holly, Dogwood and Callicarpa, while squirrels scamper about looking for nuts and seeds; even the groundhogs come out of their burrows on milder days. The Hellebores will be blooming soon and entice our honey bees to venture out of their hives. Lately our family of fox have been seen farther down the railroad tracks since they were displaced when their safe haven in a rock pile was cleaned up near New Potter’s Field. I’m sure the cats are thankful they’ve moved on, as the fox were in tune to their daily feeding schedule. So much so, I also could tell time by their appearance near my tool shop.
The clear winter sky seems bluer as you look across the landscape into the neighborhoods that have been hidden till the last golden leaves of autumn fell from the mighty maples and tulip poplars. Beyond the roof tops and chimneys exhaling curling wisps of smoke and the occasional smell of bacon, the panoramic view reveals surrounding mountain peaks often wearing a coat of snow.
This time of year there is another unexpected treat for your senses as you can admire the wonderful display of hundreds of wreaths in the Confederate Section from the comfort of your car. If you are willing to brave the winter chill, you can experience the sweet smell of fresh evergreens as you walk along the rows of the adorned headstones. The majestic Deodara Cedar at the Confederate archway has littered the ground with bits and pieces of cones, creating a curious brown and rust carpet.
Come by this season, and see if you can identify Bedford, Amherst and Nelson mountain peaks, church steeples on Rivermont, and Dearington neighborhood landmarks!
—Laurie McMinn, Historic Grounds Supervisor