Among the odder things I’ve learned during endless amounts of time at home during the pandemic: There’s a travel forum discussion about whether it’s taboo to drink martinis in cemeteries.
When I saw the thread, I instantly knew what the inspiration was. It’s been years since I read “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” but I vividly remember the scene in which an old woman mixes up a silver shaker of martinis and heads to the cemetery for an afternoon sit. It’s one of the few things I do remember about the book. Long-term memory has never been my strength.
However, I can understand the desire to spend a lazy afternoon wandering a cemetery. I don’t bring a martini shaker with me, but I always enjoy looking at the markers and wondering about the people buried there. Those markers tell a lot of stories, from women who died with their babies in childbirth to young men who went off to war and returned home in a wooden box.
Quite often, I bring the dog with me. And I do wonder if that’s taboo. She trots down the rows and gazes longingly at the woods or the cane fields (depending on which cemetery I’ve chosen). I let her run around to her heart’s content until she forgets herself and jumps onto a whitewashed vault. Then the leash goes back on and we go home.
It’s a good idea to visit cemeteries. A virtual visit to findagrave is useful but not the same.
Cemeteries are like little villages, especially in Louisiana, which is famed for burying the dead above the ground (we’re slowly sinking into the Gulf of Mexico). To me, our above ground tombs look like little houses. They’re fascinating.
My husband comes from a farming family. Because land was in abundance, they have a family cemetery on part of the farm. He used to wander the cemetery as a child and developed a fascination with a grave decorated with marbles.
In New Orleans, you can take tours to visit the more famous cemeteries. A tour is actually a good idea. People have been robbed in these cemeteries. Welcome to New Orleans.
I tend to visit cemeteries in Plattenville and Gibson, where family members are buried. One of these days, if I ever win the lottery, I’ll fix the crumbling family tomb in Plattenville and put a marker that lists everyone interred in it.
For now, I just wander the aisles and put flowers on my grandparents’ graves while the dog dreams of chasing field mice.
Cemeteries don’t have to be a sad place, even if you forget your martini shaker at home.