Edith north of Boston, try to enjoy the heck out of the end of summer.
About two years ago a member of Sisters in Crime New England posted a call for submissions. Leslie Wheeler said somebody was soliciting essays for a collection with a theme of Mount Auburn Cemetery. The collection was to be titled Dead in Good Company, which was the title of the essay written by Kate Flora, one of the goddesses of the New England chapter.
I used to spend a lot of time in Mount Auburn. Birdwatching. Strolling with a beau. Exploring gravestones. Stopping in on my bicycle commute from Cambridge to Waltham and back. I also attended a memorial service there for one of my father’s cousins, who died way too young at age seventy a few years ago.
Mt. Auburn, on the Cambridge/Watertown line, is a really special place for me, and I’d experienced a number of firsts there. What did I have to lose by writing up a non-fiction, non-mystery piece? So I submitted my essay, “My First Time,” which was accepted by the organizer and co-editor, John Harrison. I polished the piece a bit, with John’s suggestions, and began to wait.
It took a long time for John and his co-editor, Kim Nagy, to get the book out, but it was worth the wait. The cover is gorgeous and and the wildlife photography within is stunning. The list of contributors is also impressive, including friends like Hank Phillippi Ryan, Ray Daniel, Sandra Lee, Katherine Hall Page, and Leslie, of course, as
well as former mayor Ray Flynn, the noted lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and many more.
The book is out now, and yesterday the editors, the authors, their families and friends, the cemetery folks, and all the spirits who inhabit Mount Auburn gathered in the Bigelow Chapel to celebrate the book’s release. The two editors spoke, as well as local mystery authors Bill Martin and Gary Goshgarian (aka Gary Braver), Steve Barnett, president of the cemetery, and radio and TV personality Upton Bell. Steve elaborated on the history of the cemetery – how it inspired others to create parks and green places of refuge – and John
Harrison touched on its importance also as a refuge for animals, birds, and plants.
The authors signed like mad, everybody ate and drank, and I had a chance to stroll the lovely grounds afterwards. (I was sorry not to see Hank, Kate, Katherine, or Ray there, but hey, it’s summer.)
Readers: Have you been to Mt. Auburn cemetery? What’s your beautiful place that brings you peace? And if you write fiction, do you ever dabble in non-fiction?