Monday, February 28, 2011

Frances Street Cemetery By Night

There is a devil in me that sometimes yells to be let out. After provoking discussion of the cemetery all I could think during a recent lunch break was that taking some pictures at night would be just the thing. I positively bounded onto the Bonneville and rode half a dozen blocks from the Police station. It was just after one in the morning.The cemetery debate continues apace with the sexton holding the line against opening the secondary gate on Frances Street. For cyclists and pedestrians crossing the center of Old Town this closure has spoiled a pleasant short cut through the cemetery's park like setting. The sexton says people entering from Frances Street have disrupted funerals. Closing the gate an hour before a funeral has been suggested as the obvious solution to the dilemma, and I thought I read something in the paper's Citizen's Voice column to the effect that without fanfare the Frances Street Gate is once again open during the day.I don't even know what "letter boxing" might be but the reference in the lower sign to "our families" puts the nature of the problem of access front and center. For some the cemetery is a pleasant diversion; for others it is a family tomb. A few years ago the stout new fencing was put up around the cemetery in an effort to close the place properly after hours. Many of the sections have commercial and family sponsors.The newspaper reported the Historical Society is raising several thousand dollars to help make repairs in the cemetery. Many of the graves are in a state of disrepair and supporters of greater access to the cemetery cite that as a reason to allow greater access. I like the cemetery as it is, shabby perhaps but full of sentiment and history. A crisply maintained cemetery would not be nearly as atmospheric, and as money dries up everywhere one wonders why more need be spent on the portion of the population that feels it's lack the least...I had started out planning to circumnavigate the cemetery on foot but as always happens at night, setting up the camera for each picture and several trial-and-error attempts to take each picture cut down on the available time. This next picture was a ten second exposure with the camera balanced on the fence.This next picture took better advantage of the light from the street lamps.This was an eight second exposure of a typical above ground vault. The usual below ground burials are not possible in Key West which, like New Orleans, suffers from an excessively high water table. Go down three feet and your buried coffins would be floating. So they go above ground much to visitors' delight.I am not given to believing in a hereafter or the supernatural. Every time the subject comes up and I allow my lack of belief I am reliably informed it is most likely owing to my skepticism that I have never had a supernatural experience. Which is as may be, but whether or not spirits and ghosts and all that stuff exist or not, I like cemeteries in general, I enjoy the peace and quiet and the Key West cemetery is among the best to simply look at and enjoy.Perhaps it was a hobgoblin that interfered with my last picture which I took over and over again fiddling with the focal point but that never quite came into focus properly. Perhaps I should have made a sacrifice of something valuable (the Bonneville?) to appease the spirits? Maybe but I stuck with what I got in the time allowed and hustled on back to work.