We have, at most, three more organized Season 2 cleanups at Odd Fellows Cemetery — April 23, May 14, and May 21. The heat and fecundity of summer, as well as the hazardous insect and reptile life, make working in the woods more difficult than we can comfortably invite volunteers to do. For these reasons, it is critical that we maximize our time and effort in the coming weeks.
Here’s Odd Fellows on a recent April morning. The Senior Force has been putting in extra work every week and, for the first time in decades, a fifty-foot swath inside the tree line has been cleared.
In February 2020, almost a year before Lane Street Project began, I discovered a pile of headstones well back in the woods, evidence of some misguided earlier cleanup. The pile was nestled just behind an immense thicket of privet and wisteria and could only be reached by circuitous approach. This past February, I expressed hope to Castonoble Hooks that we would be able to break through the thicket and open a direct path to the headstones.
The Senior Force did it.
Circled below, Bessie McGowan‘s headstone at the edge of the pile that includes my great-grandmother Rachel Barnes Taylor‘s. The Senior Force, anchored by brothers Cass and Will Hooks, Briggs Sherwood, and Glenn Wright, demolished a seemingly impenetrable hedge to expose the interior of Odd Fellows cemetery.
Here are Bessie McGowan’s marker and the Jurassic forest that has sprung to life behind it in the last month. Everything green you see is wisteria, an invasive vine that has largely choked off native plant species.
In January, I placed Rachel Taylor’s headstone upright against a stump.
Here it is yesterday. This is what we’re up against, folks, and we can’t do it without you.
Saturday’s going to be beautiful. Please lend a hand. Come for 30 minutes. Or three hours. Bring a hand pruner. A lopper. A rake. A lawnmower. Whatever you have. Or just yourself. If you can’t labor, come offer words of encouragement or bottles of water. Honor the ancestors. Build community. Save a sacred space.
Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022.