Spring Forest Cemetery in Binghamton, N.Y., has several monuments significant enough to warrant mention in Syngrammata. I’ve already looked at the mausoleum of Eva Sisson-Chittenden and the Death-and-the-maiden iconography of the John K. Crocker monument. The mausoleum in particular could hold its own over against the best in American cemeteries.

Figure 1. Obelisk Hill. Spring Forest Cemetery, Binghamton, N.Y. Photo: author.

Spring Forest also demands our respect for the care with which its landscaping has been tended. It’s not one of the landmark rural cemeteries like Mount Auburn, Sleepy Hollow, or West Laurel Hill, and it lacks sufficient endowment to rigorously maintain its lesser monuments; there are topples here and there. Nevertheless it is a beautiful, gracious space remarkable for its trees, and it was indeed founded as a rural cemetery in 1853: it’s in ‘the book’ (see below). It presents a particularly striking appearance in fall.

The accompanying view (figure 1) shows the cemetery as it was on a cloudy day in late October after some rain showers. One’s back is to the northeast, against the road that encircles the grounds. The sun, which was periodically breaking through during my visit, was behind clouds at the moment I captured this image.

A low hill rises from the road toward the south and west. A brownish-grey obelisk has colonized its crest, at the center of the view. A golden carpet of fallen maple and other leaves has painted the ground yellow speckled with red. The colors had been saturated by the rain. The sky held some interest thanks to the varying thickness of the clouds. Of course, the magnificent golden maple anchors the scene and the Edson obelisk, quite close to the camera, punctuates it. The wide-angle lens I used makes the obelisk seem further from the viewer than it actually was.

The camera was a Nikon D3400 sporting a 14-24 mm f/2.8 Nikkor zoom lens. It was set at 14mm, f/18, ISO 200, 1/60. I edited the image with Affinity Photo. The only adjustments I made which would not be thunderingly obvious were to darken the naturally darker clouds a bit, to nudge the white balance so that yellow has a bit more red in it, and to saturate the colors of the leaves where they were darkened by the burn brush together with the clouds behind them.

The book which I mentioned is Grave landscapes. The Nineteenth-Century Rural Cemetery Movement, by James R. Cothran and Erica Danylchak (2018, South Carolina).

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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1 Comment

  1. I believe it is the responsibility of who(m)ever takes a photo of a public cemetery at this time of year to rake up all these leaves. Pennsylvania law dating back to the Quaker Oats guy.

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