The Health Benefits of Walking In An Old Strange Cemetery

In honor of the Autumn season, I decided to post a nice picture of the city of Boston from the tall hill of the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Watertown/Cambridge. From here you have a great view of the city, and you can even climb the somewhat sketchy spiraling staircase of the Washington Tower to get an even better view.

 Mount Auburn Cemetery

Mount Auburn Cemetery

The Mt. Auburn Cemetery is a great place to walk around during fall. With so much to see in this giant park, we realized after a few hours of exploring that we had still only seen a fraction of it. When you enter through the gates, you see the welcome center that looks like one of those cozy, old buildings from a certain period of architecture that would go over great at cocktail parties if you actually knew what it was.

Cemeteries were the Original Google Hangout

We grabbed a map, skipped the welcome center and went out to the great unknown. One of the best parts about exploring a giant cemetery is that it's a really weird thing to do.

At least now it is.

Apparently, according to ancient historians and what must have been Wikipedia, people used to hang out in cemeteries all the time. With a lack of space and trees within the city, cemeteries were a perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors without having to travel by buggy or horseback just to enjoy some trees and shrubbery.

Can you picture them?

People from a hundred years ago dressed up in their formal walking business casual outfits, umbrellas for protection from the sun, gentlemen with walking canes and mustaches, ladies sporting the latest in bonnet fashion.

What a wonderful experience that would be. (Now, I'm almost certain that I didn't make that up but before you use that little tidbit at a cocktail party I would double check the facts.)

Learn About Trees, If Only for a Few Minutes

When you set out there are several roads to take, so we did what we thought best and chose a random one that looked ripe with opportunity, adventure, and maybe just a little room for mischief.

We quickly learned that many of the trees have tags on them, so if you like learning the names of things only to forget them a few days later than this might be of interest to you. Of course, we spent several minutes at several trees doing this very thing and continued doing so for the rest of the walk.

Let me tell you a bit about the process, it goes something like this:

  1. Spot interesting tree, look at your walking partner. 
  2. One of you should point at it while the other nods their head.
  3. Scurry under the branches of the great big tree and go to the trunk.
  4. Read the tag and say "ahhh, so that's what this is."
  5. Hang out for a few more moments and make various comments.
  6. Off you go.

Actual Stuff You Will See With Your Eyes

It's nice being on an adventure. Sure we could have stayed home, tucked in, watching television re-runs of NCIS and the Big Bang Theory. But then we would of course been stuck with that guilty "we're terrible human beings" type feeling that sucks out your soul with a straw before it spits you back out just in time for another work week, and that would be bad.

The park is full of nooks, crannies, there's a sphinx for crying out loud, there are random old brick churches covered in ivy, and yes, everywhere is simply covered in old gravestones, tombs, and monuments to those who came before us.

There are tiny little ponds with beautiful flowers scattered about, trails that wind through the grass up and down and through the hills and under trees. Now off the beaten path, you can hike at your leisure or take another road to another place. I think we both naturally gravitated to higher ground where there also happened to be a gigantic, perhaps magical, grand old tower dedicated to the big man himself, the original George W, General Washington. 

Climbing the tower doesn't take long, but at this point you are traveling pretty high up on a spiraling staircase with nothing but guts and your fear of heights. When you reach the top, and you see not just the Boston skyline, but the entire circular view of the sprawling Massachusetts landscape, you realize that you just did something monumentally, ahem, cool.

The End of the Story, Don't Forget to Gram 

Don't forget, when you do reach the top of the tower, give yourself time to take numerous selfies and Instagrams. Gramming is a vital part of our culture today, and although some like to make fun of it, it's important to document our special moments for both historical purposes and self-reflection. Don't forget nostalgia, there's a filter for that, which comes in handy in case you want to start reminiscing about your memories as soon as possible.

See you at the cemetery! 

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