For almost three years, my family and I have been members of an exclusive club in Exeter. The qualifications are: You have lost a loved one; the loved on is buried at the Exeter District Cemetery, and you have a strong desire to always have flowers at the grave site.
It was important to us, as a family, to have flowers on the grave of our loved one, so we decided to embark on this journey.
The Exeter Cemetery has signs posted with their “rules” for all visitors to obey: All flowers will be picked up each Monday, no glass.
Therefore, family members of the deceased who might like to save their arrangements, must pick up flowers on Sunday evening or very early Monday morning before cemetery workers pick up all plants, flowers or decorations and throw them away. Family members may return flowers or arrangements to the grave site on Monday evening for the week. We and all others strictly adhered to these rules.
Usually, from October through March, the signs are removed, and flowers are not picked up and discarded. During that time, some elaborate and beautiful arrangement are lovingly placed on the headstones.
This past October, a set of four small solar walkway landscape lights appeared and were placed on four corners of one headstone. Within a couple of weeks, a multitude of tiny lights appeared around headstones all over th newest section of the cemetery.
From dusk to dawn, “the field of a thousand lights” elegantly illuminated the grounds each night. The moon, against the dark sky, rising above the mountains, with the starts twinkling, and the field of lights shining, was a classically beautiful and breathtaking sight to behold.
Around the end of March, the signs were again installed, and once again, everything had to be picked up each Sunday night or early Monday morning, or risk being thrown away, and then replaced on Monday evening for the rest of the week.
However, on Monday, April 6, we replaced our flowers and lights thinking they would be safe for the ensuing week. When we returned Easter Sunday evening, April 12 to pick up our flowers and lights, we were shocked to find that all of the lights and most flowers were gone. The only decorations appeared to be the ones that had been placed there on that Easter weekend.
Evidently, the cemetery workers had returned unannounced during the week prior to Easter Sunday and removed everything and discarded it all!
So much for the lovely “best kept secret” of Exeter, a small town known for its’ “small town charm, or for the small town country cemetery that had become known to many of us for its “field of a thousand lights.”
My family has already replaced our lights and flowers and I am sure that others will do the same. We certainly will continue to obey the “rules” of the cemetery, but it will get expensive if we and others must continually do this, simply because the cemetery workers do not always abide by their own rules.
Oh well, perhaps there is a pile of trash somewhere that is illuminated at night by a thousand miniature lights. Or perhaps someone saved the lights and each night is enjoying a “thousand light walkway or driveway.”