I BRAKE FOR CEMETERIES
I always liked that thought for a bumper sticker. Of course, I imagine having one of those on your rear bumper would cause some persons to speed by you to see what kind of "ghoul" is driving. (Some people just don't understand.)
Seriously though, it is almost spring time and from my own perspective there are only two truly excellent times of the year to explore the cemeteries, especially the older ones.
One of them being in the fall in late September or early October.
The other one being early spring before any of the plant life has really had time to start "bushing out"..
These two times are when you can wander through the older cemeteries and really get to see some stones that might perhaps be buried in nearby brush or you can (for the most part) safely explore the outer lying areas of the cemetery's perimeter for hidden graves without worrying about snakes..
I don't actually "stop traffic" to jump out of the vehicle every time I see a roadside cemetery... I do, however, make note of the location for later inspection, especially some of these littler ones that aren't actually registered within any books.
If you are though, one of those persons who has the opportunity to take the Sunday drives and periodically stop to look at the cemeteries-- it could be advantageous to you to carry a what I like to call a "cemetery kit" with you.
(I know, this researching just gets more ghoulish sounding every day- but what can you do?)
A cemetery kit can be as small or as elaborate as you care to make it. It doesn't need to take up much space in the trunk of your car either. Since there are no "official guidelines" for this kit, maybe I can make some of my own suggestions and you can build on that to fit your own needs; you might also come up with some new ideas of your own.
To me the goal in having a kit is to carry as much equipment to gain the most information in as small or condensed area as possible.
1. A spiral notebook-- for making notations of locations, graves, questions or a travel log of sorts, so you know where you have explored. This is also useful if you need to suddenly gain written permission from an owner.
2. A least a couple of pens and pencils--allow for Murphy's Law in that you will run out of ink at a crucial moment.
3. A couple of old rags--for wiping dirt off of the gravestones for legibility. A soft scrub brush or toothbrush works well also.
4. A few good detailed maps of the areas you normally canvass in.
5. A small garden spade--in case you need to scrap dirt away from the bottom of the stone.
6. A spare camera if you have one (don't keep film in there as the heat will run it, take it when you leave your house).
The above list is sufficient for your needs, however, I also would like to include some other items that might be looked at as "luxury items", but they WILL come in handy.
7. A few packages of crackers (for extended explorations)
8. A bottle of water or two
9. An old pair of shoes or boots for possible muddy situations ( an old newspaper as well for kneeling on would come in handy also).
10. An old pair of gloves
11. A small bottle of calamine lotion, just in case, you do come across that batch of poison ivy!
12. I also like to take a page or two of computer paper and a crayon..THIS IS NOT FOR MARKING ON THE STONE. This is to make a "rubbing" of hard to read stones.
So, there you have my 12 step program for cemetery exploration on the spur of the moment. There are, of course, other items you can include at the last minute such as a video camera, but the above are items that can be stored in your trunk in a box for use at anytime.
You might also wish to keep an updated listing of just whom you are searching for in an area.
Now, you too, can "brake for cemeteries" and be prepared for any situation.
If you think of any new items to add in there, please let me know!