At the end of spring, I spent a rainy afternoon exploring rural highways east of Fayetteville. The pace of discovery is different when driving or riding a bike. Being more used to finding things when walking, I am grateful for two indispensable exploration aids: The Internet for looking up places and getting directions, and tips from friends who know the area. One of the latter was the reason I ended up in Radford Freewill Cemetery that day.
The rain had stopped when I climbed the hill to the oldest part of the cemetery. It was still cloudy, but the sky was not as dark as before. I knew I would find periwinkle, moss, old trees and tombstones with mysterious inscriptions. Something drew me to a large patch of periwinkle sheltered by a rough circle of cedars. I stood and waited until I began to see details of the small grove as images. The first photo I took shows a battered old tree standing guard over a gravestone:
Aside from the arrangement of the trees and stones, I was attracted by the textures of leaves, moss, lichen and bark, all emphasized by the rain.
I submitted the photo for participation in the juried competition for the Artists of Northwest Arkansas Annual Regional Art Exhibition. I had never sent in work there before and was happy when the photo was accepted. “Regional” means Arkansas plus nine other states, so the competition is stiff. Last weekend, I went to the exhibition reception at the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale. The event also included an awards ceremony, and my photo won Best in Photography/Digital Media. It was a wonderful and encouraging surprise.
By the way–the fourth photo I took in the cemetery that day shows the front of the tombstone in the center of the photo above. It looks as if someone placed a chamber pot under the stone: