As we traveled and hiked through out of the way places in the desert we have come across several graves. These are always strangely sad and lonely for me to look at.
I told you about the ones we found in the ghost town. They were cheerless and redolent with history, but the most heartbreaking ones for me were the single ones in the middle of no where. They were momentos of someone who was loved or at least cared for in some way, but they were all alone--just piles of stone in an oval heap.
For some the pile remained. For others the heap of stones had collapsed in on themselves. And for others, unless you knew the pattern, you might not have suspected it had once been a grave. Usually for these all that remained was the outer ring of stones. It depended on how the body had been buried. Those where the body had simply been wrapped in a blanket, or perhaps just put in the ground, hadn't collapsed much as the body decayed and the sand sifted through the spaces remaining.
For those which had been buried in a 'coffin' or a box had much more space under the ground. As the box decayed and broke, the desert sands and the rock on top fell into the emptiness over the body. When that space was filled, it caused a the stones and dirt on the surface to sink. Only the ring of stones around the grave were still apparent..
I guess what was sadder still was the fact than no indication of whose remains were buried there could be seen. We make a production today of gravestones and monuments; I suppose at sometime someone may have placed a marker over these lonely graves, but time has worn away any marking scratched on stone and faded any words made on wooden crosses or sticks. We never found a cross at any of the ones we saw, although I'm sure at least a few would have had a cross, given the time period. But the desert wind and blown sand desroyed them over the years.
I couldn't help but think of the brave men and women who had taken their courage in their hands and set out to make a live in this country. As much as I love it I don't know if I would have that kind o courage.