Sculpture in Mt. View Cemetery*

“Hope is the thing with feathers,” Emily Dickinson wrote, and I have been thinking about hope—why, how and where to find it— a great deal.  These are hard times all over the world, probably  more so than ever in my lifetime and I’m not sure there will be much improvement in the foreseeable future.

That has led me to thinking about hope—where to find it and how to sustain it.  Yesterday I took a long walk in Mountain View Cemetery with my good friend Heidi.  A cemetery may be an odd choice of recreation for a person looking for hope, but this particular place is spectacular—designed by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted—with beautiful sculptures, meandering paths and roads beneath specimen oaks, redwoods and other old trees, a lake and an unparalleled view of the San Francisco Bay area from Marin County to the north and Santa Clara County to the south.  At one point we stopped to enjoy the view and talk about what we do to keep our spirits up and, as if on cue, a Scrub Jay hopped out from beneath a bush.  There we were, talking about what gives us hope, standing among trees that have survived for centuries—in the company of an ordinary local bird whose main concern is finding enough food to get through the day.

I like birds and consider myself to be reasonably knowledgeable but during a  recent visit with my daughter-in-law Joanna I realized how much I was missing.  Jo is a serious bird watcher and during her visit added 40 Bay Area birds to her “life list.” The birds Jo spotted were a reminder that if you pay attention and look closely enough, you can find beauty all around and that is a good source of hope.  For some useful information about ways to find hope, I recommend Elizabeth Bernstein’s columns in The Wall Street Journal.  They are full of good advice and leads to other sources.  And meanwhile…


*Photo by me.



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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