The drifts of leaves are changing the outlines of the cemetery. You can’t see where the tarmac meets the grass, or even be sure of the shape, often uneven, of the turf beneath. Blowers, rakes, shovels and trailers will be used in due course to tidy things up and stop the paths being permanently buried, but meanwhile the leaves, like snowfall or uncut grass are one of the ways the cemetery remodels itself when left alone.
It always bothered me, as a schoolboy, that you could never quite erase pencil. With a soft pencil, paper that isn’t too fluffy, and a good eraser you can get most of the graphite out, but perhaps not all, and you can’t get rid of the indented valley the pencil made. I have a Stabilo Exam Grade eraser at the moment, and it’s brilliant, but the name is off-putting.
No one ever thinks ‘I have an exam today, I had better use a better grade of eraser’. Calling it an Exam Grade eraser simply claims that it is very good, as good as you would hope if you had made an error on your paper despite having tried so hard to make it perfect, and had to correct it. Except that no eraser is that good. If you make a mistake and have to rub it out, there will always be tell tale signs.
No longer a schoolboy, I no longer believe in perfection; either that it is possible or that it is to be desired. I enjoy things that show their history, the layered nature of the archaeologist’s dig, the rubbed leather, the much handled wood, the notes with additions, the read book.
The cemetery is wonderful for this. Leaves grow and fall, trees live and decay and of course bodies are buried. Lichens gradually colonise the helpfully dated headstones. The ground staff trim and the relatives garden and tidy, and still everything leaves its trace, everything is recorded.