Just over a year ago, I wrote about a nighttime visit to my local churchyard at night and in the snow. Last month, I conducted a daytime equivalent walk in comparable snowy conditions. As before, this post is simply to reflect on the distinctive aesthetics of a snow-covered churchyard. Snow temporarily transforms our environment, but it has particular effects on the appearance of graves and their environment in multiple ways.
The black and dark-grey stones of memorials are thrown into sharp relief against their white backdrop.
Vegetation – natural and augmented – is an integral part of our cemetery and churchyard environments – only snow temporarily negates its presence.
Traditional edges and borders are also obscured: paths are only partly apparent.
The flowers and the offerings – their colours, forms, textures and ornaments – are also thrown into a different light and contrast, against the backdrop and coverings of snow. This is most apparent in the youngest part of the churchyard where graves are recent and well-tended, some with low borders protecting the entire space.
Footprints are revealed too; suddenly the lack of visitors, and the trajectories of specific visitors are temporarily marked for all to see. Snow affords the opportunity to sense the visitors of the fresh graves – in this case me and my daughter – while the majority of the space that rarely receives foot-fall is starkly revealed by the lack of human footpritns: only those of cats, foxes and birds are revealed.