El Carmelo Cemetery, Pacific Grove, California

Early one morning, I was out for my Sunday morning romp on my bike. On the way back, I took my usual detour loop through the cemetery, rows and rows of headstones, deer snacking on grass, gazing at me with curiosity. As I came around, I saw an older woman, mid-eighties, trying to push a colorful wind spinner into the ground next to a headstone. 

In my teens, I worked in a cemetery, gardening, and burying graves. From time to time, we had to clean up all the garish plastic flowers and spinners to keep the place from turning into a dump. We scoffed at people who brought that plastic junk instead of real flowers, and that’s how I felt when I saw this woman struggling with her spinner. 

I coasted along the road, watching, and with effort, the woman finally pushed the spinner into the ground. She stepped back and gazed down at the grave, her head and shoulders hanging forward, and the moment lingered. Questions crossed my mind: husband, child, birthday, anniversary? Suddenly the wind spinner transformed into the perfect sentiment.