Mount Auburn Street: 1831

My third stop on Mount Auburn Street was Mount Auburn Cemetery of course. Founded in 1831 to create a beautiful environment for mourning and spiritual renewal–and to keep corpses out of Boston’s boneyards, which were burying up to five bodies in a grave in the early 1800’s– Mount Auburn is famous, enormous, and full of fluffy-looking trees at this time of year. The Japanese maples are leafed out (there are some stunning fall pictures of Mount Auburn’s Japanese maples here), but a number of other species aren’t, including the copper beeches. Stingy trees!

There have been mountains of essays about Mount Auburn. The place was one of Boston’s biggest tourist draws in the days when Revolutionary War history was still a bunch of stories Great-Grandpa used to tell. Thousands of people would ride carriages and streetcars out to the cemetery to stroll its shady walks. It’s still popular, but the crowds don’t come, except for the Brookline Bird Club during warbler migration season. If you see a crowd of 50 people with binoculars at Mount Auburn, get out of their way! The Brookline Birders stop for no man.

Today, the cemetery was quiet. I admired what looked like a monument to a dead sheaf of wheat, and one of the largest white oak galls I’ve ever seen. I suppose when you grow 150-year-old-trees, you can grow 150-year-old galls as well. Apart from a plot of incongruous sulphur-yellow pansies seemingly planted to make nearby pale purple azaleas and Japanese maples look ill, Mount Auburn was restful and calm– just like it’s supposed to be.

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