Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Epic Green Lawn Cemetery tour!

A month or so ago, I visited Columbus's famous Green Lawn Cemetery with cemetery board member Randy Rogers. Our main mission was to look at some of the massive old trees that are harbored in the cemetery. I wanted to write one of my Columbus Dispatch columns about the cemetery's ancient timber, and did so RIGHT HERE.

As I penned the column, the thought occurred that some people might like the opportunity to visit the cemetery in the company of guides who know the nooks and crannies of the sprawling 360-acre park/cemetery. So, I messaged Randy and he agreed that this was a good idea, and would co-lead the excursion with me. Excellent news, as I don't think anyone is as well rounded in their knowledge of the cemetery - its residents and human history, trees, and wildlife - as is Randy. So, I slipped a note into the column about the field trip, and that any and all were welcome.

Last Saturday was the day for the trip. Any interested parties were to convene at the administration building near the entrance, at 10 am. I ended up meeting friends Liz and Jamie Taylor at 9 am, to do some hunting for crossbills and other avian fare. About 10 till 10, I remarked that I'd better get to the meeting spot, to see if anyone showed up for our scheduled field trip.

And show up they did...

Our group, probably nearly 200 strong (and that wasn't everyone!), poses by the 313 year old white oak that is the oldest tree in Green Lawn Cemetery and was featured in my Dispatch column. We started here, to ensure that everyone got ample opportunity to commune with this spectacular plant.

As I neared the rendezvous point, I was stunned to see lines of cars everywhere and an enormous crowd of people. It was impossible to tally everyone, especially as Randy and I had the formidable task of gathering everyone into a cohesive group and shepherding them about. There may have been 250+ at the outset.

In spite of the crowd size, things worked out quite well and we enjoyed a nearly 2.5 hour foray through the cemetery, seeing many of the highlights.

Interesting wildlife, such as this striped skunk, even put in an appearance. At one point, a subadult bald eagle flew right over out large group, and at another point a young Cooper's hawk put on a show for everyone. Interspersed were lots of history highlights - Green Lawn is home to many famous individuals, including five governors, numerous Columbus luminaries, James Thurber, and many others. Dr. Bernard Master - a former cemetery board member and major world birder - was also along, and contributed great info about the cemetery's history and notable residents, such as Thomas Blakiston.

Thanks to everyone who attended. Maybe we can do it again next year!

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