While I was at Smith Farm yesterday, I took a few pictures of the old grapevine. It looks like an alien being guarding the path up to the old graveyard.
A closer look:
It reaches across several trees and has encircled a few, causing them to die. I don't know how long the vine has been in that bottom. It was there when I inherited the farm in 1969.
Up the hill behind this vine is the old Bernard (pronounced Burn'-erd) cemetery where William Bernard and his wife Gillie Anne have lain for over a century.
When the Bernards were buried on the hill, the woods weren't there—only an open field. At the top of the path is Gillie Ann's original stone. It faces the path and the cabin William Bernard built in the early 1850s.
In the photo below, it's beside the "new" stone their children bought for the Bernards in the 1940s or 50s. The new stone faces the opposite way. William's original stone is there, too, but it has nothing engraved on it.
Outside the Bernard plot, two babies are buried. One is Clyde Wesley Pasley, the son of my aunt Myrtle. Clyde lived for a few months in 1924. His stone has only been there since the 1970s when his brother Grady put it there. Before that, it had been in Myrtle and her husband Tip's barn.
The other is my brother, Robert Lee Smith, who lived for a few hours on January 17, 1941.
After Gillie Ann was buried, William Bernard cut a little window through the logs of the cabin, so he could sit by the fire and see her grave.
The clapboards weren't there when he cut the window. My grandfather, who had a sawmill, added them years later. This is how the cabin looks from in front of the grapevine.
To the right is what's left of a huge black walnut tree. Ever since I was a little kid, the walnut tree has been big. Did William Bernard plant it? I don't know.
To the left of the cabin is all that's left of Gillie Ann's kitchen house—a pile of stones from the chimney and the lilac bush that was likely beside her kitchen door.
Brown visaged Autumn sat within the wood,
And counted miserly his ripened wealth;
The last crisped leaves sailed sauntering to earth,
The gentle winds stole by, and made no noise,—
Stole by on tip-toe. . . .
—from The Hill of Stones and Other Poems, by Silas Weir Mitchell (1882)
While I walked my farm on this autumn day and looked upon vines and trees and stones, leaves indeed sailed sauntering to earth and the gentle winds stole by.