Every month I try to go on what I call Photo Walks. It’s a good opportunity to practice and develop photography skills but it’s also gets me up off the couch and out exploring a bit. Some months are easy and dramatic – April was Chicago – but most of the time they are more modest and closer to home. In May I headed out to Rochester Cemetery, about 40 miles from home.
Entering Rochester Cemetery is like stepping back in time (although it is still an active cemetery) Set among rolling hills, it is prairie land that has never been plowed. Because of this, it is home to a dramatic collection of wildflowers, most notably the shooting stars.
The shooting stars open right around Mother’s Day, blanketing the hills with hundreds of pink, purple and white flowers, softening and decorating the aged stones of people who lived and died here more than a hundred years ago. Every year the flowers return, gracing those who have been long forgotten by time.
The cemetery is also notable for it’s large stand of native white oaks which have become increasingly rare. These huge, stately trees are especially impressive in the spring when they are just beginning to leaf out, showing off their beautiful branches. These trees are ringed by huge stands of May apples (just barely starting to flower the day I was there), another hard-to-find wildflower.
There are more than shooting stars here; wild geraniums, phlox, native orchids, and hepatica were also blooming. None of them though can match the drama and simple beauty of the shooting stars.