An Expedition to East End / by Erin Hollaway Palmer + Brian Palmer

Yesterday afternoon, as the snow began its slushward journey, Melissa—another of the regular East End volunteers—and I decided to venture to the cemetery on foot. It's not all that far (about two miles) on an ordinary day, but there's nothing ordinary about 18 inches of snow in Richmond, Virginia. We trudged down the middle of Chimborazo Boulevard, then up Oakwood Avenue, and continued past Oakwood Cemetery's large, lovingly tended Confederate section, eventually arriving (after helping dig out and push not one but two cars that had gotten stuck—it was only fair after an earlier misadventure of our own...) at the entrance of Evergreen Cemetery on E. Richmond Road.

We were not the first walkers in the woods—there were tracks winding up from the road—but whoever it was had come and gone. Almost no headstones were visible through the trees. What the overgrowth had not already obscured, the snow had blanketed. Only at the top of the hill, where Maggie Walker is buried beneath a tall stone cross (pictured above), could we begin to make out the hidden city. It was perfectly still except for the chirping of birds and the sound of our boots breaking through the crunchy top layer of snow.

East End was undisturbed, not counting the access road, which, to our surprise, had been plowed after a fashion. I walked back into the section where I had been working earlier in the week to check on "my" people—I'm particularly attached to this spot—and to assure them that we would be back soon. The melting has begun in earnest, and I'm hoping the snow, or enough of it, will be gone by week's end.

After leaving East End, we walked down Stony Run Parkway, the trash that's strewn along the road temporarily out of sight, and then struggled up "Mount Oakwood" (okay, it's a hill), finally emerging onto the street on the other side of the cemetery, as if returning from a cross-country expedition. All told, we were gone three hours. —EHP