Skiers as Hood Ornaments

January 20th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Forest Hills Cemetery as ski resortOne of our in-town ski resorts may require stealth access. From Woodbourne, we are within walking distance of three undesignated cross-country ski areas — Franklin Park’s Devine golf course, the Arnold Arboretum and Forest Hills Cemetery.

The city owns the golf course and the dirt and roads of the arboretum (the plants belong to Harvard), but the graveyard has been private since it opened in 1848. However, FH is the second U.S. garden cemetery, meant for more than corpse storage. Unlike the nearby necropolises, St. Michael and Mt. Hope, FH was a park from the beginning, meant for contemplation, passive recreation and such human bonding as picnicking. It is also a sculpture garden with works by some of the nation’s most noted stone cutters and metal artists.

Pic Click Trick: Click on the thumbnail for a larger view or see a few more here.

For a quick spin, we’ve skied in FH for many years. The arboretum can seem like 128, with all its Brooklinites and surburban types unloading from their SUVs. The golf course is farther, but definitely less crowded and equally as rural in the snow. FH is right there and when the sidewalks haven’t been cleared, it’s an easy ski from Woodbourne, no car needed or wanted.

(Cue threatening music.) A couple of snows ago over the end-of-year holidays, we got the bum’s rush from a control-freak security guard. He wanted us to leave and not bring our skis back. The snowshoers, cars, trucks and bikes were okay, but no ski, no way.

He insisted skiing was forbidden, not passive recreation (did he think they had tiny motors hidden underneath?). We skied around and avoided him, but he looks like trouble.

Judgmentally, I figure him to be ex-military, but Army and not Marine from his unkempt sideburns. He was definitely a rules-are-rules type who will take charge until there is a superior officer at hand.

I can’t say I was amazed after several conversations along that line with a neighbor who has spent his career working there. He says when the crew puts the snowplows on its Jeeps, the operators hate cross-country skiers. The running joke over there is that cross-country skiers make nice hood ornaments.

We can set aside that:

  • No skier has ever been hit or run into a Jeep or caused any accident.
  • The cemetery has lots of traffic — motor vehicles, walkers, runners, dog people, cyclists.
  • Anyone operating a plow has open vistas making it easy to see any of those visitors well in advance.
  • Skiers there all seems to pay attention and there’s next to nowhere that a hill would let a skier travel fast onto a road.
  • Unleashed dogs are far more common and more likely to cause problems than a couple of skiers.

The point is that the employee folklore disses skiers. FH management would be stupid to ban skiers. After all, they are in the business of marketing their plots, which includes keeping FH a pleasant place to spend time, maybe a very long time.

We may have run across the one sour guardian. Alternately the perceived wisdom of occasional plowers may bubble up to the FH office. TBD

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One Response

  1. adamg says:

    And you’re not all that far away from two more: The George Wright Golf Course and Stony Brook Reservation, both on the Hyde Park/West Roxbury line, basically separate from each other by a chain-link fence (Stony Brook is a bit more challenging, I’d think).

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