Not only Emily.

Headstone of William S. Clark, West Cemetery, Amherst, MA USA
Headstone of William S. Clark, West Cemetery, Amherst, MA USA

I walk Martha in West Cemetery nearly every day, all year round, rain or shine.  I frequently see people wandering around as though they are looking for a particular gravesite.  Most of the time, they are trying to find Emily Dickinson’s grave, so I point them in that direction and off they go. It’s fairly easy to identify these folks, because they usually arrive in a late model sedan with Connecticut license plates – a rental car, for sure.

One recent mid-day, Martha and I spotted such a vehicle, parked near the Town Tomb.  Three well-dressed Asian men got out, and looked around as though seeking – a particular gravesite.  I approached and asked them if they were looking for Emily.  To my surprise, they said no.  They were looking for someone named “Clark.”

They explained that they were from Hokkaido University, and they were looking for the grave of William S. Clark.  Clark, the third president of Massachusetts Agricultural College, had later been hired by the Japanese government as a foreign advisor to establish the Sapporo Agricultural College (SAC), now Hokkaido University. Although he was only there for eight months,  Clark made a huge impression on the Japanese, and there is a large statute of him on the campus of Hokkaido University. He was buried in West Cemetery.

I remembered that the Town of Amherst has an online map and directory  of West Cemetery, so I looked it up on my phone and soon enough we were standing before a large, white marble stone which bore the name of William S,. Clark.

Somewhere in Hokkaido, Japan, there is a photograph of three well-dressed Japanese professors, standing with me and Martha next to William Clark’s grave.


Missing Prudence.



Last September we spent a week on Prudence Island, Rhode Island.  It’s a very special place for me. My grandfather discovered it in the ninteen teens when he was a boy scout, and he built a cottage there which our extended family shared for many years.

 After Grampa and Gramma died, my mom and her sisters inherited the cottage, but it was in need of some major repair and renovation.  My oldest cousin had always spent a lot of time on the Island, and had invested a lot of time and effort over the years to maintain the cottage, so eventually the sisters and my mom sold their shares in the cottage to him. He’s done a great deal of work on the place, and spends nearly every weekend there.  He’s really earned the right to the place, and I’m glad he enjoys it.

Last summer was the first time I’d been to Prudence for nearly fifteen years.  It has changed a lot, mostly for the better.  There are now many miles of trails to walk, and parts of the Island which were inaccessible when I was a child are now open to the public.  We walked all over the Island, averaging more than 5 miles a day, with no repeats for a week.  It was glorious and the weather was perfect. Martha was a very happy dog indeed.

This summer has been less active, and as the leaves start to turn I feel pulled back to Prudence.  I can’t spend a week this year, but I hope to make a couple of day trips.  I don’t intend to wait another fifteen years.