Is it me or is there something wrong with Stockbridge and its use of the town cemetery for recreational purposes during the winter? I was victimized in two incidents by this benighted policy.
The first occurred when I attempted to visit my husband’s grave about a month ago while a good deal of snow was still on the ground. The narrow tree-lined entrance on Church Street, with space for only one car to pass, appeared clear of snow. I drove in only to find that the circular drive leading to the graves had not been plowed and I was now stuck in deep snow unable to move my car (and no cell phone service, either -- another issue.) At the age of 75, digging out my car is not exactly recommended for my health but it was that, or trudging into town to get someone to help me. Luckily, after much effort and digging (with a shovel I keep in the trunk of my car) I was able to extricate myself.
Determined to not let this happen again, I called the highway department after several recent snowfalls to make sure that this time I could visit my husband’s grave without endangering my own life. I was assured that all was cleared of snow, so off I went on Saturday, March 23, to the cemetery, only to find a car parked at the end of the row of trees, with no one in sight.
I was now stuck behind this car with two options: to back out that long entranceway and try not to hit the trees lining each side, or, to squeeze around the car to get to the grave. I chose the latter to my regret, not realizing that the snow was deep enough on the side to hide a tree stump, which I hit, cracking the front bumper and ripping off the shield under the bumper, to the tune of close to $1,000 in repairs.
When I returned from the grave a short time after, I spied a woman walking toward the car with her dog. Pointing out to her that I could think of a better place to park a car, she told me that Stockbridge allows people to use the cemetery entrance road as a parking spot because "no one goes to the cemetery in the winter." I decided to follow up by verifying what I thought could not possibly be true by calling the Selectmen’s office on Monday. There, I was told by a town employee that the woman was right and that is, in fact, the town policy.
In the Berkshires there have to be a multitude of venues with trails and places to walk besides the town cemetery, while to visit a loved one’s grave, there is only one place that I can think of. Who should have priority here? If the cemetery is so essential for strolling during the winter, the town should create a special parking area that does not block access to those who come to mourn.