green burial piece of mine on salon.com

Looking for a Greener Kind of  Death:

As Americans get savvier about environmental consequences, why aren’t they embracing natural burial?

There was a naked body wrapped in yards and yards of unbleached muslin perched over an open grave, and Mary Woodsen was speeding to get there. An early spring snowfall had dumped 2 feet of wet snow on Irish Hill making the going tough, but as founder of the cemetery Mary had been there many times before. The car swerved all over the road. She knew it was a fine line between spinning out and reaching the summit.

Tiffani Jones (name changed) was being buried today. A 43-year-old woman with brain, kidney, liver and spinal cancer. Her body finally gave out, and her mother wanted her buried up on the hill. Mary was glad Tiffani was local — from the hardscrabble village at the base of the hill — because after five years, she was a little tired of Greensprings being seen as a groovy, hippie alternative to traditional burial. From all accounts Tiffani was a hard-drinking, hard-partying woman and many of her mourners were cut from that same cloth. They stood shivering in thin leather jackets pulled tight around their bodies while the wind blew, making it seem colder than 28 degrees.

Everyone stood and stared at Tiffani’s body above the open grave. Mary stood back. Planting bodies in the ground made sense to Mary. She thought about how the body breaks down and feeds nutrients into the soil, and as she stood there, she could imagine Tiffani’s body one day feeding all of the meadow grasses that lay under the snow. This is death broken down to molecules; to carbon and nitrogen and calcium. Tiffani will feed the meadow. [click here to keep reading . . .]

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