Catherine and Katie Freine, stroll with their dogs Sadie and Rascal Monday like they do every spring.
Catherine and Katie Freine, stroll with their dogs Sadie and Rascal Monday like they do every spring.

A place where families find peace in different ways

Published 10:05pm Monday, April 8, 2013

There was an explosion just one week ago in New Live Oak Cemetery — an explosion of azalea buds, all blooming at the first hint of warmer weather.

Those who run the cemetery and those who enjoy it for recreation all seem to agree — that New Live Oak Cemetery is full of shade and beauty for runners and walkers to enjoy.

Despite the fact the area is a place of rest for hundreds of Selma’s deceased residents, hundreds flock to the pathways each day to exercise as well as pay their respects.

“We prune them once a year,” Herman Morgan with the Selma Cemetery Department said about the azaleas. Morgan supervises the landscaping in New Live Oak and other cemeteries in town including Old Live Oak and Ellwood Cemeteries.

He rolled his eyes and laughed when asked if the upkeep was an easy task.

Between the three cemeteries Morgan and his crew, “cut grass, do the funerals, dig the graves and pick up all of the debris off the ground,” he said. They also pick up all leaves, sticks and moss in, “really hot weather.”

Morgan said there is no secret to how they tend for the azaleas in New Live Oak. Some gardeners whisper to their flowers, sing songs and fertilize, but Morgan said that he and the landscapers just cut back the azaleas each year — some reaching heights of more than six feet.

The cemetery boasts flowers of all colors too. From Hibiscus-looking flushed pinks and rosy whites, bumble bees bounce from bush to bush and past grave markers.

Robin Daniels has been walking in the cemetery for years and Monday she brought her dog Bella to walk the paths because she said, “I just decided it’s time to start walking out here again and so today is my first day back.”

Daniels, whose in-laws are buried among the hundreds of gravesites, said New Live Oak is the perfect place to walk because during the hot summer months it is shaded and cool.

“I can get back to nature and talk to God, walk my dog — just enjoy life,” Daniels said, and laughed at how the residents in the cemetery cannot talk back to you. “Its really peaceful.”

For Morgan their seems to be more to tending to the landscaping of the cemeteries than just yard work because he explained that his main job, it feels, is to take care of others’ family members.

Morgan said they go from grave to grave, “picking up any flowers that have died,” so the cemetery can look beautiful and alive.

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