Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A 21st Century Burial Practice

I know Yolo County pretty well and Davis especially because it was closest town to where I grew up.  Davis likes to think of itself as progressive and eco-friendly, which I guess it is except for the fact that everyone there drives an SUV and brown-outs are a regular thing in the summer months because people are running their A/Cs constantly.  One thing that has kind of put Davis on "the map" (environmentally speaking that is) is the fact that they offer a unique, thoroughly 21st Century, burial practice.

You see, in Davis, you can get a "Green Burial."  Everything this entails is below:

"WHAT IS A GREEN BURIAL? The intention of a green burial is to hasten the return of the body to the natural world and to integrate the remains within the cycles of nature. The body is not embalmed. Any wrap or container/casket is made of biodegradable material such as wood, wicker, or natural fiber.
WHAT IS THE GREEN BURIAL PROCESS? The body or container is lowered onto the earth at the bottom of the grave. Earth is then packed directly around and over the body or container instead of using a traditional cement vault or grave liner. The Davis Cemetery District places a vault lid on the packed dirt above the body and then puts more dirt on top of the lid in order in ensure that the grave site remains flat and stable for the weight of the memorial marker and of our mowers and other equipment.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE GREEN BURIAL OPTION? The Davis Cemetery District offers the green burial option for either single or companion interment. In the case of a companion green burial, the District will use a separate vault lid on the packed dirt above each body.
Embalmed bodies and/or those in non-biodegradable caskets, such as metal, are not eligible for the green burial option. Green burial is not an option for the second interment into a companion plot in which a companion vault is already in place." (This information is via the Davis Cemetery District website)

It is certainly not a burial practice our ancestors had as an option (although you could argue that this is no different from the old stand by of yester year, a pine box).  But, if you are of an ecological mindset in this day and age, perhaps you might find this new burial option appealing.  Reading about all this reminds me of the "Manchester Mummy," aka Hannah Beswick.  Her interesting story can be read here, but suffice to say, she was so terrified of being buried alive that she had her body embalmed and kept on display so that they could occasionally check for vitals.  It was 110 years after her death that she was finally buried (and got a death certificate).  I'm sure she would have been horrified by a "green burial."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Davis Cemetery District (Yolo Co.)

This was the nearest cemetery to me growing up and I have many memories of the grounds and beautiful monuments there.  It is a beautiful cemetery in the heart of Davis so you pretty much have to drive by it whenever you want to go anywhere in town.  The grounds are kept in imaculate condition and the cemetery is quite large.  Since Davis is the self-professed "Bicylce Capital of the World" bike paths go around the cemetery and are pretty popular.  I used to go there a lot when I was growing up because the dog park was adjoining the cemetery.  There was a bit of a problem with this arrangement though because it seems the more irresponsible dog owners used to let their four-legged friends "relieve" themselves in the cemetery and not clean things up afterward.  The dog park is now on the other side of town. 

A calendar of events, old maps and a history of the cemetery can be found on their website.  Also on the website and produced by the Davis Cemetery District is this video which does a nice job of introducing and summarizng the cemetery: