Some people (except those who live there) might consider Flora a ghost town. Never mind the vibrant school restoration work, fun festivals, and earnest pioneer spirit. To some visitors, Flora is a place where abandoned buildings lean into the wind, long-idle log trucks morph into rustic sculptures, and of course, the cemetery, with its vintage wire fencing, weathered headstones, and gate that creaks ever-so-slightly when opened or closed, seems a candidate for a Steven King masterpiece.
Last week Flora resident Kristin Foster and a friend decided to do some much-needed cleanup work in the cemetery. Branches had fallen onto graves, dead leaves obscured the grass, and plenty of weeds begged to be pulled up and removed. The two women started first thing in the morning. They filled several big garbage sacks with deceased weeds, reduced branches into manageable sizes, and removed the few errant scraps of paper and plastic that had drifted into the graveyard during the summer and fall. Everything seemed perfectly normal. The late-afternoon sun shone golden and warm. They were happy that they had some good deeds.
Evidently they weren’t the only ones.
“I picked up one of the garbage sacks full of dry weeds, and walked toward the gate,” Foster said. “And the gate just swung open slowly, like someone was opening it for me. It seemed like a gentle way of saying ‘Thank you.’”
There was no wind to swing the gate open. No slope to propel its motion. It just opened.
Astounded, Foster carried her bag of weeds to the car, and then returned, swinging the gate closed behind her out of habit. When she started for the gate with the second bag, once again it opened ahead of her, slowly, methodically, gently.
“I don’t believe much in spirits,” she said. “but this was so very much like someone just opening the gate to say “Thank you” that it’s hard to believe otherwise.”