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Sagebrush hid toppled tombstones scattered between pines in the Markleeville Cemetery. It had no road, no worn path of mourners. I discovered it by accident when I was seven, searching a hillside for glittering rocks with crystals. I followed a cow trail up the hillside, thrusting pretties into my jeans pockets.
At the top of the hill I could see the entire town. A cluster of houses, a store and a bar, almost a ghost town kept alive by an active courthouse and tourists who skied and camped.
A barbed wire fence marked its edge. I could see marble blocks so I crawled beneath wires. Old grave markers. Many were children and I wondered why they died. Inscriptions were from the mining heyday: 1860s-1880s. By the time I left Markleeville at age 18, I knew every stone, inscription and unmarked hallow. I discovered how to read history among the dead.
Linking up with Lisa Reiter at Sharing the Story for Bite Size Memoir.