Trekking north along the closest major artery, Canada-bound travelers are treated to a small hotel with a decorative windmill, several car dealerships, and a shopping center with a McDonald’s, a Blockbuster, and a Subway—all common manifestations of the Pax Americana. Then, however, they reach a graveyard.
Bisected by Front Street, the bricked-in cemetery with decorative iron bars is the first landmark people see that bears the sign “Lynden”—one on each side of the street. Not “Welcome to . . . ” with a grandiosely narrow claim differentiating it from other towns (“the world’s largest manufacturer of grilled cheese”). Just “Lynden,” take it or leave it. A visiting missionary recently thumbed his nose at the city’s decision to place the bus depot just east of the graveyard: “Where I come from, they put busses where the people are. They had the right idea but forgot to check for a pulse.”
He was quite wrong: The graveyard has a pulse all its own. The ebb and flow of the seasons brings a steady stream of families to lay flowers on the graves and to remember and to pray. While dead men don’t tell tales, their mourners do.
I’m a recent enough immigrant, with an outsider’s distance still intact, so I go there to disconfirm an old wives’ tale. Driving...