Getting to Know Seattle: Cairns

In Scotland they’re called cairns. In the First Nations regions of northern Canada, the great swaths of ice that constitute much of the land where Inuit people have eked out a living for centuries, they are called Inukshuks.

This is a particularly lovely one, perched on the rock shore of Puget Sound. It won’t stay forever; nothing does. It’s up pretty high to be knocked over by a wave, and seems sturdy enough to withstand the wind. Most likely it will be upended, eventually, by human hand. People do that to the creations of others, for reasons that escape me.

They symbolism of the rock tower is twofold: to say that its creator was here, and to mark a pathway. Only the creator, in this case, knows the answer to “a pathway to what?”

6 thoughts on “Getting to Know Seattle: Cairns

  1. My neighborhood backs up to the Genesee Riverway Trail here in Charlotte. I see these from time to time on the path when I’m out walking. I wouldn’t have known what they were the first time I saw them if not for reading your blog these past many years!

  2. Rock stacking is a cultural expression found in many parts of the world. The cairn is called an “Ahu” in Hawaiian and takes on a sacred spiritual meaning.

  3. for Ben: I love the symbolism of the rock structures. And I’m glad you’re still reading the blog!!! Hope all is good.

  4. for Katie: Didn’t know that. As I said to Ben, I love the symbolism of saying “I was there” and “this marks the path.”

  5. I saw several Ahus in Hawaii. It’s sacrilegious and bad luck to remove the stones.

    What about Stonhedge in England? It too gives the symbolic message that someone was there and defines a path.

  6. for Katie: Jerry and I were at Stonehenge many years ago, when you could still walk among the stones. Very powerful experience.

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