Close to my house is a forest, a state forest that I’ve claimed as my own. I’m willing to share it with people, but I prefer that they enjoy my forest while I’m not there. I’m not antisocial, I just specifically go there to be alone. Plus, other people on the trail tend to make me feel like I’m about to be murdered... or forced into unsolicited small talk. It’s kind of terrifying.
Especially the ninja runners. How you can run and make no noise is beyond me, but I can't tell you how many times the first sound of a runner I've heard is the heavy breathing, like, a foot from my head. I jump and yell like I'm in a horror movie and it's awkward for both of us.
Then I feel guilty for not running. Then I remind myself that I could be sitting on my couch. Then I want to catch the ninja and be like, “I might just be walking, but at least I’m doing something.” Then I remember that the ninja doesn’t care about me, probably doesn’t want to see me in the woods either, and it doesn’t matter anyway because there is no way I can catch running ninjas.
So yeah, I’d prefer to be alone in my forest. That said, there is a person or some persons that I’m really glad share my forest. The person(s) that do this:
My Mother-in-law taught me that a man-made stack of rocks is called a cairn. Typically they are used to mark something (like a trail) but sometimes they’re just there. I saw the one below more than 100 miles from my house at a place where I’ve been vacationing with my family since I was a wee lass. (The origin of cairn is Scottish, so, you should probably read this whole post with a Scottish accent. You know, for authenticity.)
Turns out, people really like to stack rocks.
There is one particular spot in my forest where the cairns appear: on a boulder, next to the creek. Whenever I turn the corner, approaching the cairn boulder, I’m always excited to see one there and I’m a little disappointed when I don’t.
When I first started coming to my forest, many moons ago, the cairns were just stacks. Now, they tend to look like short chubby people -- cairns in my image, if you will.
One day last December, I turned the corner and saw the whole area covered with them. It was a cairn party! I did a happy dance. For rocks.
Why does the person(s) in my forest do this? I don’t know. I don’t care. And I hope I never turn the corner and actually see someone doing it (luckily, I’m not ninja-like at all, so they have time to escape). The point is, someone stops along their walk/ninja run and leaves something behind for strangers to enjoy. That, my friends, is awesome.
And, I must say, anonymous awesome is the very best kind. I like attention and money as much as the next person, but when motivation is tied with recognition, awesomeness gets diluted. I offer my sincerest gratitude to the cairn maker(s) and everyone out there with an impetus to be quietly awesome. Seriously, thank you.
I like to throw things.