Cairn Rock


“I have something I need to talk to you about,” my neighbor said, stepping out of his truck’s cab.  He’d stopped at the end of my driveway when he saw me heading out for a run this morning.  He looked upset and I was immediately worried.

“You know we’re doing a lot of logging out the road,” he said and I said of course, we see a dozen or more large trucks a day going by our house, making the sharp left turn to climb the small hill of Canterbury Road up through the fields and then into the woods. The same road I’ve written about before, the road I walk to a large set of rocks where I’ve been building cairns for Eric since he died.  The closed trailer trucks come back out the road packed with mulch; the open bed trailers with tall steel side supports roar by stacked with huge logs of oak.

David and I walk out there often and have been watching the progress of the loggers cleaning up blown down trees from the tornado in 2008, shredding them into mulch, and cutting tall oaks for lumber.   It’s the most action our street has seen since I’ve lived here.  It’s made the road surface in the woods much smoother for walking and we’ve been assuming the blockage in the road, that keeps us from getting to the cairn rock, will be cleared once all the lumbering in done.

“I told the logger I hired one thing he had to be sure to to be careful of,” my neighbor said, still looking worried through all my talking about how much work he’s getting done on his land and how much better the road in the woods is now for running.  “I didn’t want anything to happen to the rock where you make stone piles.”

“Oh,” I said, finally understanding why he looked upset.

“But there was a new young man working out there last week and he pulled trees over the rock and now everything is knocked down.  I’m really sorry.”

“That’s okay,” I said.  “I build those cairns for Eric, but I don’t mind rebuilding them.  I often have to pick up fallen rocks.  It’s fine.”

“I know the rocks are for Eric.  That’s why I really didn’t want them disturbed.  I feel so badly.  I’m going to clean out all the brush and bark that got left there and once the old road is open again you’ll be able to get to the rock and it will be all fixed.  I’m so sorry.” He was holding his hand to his heart.

“It’s really okay,” I said.  “It’s so sweet of you to be that concerned, but please don’t worry about it.  You’re completely forgiven.  I’m fine about rebuilding the cairns.”

“When I realized you were making those rock piles for Eric, I started doing it for my Dad.  He used to take me out there when I was a kid, and now it’s a place I go to remember him.”  His father died four years ago.

“It’s a good spot,” I said, nodding.

“I have photographs of it so you can see what it was like before it all got knocked down.  And I’m going to make it even better.  I’ve gotten a granite cross I’m going to put out there.”  Now I knew where the cross made of lashed together branches that appeared on the rock this spring came from.

“Oh, that’s so nice,” I said.  “You’re so kind to stop and tell me all this, but really, it’s completely fine.  It will be a pleasure to rebuild the cairns.”

Eric would be delighted by the sequence of events that have led to a granite cross marking his remembrance rock.  I’ll make a Star of David with lashed together branches and put that next to the cross.

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