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Oxymoron of the Day: Permanent Cairn

While hiking in Canyonlands today,I encountered an oddity: permanent cairns. If you have no idea what I might mean, look at the photo now. Go on - I'll wait.

Cairns are those stacks of rocks one finds which mark trails. Sometimes they mark other things instead, like a cool spot, but mostly, they mark trails. Well meaning fellow hikers stack the rocks to help people maintain their bearings. It's a good thing signifying empathy and team spirit. We're all in this together.

But a key aspect of the humble cairn is that it is ephemeral. In it's ad hoc construction there is a timeless expiration to it. It will fall over, one way or another eventually, as all things do. In it's structure is a nobility of purpose, but in it's frailty, a humble acknowledgement of mortality.

That's why these things (pictured) while born of well meaning, are just a little odious and clueless - that is, those who made them.

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Bob Hazy
Bob Hazy
Apr 12, 2021

Trust me, there's rebar in there holding it together. He's another one succumbing to the revulsion of nature (and yet another being supplanted by wholy organic baby cairn pieces spontaneously arranging themselves):

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