I returned home from running errands today to find Dick putting the finishing touches on an inukshuk he built for me as a surprise... as a remembrance of our recent journey across Ontario.
What is an inukshuk, you say? Inukshuk, which is also spelled inuksuk, is the singular form of inuksuit and means "in the likeness of a human" in the Inuit language. We were first introduced to these rock sculptures as we recently travelled across the Canadian province of Ontario. Initially, we thought they were just a pile of rocks. As we began to see one erected every mile or so, their shape became recognizable to us as that of a human form. Their purpose, however, was puzzling. It was two weeks later at the annual Living Green Expo in St. Paul where the inukshuk resurfaced. Don Shelby, a retired WCCO-TV evening news anchor, was a presenter at the expo. He described the construction of his green home. Of course, I was intrigued with the house's sustainability factor, but it was the rock person erected beside his house that got my attention.
At the conclusion of Mr. Shelby's presentation, I anxiously waited in line to ask him about his rock person. He explained that, in his younger days, he was in the service stationed in the Arctic where the stone figure called inukshuk was commonplace. He built one in his yard in remembrance of that time in his life. O.K., so I was first introduced to them in Ontario and now, strangely enough, they had resurfaced at the Living Green Expo. I have never seen one before and now it's two separate occasions within a two week timespan. Ah, yes, life is fun. But, I still yearned to satisfy my curiosity regarding their purpose. Online research provided the answer. The Arctic is barren... void of landmarks as a point of reference to aid one's sense of direction or location. Erected at intervals, an inukshuk with outstretched arms pointing in the direction one should travel, can be instrumental... crucial, really, in finding one's way to a destination and back home again. Dick's and my inukshuk stands ever so dutifully marking the way back to our home.