Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cliff's Totem

As promised I am posting a few pictures from the "totem angel" that I carved for Cliff earlier in the year when so many of us wanted to do something for him. Cliff so enjoyed sharing the stories of checking his mailbox each day and that not even a Canadian snowstorm could hold him at bay to retrieve his mail. This is the totem that I mailed to Cliff and I also included the following description of all the characters on the pole for as you know, every totem has a special story:

Just to let you know that I have finally finished your "angel" but I had to apply a lot of spin to make that work because my heart led me to carve a totem pole. This totem is an almost exact replica of a 14 foot totem pole that I carved for the wilderness camp where I work... sorry that I couldn't afford the freight charges for the bigger one all the way to Canada.

It sits about 8 1/4" on the red oak stand and I carved it from local poplar that I milled down to 7/8" square. I then finished it with some woodburning accent, acrylic paints, and a final polyurethane seal. My goal is to have it in the mail late tomorrow afternoon after work if all goes as planned and hope that it makes it through customs OK. I thought that I'd go ahead and post a few pictures of it here so that you could have something to look forward to and also to share with others on the board.

Starting at the bottom of the pole:

* Bear: This bear is at the bottom of the totem because it represents the tremendous strength to hold up and support all that is above him... just like the amazing strength of your own attitude when faced with the challenge of your life. I could only hope that I would be able to share my feelings and to talk with others if/when I will face such a challenge. The "bear" thus reflects the great admiration that I'm sure many of us here share about your real strength.
* Beaver: The beaver represents your skill as a woodcarver and your willingness to share your thoughts, your projects, and your ability to respond to so many posts here on the board. You obviously have moved up through the ranks in life through the "College of Hard Knocks" where a persons true knowledge is judged more upon their ability to apply common sense instead of their ability to explain the theory of relativity. Personally I find more in common with someone like you who knows how to use their hands than I ever would hanging out with John Smith Phd.
* Frog: The frog is a symbol of your ability to "leap" from one level of life to another, despite the obstacle, with amazing ease. Although apparently a simple thing for you, THAT is a life lesson that we can all benefit from.
* Raven: The raven represents the truth and wisdom that you have shared with us (and I'm sure your own family and friends) during this ordeal and I'm sure others throughout your long life. No matter how long that we are walking on this planet it is a high honor to achieve the wisdom of the raven!
* Thunderbird: The thunderbird on this totem represents what I refer to as the Native American angel that brings everything "full-circle" in your life. Your strength in faith, your love of family, and the protector of all that you do while on earth. It perches tall atop the pole watching over all that is below him so that you know all is well and everything is in order during this life and the next. No matter what, you and your family will be OK.

As I continue to write a small chuckle cracks out on my face because I know what you just said, "Is that all there is"? Well, "No" is my answer because I still believe that even during times of great challenge the best is always yet to come... if only we look for it in the small, mostly unseen cracks and crannies where such hope tends to hide from us. Don't stop looking!


Dave, I'm absolutely blown away, man oh man, for once in my 78 years I'm at a total loss for words. Sure, the totem is beautiful, no question, but the thought you have put into the written word is so heart warming. You can rest assured that totem will live in this family (along with the written word) long after I'm gone. Thank you so very very much for being so thoughtful, it's friends like you and the rest of the carving community that make me want to hang on forever. Thank you my dear friend, so very much.

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