Life in a Northern Town

A Totem Pole Raising (or Re-Raising)

There was a minor set back when Ted was cutting down an old birch in the front yard. The totem pole was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the birch took it out. It spent a few months reclining in the yard, waiting for the day it would stand tall again. Being a lumberjack is hard work (at least that's Ted's story and he is sticking to it).

Ted called the man who put the pole up five years ago, I can't imagine how that phone call went. I doubt he has to re-raise many 20 foot totem poles. We bought it from Bill Vienneaux, a wood-carver in Washburn, and it's the only 20 foot totem pole he has made (so far). There were two spots open on the pole when we bought it and he carved the flying pig and the bear reading the book for us.

I remember the day it went up (the first time) in the summer of 2007. I had just finished putting in the flower garden, Guinness was at my side and Meghan was in Ted's arms. Time has flown by. We bought it as an homage to Ted's Dad. Frank passed away two weeks after we bought our house and he is buried in the Bayfield cemetery. We wanted to do something to honor the man we adored and missed terribly; I know he would have been pleased.

Frank and I had a lot in common: reading, love of food, the New Yorker and pigs. Maybe it was the Irish in us, pigs are considered good luck charms in Ireland. When Anne and Frank moved to Alabama, they asked what I would like from the cabin. I knew right away— the white pig, Horatio, that sat outside their door. It was fitting we put a pig with wings (and a smile on his face) on the totem pole.

I raised a glass to Frank after the totem pole was securely back in place. He saw the woman I was going to become before I even knew she existed. He gave me Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book, A Gift From The Sea, for Christmas when I was nineteen and just starting to find my way. I miss his unflagging love and loyalty, he was a helluva guy. The 2006 Coudoulet de Beascastel was the perfect wine to drink that afternoon— bittersweet cocoa, dried figs and black cherry. I was happy to see the totem pole upright but I was missing the man who inspired it.