In the wilderness lies the preservation of the world.
Henry David Thoreau
A totem pole for Cologne – the big day can come!
Excitement is building, suddenly there is silence and everyone is only looking at the totem pole. We hold our breaths, the crane begins to move and the strap around the tree trunk becomes taut. Many passers-by stop and take out their cameras or cell phones, struck by this spectacle. Bit by bit the totem pole nears its foundation. As Harald Joe and George Rice watch closely, the pole is slowly and carefully inserted into its mount. It fits! The construction of the mount is perfect. Observers exhale an audible and satisfied “ahh”.
For the first time the loving precision work of the last six weeks is displayed in its full glory, and we see that all of the efforts and struggles have been worth it. But so much for the emotions that we can see. But what do the Cowichan feel inside?
Harold Joe: “The feeling is so high at the beginning – you just want to start carving. Seeing it growing is motivating – we just want to complete it. I helped raise about 15 poles in Canada already and it’s always the same feeling. During the carving time you’re in harmony with the totem pole and when it’s finished you won’t be in harmony with it anymore.”
George Rice: “Good mixed emotions – that’s how I am feeling. I’m happy that it’s completed. I think I’ll miss the connection with the people. It has been a good learning experience here in Cologne. Huy‘ ch qa!”
We are very happy that the pole was completed as we had thought it would be, and would like to thank Klaus Weichbrodt, head of the Globetrotter store in Cologne, Prof. Dr. Klaus Schneider, Director of the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum, and Kai Andersch, CEO Wilderness International. They called the totem pole to life, and infected everyone with their vision and enthusiasm for the carving project.
The pole is now covered with a specially-made tarp in order to keep up the suspense until the celebratory dedication on Saturday.
Everything went well – now the big day can come.
Greetings from Cologne, Anne und Theresa
Translated by Pilar Wolfsteller