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Snowbirds, Chain Saws, and Toucan’s Tikis

Special To Forgotten CoastLine
Geezer Dave Metzler

(PUBLISHER’s NOTE: Once again Geezer Dave is among us, snowbirding his way down from Ohio to bask in our balmy climate. He, along with his wife Jane, have fallen in love with the Forgotten Coast. We have fallen in love with his stories. You can find his previous offerings on our web site (www.ForgottenCoastLine.com) in the archive of past articles.)

I think it was Will Rogers who coined the phrase, ’Yankee see - Yankee do!’
If he didn’t, he should have, because that’s exactly what took place when my wife, Jane, and I took a forgotten coast art project back up north with us to the farmland of rural NE Ohio. For those of you younger folks who have never heard of Will Rogers, he was an American Indian/cowboy, humorist, writer and world traveling actor born in 1879 and lived in Oologah, Oklahoma until his death in 1935. (If that Oklahoma town moniker sounds to local forgotten coast residences like a Florida Indian name, it probably is; Will Rogers was a member of the Cherokee nation.) Will also once said that ‘he never met a man he didn’t like.’ I hope that mind set holds true in this modern, ‘snowbird borrowing southern ideas’ situation.

Our snowbird thieving saga began after we’d spent the winter of 2003 at a St. Joe Beach home. We’d soon found a wonderful seaside bar and restaurant in Mexico Beach called ‘Toucans,’ located a few miles north on highway 98. We’d barely stepped out of the van when Jane began snapping pictures of a huge, beautifully carved south Pacific toucan bird and several Polynesian, war-god-like statues called Tikis.

Now, you may or may not know that chainsaw art is fast sweeping the northern states from Maine to Oregon where hardwood trees are plentiful. You could also do man-on-the-street interviews with thousands of people and not find anyone who possesses this remarkable, but very rare talent, or knows someone who does. I personally have operated a chainsaw since the mid fifties and even built a powerful 50 ton wood splitter, but everything I produced over the passing years always resembled plain ol’ winter firewood.

My thoughts at the time the pictures were taken was that Jane’s idea of life sized south sea statues in our back yard would simply fad away and the photos would be archived into a large cardboard box in our pole barn attic. However, I’d forgotten that when the women folk in our lives ‘really’ have their heart set on something special, most men past their teens will readily agree that all human females on the planet have an ancient, handed down ability to somehow conjure, invoke, set-in-motion, make happen, some of the strangest coincidences ever known to mankind. At least that’s pretty much what took place on our wood carving statue adventure.

We went to a local restaurant located in Lake Milton, Ohio just four days after returning from sunny Florida. Jane parked right next to a older four wheel drive pick up truck. Three magnificently carved hardwood statues rested in the bed of the truck. One was a perched eagle on a carved stump, a cub bear stood reaching for something beyond his reach and the third was a winged forest fairy about four foot tall.
“Who owns the four wheeler out there?” Jane said upon entering and before offering a greeting to Missy, the waitress. “He does,” Missy answered, pointing to a lanky, but wiry muscled young man seated at the counter. At first glance, he sort of reminded me of a younger version of singer/actor Kris Kristofferson. Missy gave both of us a ‘welcome back home’ hug and Jane apologized for blurting out about the truck.

We eventually learned that the man was Michael Blaine from Winchester, New Hampshire. He’d traveled to Ohio at the request of a neighboring village man who wanted a ten foot grizzly bear carved into the remains of a large oak tree in his front yard that had been hit by lightening. Just a stroke of luck? Something called ‘fate’ at work? Devine intervention or simply Jane’s mojo at work? You tell me.

A few days later, Michael had the wife’s statues done and my son helped cement them into a large planter. The Florida figures were carved from old palm trees, so the hair do’s were not a problem. The Ohio statues had to be drilled and routed on the top and some local shrubbery planted. All in all, the whole thing seemed weird to me, but when a woman gets an idea - - well, you know the rest.

Note: Michael Blaine is a master chainsaw carver with many national awards. He can be found at: Mastersofthechainsaw.com

Take care, Geezer Dave

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