Big Jim

(Wednesday, 25 June 2008) by Michele Cozzens

iconjim.jpgMeet Big Jim. He's a chainsaw-carved bear standing 4-foot, 7-inches and weighing, uh, a lot! Jim started working for us three years ago, and stands on the porch of our shop, greeting all who enter with a gnarly smile. We met him at the annual Spring Arts and Crafts fair at Torpy Park in Minocqua and couldn't take our eyes off him all weekend.

His creator is a woman named Dee, who lives just west of us near Squaw Creek. We've known Dee since we moved to the Northwoods, having first met her when she ran a coffee stand outside of Trig's Supermarket. This was long before Starbucks (which we still don't have in the Northwoods) became a household name. What I loved about Dee, aside from her always warm smile and tremendous laugh, was that she had a "word of the day" calendar on her coffee cart. Word freak that I've always been, I couldn't wait to accept the challenge of testing my vocabulary. I specifcally remember the word "subterfuge," and it brought me back to a boss I had in Berkeley that accused her employees of engaging in "subterfuge and gossip."

We were in town a lot the year Willow was born, going back and forth to Marshfield Clinic. Dee monitored my entire pregancy and now always looks forward to checking on Willow's growth progress when we see her each year at Torpy Park.

By the way, chainsaw carving is a craft that just came to Dee one day when she picked up a saw and starting creating amazing sculptures: Bears, Turtles, Frogs, Eagles, Acorns . . . truly definitive of Northwoods' icon material. Why does she do it? "Winters up here are really long."

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