I have a son who lives in Australia, and visiting him and his Australian family, I learned that some indigenous people there carve and paint tree trunks as a way to remember the dead. I saw a hall full of these pukumani poles at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, and was deeply touched by the emotional power they conveyed.
Returning from Australia, I decided to make my own versions. My father’s and my brother-in-law’s posts are made from the two halves of an enormous white pine tree that had fallen late in 2005, the year before both men died. They were good friends, and using the same tree united them in a way I think they would have enjoyed.
|The “A” Rock|
Putting my father’s post beside the A rock seemed obvious, since he was there at my beginning. And since he and my brother-in-law were good friends, the second memory post went close by. Both posts are painted with symbols and designs that, for me, suggest stories from their lives.
|My father’s memory post was inspired by Australian pukumani poles
and is painted with stories from his life.
|My brother-in-law’s memory posts stands close to my father’s
along the trail through the fern woods.
My post about monuments in Washington D.C. provoked a comment from a friend and blog reader who sent a reference to an article that appeared in Slate Magazine in 2005. Written by Witold Rybczynski, the article starts by asking a simple question, which it then calls into question.
The Dowager Empress of China also had something to say on the subject, as did Spiro Agnew, Honoré de Balzac and someone identified only as NW. The breadth of the quotations suggests the breadth of the mind, and of the career, of the person choosing them.