Take a walk in a nearby park and you’re bound to see a squirrel hopping about, looking for food. The bushy-tailed rodents have taken on a special meaning for one family in this edition of Positively North Dakota.
Last spring, Marie Cutair’s father was diagnosed with lung cancer.
“He was given six months to live so I wanted something personal, and he loves to go out and feed the squirrels every day -that’s, like, what he lives for- and so I just wanted something as a monument of him for when he’s gone,” says Marie Cutair, Grateful Spaces Studio Customer.
That was when she came across Cody Carlson’s woodwork.
“I had no idea what he made or what he was capable of doing and he said, ‘Well, I’ve done a wolf before, but I’ve never done a squirrel. So let’s give it a try.'” says Cutair.
Carlson started carving wood almost two years ago, and every piece starts with a log.
“Pick a piece of wood. Stare at it for about … sometimes two minutes, sometimes two days. And then just cut it,” says Cody Carlson, Woodcarver.
He says the process is relaxing for him and he often gets lost in his work.
“When your gas tank runs out. And then you kind of get an idea of how long you’ve been doing it,” says Carlson.
When it comes to commissioned pieces, he looks for references to make sure he can get it just right.
“His very first picture he sent me was a little statue of a squirrel, sitting on top of the log that he was planning on using and he was like, ‘Well, here it goes!'” says Cutair.
It wasn’t long before the monument was complete.
“I actually cried and he had to walk away because he put so much heart into it that you could feel it just looking at the squirrel, in his eyes. So it was very, very, very emotional for all of us,” says Cutair.
As for her dad, he’s still here, nine months later.
“The squirrels are keeping him going, sitting next to him in his chair every day,” says Cutair.
She adds that -instead of an acorn- her father’s squirrel holds a peanut because that’s what he always feeds them.