September 19, 2019

Totem Pole Honors Scott Johnson

 

PHOTOS BY TRACY RYAN JOHNSON

Totem Pole Honors Scott Johnson

“The Machine” Jesse Green carves a totem pole on Santa Maria Road at Scott and Tracy Johnson’s house. The totem depicts a hawk, a rattlesnake, three coyotes, a mountain lion, an oak leaf, an acorn and Scott’s initials, SVJ.

Scott had fallen ill again after three years of successfully battling melanoma, 100 percent in remission, so they said. He began to feel off in August 2012 and it took a month to figure out that the cancer had come back in his spinal fluid. He was gone by October 17. Meanwhile, the enormous Aleppo Pine at the front of our home on Santa Maria Road had started to get brown, dead branches. It was extremely hot in September and October last year. It declined, and I was unaware of it, because I was dealing with hospitals and making last-ditch attempts to save Scott. Nick Mook, our friend, and fellow certified arborist (Scott was certified arborist #600), came to look at the tree and told me to deep water it and remove the dead wood. After Scott passed away and our crew came to take the dead out of the tree, Herminio, who has been with us for 30 years, came to the door to tell me the tree was dead. “No,” I replied. “Just take the dead branches, I just looked at it.”

We went out together and realized that, indeed, the tree was dead. We cried together with the shock that Scott took it with him. The men took the crown off the tree that day but with only a skeleton

crew they were unable to fell the trunk. We were busy for two weeks. I drove by the 30-foot stump every day and finally realized that it should be a totem pole. And so the idea was born. We commissioned ‘The Machine’ Jesse Green, who had carved two poles for Karla Morrison and drove out from Massachusetts to do ours. At 30 feet, 6 inches, it was his tallest accomplishment. We had an all-terrain articulated lift and he worked for five days on the project. The top is a hawk,then

Totem Pole Honors Scott Johnson

Jesse Green stains the finished totem pole on Santa Maria Road. The totem will stand as a memorial to arborist Scott Johnson, who passed away in October, 2012.

rattlesnake, three coyotes, a mountain lion, an oak leaf, an acorn and Scott's initials,SVJ. I am now running Scott's company, Johnson and Sons, Bay Cities Tree Preservation now with the same crew and his brother, Brad, as foreman.