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Cole's first thought about the log was that he could use it to carve out a totem pole. We would infer from the text that his second thought was to use it for a canoe.
"Back in Drake there had been a whole field filled with totem poles. Most had carvings of animals the same as the totem designs on the at.oow. Cole dodn't know what the figures meant, but he wondered if he could carve his own totem. Still he studied the log. There was something else this log would work for. The thought frightened him, and he pushed it out of his head."
Touching Spirit Bear