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Rotting tree gets new chapter as impromptu library

EVERETT, Wash. -- Sara Sanders bought her turn of the century home because of the towering cedar in the front yard.

"It was a big factor," said the Everett woman who was devastated when the city told her it had to go.

Twice, the 120-foot high tree's limbs came crashing down, once it blocked Wetmore Avenue.

"Two times lucky, 3rd time somebody gets hurt," Sanders said before finding a woodcarver to execute her idea. "I have been interested in little libraries for years and thought this would be the perfect place to have one."

Larry Carter has carved eagles, bears, dogs, fish, carousel horses of all sizes, a life-size Santa out of telephone pole.

But never a library.

He teaches carving at two senior centers. Carter tells his customers that "imagination's their limit. They don't have to be stuck with a bear."

He exchanged his services for all the wood that would come from the 110-year-old tree. It produced about 50 to 60 chunks that he shared with carvers at a fair.

Carter carved a few bears in the stumps and a raccoon named after Sanders' neighbor Rocky.

"I broke his fence in the process and I felt real guilty," said Carter who fixed the fence and carved the name Rocky by its namesake.

The community library has taken on a life of its own in the lifeless tree. Sanders wasn't the first person to put a book on its hollowed out shelves.

"I've seen somebody with a flashlight trying to find a book, so it's used all the time," she said. Sanders says she dislikes that electronic devices are replacing books and enjoys seeing neighbors stop by the stump for a good read.

And the woodcarver plans to keep returning with new signs for every holiday. He hung one that read "Boo!" at Halloween and the newest sign is for Veteran's Day.

Sanders' sadness over the tree didn't whittle away, she still misses it but now she's commemorating it with a whole new chapter.

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