It all started when Sara Sanders’ beloved cedar took a turn for the worse.
It dropped a big honking limb onto Wetmore Avenue.
“It came down just before that big windstorm (in late August),” Sanders said. “It was time for it to go. The city sent me a letter that said ‘You must.’ ”
Still, it was hard letting go.
“The tree meant a lot to me. One of the reasons I bought the house 17 years ago was because of the tree,” Sanders said. “I wanted to be able to commemorate it in some way because it was a wonderful tree.”
What was once a 120-foot cedar is now a bear bearing books.
What’s up with that?
It’s the latest addition to the literary circle of Everett.
The stump of the 110-year-old tree on Wetmore near the corner of 35th Street was carved into one of the biggest little libraries around.
The tree actually consisted of five trees clustered together for more than a century. Sanders in recent years had to cut the branching structure of two trees due to rot and falling limbs.
She couldn’t bear to let the rest of it go.
Which brought up bears.
“I’ve been wanting to have a carving,” she said.
She thought the big stump near the sidewalk would also make a good place for a little library.
“I think many people are not reading anymore,” said Sanders, a dietary manager at Bethany at Silver Lake. “I think that it’s important.”
Enter Larry Carter.
The Lake Stevens carver offered to carve her stump in exchange for the wood.
“To me the wood is more valuable than money,” he said.
The timing was perfect. He took the wood to the Evergreen State Fair to share with other carvers. “Everybody kind of dug in,” he said.
It took four utility trailers and a few pickups to haul all the wood to the fair, where it was turned into blue heron, fish, dogs, bears and flowers.
“About 50 to 60 pieces of varying sizes,” Carter said.
After the fair, he started on Sanders’ stump.
Carter has been carving since 1979.
“There is very little I haven’t tried,” he said.
But he’d never made a little library. “That was Sara’s idea and I just ran with it,” he said.
“It was a two-day job that took five. It was almost like working at the fair there were so many people coming by.”
He encouraged it.
“I asked for input what they wanted to see,” he said. “That guy who is renting a unit (nearby), his name is Rocky. We discussed it. He said, ‘You gotta have a raccoon.’”
Carter made two raccoons and named one Rocky. The other is Rory.
Sanders named the big bear Charlie. A lady named the little bear Chubs. The owl on top is Minerva and smaller one is Hoot.
“The mouse doesn’t have a name yet,” she said. “For me, anyway. Anybody can think of them whatever they want.”
Carter added a sign that says “Boo!” for Halloween. “I plan to periodically make up more signs and trade them out,” he said.
Sanders keeps an eye on Charlie the bear from her front window.
“It is better than I could have imagined. So many people stop. They bring their kids by. One lady said she heard about it in her yoga class,” she said.
Sanders originally put out about a dozen books, including her favorite, mysteries. “I go out and check it out what kind of books are out there. People have picked up on it,” she said. “My worry was that people might target it. I’m hoping that won’t happen.”
So far, Charlie has received only love pats.
“When kids come by on skateboards they jump up and pat the foot,” Sanders said.
There’s more to come for Charlie and friends.
“What I’d like to do now is figure out how to light it,” she said.