Leave a treasure!
So when that cottonwood needed to go, her artistic bent took over, and she planned out how she might go about preserving a part of it. The result is like something you would read about in a story. On a street lined with trees of all ages, this one is now just 10 feet tall and about 4 feet across. Instead of a canopy of branches it is capped with a pointed roof, which is now insulated by a few inches of February snow. There is a light just below the roofline that, even on an overcast morning, was lit. The roof ’s trim is painted green to match the fence and the house behind it. Cut into the rugged bark is a bookcase with a blue door, hobbit-sized but rectangular and inlaid with glass. The door’s hardware is ornate, and a swinging, rotating latch holds it shut. Thirteen tiny wooden books line the smaller trim above the door. Each has a printed title, chosen by Howard, her husband and their four children. They range from older classics like “Moby Dick” and “Little Women” to modern titles like “Harry Potter” and “Percy Jackson.”
Inside the library, in which all three shelves are lit, are all manner of titles: “Dear John” by Nicholas Sparks, “The Silmarillion” by J.R.R. Tolkien and many children’s titles like “Garfield Listens to His Gut.” Those titles will rotate out as people ascend the stone steps—footprints in the snow attested that many had recently in addition to the dozens who came through before that—to take and trade books, which is entirely the point, of course. “There is really only so much room in a bookcase anyway, so when you finish it, what do you do with it?” she said. “This way you know it’s going to be free for the next person, and you’re giving them that thrill, like finding a treasure, a bit of unexpected goodness.” The library looks like it belongs and has been with the 110-year-old house for years, which, in effect, it has. Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that intends to increase access to books and grow community connections. It lists more than 80,000 libraries on its website.
March 2019 Coeur d'Alene Living Local