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Wellesley Free Library and the ‘mystery of the missing tree stumps’

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 5/7/2019 Steve Annear
a close up of some grass: Large tree rounds to be used for the children's garden outside of Wellesley's Fells Branch Library have gone missing. © Wellesley Free Library Large tree rounds to be used for the children's garden outside of Wellesley's Fells Branch Library have gone missing.

Employees from the Wellesley Free Library are, well, stumped.

Eight tree rounds that the library planned to use as seating for its new children’s garden, outside the town’s renovated Fells Branch Library, mysteriously disappeared over the weekend, leaving staff scratching their heads and hoping they’ll somehow get them back.

“The Mystery of the Missing Tree Stumps,” library staff wrote in a post on Facebook on Monday, announcing the stolen wood. “That may sound like the title of a library book, but the Fells Branch Library has a real mystery to be solved.”

According to the library’s post, staff and volunteers put “a lot of sweat equity” into moving nine large, circular pieces of wood to the Fells Branch location last Wednesday, May 1. A few days later, only one of the rounds remains.

Elise MacLennan, assistant director of Wellesley Free Library, said in a telephone interview that the tree rounds were to be installed behind the library as part of a larger project to reimagine the building and its outdoor space.

She said renovations to the Fells Branch, a single-room structure built in 1858, were completed in November last year, turning it into “a play and learn” center that was paid for using private funds.

With the building renovations done, the next phase of turning the satellite library — the oldest public building in town — into a gathering spot for families was to spruce up the land, and install the children’s garden.

Besides the tree round seats, which they wanted to set up in a circle for storytelling events, the miniature park will also include birdhouses, a butterfly garden, an area for lawn games, and a “willow hut,” according to a brochure detailing the library’s plans. Work on the garden is slated for the spring and summer.

“It’s a lovely space,” MacLennan said. “Just like the Fells library itself, the garden will be a destination for parents and young children” when it’s finished.

MacLennan said while there’s no lack of tree rounds in the world to go in the space, it’s still strange to her that someone inconspicuously scooped up the chunks of wood.

“These were some really big, heavy pieces of wood,” she said. “Who picked them up and when? Did nobody notice? Was there no noise? Was it the middle of the night, and where did they go?”

Officials from the library are asking anyone from Wellesley with information about “the mystery” of the missing wood to contact the Police Department.

“Perhaps the tree stumps will be returned as suddenly as they disappeared,” the library wrote on Facebook.

As the Swellesley Report noted this week in a blog post, people from town have stepped up and offered alternatives to the tree seats for the children’s garden, in case the tree rounds never return.

“We cut up fallen trees off our trails all the time,” officials from the Weston Forest and Trail Association wrote in response to the library’s Facebook post. “If you need some replacements, please send us a message and we’ll get them to you!”

The Wellesley Conservation Council also said it would be “happy to share” cut-up trees from its Guernsey Sanctuary Vernal Pool to be placed in the garden.

To that, the library responded: “Noted; thank you. We have had other offers as well.”

Officials further guaranteed that “one way or another there will be tree stump seating in the garden” by the time it opens for the public.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.

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