Lion of Judah carved into Eastlake tree

By Katie Herrera

BIRMINGHAM (WBRC) - Imagine walking down the street and seeing a ten-foot lion in your neighbor's yard. But it's not a statue, it's actually carved into a tree! That's the case for one neighborhood in South East Lake.

"You look at something and you see all the possibilities of things that can be done with it. And I thought to myself… a lion!" explained Sandy Rivers, describing the large tree stump that sits in her front yard.

Four years ago, Rivers' 100-year-old red oak tree was struck by lightning. But she couldn't bear to let it die.

"They came out and they removed the limbs and everything. And they wanted to grind the tree down. But I couldn't do that. Because this tree, it belongs here. And I feel a connection with this tree. And I'm all about nature. I guess that's just the hippee in me," joked Rivers.
A few years later, Rivers came across the wood work of Andy Cummings, a local artist known for his chainsaw artworks. The idea finally came to her like a roar in the night. The ten-foot stump would be transformed into a lion.

"The Lion of Judah is very strong. But yet, it's going to be holding a butterfly, this lion. So that it has strength, but yet it has compassion and love, too," said Rivers.

Now as neighbors and drivers pass by #2 80th Street South, it's nearly impossible not to stop and stare.

"All the people in the neighborhood enjoy watching me turn this old tree into a piece of art," said Cummings.

"I want my front yard just the same! I love it!" exclaimed Drusilla Trainer, a neighbor.

"Some people pass by and they're looking and thinking 'what are they doing? Is it some sort of cult? Is it going to be a totem pole?'" explained Rivers.

"No, it's a lion," she responds.

She imagines her King of the Jungle will surely reign King of South East Lake.

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