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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Get yourself a hobby

© Another Day in the Country

It seems there is an abundance of down time when the country is locked in the struggle with a pandemic!

Every magazine I get in my trusty mailbox has timely suggestions.

“Try out a new hobby,” the current issue of The Week suggested. “Now is the time to try something new,” it said, extolling the virtues of becoming a collector.

“Great idea,” my inner child exclaimed. “What shall we start looking for?” 

“Woah there, girl,” my older adult self said. “Look around! Do we need any more stuff?”

“But it could be so much fun,” the inner child proffered meekly, losing steam.

“Just looking?” my inner child said, recognizing defeat.

My adult self now feels a little bad for squashing the child’s enthusiasm, “Look, we’re already sort of doing it — trying something new.”

“Oh yes, the gnomes!” my kid self says, mildly appeased.

I do get a kick out of those gnomes. It all began a month or so ago when I saw a series of little gnomes at a store for a dollar apiece. They were so cute that I bought several to hide in my garden.

“My cousin’s kid’s kids will enjoy discovering these,” I said to myself, as I began to formulate plans.

“What do you think of these spots?” I asked my grandson in California when I sent him photographs of my latest obsession.

“I’m currently roofing a gnome house for my garden,” I told him in a text, as I sent pictures of several options for hide-aways.

He thought I was slightly crazy for embracing this latest passion for gnomes. He had no idea how long I’d entertained the idea of including them in my garden.

It all began with a book I purchased somewhere in the 1980s. Written by Wil Huygen and illustrated with the delightful watercolors of Rien Portvliet, it was titled Gnomes. It was the watercolor paintings that sold the book but the writing also was clever.

The book is a history of gnomes — a proper study of their anatomy, social customs, skills, houses, and where they can be found. It’s an adult book that also pleases children.

There was something so enchanting about a book taking fictional characters and treating them as a reality to be studied and cherished.

All it took was finding a few little gnome figures in the dollar store and I was off on a new adventure.

“For the kids,” I said to myself, but really it was for my own delight!

My artist friends have been mildly amused, my grandson has made helpful suggestions, but it’s me who is having the fun.

The little birdhouse that I made over into a proper gnome dwelling and shingled with pine cone scales now resides in a wheelbarrow full of petunias and sweet potato plants. This is a rather lofty perch for three-inch gnomes, so I made a rope ladder out of match sticks and string for them to climb from ground level up to their hide-away.

According to Huygen, gnomes are usually 15 centimeters tall without their hats, which are tall and pointed (just in case you haven’t made acquaintance with them.)

I had to look up centimeters on Google to discover that’s about five inches — my gnomes are smaller, more like three inches tall. Maybe they’ve been malnourished with too much fast food available in the U.S.?

I discovered that most gnomes live in Europe with very few sightings in North America, according to the book.

“…The difficulty with establishing to a certainty that gnomes do indeed live on the continent is that no sighting or encounter can be confirmed unless witnessed by two observers — the same criteria as used by birdwatchers,” it says.

When I sighted my gnomes, you can believe I got out my book and began to read it avidly. I discovered that gnomes usually live underground in homes already excavated by moles or mice, and with careful observation, you can find doors on the side of a tree leading into their dwellings. 

I’ve found a door into the Linden tree. The family has opened up a small Tea Shoppe, which makes complete sense since Linden blossoms can be made into tea.

When Kristina’s kids came over we did officially sight one of the gnome’s children swinging from a high branch on the cutest little swing but how he got up there we don’t know. The kids also found a couple of gnomes meditating amongst the hosta plants and played a game with them. I found them later in the branches of the apple tree doing downward-facing dog and the warrior pose in yoga. 

Later we went out to play Jokers and Pegs with my cousin’s kids, and 3-year-old Madeline told me she’d found a gnome hiding behind the China cupboard at their house. We went searching and sure enough, we confirmed it, on another day in the country.

Last modified Aug. 19, 2020

 

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