Saturday, April 7, 2007
Gnomes inhabit every garden. Most Muggles have never seen one, and for that reason, believe that they exist only in folklore, but if you have a garden, you have gnomes.
My gnomes amuse themselves by moving my tools. (I think my gardening disturbs them, because they usually do this the night after I have been out working in the flowerbeds.) Somehow they gain access to the laundry room and remove my trowel and gloves from their proper shelf, take them outside, and leave them in the flowerbed where I had been working. On other occasions, they take the pitchfork from under the house and drag it all the way to the compost pile, where I find it the next morning.
During the winter, the gnomes rearrange dormant plants. The gardener, of course, does not notice anything amiss until spring, when, say, a Solomon's Seal sprouts in the front shade bed, or a trio of phlox appears near the back fence. The gnomes clearly know a bit about gardening, because they invariably plant things in just the spot that I had been considering for that very type of plant the summer before. This is a great help and a pleasant surprise, and makes up for their cavalier attitude toward gardening tools.
Why the skepticism about gnomes? It would seem obvious to any sensible person that such mischief could only be the work of these impish garden-dwellers, but some folks stubbornly ignore the obvious when it comes to the subject of gnomes. (They say they've never seen one. Well, how many of them have ever seen Tokyo?)
My wife, an otherwise well-educated, erudite, and rational individual, is firmly convinced that gnomes are not real, despite the incontrovertible proof in our own garden. When confronted with such iron-clad evidence for their existence, she dismisses the misplaced tools and moved plants with a theory that is so preposterous and outlandish that I'll not embarrass her by publishing it here.
Surprisingly, gnomes are not difficult to photograph...once you find them. Like moths, they employ a variety of camouflage techniques to conceal themselves from gardeners, cats, and children. The photo above illustrates a typical method of mimicry: the gnome hangs on a viburnum twig and to the casual observer, is indistinguishable from the actual bud on the opposite side. Upon closer observation of his hat, however, it becomes clear which one is the actual gnome.