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November 29, 2012

Giving gnomes a home

Whack a mole, if you must, but never a gnome. You’d enrage those who dote on them. And there are many such people, though maybe not as many as gnomes. Gnomes are everywhere.

Even in cities, small ones squat in window boxes, staring out between the begonias. In rural, upstate New York, we spot them all over, common as deer scat. In front of farmhouses, they stand around bathtubs half buried on end to form a Fatima statue grotto.

Those bathtub gnomes, I’ve noticed, never look toward the Fatima statue. I’m pretty sure all gnomes are heathen, the way all leprechauns are Irish and (I’m also pretty sure) all trolls are Norse, at least one generation back.

Garden gnomes are cute, I guess, what with their jaunty pointed caps. And their wide belts cinched above their bellies, under their armpits. And their boots folded over at the tops as if they’d been made for somebody bigger, maybe a troll. All that’s endearing, I guess.

But toward gnomes, I’m still ambivalent. Partly that’s because of they way they stare — straight ahead, never up at you. Granted, there’s a large height difference; and maybe that explains the stony stare. We’re just too damned big. And loud. And patronizing. 

And so gnomes stand and stare, some affecting an odd posture: a fists-on-hips, bent-at-the-waist stance, as if they’re going to break wind. More scorn for us, I guess. 

But I withhold judgment. Many people go weak-kneed over gnomes, and that’s fine. They’re welcome to them. (They’re also welcome to leprechauns that leer from under plaster toadstools, and to those little concrete girls in concrete picture hats and frocks, daintily tipping concrete watering cans.) 

Our dog Blue now has an odd gnomic link. Blue is mostly a Louisiana Spotted Leopard Dog. (If you think I’m making up that breed, just google the whole name. Up will pop a photo of a hound in the back of a pickup; he could easily be our Blue.) 

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