Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Little Gnome History - Day 2

Hello two of my exciting thoughts from the garden. Since my friends found out I'm doing a blog, they're all asking if I'll mention them and of course I said I would. Today, I had tea with my friend Buddah. What a merry fellow, always smiling and happy as you can see by the picture I've added. He talks a good talk, but frankly, I think he's full of hot air and likes to hear himself talk. He has a spot on a chair where he sits all day smiling at the cars that drive by. While we were visiting, I took notice that the plant he sits next to, a day lilly, was infested with ants. Of all the plants in the garden, his is infested with a colony of ants...I find that kind of ironic since he's supposed to be such a holy fellow.

Today I thought I'd share some of the folklore of gnomes for those of you who may not be familiar with where we come from. Gnomes are elusive wee folk thought to bring luck and to be helpers to humans in the garden and house. Gnomes are small humanoid woodland creatures that stand approximately six inches tall and live for exactly 400 years.

Garden Gnomes, such as myself, traditionally wear red pointy hats and old fashioned tunics, often holding or using garden implements such as wheelbarrows or shovels...again, take note of my picture and you'll see I fit that description to a T. Gnomes generally live underground in elaborate tunnels, and remain unseen (Huygen: 1976). Gnomes act as guardian of woodland life, aiding wildlife in times of need and generally acting as protectors of forests and gardens (Huygen: 1976). Additionally, gnomes have the ability to travel large distances on the backs of other animals (Mennes 2004: 9).

In the 1800's, potters in Germany began to produce the first clay garden gnomes...I assume because we real ones are so elusive to humans. The use of garden statues soon spread to other European countries that expressed a love of gardening and a sense of humor (what exactly does that mean? are humans laughing at us?). These beautifully handcrafted garden statuary soon became treasured family heirlooms handed down from generation to generation, creating a family garden gnome history. But then in the 1960's mass production of plastic garden gnomes tarnished the reputation of the classic clay gnomes. There are only a few artists today who still make clay gnomes and there is only one in the USA, his name is Mr. Kimmel.

There has been a resurgence of interest in the garden gnome tradition. Gnomes have become a pop culture icon...the Travelocity Roaming gnome (he has a pretty sweet job)...and the movies The Full Monty and Amelie (my favorite movie of all time) featured garden gnomes...this has all brought an awareness of garden gnomes to a wider audience than ever.

Well, friends, on that note I say Cheerio and we'll chat more tomorrow.

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