“What’s that?” I asked my wife.
What sounded like a simple question was neither simple nor a question.
“A gnome,” she told me, knowing full well that I knew what it was.
“What is it doing at the end of our driveway?”
She peered over my shoulder.
“And where did it come from?”
That’s our local big-box discount store. They are holding their annual WINTER IS COMING sale and apparently the mark downs on yard schlock were too much to pass up.
“Well, get it out of there,” I growled.
My reaction startled her.
To be honest it startled me too.
“It’s just a gnome,” she said softly.
A guy has to draw the line somewhere – and I drew the red line of death on this side of that gnome.
Personally, I have nothing against them, though I am not sure what their appeal is. Some people like them and some people hate them, and something about them tends to bring out tribal passions over what is considered good taste.
If I were to say anything good about them it would be that they bring the promise of magic to a world that desperately needs it.
While that may be so, this particular gnome was fashioned out of concrete which made him the natural enemy of my zero-turn lawnmower.
But that is not why I growled.
The gnome touched a sore spot in our relationship; one that I thought was healed long ago.
It was the subject of our first serious conflict.
Soon after she moved in with me, perhaps to make the place a little of her own, my wife hung a cross-stitched quote on my living room wall.
It was a small piece, about three inches by three inches, so it didn’t take up much space or occupy a position of prominence – but it was frilly and homespun and didn’t fit in with the prevailing guy-theme of the room.
So I objected and she cried.
It was one of those times when you know you are dead wrong but are too stubborn to admit it.
The fight had nothing to do with décor and we both knew that. It was about the trajectory of the rest of our lives. As soon as that cross-stitch went up, I feared what would follow and my sense was correct.
Her decorating progressed from room to room until all that remained of the house that once reflected my tastes was a man-cave downstairs where I could go to brood and write.
But in the end, even though everything I feared turned out to be true, I was wrong to fear it.
Over time I became comfortable in the home that she made and we struck a compromise, while the indoors was relegated to her, the outdoors remained ours. She had her gardens and I had my lawn and everything visible from the road was deemed to be neutral territory.
Now, the presence of the yard gnome threatened to upset the delicate balance of what belonged to whom and stir up ancient conflicts.
“I can’t understand why you are so mad.” she said.
“Have you any idea how much grief I am going to get over that gnome at the end of our driveway?” I asked her.
“Why would you get grief?”
How can I explain? As a rural girl, she should know these things. Every guy in this region has gone through exactly what I have gone through – and every one of them is loath to admit it, so any visible sign of domestic compromise is dealt with harshly.
“Okay then, where should I put him?” she asked.
“Behind the tree,” I told her.
It is now where he hides.
But not entirely, she placed him facing the road and from behind the gnarled roots of our old oak tree, he peers out with the corner of one eye on the pickups and combines that roar and rumble by… unaware that they are being watched.
50 thoughts on “My Garden Gnome”
Poor gnome! But on the bright side, he’s free to do whatever it is his heart desires in the privacy afforded by that tree… 😛
Yeah, but we can see him from this side. Oh, the tales we could tell. 🙂
Those garden gnomes are sneaky. You’ll probably find him at your front door one morning.
Haha! At least you admit it Greg. No offense to gnome fans, but I find them slightly creepy. Not as creepy as monkeys, mind you, but just the same… A hiding gnome would be worse than one in the open. Happy weekend hugs.
When I was much younger I remember going to a Disney movie called “The Gnome Mobile”, forever setting my notion that gnomes belong hidden in forests. It appears you’ve found the proper place for your gnome.
At least gnomes don’t need watering or mowing but I guess you still have to weed them. Scary when they reproduce.
While it is true that garden gnomes don’t require mowing, they and all of their concrete compatriots have a thing for my zero-turn lawnmower.
What a great compromise! The gnome can see and yet not be seen. And the conflict between you and your wife is indeed universal. Ours started over my husband’s velvet tapestry of dogs playing poker. Which I know he bought at a gas station, because I watched him buy it. At the time we were just dating so he hung it in his living room. Then we got married and I moved in, and the velvet dogs moved out……
Ooooooo…. dogs playing poker. One of my all time favorites. Scooter likes it too and though he is willing to play poker with me, he simply refuses to play by the rules. Perhaps it is why Stan and him get along so well.
As you said, love them or hate them. I’m in the second category. I’ve never understood their purpose, and they creep me out. I’d be calling Stan or Otis on a burner phone. 🙂
Calling Stan on a burner phone is the only prudent way to do it.
Paint him pink and go with it. Who cares what the neighbors say.
I could only think of one thing that my buddies down at The Pit would consider worse: pulling into the parking lot in a Chevy truck. Let’s just say brand loyalty is the only thing that rivals the tribal passions that one associates with yard gnomes.
I have a frog instead of a gnome. My husband hasn’t objected.
Before one considers a frog, they should consult with their lawn mower. My zero-turn has very strong opinions on such matters.
I have slowly begun morphing our home into antiques 🙂 My husband doesn’t seem to mind… so far. Luckily we’re on the same page with gnomes – better keep your eye on that little guy!
Antiques are always desirable.
It’s probably why my wife keeps me around.
When I had my gardening business, if I pulled up outside a new clients house, I could predict what type of gardener they would be, and how long I’d bother with them if there were gnomes everywhere.
That is unless they were being used to make a political statement.
Has your wife given a name to it?
I like the idea of gnomes giving political statements, at least then we could admit that what we are listening to comes from a head made of concrete.
Garden gnomes traditionally (at least in my part of the world) get stolen and get stolen back etc. You could perhaps pay your friend Stanley to begin the process… But be careful – sometimes gnomes return as pink flamingos.
I will have to ask Stan if he has ever “borrowed” a garden gnome. It might be a way of getting rid of mine.
I wonder what he does when you aren’t looking . . .
He probably rides pink flamingos.
You best stay away from New Ulm. Just say’n…
I think Audrey is referring to
The Football-Playing Gnomes Of New Ulm
And seriously, this is one of the best Minnesota themed blog posts ever published.
Ah! Compromise once again leads to more clever solutions (I like the gnome spying image).
and: “yard schlock”–you crack me up, man!
I was thinking of putting up signs around town: YARD SCHLOCK SALE
Dare ya…see if you can some of your stuff back from Stan before ya do, though.
Haha! I like the compromise – otherwise you could have been packing your bags for Nome, Alaska, Greg. I wanted a gazing ball and a fairy house in our back yard but my husband muttered something about turning all the yard work over to me, and I lost my enthusiasm. Meanwhile I’m working on some cross stitch…
I tried that once.
ME: Okay then, if that is the way you want it, you can do the yard work!
SHE: Goody… hand over the keys to your zero-turn lawn mower.
ME: Huh? Anyone ever tell you that you fight dirty.
I don’t trust them.
“I objected and she cried” age-old lead in to a man losing an argument.
It’s like, I know I am going to lose this fight but let’s see how long it is going to take.
Anything made of concrete belongs at the side of the road or part of it. I too would feel the coldness of fear having that thing on my property. Do your trash haulers pick up heavy stuff?
Otis, our trash guy, is a pretty quiet, good natured fellow, who get out of his truck and walk up the driveway to remove gnomes and other yard-schlock.
Excellent. Six pack for Otis.
You did a gnome post! 🙂 This whole territory thing made total sense to me, Greg. I get it, the compromises and the off-limits lines that don’t get crossed. I have to say that gnomes are better than the plywood schlock that ends up in some yards (you know the ones I mean). Ha ha. Me? I have concrete gargoyles in my garden – but not in the lawn! That wouldn’t go over well. 🙂
I would go with gargoyles any day. There is something about gargoyles that keeps political door-knockers at bay.
True! Nothing like a little Gothic monster on the doorstep. 🙂
Be afraid. Relegating him to a dark unseen corner means you will incur his wrath when you least expect it….
D. Wallace Peach mentioned gargoyles in the previous comment. I wonder if I could use one of them to keep an eye on the garden gnome.
I don’t see why not. But Gnomes are sneaky… you might need 2.
Well, you know what they say….there’s gnome place like home.
[groan] 🙂 🙂 🙂
I am tempted to find some two inch tops of gnome hats. And place a few throughout the garden. Then when people ask what is that ? I can say ‘I think I planted my gnomes too deep.’
An excellent idea – which raises the question: how deep does an expert gardener plant them?
You can’t plant gnomes too deep, Greg. Any depth is not deep enough.
There’s no question that affection or distaste for garden gnomes seems to be written into our DNA: G-nomes, if you will. Personally, I can’t stand the things, but don’t you dare mess with my two-foot tall, rusted, disintegrating metal squirrel.
Squirrels, whether formed by biology or metallurgy, are not to be messed with.
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