The demise of the ordinary gnome

Grand-Ma used to say “You could try leaving a note for the gnomes, maybe they’ll do it for you”. Obviously that meant that I was supposed to do this chore. “And stop dragging your feet! The carpet is still as new and I’d like to keep it that way.” So I grudgingly did as Grand-Ma told me to. The alternative was getting a very quiet and thorough scolding by Grand-Pa: “Son. When Grand-Ma talks, you listen”. Having put up with Grand-Ma for what I thought was more than a century or so, obviously he was very well versed in the fine art of scolding and lecturing; and such was not limited to grand-children. I have witnessed my mother shrinking down to the size of a gnome under the glaring and piercing eyes of Grand-Pa.

Anyway, I digress. Gnomes, you know, the nice kind, with the red pointy hats, grey beards and so on, are associated with our grand- or great-grand-parents. In this day an age who still believes in these beings conjured up from fairy tales? Today’s children aren’t told nor thought about those ordinary and gentle companions anymore. They are told fanciful, unrealistic and completely unlikely stories about super powers, spidery super-heroes and pizza-eating turtles. The unbelievable stuff that we are teaching our children… But who’s to say that the ordinary gnome doesn’t exist anymore in this 21st century? Surely, today’s gnomes proudly carry hipster beards and the gnome-women, God forbid, may have exchanged their aprons for stretch jeans. Undoubtedly, their gnome children are pretty much like ordinary kids. They’d rather hang about on a Turkeytail mushroom or sit on a log chatting instead of following their parent’s footsteps. So in a way, common gnomeism is on the decline, long gnome generation after long gnome generation. That’s the way it goes and probably can’t be stopped. We can’t change the relentless evolution of society, and gnomes are, just like us, subject to the grinding of time’s millstone. This may be one of the reasons why gnomes haven’t been spotted recently, picking up notes, and cleaning up the mess, left behind by lazy and unwilling grand-children. Relegated to old and outdated fairy tales, our always overlooked friends have retired from business. Previously neglected, they are now undesired, kicked off from their pedestals by action heroes and video games. Derided by “made in China” plastic (hardly) look-alikes, they have drawn their conclusions. Going their own, more or less traditional ways, they bide their time in what little is left of our forests. Quietly living their lives, away from our stressful fast-moving society, sadly shaking their heads, reminiscing about the olden times.

So, dear reader, if you happen to come through a very quiet place in the woods, take off your headphones, mute your devices and listen. Listen! With a bit of luck, in the rustle of the leaves, you may hear the whispers of a parallel society which has withdrawn onto itself, waiting for different times.

23 January 8h30-ish

Everything you need to know about Gnomes (Kabouters):