By Amy McCollom
I don’t know how long he had been lying on the cold ground, possibly overnight. A few fallen leaves blanketed his old weathered face, and if it wasn’t for his red hat I wouldn’t have seen him lying there at all that morning. I ran to see if he had broken anything; my heart pounded hard in my chest. As I got to him, I carefully slid my hand under his faded red hat and gently lifted his head, and it stayed on. That was always my biggest worry, that he would lose his head.
He was really old, in fact he was my very first gnome that I received as a gift almost 29 years ago. Since then, he has been joined by a brotherhood of gnomes that I like to refer to as our own Gnomeland Security Force. He’s a bit of a grandpa gnome now, and they certainly don’t make them out of wrought iron anymore. The gnomes that have come after him have been made of cheap material, hollow, breakable, fading, and less waterproof, thus some have lost their heads in the line of duty and are with us no longer. But not my grandpa gnome, not yet.
I lifted his heavy body up, wiped the wet leaves from his faded face, and firmly set him down hard onto the soft mulch-y ground. I twisted his feet a few times, trying to anchor them into the soft dirt, then I brushed loose dirt around his two skinny feet and patted it down, as if I was repotting a plant.
Just then I felt something hit my back. I looked behind me, then up, and saw the quick movement of a fluffy reddish tail swirl around the tree that I was kneeling under. Even though I figured the old leaning conifer wasn’t long for this world, as half of the needles had remained brown since the fall, I still thought it was the perfect spot for my little gnome garden since it was already mulched and sectioned off with garden border. So I added a little wooden gnome house, a couple of my bigger gnomes, some small mushrooms, a tiny wind chime, and some stepping stones in case “fairies” wanted to move in.
Apparently the squirrel family that already lived in the tree didn’t care for gnomes or any of the other things I placed there, and thus had taken it upon themselves to disassemble my little garden themselves. At first I thought the wind was blowing my garden things around, but after my grandpa gnome was found knocked over several times in a row, I set up a stakeout.
Early one morning, caught furry-handed, the squirrels came down the tree and did their deed. Grandpa gnome lay face down on the ground, and the small wooden house was pushed almost 180 degrees off of it’s foundation. A third squirrel was watching me as I stepped out onto the front porch, and sounded an alarm before I could yell my disapproval at them.
Don’t get me wrong, I like squirrels, as I do all of God’s creatures. I even leave crumbs for hungry varmints that might be passing through my yard. Unless I was in danger of death or loss of limb, I doubt I would try and harm an animal. But squirrels that live in my yard need to learn some rules of respect. So yes, this means war.
Nobody knocks over my gnomes on purpose and gets away with it. However, I am willing to move my gnome garden 2 feet farther away from the trunk of the tree if that will help keep the squirrels from knocking over my gnomes. But that’s as nice as I’m going to be about it. If I keep seeing havoc being wrecked in my gnome garden, I’m going to order more troops, and wrap their red pointy hats with razor wire.
I’ve also been looking into motion-sensing lights, automatic sprinkler units, air horns, flood lights, pest-proof tree wrap, electric fencing, bear traps, glue traps, trap doors, how to hire a hitman, and building your own alligator moat. If you are thinking of stopping by for a visit, you might want to call first, just to be on the safe side.
Whatever comes of this, always know that the squirrels started it. But God forgives, and so should we.