Whenever I arrive at the cabin, before unloading our duffel bags and the cold-chest out of the back of the Jeep, I walk the barely-there path to the screen door and simultaneously reach for its handle and bend down to pat Woody on his little pointy head. Woody sits outside the porch, just to the right of the screen door, and his head is smooth and welcoming like he has happily weathered storms while keeping watch over our happy place.
Mike will tell you that gnomes are a decorative accessory and I should stop buying them. But every time I pat that pointy head, I feel safe and happy and very, very welcomed. And history tells me I’m right.
I recently bought this little guy:
. . . and he’s been waiting for cabin season, perched on top of book mountain. When he goes to the cabin, he will be welcomed by Woody, Yellow Gnome, Gus and Bjorn —
— a little family of watchers.
When we were little cabin dreamers, we called a gnome a Tomten because of this book.
The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren came out at Christmas time and it scared me because it was dark and ghostly and the Tomten secretly visited sleeping farm animals in the middle of the night. He was a little grumpy and disheveled but he took good care of the cows and the farm cats and even the children so, even though he scared me, I liked him.
According to tradition, the tomten lives in the houses and barns of the farmstead, and secretly acts as a guardian. If treated well, he will protect the family and the animals from evil and misfortune. He might even help out with some chores (dear gnome, clean mouse traps, please). However, they are also known to be short tempered, especially when offended.They are easily put off by lazy farmers and a careless lack of proper respect — much like the native Minnesotans, don’t ya know. They will not under any circumstances tolerate rudeness, like swearing or urinating in the barn or mistreating your animals; this could result in a hard strike to the ear.
So, seriously, don’t mess with your gnome. And if you spill something on the floor, it is considered good manners to shout a warning to the gnome below. As in, “watch out, Woody!” If you don’t, you might spend half the day looking for your glasses when you just saw them RIGHT THERE! That, friends, is your gnome talking. Just be a good person, and your gnome will take care of you. I promise.
Some gnome words for your enjoyment:
Don’t you think you need a Yule Goat this Christmas? Giving you the finger? I know I do.
My shiny gold yule goat, sitting atop book mountain, has not yet been named. If you have any suggestions for this newest member of our cabin-watching team, give me a holler, y’all.
“Troll Wondering How Old He Is” by Norwegian artist Theodor Kittelsen