Last week we had an odd thing happen. Someone took six of our seven garden gnomes out of our yard. They left just one lonely brother. We had them lined up on the stepping stones leading to our side door (which is also our main entrance). They acted as a sort of snow gage: "Wow! The gnomes are up to their noses in snow! What a storm!" They were one of our first eBay purchases, a gag gift for my parents. We hid all seven gnomes in their gardens one spring (my parents can't stand the little men). Eventually, they were all recovered, and we brought them to live at our house. (I know, they're tacky. My mother said they bring down the neighborhood.) My daughter took them under her wing, and in the summertime, had numerous tea parties with the gnomes. In the winter, she begged me to bring them inside (I refused - they are happiest living outside, year round!). So she built them a fort. These $20 gnomes (including shipping) got some serious playtime.
So, back to last week. We looked out the window one morning, and they were gone. Hmmm. Who would want some cheap (they were plastic, nothing fancy) garden ornaments? Many of my Portland friends had threatened to steal them, and pepper them around downtown, so I called around. No luck. High school kids? They always get a bum wrap. File a report with the local police? "Yes, officer, 6 of them, about 14 inches high, beards, playing various musical instruments. Pointy hats..." This was not the sort of crime I would want to notify the police about. Why mess with the crime statistics? Anyway, we didn't think much of it. One should not be attached to material items, right? It wasn't until that night, as I snuggled the two older kids to sleep, that they asked me, "why did someone take our gnomes? They were ours." They seemed pretty sad about the whole incident. How weird to have to explain to your children that sometimes people take things that don't belong to them. So I suggested we be proactive, make a sign, and put it in our front yard, where the gnomes used to live.
We did just that. My daughter made the sign, and we put it out in front of the house. My husband called the local paper about one of their articles, and in the same conversation, told the editor about the theft. He sent a photographer over, and the next morning, on the front page of our local paper, was a picture of my daughter, the last remaining gnome, her sign, and a short story about our loss. We still haven't been reunited with the missing gnome family, but the kids are getting over it. And it has brought out the neighbors. Otherwise quiet people have come out to chat with us about the gnomes. So, as with most life experiences, something good comes with something bad. But when we go to Canada tomorrow morning, I'm bringing the last remaining gnome inside!