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Gnomes matter

A figurine of a gnome playing on a slide among the succulents brings a little cheer to Uptown Creston.
A figurine of a gnome playing on a slide among the succulents brings a little cheer to Uptown Creston.

In front of our store we have one of those big cement planters that you find all over Uptown Creston. Last year we planted flowers, but since I do not have a green thumb, that didn’t go so well. This year we decided on succulents. They have grown like crazy with little help needed from me — a wise move on their part.

In and among my cactusy garden, I made a home for some little gnome figures I had and a few I bought just for the purpose. My family thinks that was crazy. “They’re just going to get stolen.”

Now, I’m not naive — OK, that’s not true. I do tend to see the world with rose-colored glasses most of the time. — But I’m not that naive; I knew my gnomes would not survive the summer. I even bought extras so I could replace the ones that walked away. But I’ve had a good time placing them there and arranging them among the plants. I think I even enjoyed weeding the thing this year.

The truth is you can steal my gnomes, but no one can take away my joy.

Even the gnomes that aren’t there anymore — the little guy playing the fiddle, the Santa gnome on vacation and the little wheel barrow that somehow collected coins (gnome magic) for the few weeks it remained in the planter — still make me happy when I think about them.

I don’t condone the theft and don’t mistake what I’m saying for permission to take them, but I do hope they’ve gone on to a nice home. I imagine a little girl or boy walking by and just not being able to resist their little pointy hats and cherubic faces and not realizing they were someone’s property (see, rose-colored glasses).

I could get mad and vow never to put myself out there again. That wouldn’t do me any good. There’s enough negativity in life; there’s no need to add to it. Instead, I’m going to keep plugging away, adding a little bit of fun to the world and amusing myself in the process.

Yep, it’s time to turn this into a lesson. There is a whole lot of difficulty going on in our world right now. Between racial tensions and coronavirus concerns, it’s easy to get down and think that a little bit of happiness isn’t worth the effort. I’m here to tell you it is. Even if it is short-lived, if it just takes the edge off of the ugliness all around, it’s worth it.

Find yourself a gnome, it doesn’t have to be literally a gnome — for all I know you find them creepy or ridiculous. Your gnome could be a funny face mask. I saw a worker at Hy-Vee wearing one with giant lips on it just yesterday. Have you seen the face shields with the crown stickers or the puppy dog faces on them? I think I’m going to have to design a tiara for mine or a newsboy cap.

Maybe it’s a kindness rock. Those seem to have died out a bit, but the need to spread kindness is definitely still alive. Oddly enough, some of the rocks we painted at the beginning of summer are still in my planter. Most of the paint is gone, but they’re still there. Feel free to take those, keep them or place them in a new home for someone to find — that’s the spirit of the kindness rock.

Maybe it’s enjoying or adding to the art that is springing up all over town. Paint your own mural or volunteer to help on one that Creston:Arts is working on or offer up a space and some paint if you aren’t an artist yourself. Or just take a walk and breathe in the beauty and life they bring.

Maybe it’s a word or two of support and cheer to a stranger or a friend. “I love your pink hair,” or “Would you like me to get that for you?” to someone struggling to reach an item on the top shelf at the grocery store. Your gnome could be a promise to yourself that you’ll try to be extra nice at least once a day. Even when it feels like you’re pouring water into a bucket with a hole in it, it’s worth it to keep on pouring.

Maybe your gnome is a living, breathing little human that you send out the door every morning to go to school. Look for the good when they come home at the end of the day. Ask what the best thing that happened today was. “Who did you see do something nice?” Seeing the positives in life is a skill, nurture it.

I added new gnomes to my garden just the other day. They’re the last of my stash and I really hope they stick around for a while. I know others have enjoyed seeing them as much as I’ve enjoyed placing them.

Please don’t steal my gnomes. But if they do go missing, I won’t let it take away my joy. The pleasure is in the act of creating beauty and spreading cheer.

Find yourself a gnome. It matters.

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Let me know what matters to you at rsmith@crestonnews.com, 641-782-2141 ext. 6433, or c/o Creston News Advertiser, 503 W. Adams St., Creston, Iowa 50801.

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