April 1st, 2021
Prompt: Why is your garden gnome wearing camouflage?
GARMENTS FOR THE GARDEN GNOME.
When conducting guests through my garden I expect to receive comments about the extensive variety of trees, or botanical questions relating to the taxonomy of my iris collection. Or concern for my roses, which suffer tragically from the predation of a herd of deer.
I do not expect to hear “Why is your garden gnome wearing camouflage?”
Secretly I had hoped that he was khakied sufficiently to make him invisible to my garden visitors. Sometimes you simply do not wish to have it known that you do, indeed, have a gnome. You know that is the single comment the local gardening grand dame will make when she can once again preside over a meeting of her exclusive gardening club.
I improvise. Quickly. The best method.
“The gnome was a gift from my sister’s family, so he does have a certain sine qua non.” (I adore Latin phrases, makes you sound as though you know something.) “But his original outfit, red gnome hat, pink polka-dotted shirt and lilac pantaloons; you know the look. That was distracting to butterflies. Particularly the Swallowtails. They kept flitting just above him, looking for the nectar that a ‘flower’ of such colours would normally produce.”
I kept a straight face. “Then there are the bumble bees. They are considered endangered, here. So I try not to make their lives any more difficult than they already are. I once saw six, grouped together on his belly, bumbling about and looking confused.”
My guest looked as though she might not be believing me.
“Then there are the deer. I know, I know. Most gardeners hate them, loathe them, fence them out. Hang soap bars in the rose bushes. Spread that noxious anti-deer liquid that smells so bad even the hardiest of persons does not want to visit those garden beds.”
My guest nodded. She knew.
“But my gnome sleeps near Rupert’s Pond, named for my French poodle. The water runs continuously, so is always fresh, and never freezes over. I think it may be the only water source in this area that is available all winter. So I welcome the deer. But I have seen fawns approach the pond, spot the gnome, then veer away, scared. Poor little things.”
I continue. “And of course hummingbirds. Sometimes a flock of at least six or seven would congregate above the gnome. One would make a sortie to his stomach while the others dive-bombed the brave one. I thought I was about to witness hummingbird homicide.”
I munched on a mint leaf. “Of course, if it was a bird that got killed that would not technically be homicide, so…”
My guest now openly snorted, a snort of disbelief.
“I can see you are still not sure about the camouflage. So I will tell you the truth.”
My guest leans in, waiting for the dope.
“Truth is, the gnome is wearing camouflage because his tuxedo is at the dry cleaners.”