As mentioned a few weeks back, my friend and cohort Amanda Thomsen just announced the impending release of her new book Kiss My Aster at the end of the year. In order to celebrate, I once again tried to mail her something I found for her about three years ago, but wasn’t able to send until now. In the past, she had various flimsy excuses as to why she couldn’t give a mailing address, usually involving words such as “stalking,” “restraining order,” and “a shotgun full of rock salt if you show up here,” but I suspect she’s learned to trust me a bit. Either that, or the praying mantises in the back yard need feeding. I reciprocated her trust by sending her…a garden gnome.
Now, this isn’t just any garden gnome. Strictly defined, this is a fossil gnome. Jason Cohen, the co-owner of Curiosities in the Lakewood area of Dallas, has a penchant for finding all sorts of little odd things, and one of his many suppliers came across a spoils pile from a German porcelain factory that produced dolls and other household items in the early Nineteenth Century. When figures either misfired in a kiln or broke afterwards, they were dumped out into a huge spoils pile behind the factory, and weeds and vines rapidly overgrew the pile after the factory shut down. The way Jason understood it, construction of a condo building led to a bulldozer moving a big chunk out of the hill, and this must have been one hell of a hill, and passersby collected as many of the figurines and fragments as they could find. Most of these consisted of full doll figurines, doll heads, and various disarticulated limbs, and I personally claimed a head about the size of my thumb that was intended to have inset eyes and hair. (I need to get photos of this, because I really need a life-sized version of this for a Euphorbia project.) This gnome, though, was a bit special.
Why is he special? It’s not because of his distinctive patina. He actually cleaned up quite nicely after being buried in earth and mud for nearly two centuries, which says a lot for modern porcelain cleaning techniques. He was unfinished at the time he was buried, so that’s not it. Just take a look at the side, though, and it’s painfully obvious.
Yep, Juergen here was a casualty, probably of the Great Gnome/Flamingo War of 1877. Oh, sure, historians may tell you that the worldwide stock crash of that time was due to excessive Prussian speculation, but the reality was that this was the year the war between gnomes and flamingos went global, probably aided by the development and distribution of the Winchester repeating rifle a few years before. If I had the time, I’d build him a prosthetic hand, and then he’d be a fossil cyber-gnome.
Sadly, though, I had to send Juergen to Amanda right away, because he couldn’t stay. I personally felt sympathy for him, but as a dedicated flamingo loyalist, I couldn’t defend him from my highly loyal forces.
In the ongoing garden war, the gnomes need to learn one very important thing. Unless one talks about worms, moles, or cane toads, every potential threat is, by definition, Death From Above.