Last week gazing at the Mississippi River in Almonte I spotted something. No, it couldn’t be! But it was!
There, all my himself was a lone gnome in the middle of the dam looking for a pirate ship to escape in because of all the Enerdu construction. I don’t blame him! It instantly reminded me of my former hometown of Oakland, California where the gnomes took over the town and became a tourist attraction in 2013. Could the same thing be happening to Almonte!?
To those interested in gnomeourism here is how Oakland did it.
There are now over 2,300 gnomes that now populate the hills and flats of Gnome Mans Land, California (Oakland). Until recently, they had pretty much managed to keep their presence a secret but then word got out in 2013 and there were fears that even Gnomeland Security might get into the act.
Word on the street is this population was descended from a shipment of gnomes bound for Oakland’s famous Fairyland in 1928 and escaped when the delivery truck tipped over. But really, gnobody gnows where they came from. You can find them at the bases of telephone poles and they gnever gather in groups. They hate low altitudes and heavy traffic, and live off the energy found in the telephone wires.
More than a year ago, a mysterious man wanted to do something nice for his neighbours near Lake Merritt in Gnomelandia. He found some scrap wood from old fences and cut them into wooden blocks 6 inches tall, and painted the mythical creatures on them. Then he anonymously screwed (not nailed) the guerrilla installations to wooden utility poles (never trees), at sidewalk level.
The first batch of about two dozen went up in January, 2012. The artist’s greatest joy is walking the streets of Oakland (“tending herd” as he calls it) to make sure none have been removed.
A woman posted on a Facebook page:
“We need some Gnomes in East Oakland around Eastmont Mall!! Magic is something that can grow.” Her neighborhood? When one hears about shootings in Oakland, probably 1/3 are within twenty blocks of her home. And there’s an elementary school there with four telephone poles in front of it, two on its side. They are getting every gnome [in stock]. She deserves them for believing in magic.”
At Fairyroom.com they figured out that “the gnomes on the streets close to the lake’s edge are wearing pants. But as the streets angle up the hill, the gnomes on the telephone poles change their wardrobe to kilts. The gnomes of Oakland’s higher elevations are plainly Highlanders, a bit of dry humor everyone heartily appreciates.”
Then one day San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carolyn Jones blew their cover. PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) spokesman Jason King said he had never noticed them on their utility poles, although he jogs around the lake. Sticking to the company playbook, he told her a crew would be dispatched to remove them from gnome mans land.
His exact words: “We can’t have anything that would compromise the integrity of our equipment. The concern is that the gnomes could inspire additional people to place things on our property.”
A “Save the Lake Merritt Gnomes” Facebook page popped up. Calls poured in. The Twittersphere exploded. Negotiations ensued.
We are holding peace talks for the 2300 gnomes in a secret mushroom patch near the Rose Garden,” said Zac Wald, chief of staff to City Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney, whose district includes the preponderance of the gnome population. “People love the gnomes, and they are District Three residents.”
Carleton Place Library Gnome
At the end of January there was a positive win for the little people:
“We received a great deal of public feedback, so we’re declaring the poles gnome-man’s land. We’re not going to remove them,” PG&E spokesman Jason King said.
I think the gnomes are a sweet reminder that a little magic can go a long way. I’m looking forward to the story spreading beyond Oakland – but for now, the magic remains in Oakland– because– that’s where the Gnomes are.
I have been saying for weeks there must be something wrong with the water as there are so many town shenanigans going on in Carleton Place and Almonte. The proof is in the pudding my friends–the Gnomes are afoot!
Photos by Linda Seccaspina
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