Thinking dinner. (on Eat Street) (via @davemn)
Photo of me in Minneapolis: April 20, 2012.
I started out on Aaron's stoop in 2004 watching over the Cooper neighborhood of Longfellow, Minneapolis. Nice place to be. I was on a corner so I saw everything: neighborhood cats, kids waiting for the school bus, an crazy Christmas light show across the street every winter, families walking their dogs, people biking to work, and sometimes bizarre things I'll keep secret. There's an interesting church across the street too with lots of singing on Sundays.
After a good party in 2007, I decided: there are million stoops out there and it’s time for me to visit them. I traveled for months exploring museums, shops, many other cities, a giant snowman, restaurants, a news station, a lot of other gnomes, and a lot I’m forgetting. It took a while for Aaron to realize I had gone exploring, but thankfully he was supportive and greeted me joyously when I returned.
My past isn’t so bright after those days in 2007, however. Right before I could New Years Day in 2008, I was gnomenapped and tortured. It took Aaron months to rescue me from my captor. I’ve blocked out most of my memories of that time but I remember always seeing a tower with a Witch’s Hat on it nearby.
Upon my rescue, Aaron kept me inside his house – with no ability to explore the outside world. I needed time to recover, but now it’s been years! Aaron also moved to Hawai‘i, so even he’s not around to keep me company. Who will I tell my stories to?
It’s time for me to travel again. On my base I have written “I would like to travel with positive people who you trust.” I’m ready to move around and I hope to travel with you soon!
Usually at this time of year it’s too difficult for me to hop off Aaron’s stoop and take a nice walk. Actually, the hopping part is easy. It’s the walking part I can’t do so well once the snow starts reaching up past my hatchet blade. So when I woke up one day and saw green instead of white on the ground, I thought I would take the opportunity to stretch my fake rock that my boots are melded to and talk a walk around.
Even though I am a stoop gnome by nature, I can appreciate why some of us become garden gnomes. So I stopped in a little garden to see if there would be anyone to chat with. The garden was empty but for some nice shrubs and flowers. I stood in the garden for a while and listened to the trickles of water from melting snow and took in big helpings of the crisp air, which smelled like mud and decomposing leaves. To me this smells like Spring and it put a smile on my bearded face.
A thought popped into my head and right back out again before I realized what it was. I put my hand to my brow and tried to recall what it was. Today was special for some reason other than just unseasonably fair weather, but why?
Perhaps it will come back to me later.
It is so nice to be home again on my perfect little stoop at Aaron’s house. I’ve been enjoying seeing the seasons change from winter to spring! It seems like I’ve been waiting for ever to smell fresh cut grass and all of the colorful flowers, and now they have arrived!
Along with all of the lovely smells of spring, something else was in the air today and it made my belly rumble! It was enough to get me to leave my perfect little stoop — but just for a little while. I hopped down and began letting my nose lead the way. At some points during my trip I was distracted by the refreshing smell of rain and those nice purple lilacs. Soon though, I had reached my destination. The yummy smell was coming from a place called Pannekoeken Huis!
I wasn’t sure what this restaurant was, but as soon as I saw the giant windmill on the menu, I new this was the place for me. I smelled butter and syrup!
I looked at the menu for a while but just couldn’t decide between anything! So I ended up ordering a couple of things — a Pannekoeken, which is like a pancake, and some potato pancakes with applesauce. My belly was still full by the time I got back to Aaron’s stoop this evening, and shortly thereafter the chirping birds lulled me to sleep.
I had to get away from the chaos. I needed to talk to someone who could find me a stoop that felt like home. I’ve been enjoying my adventures to no end, but there’s something about this time of year that makes me think I ought to find a stoop I’m comfortable with.
"That way. There’s the guy you’ll want to talk to," said a scratchy voice. I didn’t see who said it.
"Where are you?" I said.
"Up here," he replied.
I looked up and saw a sinister looking fellow atop a sign that said Happy Holidays. “How did you know I needed someone to talk to, sir?” I asked the fellow atop the sign.
"I’ve been watching you ever since that rocketship dropped you off. It looks like you want something and there’s a guy here that is really good at helping people who want things."
"Really?" I said. It seemed like such good luck all of a sudden.
"Just one thing though, little guy," said the fellow atop the sign. "Have you been naughty or nice?"
"Naughty or nice?" I repeated.
"You don’t have to tell me, but it’s going to come up when you meet that guy I said you oughta talk to. He’s just down that way. And you better hurry. He’s going to be one busy fellow pretty soon. This is his busiest time of year."
"Oh! Then I better get going. Thank you for your help, sir!" I shouted up to the sinister looking man. He nodded and winked and suddenly seemed not sinister at all.
I followed a long hallway and went through an archway that said SANTA. I continued through a red and white maze that smelled like peppermint.
"Whoever it is that I’m going to meet, he must be a pretty jolly fellow," I said to myself as I saw all the sparkling tinsel lining the peppermint hallway. I went around another bend in the way and I was suddenly face to face with one of the friendliest looking people I had ever seen.
"Ho Ho Ho!" the large man laughed and laughed as soon as he saw me.
"Oh! Hello, sir," I said because I was so startled by what I saw. A very large gnome — or maybe one of those elves I have heard about — dressed all in red, with fat cheeks of the exact same color on either side of a giant, jolly smile. I almost forgot to introduce myself!
"I’m Aaron’s Lawn Gnome," I managed to say.
"My name is Santa Clause. You must be my distant cousin, little fellow! It’s so good to finally meet you. What brings you here today?"
"Well, I’ve been on an adventure for a few months now. I’ve traveled all over and have seen spectacular sites and met many interesting and friendly creatures. But mostly I’ve been trying out different stoops."
"You are quite a brave little gnome," Santa said as he gestured for me to come closer. "Did you ever find a stoop that suited you?"
"Well, I guess that is what has brought me here tonight, Mr. Claus," I began. "I’ve been having a grand time, but in the past couple of days I’ve realized that I haven’t felt at home at any of these places."
"I see, I see," the giant elf said.
"So, I guess what brings me here tonight is, I was wondering if you could help me find a stoop that feels like home. That man outside your office said you’re good at helping people who want things."
"Ho Ho Ho," Mr. Claus suddenly laughed and clutched his jiggling belly. "That’s only under one condition, though."
"Oh," I said. And then I remembered what else that man atop the sign said.
"I’ve been very nice, Mr. Claus," I said.
"I know you have, little cousin of mine," Santa said with another small chuckle. "You certainly have been on a long and enjoyable journey. Sharing your good cheer and stories of adventure with all the little and large creatures you’ve met along your way. I’ll give you one final journey before you find your stoop that feels like home, okay? I think you’ll enjoy it. I know, I know, it won’t be your final adventure all together, just for the time being. I can see that you have a fondness for traveling!"
"Mr. Claus, that sounds wonderful! I can’t imagine what kind of adventure such a jolly fellow as yourself could have in store for me! I’m so excited, Mr. Claus!" I was suddenly itching to get on the trail again. A new adventure about to begin!
Mr. Claus laughed some more as he saw me inching toward the door. “Off you go, little gnome. Just follow that bright glowing path and you’ll know when you’ve reached the end.” I walked back down the hallway, along the way I saw gnomes in the gift shop wishing me luck along my journey.
Sure enough, as I stepped outside I saw what Mr. Claus was talking about. The newly fallen snow wasn’t just sparkling white, but it was many different colors because of all the lights pointing out my way!
There were trees covered in lights, stoops covered in lights, and even animals made of lights! And the animals reassured me I was going the right way. It was a lovely walk and I was so anxious to see where I would end up! I was really getting excited at the idea of taking a break from my exciting journey and spending time at a place I could call home. What a great feeling!
Soon I saw an even brighter glow, and it was blinking! I stood and watched for a little while before I realized there weren’t any more lights. I must have reached the end of my path! But I was confused. Where was the stoop? I looked around and I saw a house awash in the glow from these lights. I noticed it had red trim, just like my hat. But what was that? A stoop! A stoop that I recognised, a beautiful stoop; it was Aaron’s stoop!
I held fast to my little backpack, full of souvenirs and food from my wonderful journey and ran across the street, up the steps to Aaron’s house and, as I resumed my post guarding Aaron’s stoop, I finally felt at home.
I decided to keep walking since this neighborhood was dark and quiet. I couldn’t really make out any stoops and I thought it was time to move on — I’ve been in the area a while, mostly spending my time with Snow Man. Also, the lady I wanted to say thank you to, for giving me to such a nice person with a lovely stoop, had left.
It was so quiet I could hear the snow squish under the stone under my boots. Just as I was starting to wonder if anyone has been following my tracks I heard my steps go quiet. The ground felt soggy! Boy was I confused!
"My head must be playing tricks on me again,” I said. But sure enough, when I looked down, I saw grass beneath my stone. I followed the path of soggy ground out of curiosity. “What could have melted all this snow?”
I kept walking and soon I saw a strange silhouette against the gray sky. I was a little timid to get any closer because this was such a large, looming object! “This is silly,” I said. “I should be used to giants by now.” And I walked with my chest out, my chin up, and my hand ready to salute whatever was up ahead. When I finally reached the large, looming figure, I realized it wasn’t another friendly creature, but a rocketship! I immediately thought back to the rocketship I rode on when I first started my journey and how fun that was. I thought out loud, “Since this rocketship is so much bigger it must be even more fun!” and I hopped on and waited for take off.
I only had to wait a few moments before the rocketship shuddered and shook and shot fire into the ground for take off. “So that’s why all the snow is melted!”
It was a short flight, but did I ever feel like I had been transported far, far away! I was plopped down in the middle of a chaotic land called Macy’s. Rats were fighting toy soldiers, pretty pink pigs were dancing ballet, and a very tall woman was putting on a puppet show under her skirt!
I did find something peaceful among all of this though; giant daisies were growing here! They reminded me of the garden gnome I met a long, long time ago. I wonder if he’s found a good garden to winter in. Thinking about this turned my thoughts to stoops and I wondered if there was anyone here who could help show me to a stoop that would feel like home.