Back home (Nottinghamshire) in the 1980’s, gnomes were the thing, a concrete bird bath was an essential and no garden in our row was without one, one neighbour had a bird bath with a little concrete bird perched on the lip slightly smaller than a sparrow, I wouldn’t say I loved it but always looked on it with fascination, even at a small age I knew such sweet details were wasted on it’s owners.
G and D were nice respectable people married their whole lives and retired already when I was just very small, they had bought their council house which was the case for most of our small rural row. That was something revered and an envious situation, which seemed to leave a slight bitter taste in the mouths of those who continued to rent their homes. Whether it was a community feeling or just within the walls of number 7, I am not sure but to admit that you were renting your home and that you did not indeed have a small concrete bird perching on your well placed bird bath was treated as an embarrassment, perhaps even indeed a failure. How sad to think that I could have absorbed this information from my household, that my parents felt a degree of shame or embarrassment to their circumstances.
Side note : (I like to use the most unflattering images of myself so that the focus is on what I write, OK?!!!)
All this derived from garden adornements, but the happier side came later in the form of our neighbour in a new town with more garden gnomes than I’ve ever seen in my life. Every day as I walked our dogs I would take it all in, each placed with love and care, a whole city of shiny demented faces would marvel out at the world and the eccentricity and devotion to what I can only call the ugliest garden companions I have ever seen filled me enormous love. In the years that I walked down that road not one little face left it’s position, more came to join the party and I watched the garish rosy complexions age and weather and become softer and sweeter. Both the gnomes and I grew up, I however moved on, I believe they remain to this day.
My lovely street in which holds my even lovelier first home has finally taken me full circle back to the seeming comfort of having garden companions, this time of the animal variety.
A rabbit, a squirrel and lots of other little creatures all perch on the walls of various gardens like sweet faced guardians. One neighbour has a number of little stone friends lined up on the top of a wall, their once pointy ears and noses rounded by the bountiful rain and wind of the South West. I love it, seeing this same attachment to adorning a garden no matter the size instantly propelling me back to the gnome gathering in Nottinghamshire.
I do wonder if it’s a generational thing? I can’t imagine even those of my age retiring and thoughtfully thinking to add a small animal to their decking or all glass extension. I think it is these thoughts that make me a little sad, or perhaps it’s just nostalgia which seems to take hold the older you become. But I think of myself in twenty years, sitting with tea in hand and dog in lap, wondering where did all the gnomes go?