Everyone in the neighborhood agreed - Tykka had the best-looking yard in the neighborhood. Her perfectly kept lawn, beautiful flowers of every possible color, and the gnomes, how could anybody get so many gnomes into a yard and it still look amazing?
There was an arc of flowers arranged like a rainbow that started at one side of the lawn, swept across the lawn, and ended at the other side under a beautiful Blue Wisteria. On one side of the Wisteria was an orange/red Gulmohar Tree, and on the other side was a yellow Cassia Fistula. Under the trees were some gnomes resting in hammocks, leaning against the tree trunks, or just sitting in the shade drinking from oversized mugs.
At the beginning of the rainbow was a small pond with koi in it, and several gnomes sitting around the pond with fishing poles and lines that dropped into the water. A Bauhinia tree with pink flowers provided shadow for the pond and the fishing gnomes.
Where the walkway had to intersect the rainbow, Tykka had built a bridge over the rainbow, allowing the arch of flowers to flow uninterrupted across the width of the front yard. There were a couple of ugly Ogre gnomes under the bridge; at one end of the bridge were a couple of kissing gnomes, and in the yard was an area for exercising gnomes. There was also an area for a gnomes band playing gnome-music. And of course, there were gnomes sleeping under mushrooms, gnomes sleeping on or next to logs, and a grumpy king gnome sitting on his throne overlooking the yard.
This wasn’t just any display put together by someone with too much time on their hands. Tykka didn’t just assemble this cast of fairy tale gnomes with her hands, but also with her love of everything gnomy, and with a little magic as well.
Some say she was a witch, specifically a white witch. Others say she was a fairy that came to life when a falling star landed too close to where she was fluttering about. But wherever she came from, or whoever she was, didn’t matter. She had the most beautiful yard in the neighborhood.
People would come from all over the city to look at her yard. Occasionally, she would have visitors from other states, and even a few times from other countries. When a person stood at the edge of the yard, staring at the menagerie, it was like she had put a spell on them. They would smile, slowly gaze at all the gnomes, whisper to each other fantastical stories of what those little creature-people were doing when nobody was watching them. And they forgot all the cares of their day for a little while. And the people felt happy, content.
One person asked, "Where did she get all these gnomes? Some of these I’ve never seen before."
One of the neighbors was nearby and answered, "Believe it or not, she made all the gnomes. She’s very crafty. And, very good at gardening."
"She made them? All of them? That’s incredible," said the visitor.
"You want to see incredible? Come by here in the spring, I swear these little guys change positions on their own like they come alive."
"What? What are you talking about? They have motors or something?"
"No. They’re purely ceramic gnomes, but in the spring this garden comes alive."
"Well, the woman has to be out here moving the gnomes."
"Nope, we know she isn’t. One night, all of us women living around here were playing cards and drinking all night, and Tykka was with us, and in the morning, at sunrise, we all walked over here to watch the sunshine rise on the gnomes and we couldn’t believe our eyes! The gnomes had moved to different locations. Not a long-distance, but different."
"And the woman, what’s her name, Tykka? She was with you and the others the whole night?"
"Then someone else moved them."
"Nope. We were all across the street, right there, in that house, sitting in the front room. The curtains were open and we could see the street and the yard, but it was dark. There are lights here, but they are on motion sensors. And they never turned on. If anyone had been in the yard moving the gnomes, the lights would have come on."
"I don’t know, that’s just weird, I don’t believe it. It’s not possible."
"Well, we all believe it’s true. It happens every spring."
The visitor left, shaking her head. Another who was listening to the conversation said, "I’m going to come back in the spring and see for myself. I’ve heard these stores before and didn’t believe them. But you live here, you’ve seen it. So, now I have to wonder if it can be true."
In the spring, the flowers were blooming, exploding in every color, and the rainbow was fully visible in all its glory. The trees were blooming in purples, blues, yellows, and pinks. Butterflies and birds visited throughout the day. The yard was coming to life even if the gnomes were just ceramic creatures.
Then on the first day of spring, according to Mother Nature, not the calendar, something happened. That night the gnomes stirred. First, the king opened and closed his eyes, then the others followed, one by one, testing their eyes. Then the king moved his head from side to side and up and down. The other gnomes followed, moving their heads the same as the king. Then he moved his hands and feet, and finally his arms and legs. All the gnomes were moving their arms and legs, waving their hands to each other, smiling. And when the last of the gnomes was fully moving about, the king stood up from his throne, raised his arms above his head, and raised his royal scepter above his head and waved it around in a circle, slowly at first, then a little faster, and a little faster. As he sped up the circling scepter, all the gnomes started to stand up and move, walking slowly at first, then faster, and jumping, and playing. The gnomes were soon fully alive and walking and running all around in the yard, which for them was their entire kingdom.
Then, a car came around the corner down the street, turned in the house's direction, and the gnomes froze in position when the car passed by. As soon as it was out of sight, the gnomes went back to their new state - walking, running, jumping, playing like it was the first time for them.
The fact is, it wasn’t the first time. It was just the first time this year.
Sometimes Tykka would venture out into the yard late at night when the neighborhood was fast asleep. She would sit in the yard among the gnomes and talk to them. She would tell them stories of what life as a fairy was like and compare it to her life as a human. And she would dream, and wish, she could return to her former life. But she couldn’t. The falling star made sure of that.
Every morning when the sun was about to rise the gnomes would go to sleep wherever it was they were at that moment. And the people in the neighborhood would wonder how they moved.
"Tykka has to be out there moving them, there’s just no other option," most agreed.
"No, she’s been with us all night several times, and the gnomes moved without her," her immediate neighbors said.
"But someone’s doing it, they aren’t moving on their own."
"Well, it doesn’t make any sense, so let’s put a camera out there."
"Great idea, my husband has one of those outdoors cameras that starts recording when it detects movement, I’ll ask him to set it up here in the front yard," another said.
The next weekend, the woman’s husband arrived at Tykka’s house. As he walked up to the front door, Tykka came out of the house.
"Oh, hi," Tykka started, "how can I help you? Oh, wait, aren’t you Brenda’s husband?"
"Yes, I am, my name’s Alex. Sorry to disturb you, but Brenda asked me to talk to you about something. But, maybe this is a bad time, I see you are leaving."
"No, it’s a great time. I wasn’t leaving, I’m going to do a little work here in the yard."
"Oh, great, then we can talk while doing a little work."
Brenda went to the rainbow flowers and removed some weeds from among them, carefully moving the flowers so as not to disturb them. Alex watched her and was amazed at the care she took with the flowers. He sat down on the lawn and looked at the gnomes.
"Did you really make all these gnomes?" he asked.
"Oh, yes. I love making these little guys. They make the garden feel alive, don’t you think?"
"Yes, I think they do." He picked up one of them and looked at it from top to bottom. "This is excellent workmanship. You should sell these things."
"Sell? No, never! They are my creations for this garden. I could never sell them."
"Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. Oh, the reason I’m here. Brenda wants me to ask you if we can put a camera in the yard..."
"A camera? What for?"
"Well, you know the neighborhood is curious about the gnomes. They move. Or, are being moved, by someone, during the night."
"What? What do you mean? Do the people think I’m out here moving my gnomes? Why would I do that?"
"You haven’t noticed? You must have, everyone else has. In the morning they are in different places than they were the night before. So somebody has to be moving them. And if it’s not you, then we should find out who is coming into your yard and moving them. It’s for your security. And for the security of the neighborhood."
"Yes, I know they move, of course, I made them that way."
Alex turned the gnome he was holding over and looked into the hole in the bottom, and said, "How is it possible? There’s no motor, there are no moving parts, it’s just a regular ceramic gnome." He tapped it on its head and he thought he heard it make a soft sound.
"Well, yeah, it’s just a ceramic gnome, but it has something special, something that no other gnomes anywhere in the world have."
"Really? What’s that?"
"I can’t tell you. You wouldn’t understand."
"You know there are some women who say you are a witch, or a white witch, or some kind of similar thing."
"I know, but I’m not a witch. I don’t think they exist."
"I’m sure they don’t, which is why I don’t think you’re a witch, either. But there is something special about these gnomes, I just can’t put my finger on it."
He had his fingers, all of them, on exactly what it was - the gnomes. Specifically, the ceramic mud I made them with. Tykka made the gnomes as normal ceramic garden gnomes, but she added a little something special into the mud - a little pixie dust. Just enough to give them life during the spring when the flowers were blooming, and the garden was as beautiful as it could be.
She gave them life because she didn’t want her beautiful garden to be lifeless and full of lifeless ceramic gnomes. And they gave her company during her lonely nights. Relationships were difficult for her because she never aged, but everyone around her did. So she would move from city to city every so often so people wouldn’t become suspicious.
"So, what about the camera?" asked Alex after a few minutes of contemplating the gnomes.
"Well, I suppose it would be interesting to see what happens. And, as you say, the neighbors might feel more secure."
"Excellent! Next weekend I’ll come over with a couple of cameras and get them installed. They won’t even be visible to anyone looking at your yard, so don’t worry about there being some obtrusive cameras in sight."
"Okay, as long as they’re hidden you can set them up."
The next weekend came and Alex set up the cameras in the trees so they had a good view of the entire yard. He watched the monitors every night, but nothing happened. A week passed, another week, nothing happened. The gnomes didn’t move or change places. Nobody visited the yard at night.
One Saturday Alex was visiting a couple of other neighbors and the conversation came around to the gnomes.
"I don’t know what to tell you," he said, "ever since I set up the cameras there’s been no movement, nothing at all."
"I don’t understand that," said one neighbor, "they’re just ceramic gnomes that somebody is moving. Do you suppose that whoever it was, saw you put up the cameras and has stopped moving them?"
"I thought about that. And yes, that’s a possibility. But, I’ve talked to everyone in the neighborhood, and nobody but you guys know about the cameras."
They all agreed on how strange the situation had become, but not Tykka. She knew. Spring was over and it was now summer and the gnomes have gone back to sleep until next spring.
After a couple more weeks, Alex went back to Tykka’s home and removed the cameras. The neighborhood and gone back to its normal state with no more talk of moving gnomes. But the mystery of the moving gnomes continued, unsolved.
The next year, Tykka prepared for spring by adding a few more gnomes made with her special pixie-dust-infused ceramic mud.
She expected these new gnomes would excite the entire world. But how would the world react?