Smoke Stories No. 1

Wood Gnomes

Unique creatures they are.  But you would be too if you lived inside trees.  Have you ever wondered how the trees get their bark?  Yep, wood gnomes.  In fact, it acts as one of their many defenses against the threatening forces attempting to overrun their kingdoms of blissful harmony.  If a tree is bustling and healthy, you can bet a fully established society of wood gnomes are hard at work within.  If a tree has lost its life, well, the gnomes have moved on.  Could be due to an evil overthrow of the colony.  Maybe, a diplomatic choice.  Nobody truly knows why wood gnomes abandon their trees, but it is a guarantee they won’t be found if that tree is death bound.

One may be intrigued to understand the threats that constantly assault a colony of wood gnomes living in a tree.  Well, I am here to tell you that several disasters befall these innocent creatures that work hard to ensure humanity’s well-being.  Although many don’t believe it when I tell them, I once had the rare joy of meeting a wood gnome.  To say it was a pleasant experience would be shortcutting the occurrence as I was able to learn much about their ways and purpose in life.  I very distinctly remember his name, Sir Noreek Mapleshaper.  Very short, just half the size of a newborn hedgehog, with dirty tan clothing and a tiny redcap coving a head of grey hair, Sir Mapleshaper was not the least bit hesitant after I was able to capture him.  In fact, through our conversation, I was able to ascertain that wood gnomes are well aware of us humans and our behaviors (just FYI, they are not fond of us cutting down trees for what they believe are ‘insignificant personal needs’) and not the least bit scared of our kind.

Wood Gnome

Over the course of a cool but sunny autumn afternoon with Sir Mapleshaper, I was able to learn much about the life of wood gnomes.  For instance, wood gnomes live to be around 600 years old.  They, just like us, have families and live in a hierarchal government setting, but when asked about taxes, Sir Mapleshaper just laughed stating in a somewhat high pitched slurred Irish accent “when everyone cares about the well-being of each other, the need for forced payment to help get simple things accomplished, that everyone will benefit from, is no longer necessary.”  I couldn’t argue with him on that philosophy.  Going back to our beginning conversation of threats to wood gnomes, Sir Mapleshaper shared that the major dangers to his kind are termites, squirrels, raccoons, weather, and pesky children who pull bark off the trunks of their trees.  However, you’ll be most intriguing to know that the highpoint of our meeting came when I lit my pipe.  Come to find out, wood gnomes also enjoy smoking pipes.  They prefer tiny clay pipes full of their homemade pipe weed blends, which I humbly had the opportunity of trying (don’t worry, you are not missing out on anything….it is quite disgusting with tastes of sawdust and mulch).  They prefer clay pipes, as the use of briar could be considered an insult to some of their kin.  But please do not misinterpret what I’m saying.  Sir Mapleshaper made it very clear that the use of briar for making pipes was not considered an insignificant human waste as previously discussed.

As the afternoon wisped away in clouds of captivating conversation and pipe smoke, I gained a humble gratefulness for this tiny but vastly significant species.  Although I had not previously known wood gnomes existed, my new-found appreciation and respect for this tiny but meaningful creature was all but superficial.  As I currently observe the tree in my own front yard, that at one time was beautiful, full, and lush, slowly wither away and die.  I cannot help but stop and reflect on the once wonderful kingdom established by the wood gnomes that allowed shade, beauty, and love to my family for many years.  Now however, as I smoke my pipe and view the slow passing of this once charming creation, my hope is that those who once inhabited and protected this formidable piece of nature, recognize my gratitude toward their hard work and persistence.  For until we meet again my wood gnome friends, may your pipes be full and bark unblemished.

Dr. Kyle Andrew Signature

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