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witch tree gnome home
Notice from Management: Please pronounce the title of this message so it rhymes with “oven glove.” (Doesn’t that feel weird? Isn’t it satisfying?) Now, please read the subtitle in your best E.T. voice. Thank you for your cooperation.
Some of you may remember Witch Tree, my spooky holiday-decoration-turned-life-lesson. After a rocky start, I came to admire Witch Tree for her peculiarity, her her-ness. She now illuminates my living room through most of the year.
My life is quiet. This suits me, mostly, but it can get a little lonely. Being vulnerable to infectious disease in Year 4 of a global pandemic is isolating to an extent that words can’t reach. It feels as though the entire world has moved on and left me behind. Almost no one wears a mask here anymore. Existing in most public spaces feels inaccessible and unsafe. I miss sitting in restaurants, lingering in museums, and going to the movies. I miss traveling and hugging my far-flung friends and family. I miss getting dressed up to go somewhere, to do something.
A few weeks ago, I learned that my town was hosting a gnome-themed spring festival, outdoors, at night. I knew I had to attend. It felt important to go and be a living creature in the living world.
May in Maine is blustery, cold. The ethereal charm of my spring fairy look was blunted by my bulky plaid jacket, long johns, thick socks, and sneakers. Still, I had glitter on my face and a blueberry crown in my hair. I zipped up my coat and floated out into the night.
It was even colder down by the water. Gusts rocked the hand-painted wooden signs and chafed noses and cheeks. The festival was modest: three food trucks, a few lawn games, and a pair of DJs remixing hits from the 1920s. Adults and children wore felt gnome hats they’d decorated at a folding table. I saw a woman in a banana costume and sunglasses dancing by herself on the cobbles. I saw strangers smiling, sometimes at me.
And then I saw the witch trees.
Trees, plural. A miniature grove of glowing witch trees. A spindly, sparkly, be-ribboned coven giving light to the heart of the party, all the same model as my companion at home. Gnome-hatted toddlers approached the glittering boughs with open mouths and wide eyes.
My Witch Tree has sisters. Common sense would say yes, of course she does—she is, after all, the result of mass production, for sale at Target. Yet somehow, through all our time shut away at home, she had come to seem unique and alone in this world.
It has been so easy for so long to believe we were the only ones of us. By the water, among the gnomes, I remembered the truth.
things i’ve written
CW: Food mention in the second item.
It’s been a prolific—and eclectic—few weeks for me over at The Last Word on Nothing.
The second half of my conversation with Jennifer Lunden about her new book is definitely worth a read,
as are these reflections on family, liberation, and Domino’s cheesy bread.
Also: I used to be embarrassed to be from New Jersey.
tenderness toward existence days
Just as May was for vampires (::cough:: selection bias), June is for magic.
Kitchen Klutzes of America Day (13)
Magic Circles Day (14)
National Lobster Day / National Kiss a Wookiee Day (15)
Wish Fulfillment Day (16)
Mermaid Day (17)
Autistic Pride Day (18)
National Dog Party Day / National Seashell Day (21)
International Fairy Day (24)
And some too-good-to-be-a-coincidence double days:
International Panic Day and International Picnic Day (June 18)
World Giraffe Day and Tall Girl Appreciation Day (21)
Kathleen Owens, 1928–2023
My grandmother was a special person who made other people feel special, too. She loved books and flowers and the ocean and creating beautiful, useful things.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end. I’m so glad you’re here.
small magic will always be free. 🦒