Autumn gnome garden

By tradition, the gnome or dwarf is the guardian of the earth’s minerals, both the solid rock with its metallic seams, and the fine distribution of mineral salts in the soil that feed the roots of every tree and plant. Their area of work is always in connection with the earth, whether close to the surface above ground, or deep underground in mysterious passages. A large twisted tree root or piece of lichen-covered bark could make an ideal gnome’s cavern in the centre of the seasonal table or some other suitable place. A few branches of dead wood draped with a yellow-brown veil would also create the dimly-lit ‘underground’ mood. ln this setting it is possible to bring about an atmosphere in which a gnome might feel at home.
Gnomes like the warm earthy colours of autumn, the craggy lines of different kinds of rock; they delight in metals, in the green streak of copper oxide in the stone, and the gleam of iron pyrites. At this time of the year they are busy receiving new seeds and giving them life, so they welcome all kinds of fruit, seeds and seed pods into their store rooms. They look upwards and wait for the rowan berries to fall, for the squirrel to bury a few nuts, for the helicopters, to whirr through the air. Sometimes they rest for a while with their acorn cups and tell stories, while the hedgehogs, the mice and other small creatures creep up close to listen.
At Michaelmas time, it may be that a dragon is seen flying down towards the earth, but the gnomes take care not to let this interfere with their work. The leaves of sun-gold have to be stored, the seeds must be guarded and the roots nourished. lt is a daily task to carry the light of the sun, moon and stars down into the darkness of the earth, and so there will always be some gnomes who are never without their lantern. Time passes quickly when there is so much to do. The gnomes are surely aware that the fiery Michaelmas candle has made way first for the orange glow of the turnip lantern and then for the coloured paper lanterns of Martinmas. But if a witch passed by at Hallowe’en, or fireworks crackled on Guy Fawkes Night, they were simply too busy to remark upon it. For they are looking forward to mid-November when most of their work is done and they can relax and enjoy their Bonfire Party (see p157).
The autumn landscape is flushed with sunset colours, enveloping the whole day in an evening mood. Autumn festivals bring us evening celebrations: a Harvest Supper, a Michaelmas story in the lamplight as the first fire of the seasonwarms the hearth, the evening offering of soul cakes, the bonfires and lantern walks at dusk. Such festivals round off the day, even as autumn is celebrating the close of the natural cycle of the year.

At the end of November a new cycle of festivals begins with Advent. It is especially important, therefore, that the seasonal table should make a right transition at this point. lf
you are lucky enough to have an open fire in your house, or if the weather allows a small camp fire in the garden, you will be able to celebrate the end of autumn with the Gnomes,
Bonfire and ‘wind down’, the seasonal table in a thoroughly enjoyable way.



Most people enjoy an occasional bonfire; it’s a good excuse to clear up garden rubbish, to roast potatoes and chestnuts, to stay out late and gaze at the stars, to dream into the flames and the flying sparks. lf you can’t manage a large bonfire, why not gather one or two small children and organise a bonfire party to celebrate the end of autumn with the gnomes?

Gnomes’ Bonfire Party

Prepare a small fire (either indoors or outdoors) and allow it to establish a good bed of hot embers. Seat all the Autumn Garden gnomes comfortably at a suitable
distance from the fire and then gather every pod, leaf, cone and other scrap from the Autumn Garden that the gnomes have not been able to use, and feed them into the fire
one by one. They will each burn in an individual way – somewith a bright flare, some with a crackle, some with a shower of golden sparks. (chestnuts and acorns that
have not been pierced with a knife may explode, so be sure the fire is guarded.)
Take time to enjoy each ,firework,/ but leave the pine cones until last if the conditions are right and they are undisturbed, they might turn to gold before your very eyesl.
This eventwill be mst successful if it can be kept small and intimate.

Hawthorn Press, UK


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