What is a Gnome?
A gnome is not a gremlin, or a faerie or an elf. Though often gnomes are portrayed in an improper light. The average gnome is male or female and about ten to twenty inches in height. The height will vary according to the race of gnome that is encountered.
Most gnomes have a full round face with rosy red cheeks. They all wear a red or green pointed cap. It is thought by some that the point is sharp enough to deter a larger creature from accidentally stepping on the smaller unseen gnome. Traditionally female gnomes wear the green cap with their hair down or in braids until they become married at which point the hair will be bundled up in a scarf. The male gnome will never be seen without his red cap. They have even been spotted in the bathtub wearing their beloved red caps.
The gnome on average lives for four hundred years give or take a few decades. They have a rather sunny and mischievous disposition and it is said that a gnome doesn't know how to worry. All of this is believed to help them live to such a ripe old age. The gnome thoroughly enjoys caring for other things and creatures.
The farm gnome will watch over the farmer and the livestock, alerting the farmer to possible unseen danger and protecting livestock from poor treatment from said farmer. The forest gnome has a rapport with all of the creatures of the forest and will tend to or help any injured animal that is come across. The house gnome watches over those living in the house and will even help to babysit children in the home. There are many other races of gnome and all enjoy a similar responsibility.
It is said that the gnome has a human sized heart. Whether this is meant to imply the physical size of the gnome's heart or simply the fact that they care for other creatures much more than than their size would imply is unknown.
The Garden Gnomes Red Cap
The garden gnomes cap is a conspicuous item of clothing. Despite their tendency to wear earthy colors they maintain this bright red cap as a vital part of their daily gear and are nearly never seen without it.
Practically the cap is thought to serve as protection from above, whether it be from an animal or human foot, falling objects or simply a bright red beacon to warn off a hungry bird. Some believe it is precisely this gaudy object that helps to make the garden gnome and other gnome races invisible to the adult human. How this theory works out is a mystery, but perhaps it has to do with irony or opposites.
Again the male gnome will almost never be seen without his red cap. The few exceptions are when he is still very young and Hasn't received one, supposedly when he is in bed, when he is repairing the cap and in some cases a gnome will give up a cap to a threatening cat in order to escape.
The red cap is handmade to fit it's owners head perfectly and given to the male gnome when he is still young. From then on (if there are no cats or accidents) the gnome will keep this cap until his death.
The cap itself is solid throughout and made of dyed felt molded and sheared to its well-known shape. Since the gnome keeps this same cap his entire life the gnome periodically needs to repair the cap by adding new felt to it. During the time when he is without his cap the gnome will cover his head with a scarf.
The repairing of the red cap is a tedious job, but one that needs to be done and it has been well quoted of the gnome that, ' would rather be without his pants than his cap.'
The Gnome Transition
Your average garden gnome is a shy, mischievous sort of fellow. He or she will often make use of their camouflage abilities to appear invisible to the human eye. Of course his natural height is an aid to his ability to hide from curious humans, as the garden gnome rarely gets above fifteen inches in height.
There are many races of gnome, the garden gnome, the house gnome, the farm gnome, the forest gnome, etc, etc. All races of gnome live throughout the world and will have facial features characteristic of the humans indigenous to the area they happen to reside in. This doesn't mean that gnomes don't immigrate back and forth to other areas.
In fact many underground gnomes have been forced to migrate to the surface and begin new lives as farm gnomes or garden gnomes due to increased human mining of their traditional family lodes. Due to the gnome's smallish size and slightly antisocial behavior towards humans it is very easy to overlook the underground gnomes cities in the process of mining precious metals and unfortunately many an underground gnome city has been destroyed.
The forest gnome is experiencing a similar plight with increased clear cutting of forests across the world. Though many forest gnomes have been able to make a slightly less ardous transition to the occupation of garden gnome.
Typically your underground gnome will opt to become a house gnome or a farm gnome as they enjoy the responsibility in caring for and watching over 'precious' objects, such as livestock, or the household. While the forest gnome prefers caring for the natural surroundings, small animals and is a more mischievous sort than the underground gnome.
As is the case with many creatures including humans the gnomes have been adapting and making transitions for many thousands of years and only recently has the position of 'Garden Gnome' opened up due to the human tendency to keep a nice garden and lawn around their homes.
Nocturnal Habits of the Garden Gnome
The garden gnome is a more mischievous character than the house gnome or farm gnome as the garden gnome appears to have descended from the forest gnome. Forest gnomes are on their own time, so to speak and feel their responsibilities are towards the local wildlife more than humans. Often you will find the garden gnome hanging out in an old lush English-style garden, preferably one that is slightly overgrown to provide the gnome with a multitude of hiding places.
As the folklore goes the gnome is invisible to the adult human, but more likely they are just very good at hiding and at camouflage. They also prefer to do most of their work at night so that there is less chance of being seen.
The garden gnome can be either helpful or a prankster taking delight in both kinds of activity. At night the pranking garden gnome may spend his time moving objects in the garden around to confuse the gardener in the family. This can extend even to moving entire plants without so much as leaving a clod of dirt on the lawn as evidence. One morning a gardener might come out of her home and wonder why she thought the tomatoes were in the back yard, when obviously they've been in the front yard all along, haven't they? More often than not it is the younger garden gnome that engages in this sort of activity.
The more mature garden gnome feels an urge to express his beneficial nature when around hapless humans and at night will work to help them in their daily chores. It's been known that a milkmaid can wake up to find that all of her cows have already been milked and the butter already churned in the early morning. A garden gnome may help out in different ways by ensuring that the plants in the garden are all pruned and the gnome may go about tending to ill plants under the moonlight.