Mark Prophet talked to his students about the nature spirits, the elementals,
and how they relate to the divine plan of all mankind. His words are important
for all of us to understand.
I had never expected to see a gnome, although on trips into nearby woods
I often felt someone watching me. I’d spin around quickly, only
to see the grasses move. It seemed as though something had run away.
Other times I was sure I saw something move, but when I looked closely,
nothing was there.
A gardener friend told me that a gnome had suddenly appeared to him when
he was planting rosebushes. It was a tiny creature, wearing a red pointed
hat, who was carrying a miniature hoe, as though planning to help my friend
in his garden. Startled at the little man’s appearance, my friend
dropped the rosebush he was holding and yelled. From inside the house
his wife heard the commotion, but by the time she came out the little
gnome had disappeared. Fascinated by his tale, I dearly wanted to see
a gnome myself.
My story begins near my Victorian home in Livingston, Montana, a picturesque
town on the Yellowstone River surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, north
of Yellowstone Park. I moved here from Los Angeles in the late 1980s
to escape the crowds.
It’s easy to forget the busy pace of the twenty-first century when
I’m sitting on my 1906 front porch, where I’m surrounded by pines
and shrubs and hearing the sound of chirping birds. It has been a perfect retreat
for an artist like me.
Within walking distance are wilderness areas, and it is not uncommon to see a
moose cross the Yellowstone River or a bear wander into the nearby park. With
my love for nature, traveling deep into nearby forests can be a mystical experience
for me. The natural scene is so much a part of Montana, especially after winter
storms when the weather is beginning to warm up and I can be outdoors raking
pine needles under the pine trees in my yard.
One day I suddenly noticed a small mound of dirt and leaves moving ever
so slightly. I then heard what sounded like tiny chipmunks coming from
beneath it. Thinking the mound might even contain groundhogs and slowly
brushing away some leaves, I was astonished to see two tiny gnomes.
About six inches in height, they were waking
up in beds made from leaves and bark. Yawning and stretching with their eyes
closed, apparently they thought that a breeze had blown the leaves off the top
of their beds. When they saw a large human face leaning over them, their eyes
became big and round. Sensing they were about to run away, I
started to talk to them in a low calm voice, which I hoped would have a soothing
effect. I told them they need not worry about my hurting them. I told them that
I especially like gnomes and had been hoping that I would meet some.
Then I said, “Aren’t you cold and wouldn’t you like to come
in and sit by the fire?”
The one with the brown Mormon-style beard said his name was Sam. He, especially,
seemed to like the idea of getting out of the cold. So I said, “Would you
let me pick you up and take you into my house?” He nodded and urged his
friend Igor to come with him. They picked up their tiny bags, and I reached down
with my hands to let them climb over my fingers. One sat on my left hand and
the other on my right, ready for the trip.
The Gnomes Meet Christmas
Inside the house, they were stunned to see the great glittering Christmas
tree with all its brightly colored ornaments. Gingerbread men hung by
golden strands of tinsel, and twinkling lights reflected off metallic
geometric ornaments, which created a magical glow.
I then got the idea of taking two tiny rocking chair ornaments off my Christmas
tree. I put them on the floor and they were just the right size. The gnomes sat
down on them and I curled up in my own large stuffed arm chair, and in no time
at all we were lounging comfortably by the fire. In fact, they dozed off.
I had noticed that their two miniature suitcases were fashioned from pine bark
and tied together with dried grass. When they awoke, Sam rushed over to open
one of them and out popped two bright-colored jester hats. The gnomes put them
on and began to juggle some tiny balls. Then they began to tell me the whole
story of how they came to be in my front yard.
A Juggling Act Initiates a Friendship
It turns out that they had both been living in Anchorage, Alaska. Sam
was from Utah and Igor was originally from Siberia, Russia. Years before,
Igor had managed to climb onto the back of a bird that flew across the
Bering Strait to America. The bird had landed in a cornfield outside
Anchorage, and from there Igor made his way to the nearest forest to
find a gnome village.
One day as Igor was out walking, he climbed over a grassy knoll. He heard laughter
and not far beyond saw a juggler juggling three miniature pinecones in the middle
of a grove of trees. Delighted gnome children surrounded him and cheered as he
tossed the cones in elaborate patterns and then picked up a third and a fourth
cone from the ground, which he added to the swirling mass. Amazingly, none of
them dropped to the ground.
Igor watched in fascination as the gnome added twigs and small stones to his
act and flung them higher and higher into the air. Since juggling is especially
popular in Russia and many of Igor’s relatives had been jugglers, he was
particularly interested in getting to know this performer.
He waited until late in the afternoon when Sam had finally completed his act,
then walked over and introduced himself. They had so much in common, they talked
on and on for hours. Igor was able to understand Sam because he had learned English
as a small child from overhearing an old American woman talking to herself as
she tended her rose garden near his home in Siberia.
Sam and Igor wound up forming a juggling act and began to migrate from village
to village to perform in exchange for food and lodging. (Gnomes use a barter
system instead of money.)
A Desire for a Warmer Climate
One day late last summer, when Sam and Igor performed at a little people
carnival—a much simpler and earthier affair than our own—they
overheard some acrobats discuss their upcoming journey to Mexico for
the winter. As they described some of the sights and the sunny warm weather,
it brought up a deep desire in Sam’s and Igor’s hearts to
travel to a warmer climate to avoid the winter snow that would soon be
The common way for gnomes to travel long distances is on the backs of migrating
birds, but there’s no guarantee of exactly where the bird will finally
land. So the traveler is forced to have only a rough destination, like somewhere
in either Mexico or Central America.
Discussion of Travel Possibilities
Sam and Igor found themselves discussing the possibilities endlessly
as they traveled from village to village performing their act. They discussed
how far they might have to travel to find the right flock of migrating
birds and whether they should have an old village woman make them warm
clothes in exchange for their next juggling act.
They discussed the benefits and pitfalls of traveling on the backs of various
species of birds and which might be most suitable to take them and a small amount
of luggage to an ideal location. They wondered what it might be like to live
near a beach with palm trees, which neither had ever seen before, and whether
Mexican gnomes lived in the holes of saguaro cactus if there were no trees around.
They talked nonstop between juggling acts. They talked about every minute possibility
that might occur on their proposed journey until the days turned into weeks.
And by the time they got around to traveling on a migrating bird, all the birds
they could have found had already traveled south. And so it was that they began
a much slower journey south on the backs of deer, elk and occasionally a stray
A Memorable Journey to Montana
Although gnomes are very good at judging direction by the position of
the sun and stars, the one thing they had no control over was the winding
paths of the animals that conveyed them. After a time, they crossed over
into Canada, and after a longer journey they found themselves crossing
the American border, which put them in northern Montana.
They stopped at gnome villages on the way south and had a particularly memorable
visit with some river gnomes who lived in a thick grove of cottonwood trees on
some private property that was walled off and had few human visitors.
The river had a swift current, and in the summer some of the little people enjoyed
jumping on leaves and using them for surfboards between large rocks. However,
by now the river was beginning to freeze over in spots, and the surfers used
pieces of bark because all the leaves were dead.
The villagers were particularly cheerful, good-natured and generous, and for
an extra day’s juggling the two town seamstresses created some sheared
rabbit coats for Igor and Sam. They had left their coats behind, so they were
especially happy to now be protected from the increasingly bitter cold wind.
How Did They Find My Garden?
I suppose you might be wondering how they found their way to my garden.
As it happened, my neighbor had two cats which were missing for several
days. They had a close relationship for cats, being brother and sister,
and they always traveled exactly ten feet apart and one never went anywhere
without the other. Their names were Tildy and Jacob.
They happened to be wandering along the Yellowstone
River two miles from Livingston when the gnomes noticed them and climbed on their
backs, hoping they’d
travel south. Their fur was so warm, Sam and Igor each took off their sheared
rabbit coats and tossed them down to an old gnome couple beside the river who
were dressed in rags and looked like they were cold. Within a couple of days,
the cats were back at my neighbor’s, where the gnomes spotted the clump
of dirt and leaves in my front yard. And the rest you know except for the very
end of the story. ...