”Most gnomes listen to folk music, but every now and then you get one that likes heavy metal.” — Dictionary of Magical Creatures

Although an Ace Hardware has many things, it is not conducive to musical performances, thought Mr. Rumple as he packed up his lute for the last leg of his journey to Spring Hill Farm. His lute case had remained open for hours and no one had even bothered to put in a penny. The store, located at the corner of Charlotte and Main Streets in Nashville, was typical of most old hardware stores found everywhere. It had a little bit of this and a little bit of that and was filled with the slight scent of grass seed, fertilizer, and chain saw oil.

It was also a main transfer station for gnomes heading to destinations in the Midwest. But to simply be in Nashville, even if it was only a hardware store, was a delight for Mr. Rumple. If he strained his ears, which poked out quite prominently on either side of his head, he almost believed he could hear the echoes of Bill Monroe and his band playing “Blue Moon of Kentucky” or “Mule Skinner Blues.” It was Mr. Rumple’s great hope that some day, he would be inducted into the Gnome Music Songwriter’s Hall of Fame as Monroe was in 1971.

Mr. Rumple sighed contentedly. For a journeyman musician, he felt quite lucky to be headed to Spring Hill Farm. He had earned the honor by being second runner-up in the “Gnome Factor,” a highly competitive music talent show based out of Monmouth, Maine. I must say that many gnomes thought that Mr. Rumple should have placed first, but tradition ruled the day and a piece by a robust female gnome singing “Old Fashioned Garden,” a standard by Cole Porter, won the day.

The fact that all of the judges were garden gnomes undoubtedly had an influence on their decision. At least Mr. Rumple placed higher than the gnome singing the classic, “I Come to the Garden to Dig” sung in rap style.

As I first implied, the modest and mild mannered Mr. Rumple was not disappointed upon learning of his second place finish because, as second place finisher, he was entitled to the position of chief musician at Spring Hill Farm. True, the recording contract would have been nice, but since gnomes shun mp3 players or any other type of advanced technology to play music (other than their own fingers, lips, or feet for that matter), it was kind of pointless anyway.

Besides, it was rumored that both the grandpa and grandma of Spring Hill Farm had ears for music and Mr. Rumple could think of no better assignment than to be in a place filled with music, and it appeared that Spring Hill Farm certainly had that potential.

It was music to Mr. Rumple’s distinguished ears when he learned that he was to become the guardian of Ever Isaac Riddlebarger whenever Ever came to the farm to visit. Even though Ever had not yet been born, Ever was certainly destined to love music. Ever, of course, was to be one of the the six grandchildren that would often come to visit on Spring Hill Farm. Ever was to get his music honestly Mr. Rumple learned — no gnome tricks here!

Prior to any gnome’s involvement, Ever’s father, Bram was already well-known in gnome music circles. It was a fact that Bram’s group, “The Wailin’ Elroys” had toured Europe on several occasions where a large population of gnome artisans still lived. It was here that Bram’s music had first gained quite a reputation among gnomes for his music’s innovative country style.

Packed lute case in hand, Mr. Rumple gazed at his reflection in a shiny chrome-covered garden trowel hanging next to him on the shelf. As was his style, his clothing was in perfect harmony. His dusty gray boots were perfectly pointed at the end like the scroll of a cello and his dark olive-colored coat fit him as tightly as the drumhead on a timpani.

His burgundy hat fit him like the bell of a flugelhorn and his delicate fingers were perfect for fingering almost any instrument, but since his pinky finger was a little weak, they were especially nice for a bagpipe. If your pinky finger is weak like Mr. Rumple’s, you might also consider playing a bagpipe since pinky fingers are not needed at all to play this instrument.

Mr. Rumple had loved music for as long as he could remember, ever since his parents took him as a very young gnome to see “Peter and the Cat.” Yes, now we know this piece as “Peter and the Wolf” but it was actually written by a gnome before the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev copied and retitled it.

It was then and there that Rumple promised himself he would learn every instrument in the orchestra and, surprising everyone, he did so very quickly. He picked up the bagpipe one summer while visiting some Scottish relatives on an extended stay and then a bull-roarer while staying briefly in Australia.

Although Mr. Rumple was the most even-tempered of fellows, he did have his mischievous side. Perhaps he inherited it from his Irish relatives on his mother’s side. Although at first glance, one would never say that Mr. Rumple looked the least Irish, it was also true that if he spent too much time in the sun, his freckles would begin to show, just like Ever’s mother Sarah.

It was this mischievous side of him that caused his mother such consternation, in part because it was so unexpected. Like the time he used the bull-roarer in an inappropriate manner. I can assure you that Mr. Rumple was forced to “face the music” more than once! But those are stories left for some later date.

Mr. Rumple was pleased when his ride finally showed up. As he climbed into the box next to Miss Lottie, Mr. Mordecai, and Master Grimmbel, he was pleased to see that the driver (whom he later learned was Aunt Chris) had cranked up the radio to an old tune by Bill Monroe — “Banks of the Ohio” — exactly the direction in which he was headed!

This is Chapter 5 of Mrs. Zelda’s Journey, written and submitted by Jeff Crisler, a local author/columnist. The Logan Daily News will publish one chapter each week for local children to read or for parents to read to their children during the “stay-at-home” order. Have a great day and stay healthy.

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