“Not long ago, there was a small earthquake near Mt. Rainier, too small for humans to feel, but it sent a ripple through the underground Underplace where all the gnomes live.” Sounds like the beginning of a fairy-tale? Well, there is way more to it. Because all the little gnomes fled and only returned when it was safe for them to take up their mining activities to benefit the human internet again. But twenty went missing. Four of them have been found and adopted since Mid-May. They had been straying in the greater Gig Harbor area.
Wait, what a strange story does this columnist come up with today?! One of healthy fun, for sure. For these days, there is a treasure hunt going on in Gig Harbor, and it involves finding the rest of the missing gnomes. I talked to the Gnomebassador, a person who understands both, the worlds of the gnomes and human beings, but asked me to stay unnamed, as otherwise the mysticism of the quest might suffer.
The true story is lovely enough, though, as the Gnomebassador one day came across a gnome in Nature where a neighbor of his had placed it for the fun and enjoyment of the locals. Which inspired a load of gnome tales that were published on a website in Gig Harbor. A lady from the Art Commission on the Gig Harbor town council told the Gnomebassador about the town’s Creative Endeavors Grant, and that set off the idea to create a treasure hunt that benefitted anybody who needed some fun and safe distraction from Covid-depression and included local small businesses. The Gnomebassador finally found twenty of the latter who were enthusiastic to participate (thus the number of gnomes).
Ever since mid-May, people from Gig Harbor have been roaming their surroundings between Sunset Park, Kopachuk State Park, the Tacoma Narrows Park, and 360 Park to find one of the first four gnomes that were hidden on public grounds. The first finders got to keep the gnome, report their find to the website, and received their 20-dollar-voucher.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s not. First of all, the area is quite large. Second, you have to know the area to guess the clues that are given where to find the gnomes. For every single gnome the Gnombassador publishes an individual clue he received from Obor the Obscurator, who knows the gnomes’ whereabouts. If you are game, here is where you can find the quest and the wonderful story it comes with: https://www.gnomesaway.com/.
“It was quite a task to find businesses that will excite an eight-year-old winner as much as an eighty-year-old”, the Gnomebassador confided in me. “And everybody who finds a gnome has to report it to receive the voucher and a personal letter from the gnome.” The next treasure hunt “Gnomes away from Home” will start in early June. The entire activity will continue through the beginning of December. Every winner is requested to participate only once and let others have the chance to find a gnome, too.
Now, on a personal note – I think “Gnomes away from Home” is an amazing community activity that could spark similar concepts in other towns as well. It is a healthy way to explore and get to know the neighborhood better and to look more closely at what is around us. And it might spread the word about the participating small businesses as well; they are, of course, all listed on the website. Win-win for everybody! And am enchantingly fresh breath of mystery and fairy-tale in a world that needs it badly.