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A Cape Cod Notebook can be heard every Tuesday morning at 8:45am and afternoon at 5:45pm.It's commentary on the unique people, wildlife, and environment of our coastal region.A Cape Cod Notebook commentators include:Robert Finch, a nature writer living in Wellfleet who created, 'A Cape Cod Notebook.' It won the 2006 New England Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Radio Writing.

Mysterious Gnomes on 6A

Craig McLachlan / unsplash

There are gnomes hiding on Route 6A.

And before you think I’m a little too far into the chardonnay, let me reassure you that I know they are not real.

They are 6-inch figurines. One is actually a one-handed leprechaun, but that seems like a technicality. Both are tucked into a large hole of a rotting tree on the edge of Route 6A. They are so close to the road, in fact, that it was likely a death-defying moment for the person who placed them there.

I”m not telling you exactly where they are because if word gets out, the next thing you know, they will be vandalized, or baptized by dogs, or overwhelmed by rubberneckers, which will make the traffic even worse than it is already. So, let’s just say they are on Route 6A somewhere between, oh, Sandwich and Orleans.

They are in a tree that I walk by two or three times a week but I just noticed them a couple of months ago. I saw a woman dart from a driveway and then reach around the tree with something in her hand. I wondered if it could be a secret assignation so, of course, I kept walking as if this sort of thing happened every day. But on the way back, I peered around the back side of the tree.

There was the gnome, and his bro, the leprechaun, tucked into the 2-foot high tree cavity as if they were lounging around the pool at the country club. The gnome seems to be adjusting his hat. The leprechaun is missing one hand but in the other holds a coin from the pot of gold next to him, raising the question, is this tree end of the rainbow?

I checked on them every few days and around Easter, someone added a few colored eggs and a ghostly bunny that lurked in the folds of bark in the back of the tree cavity. A few days after Easter, the bunny and the eggs were replaced by small stalks of fake forsythia. In the ensuing weeks, I began to eagerly anticipate the duo’s changing seasons of interior design. I checked for weeks and although the forsythia looks a little ratty, nothing has taken its place. 

Then I noticed a glint and realized there were tiny metallic American flags strung in the hole just in time for the 4th of July.  And the gnome had moved to the back of the hole tipped slightly as if he were sleeping in the summer shade.

To be honest, I think gnomes and leprechauns are a little disturbing. But now I feel protective of this duo. What could have happened to stop the momentum?  Has their caretaker been forced to abandon them? Will this just become another Cape mystery, like the graffiti on the walls of the West Barnstable train underpass?

I shy from the responsibility of caring for them, and worry that there is some grand scheme here to which I’m not privy. But it makes me sad to think they might be left to molder away. So we’ll see where things stand by fall. That will still give me time to knit them two little mufflers for winter.