Check out the film! And keep the magic alive, everyone, wherever you are!
I have moved, yet these woods and this trail remain my home. I’ve known them since I was 17 years old. I’ve walked them for years. My father died nearly within sight of this trail, where I built a door once, on the spot he used to go into the trail from our first home in the neighborhood. It was the last place he lived before leaving this life. Where a simple door had to suffice until a more permanent monument can be arranged with the city of Overland Park, our longtime home. I know every inch of these woods, which trees have now, sadly, died. I mark their passing, as if they were friends. Please excuse this post, of a perspective that I don’t think many notice when viewing The Gnomist online, or seeing any related news stories about our lovely home. Certainly not in regards to news coverage, as local residents are rarely included. Here is my thank you to them all.
(From one of the most beautiful days of my life, when I walked for hours, miles through deep snow from my house to the woods. Early 2013.)
I know many people from both our neighborhood and the trail, people who’ve enjoyed this stretch of earth for years–some for decades, like myself. We remember when it was paved. We all have stories. We’ve all loved, lost, and lived here. We’re proud of our home and our lovely trail. I also know many who, after people made the original Firefly Forest project and associated film, The Gnomist, worked like mad to recreate some of the previous charm (though you don’t want to litter up a forest too terribly much, one thing the original project excelled at). We wanted to give others hope again, but we were fairly subtle. We didn’t have the time, the good health, or any help from outside sources. We sought no fame, no fortune for our deeds. Many of us merely cleaned up trash thrown by irresponsible trail goers, of which there is always a bit too much.
We remain, mostly, nameless. There was no coalition, no neighborhood meetings to do any of this, it was merely done by those of us who love these woods. It was done out of love, for our community, for our neighbors and trail goers, for those seeking hope and magic. We were called “good copycats” with a smirk or two, and we didn’t blink. We carried on, because neighborhood kids were asking, “Where will the fairies live NOW?” We did our best to answer that, for them. For us. That is all.
I’ve shared more than most, but I’ve never shared one thing here, and will continue not to, for the most part. This blog is about hope, and being inclusive to all who come to our local trail to seek solace, natural beauty, and the friends we have all become. This will always be my home, and this is where I have designated my ashes be scattered when I die. I’ll share that much, if that is what it needed to express how much this means to me. Not because of something done for a film, that was in place prior to 2013 when these doors appeared. I will simply express that it is an odd thing when people show interest in your favorite stretch of home for one reason, when there are so many more stories to be told. When they leave, and very much like the doors themselves, only stop by to peek in every so often and for only one reason. It is simply an odd sensation, because we are a good community, and a strong one.
We exist regardless of who is peeping in at the moment. I say this not to sound rude to anyone, or to belittle the Gnomist or the project it followed as it unfolded. I merely say it because it appears people often forget, at least the local media, that so many others with so many stories have added to this one (and only one) that they continue to cover. They continue to by just living their daily lives and doing their parts. Today, I am praising them, the anonymous people who answered the questions for the children (and a few adults), of “Where will the fairies live now?” We’re not museum worthy, or particularly newsworthy, but we didn’t give up. I don’t say this to malign anyone others, that is not my sentiment, but to express a deep love and gratitude to everyone in the place I’ve called home since 1991. Thank you, you all know who you are.
Please, if you have a chance, take the time to get out on the trail. Visit the many beautiful spots there, visit the Deanna Rose Farmstead. Meet the people, pick up the stray can of soda or beer and take it to the trash. See the beauty in all of it. I will certainly be returning, hopefully before the events I have delineated in my will. To see my friends, my woods, my home. Because this is a home for many of us. Thousands of us, actually.
Thank you for reading.
In other news, something about the trail I’m far too homesick to view at the moment. Someone’s peeping in the doors to home again.
Tough walk, but good. (I can’t have the only surgeries to fix my hip joints I can potentially have, but I’m good with it). But there’s some activity still! I was particularly happy to see flags for Gondor and Rohan represented. Forth, Eorlingas! (Tolkien reference…more Tolkien reference). My shabby box fell too far to ruin, so I merely left the piece with the Tolkien quote as a plaque of sorts. Home!
I know it’s your birthday today, you’d have been 71. We all miss you more that we can even express. I was going to come back to be there, wish you a happy birthday and work on making the world a better place. This is the note I’d leave there, if I could’ve been there. That we all love and miss you, you were the greatest Dad anyone ever could’ve had. You brightened the lives of everyone you ever met, made parts of Kansas City better for your presence, and will always be loved and missed.
I asked for hope for myself. But it’s not about me, down as I am at the moment. Hope can be shared online, too, there are plenty of people who can’t even get out of their homes, much less to places filled (or now not so much) filled with magical seeming fairy houses. We can all do this, and give to each other.
Last September I didn’t want to feel down, battling yet another joint tear in my hip, but mainly wanting to not be down about the anniversary of my Dad’s death (September 10th). His birthday followed shortly after. It will again this year. My well is rather dry of hope right now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try to give it….I just have to try virtually. And I know I’m not alone, like the many who turned out anonymously to create new things in the Firefly Forest.
Kindness and hope matter. Will you help spread messages of hope to the world? If you’re here, you’re already helping! If you’ve seen The Gnomist, you know the essence. Hope. Kindness. Healing. Spread some magic in the world tomorrow. Let those who are suffering, however much or however small, share in some hope and joy, help me create #MessagesOfHope.
You know you want to. If this diehard cynic can be writing and doing these things, I know you kind people out there can, too.
I was all set to fly back and walk the trail for my September build hope tradition! I was back to two hours of walking a day! Back to crutches. They don’t have paved wooded trails here, and I caught a tree root and set myself back. By quite a bit. Finally heading for scans.
If you’re reading this, please send some hope my way. I’ve lost all sense of it here after this accident. Can’t sleep through the pain, else I’d likely not be writing this.
This really reset my system, still having some problems but hope springs eternal. Making it through the woods and sitting at the top of my hill there was a highlight. I just had some last pictures to share, and am now walking 2+ miles where I’ve moved to. The terrain is less friendly, the weather hotter, the woods thicker and the streams cleaner. People think I must be nuts to love a strip of flood plain in Kansas, but home is home. And always will be.
Part of the beauty, and why I kept moving back (I did homework in the “brontosaurus tree”, an old sycamore, when I was 17 and my first brief time in that area, and the trail wasn’t even paved then) is that it’s not so blatant, you have to look. I’ve moved from San Francisco back to this area; there is something brilliant to me in having to discover and explore, not just have views everyone loves thrown at you. Finding beauty in a night sky closing in around some gnarled oak branches, or the sun setting through the trees, the red tailed hawks or the owls getting close enough to spot. Knowing the trail so well you can’t even lose where you are in the dark.
There is a stark beauty to this place, as well as an all encompassing one. The woods surround, the wildlife as well, knowing from years of moving back and forth that it’s now just a small strip of protected land (due to its status as a flood plain, mainly), makes it that much more precious. The snarled Kansas oaks, the sometimes twisted sycamores, the glimpse of a blue tailed skink sunning…..perhaps you must come to love it, perhaps it’s easier than that, I can’t say. And I say this living now just 2 miles from a rather famous hiking preserve, with woods and clean streams, thick with redolent pine scents, sure to turn every color in fall (my favorite woods favor yellows, occasional reds from vines, but never from maples….they aren’t native to forests there). It’s fair to look on, fine to walk there. I’m growing to like it, but I do well in the woods generally. Here’s where I’d throw in a bad Wizard of Oz joke, but I’m getting enough of those as it is, so enjoy the pics. I’ll share more of the more peculiar, non-fairy creation ones shortly.
Well, between two flights I ended up choosing one back to Kansas City, and drove straight to the Firefly Forest, my beautiful and beloved woods. I managed to even walk (limp? Lurch?) to both doors I’d made, so happy they’re still here! As night fell, I was greeted by lovely fireflies lighting my way, still thick through the woods. But I thought I’d share some new photos of the things I found today, as I nearly cried with joy at my brief stay getting to see my forever home, my favorite trail, and the additions of others who love it as well:
The white at the bottom are just a fungus that grow like plates almost, a natural feature. Sometimes they are broken off by people, however. Please pardon the overjoyed selfie as I walked in, I was quite overcome with happiness. I’ve been unbearably homesick. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I won’t miss a second of time I get to spend back here! I’m found again!
I have had to move, and am quite homesick. This has led to me not updating here as I’d have liked, and complications from surgery have made it a bit hard for me to walk. Anywhere, really. Otherwise, I’d post some lovely pictures, as I’ve moved to a very wooded place! (And all woods are magical, when you truly look….)
I have noticed a large amount of follows of late, and I feel remiss in not updating! So I will try to do so soon, but I also have noticed again many kind comments, though I do believe some are intended for Robyn Frampton, who created this original project in 2013/2014. I usually try to keep up with these and direct people to her sites, but it’s been a rough few months. I’m not much into throwing my face out there, so here’s me in The Gnomist. I was “The Watcher” for blog purposes, but that’s me. Up there. Do look for Robyn’s sites and Facebook page, I think she’s still making magic out there!
I tried to revive it all on a busted hip (reinjury), when I lost hope for myself. I figured others could use it more than I could, anyway. It seems to have worked, with the help of many others anonymously adding in, and I do hope they’re still at it!
Finally, I did have two more surgeries instead of traipsing around with pockets full of any and everything in the dark, and in the end had to move without saying goodbye to what little I’d built. My watch is ended, and it feels odd. My Dad’s spirit lives on in those woods. His door, the orange one, marked “G” for George, is very close to his former house. Others had placed two houses (thanks for the comment, though I’m sorry about the vandals!), and other took up the charge. It’s a good thing. It gives hope, a much needed commodity. Just as Robyn showed us all.
But I am the snarky (if not eternally cheerful and hopeful) person in the video who is NOT Robyn, I have always just blogged it all, until I briefly tried to help revive it. I did want to clarify that so that messages meant for her family are gotten to her instead of me! Apologies if any were missed in this moving across country business.
And again, thanks as always for reading, taking part, doing the Watcher’s jobs now that I’m gone. Please, just never stop. Never give up. Keep it up. So long as there is a glimmer of hope in you somewhere, you have more than you think you do. Enough hope, you’re truly wealthy. Never forget that.
I can only get so far at a month post op/4 months post op each side, but I did make it to one of my doors today, to find it propped back up having been torn off. I was able to repair it myself:
But the other, which took quite an effort for me to even get to, I had to give to some helpful neighbors for repair and re-installation. These vandals bent the hinges beyond the point of any forest/on site repair. Thankfully, plenty of people were out and willing to help, as the walk there this evening was a lot for me at this point. Thanks to them.
Thanks to all my Firefly Forester friends, and everyone helping to clean up. I did hear from others on the trail that the damage extended to many projects, other houses down the trail and some other doors. I can’t think of many doors beyond the one above until the new purple door and Little Owl, though they did say one was left undamaged. I’m hoping that Little Owl is safe and sound out there! But sincere regrets to all others out there building and being creative, only to have these hurtful vandals being needlessly destructive and hurtful. I remember this happening constantly to the original project, and didn’t know how on earth they could stand the vandalism, but it appears if you bring back the doors and houses, the vandals soon follow.
I will keep reporting on the woods right up to the moment I move, and will add anything else I can once I am gone. For now, fellow Watchers and Builders, keep extra watches, if you see anyone up to anything destructive, snap a picture or two. And please report to me how bad the rest of the damage was, I can only make it so far, but am doing my best to keep it all up to the very last!