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.