News? A Thank You To Nottingham, Overland Park Anonymous HopeBringers

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.

45811_334312193347865_1794939974_n-2

(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.

Last Pics From Brief Visit Home

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.


Hope springs eternal. I will see this place again, but until then, enjoy these other views of it. There has always been magic here. Magic and healing.

Vandals Hit The Firefly Forest…Again

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:

1e36afd8-8d19-4dff-b0df-fd0ab3587d93

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. 50e1bf60-a4ab-4800-8c43-887f0a249f34 d77d515e-42d1-4639-b96d-85af3ccad290

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Now I Must Say Goodbye to The Forest

I’d like to to thank everyone for visiting my blog here, and enjoying my digital scrapbook of all things related to these lovely woods, the Firefly Forest, and The Gnomist. Sadly, I’m between surgeries number 2 & 3 and my ability to get to the trail and make my way along it are now gone. I wish I could say goodbye, but….pathwoods

A sudden switch in jobs is causing a move across country, and as I won’t fully recover before moving, it is with great sadness that I must post that I will not likely even be able to see my trail again. I will continue to post what people send, perhaps find new woods to chronicle (of course I will, I’m rarely out of the woods except at the moment!) and post other old photos of the project from 2013 and 2014, but it’s not looking like I’ll get to stay here long enough to have the 3rd surgery and recover sufficiently to ever get back to this particular trail. Apologies for sounding pitiable, I am just very sad about it. If you’ve read this blog or seen The Gnomist from afar, you’ll understand the depth of that with full knowledge that I don’t post this lightly or for pity.

Farewell, my beloved woods. I take your acorns to foreign turf in hopes I can nurture a Kansas Oak far away. Thank you, everyone.