It’s amazing what you can get on Amazon. Recently, when I was in Lanesboro Minnesota visiting my friend, I learned that the nearby town of Peterson, population 200, had taken up a collection and ordered an 8 ½-foot gnome to honor their Norwegian heritage (and for fun and to drum up business I imagine).

(Who knew you could get an 8 ½-foot gnome on Amazon?)

Well, the gnome got lost somehow en route, so Amazon apologized and sent them another one.

(How do you lose an 8 ½-foot gnome?)  

 Eventually, the lost one showed up, leaving Peterson with two 8 ½-foot gnomes. (Apparently Amazon thought it was too much trouble to ship one of them back.)

Of course my friend and I had to drive to Peterson to see them. One gnome sits in Peterson’s city park and the other next to a sign welcoming visitors to the town. Turns out 8 ½ feet isn’t as large as you think (though still impressive). See photo.

If gnomes are not your thing, we later discovered that the company that made these gnomes also sells (among many other items):

A Welsh dragon that is 6 ½ feet high and 9 feet long;

An African elephant that is 8 feet tall and 12 feet long;

A giraffe that is nearly 12 feet tall and 6 ½ feet long;

A charging triceratops that is 10 ½ feet high and 20 ½ feet long; and

A Brachiosaurus that is 15 ½ feet high and 18 feet long.

These huge items are probably intended for cities or companies, but I laugh, imagining one (or more!) of these creatures sitting in a suburban lawn, startling passersby, attracting neighborhood children, and perhaps bringing people together in interesting ways. Maybe they stand alongside the patio, observing and decorating neighborhood barbeques. Maybe they become like pets to children who play with them every day. Maybe they become the mascot of the local Neighborhood Watch group.

I cheer on any suburban homeowner who dares to add humor and eccentricity to their homestead.

Though I’m also a little disappointed. Of the hundreds of items made by this company, most of them are pretty standard issue (an amusing exception is a 6’ Bigfoot carrying, like a good daddy, three happy child-sized gnomes), just different sizes and unsurprising variations on customary themes. (Why are triceratops always charging?  Why do fairies always look like Barbie dolls with wings? Why does almost every garden frog, heron, angel, Buddha, look alike?)  Why aren’t there more odd creatures–a 10-foot hedgehog, say, or a plump, aging fairy, an enormous firefly, or a dragon with less ferocity and more personality? Lots of fantasy animals here, but none are truly eccentric.

Yet I suppose anything eccentric would get posted online, soon mass-produced, and eventually lose all eccentricity anyway.

Besides, aren’t all these statues really just a useless waste of natural resources, labor and money? Just more stuff?

Ok, probably so—silly, useless, wasteful. But the little girl in me still wants to play and dream, still chuckles imagining these huge creatures in odd places. An African elephant and a giraffe strolling beside a garden in Minnesota? An angry triceratops hurtling out from behind the garage?

Could you eat your grilled burgers under the gaze of a snarling dragon or a brachiosaurus? Maybe better stick to the smiling gnomes…

(By the way, these HUGE trolls are fun and a bit eccentric–though you probably don’t want to eat with them, either.)