It’s July and summer is in full swing. Thoughts turn to beach blankets and BBQs. But for me, it is never too soon to start thinking about Christmas. Not because I am wishing the summer away–anyone who knows me knows that summer is my favorite time of year, even here in LA. While others wilt in the heat, I go into high gear for two reasons: 1) Papier-mâché dries faster 2) I work at a glacially slow pace. Although I don’t have hard evidence to back it up, I suspect that the polar icecaps are receding at a more rapid rate.
Garden Gnomes and Ice Cream Cones
Ever since the movie Amelie, I’ve had a bit of thing for garden gnomes. Oddly enough, I don’t own any gnomes, except for one that was given to me as a joke after I had started painting pictures of them. My fascination with them is somewhat surreal: hence, Garden Gnome with Ice Cream Cone and Gnome Alaska.
I haven’t really thought about them much since then. But, whether it was working outside in the 100 degree heat, or the fact that Disney studios is just down the road (garden gnomes bear a striking resemblance to the seven dwarves), my mind turned back to those pointy red hats. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be fun to make Gnome Alaska as a Christmas ornament”? I go through this cycle every year: concepting and sculpting the first couple of Christmas ornaments *is* fun; then I start to go a little batty. To add to the whole surreal atmosphere, I am serenaded every day by two ice cream trucks: one that plays Turkey in Straw over and over again, and another that plays a whole litany of songs including:
- Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
- Oh Susannah
- Happy Birthday
- Battle Hymn of the Republic
- Mary Had a Little Lamb
- Adeste Fideles
- There Was an Old Man Named Michael Finnegan
- When the Saints Come Marching In
- Silent Night
- Jingle Bells
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- And, thank you Mark-five-time-Jeopardy-Champion for solving this mystery for me: Love is Blue, which you can hear in English sung by Andy Williams and in French sung by his wife Claudine Longet. Or you can just wait for the ice cream truck to roll around again.
I can’t get the last song out of my head. I suppose this is a cut above the last two trucks that trolled the neighborhood. One did not play music at all. Instead, it made a sound like a depth charge. I ran down the street to find the source, which turned out to be a shabby vehicle with crudely painted Spongebob Squarepants and Disney characters on it. To be honest, I’m not really sure what they were selling or whom they were trying to attract. Even more baffling was the truck that blared the first few bars of the theme from The Godfather. I kid you not. I have no idea if this truck sold ice cream to children because I was cowering under the living room couch.
So here I am, outside sculpting globes and gnomes with “Blue, Blue, My World is Blue” running in an endless loop in my head. The flock of green parrots is back squawking in the high trees. My neighbor claims they are descended from escapees of a long-defunct Busch Gardens. Maybe she is right, or maybe we are both just going mad.