We gnomes are here to protect our home, Mother Earth.

Being human (sort of), we understand that the earth is meant to be used. But not to be overused. We try to protect it from overuse. Our motto is: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

For example, we gnomes can give many reasons not to build new roads.

The best reason is that you can already get from anywhere to anywhere else in America. Anyplace there's any reason to go to, there' already a road to it.

In fact, there are thousands of places that came to be just because there was already a road.

Another application of our "enough is enough" is that there are already enough places. Even too many.

When there are so many places that their edges overlap, and there's no land that isn't a place, that irks us gnomes, because we can't live in "places" where you ordinary humans live. We don't want you too close, and, believe me, you don't want gnomes too close. You think raccoons are bad? Just move in over gnomes!

Anyway, when all the little places run together at the edges and become huge places, you cross the limit from use to overuse. You humans are terrible about that.

You're also terrible about not knowing when you're over-roaded. As I said, if you can get there, you've got enough roads. For some reason, you human folks can't seem to grasp that fact, and the reason seems to be greed.

We gnomes don't feel greed. It's not in our nature. If we had greed, our motto wouldn't be "enough is enough."

It was your human greed that created the other main reason why you don't need any more roads:

You now have more roads than car and truck fuel to drive on them. At the rate you're going, you'll soon have roads with no vehicles on them. Because of greed, you will have used up in less than 200 years all the petroleum that it took Creator millions of years to make.

Think of that: exhausting a whole world resource in a couple of centuries! That shows you the awful power of greed.

There's a legend we gnomes like to tell, as a cautionary tale:

Once there was a race of humans called the Tenderfeet. Everywhere they went, they minced along, saying, "Ouch! Ouch!" So their king got a great idea: He would cover all the hard, pebbly, prickly land of his kingdom with leather -- the whole country was soon paved with leather, and the Tenderfeet could walk anywhere without crying, "Ouch!"

But of course so much leather was required that all the animals were killed and skinned. No crops would grow under the leather, and so, all the food had to be imported from other kingdoms. The descendants of the Tenderfeet in that kingdom eventually became Americans.

Next door was another kingdom with prickly, flinty ground and tenderfooted people. The king of that place got another idea: He put leather just on the feet of his people, and thus invented shoes. This plan didn't use nearly as many animals, and the land could grow crops. And his people didn't have to cry "Ouch!" when they walked, either.

After that wise king had paved just the feet of his people, he said, "Enough is enough."

We gnomes descended from his people.

Gnome de Plume can be reached at .