lepro.jpg.728x520_q85

By far the most popular post on Ferrebeekeeper involves leprechauns.   Because of this fact, the sporadic generic tips I receive from WordPress usually include advice like “maybe you should consider writing more about this topic.”  This involves a conundrum, because leprechauns are totally made up.   What else is there to be said about the little green fairy-folk without reviewing weird B movies or randomly posting leprechaun tattoos?

Mill Ends Park (with human being added for scale)

Mill Ends Park (with human being added for scale)

Fortunately today’s news has come to my aid.  Apparently the world’s smallest park, Mill Ends Park, in Portland, Oregon was victimized by tree-rustlers who stole 100% of the park’s forest.  This seems like grim news, but Mill Ends Park is very small indeed: the entire (perfectly circular) park measures 2 feet in diameter.  Because of its dinky 452 square inch area, Mill Ends Park only contained one small tree.  A drunkard might have fallen on it (the park is located on a traffic island in the midst of a busy intersection) or pranksters might have taken it away to a container garden.  Maybe a German industrialist now has the little tree in some weird freaky terrarium…

Mill Ends Park with Dick Fagan

Mill Ends Park with Dick Fagan

Anyway, you are probably wondering why Portland has a park which is smaller than a large pizza and what exactly this has to do with imaginary fairy cobblers from Ireland.  It turns out that Mill Ends Park was the literary confabulation of journalist Dick Fagan.  After returning from World War II, Fagan began writing a blog (except they were called “newspaper columns” back then, and people were actually paid for them).  In 1948, the city of Portland had dug a hole to install a street light on the median of SW Naito Parkway, but due to the exigencies of the world, the light never materialized.  Fagan became obsessed with the pathetic little mud pit and began planting flowers in it and rhapsodizing about fantasy beings who lived there (whom only he could see).   Fagan’s story of the park’s creation is a classic leprechaun tale.  While Fagan was writing in his office, he saw a leprechaun, Scott O’Toole, digging the original hole (presumably to bury treasure or access a burial mound or accomplish some such leprechaun errand).  Fagan ran out of the building and apprehended the little man and thus earned a wish.  As mentioned, Fagan was a writer, so obviously gold was not his prime motivation.  He (Fagan) asked the leprechaun (Scott O’Toole) to be granted his very own park.  Since the journalist failed to specify the size of the park, the leprechaun granted him the tiny hole.

Documentary Photo of the Park's Founding (AP)

Documentary Photo of the Park’s Founding (AP)

Fagan continued to write about the “park” and its resident leprechaun colony for the next two decades using it as a metaphor for various urban issues or just as a convenient frippery when he couldn’t think of anything to write about (a purpose which the park still serves for contemporary writers).  In 1976, the city posthumously honored the writer by officially making the tiny space a city park.  The little park frequently features in various frivolous japes such as protests by pipe-cleaner people, the delivery of a post-it sized Ferris wheel by a full-sized crane, and overblown marching band festivities out of scale with the microcosm.

Mill Ends Park at the height of the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Mill Ends Park at the height of the Occupy Wall Street Movement

True to form, the Portland Park Department was appalled at the recent deforestation and sprang into action by planting a Douglas fir sapling in Mill End Park.  Douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii) are the second tallest conifers on Earth, and grow to a whopping  60–75 meters (200–246 ft) in height so it is unclear how this situation will play out over time, but presumably Patrick O’Toole and his extended Irish American family will be on hand to ensure that everything turns out OK.

A Douglas Fir with human for scale (photographed by zoopenguinwatcher)

A Douglas Fir with human for scale (photographed by zoopenguinwatcher)