If only they had a brain…
Your garden suddenly becomes an extraordinary place, welcoming guests to a holiday party in a harvest-time décor, the kitchen smelling of scarecrow cookies. And it’s all about “him”, doing his solitary job! Made of all-natural materials, straw, wire, twine, old clothes, a crazy hat, all together, he is creating that very special autumn atmosphere. Yes of course, it is the unique, handcrafted, artistic, exciting scarecrow on display. Giving the birds a place to perch probably.Standing strong and tall, fabulous and funny, sweet and maybe a bit scary … that one of a kind creation, just out of an old burlap bag and a bandana. Isn’t he hauntingly beautiful, happy, funny innovative, that legendary man of hay? Everywhere heads will turn, he’s sure to attract attention of people wandering through an orchard. Just seeing that arty sculpture, invites to “scarecrow gazing, to be continued by scarecrows greeting you along the fields.
Design contests are held to be the most creative one. And everybody can join in, as there is no right or wrong way to make a scarecrow. Want some festive outdoor decoration, a scarecrow is the perfect project. By the way, don’t forget to give him a touch of red, as crows, black birds and starlings, are sensitive to it.
Who can resist this fall-inspired craft, one has to set up a monument to autumn, featuring autumnal items. This garden guard is a decoy, a mannequin with only one specific task to perform: to frighten or discourage the many feathered freeloaders, a familiar sight in farming areas. He offers an inexpensive and environmentally acceptable deterrent against pesky predators. Not at all like the LP- gas cannons or the modern digital scarecrows that emit ultrasonic waves nowadays! Although to be honest, history wasn’t always an environmental friendly example: New York and its Seneca Indians, poisoned corn seeds with herbs to make the crows fly crazily around the fields and scare away everything else.
Both creations you see in this post are from our local retired mechanic, his mechanical, modern version of scarecrows:
He on the other hand, frightens without doing physical harm. An ephemeral, just as the snowman, they don’t last long. His story is one of loyalty and trust, protecting the farm on the hit list from harm and keeping evil spirits away. Defending the land against the territorial nature of the birds that causes them to return to the same location on a nightly basis. Crazy though, as crows and their cousins never forget a face and will notice the bogeyman, hodmedod, murmet, tattie bogle or bodach-rocais, kaktadua, straska, pugalo however he is called on this earth globe, hasn’t moved…
They used to be burned after the harvest in celebration, their ashes returning nutrients of potassium and nitrogen to the soil.
Wooden frames used to protect the wheat fields along the River Nile from flocks of quail, the Greek used the images of Priapus (son of Dionysus and Aphrodite), ugly as hell (when he played in the vineyards no bird would come along). Romans, copycats from the Greeks in this matter, where on the other hand the ones that introduced them to France and other European countries. Japanese farmers used the kakashis (something smelling badly), old rags, meat, or fish bones from bamboo poles and set the sticks on fire. Later on people-like scarecrows appeared. In the Middle Ages skulls were added, wooden witches appeared.
But in Medieval Britain, scarecrows were little boys known as “bird shooers”, protecting the wheat fields, first throwing stones, later using clappers. The Great Plague killed enough to replace them by the scarecrows we now know and the mines lured the others with better paid jobs, later on. Even my English husband said: “Really?”. The Pilgrims used at least grown ups to ware of birds or wolves. No wonder it’s a season of scary things and fearful nights…
What scares you this time of year? Have you ever made your own whimsical scarecrow, do you still see them around in the fields?
This brave autumn character reminds me of a childhood rhyme I’ve never forgotten:
“I’m a brave, brave mouse
I go marching through the house
And I’m not afraid of anything!
For danger I’m prepared
And I’m never, never scared.”