Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Scarecrow Through the Seasons

Snicker. The blog is named after him.

                   By Valerie L. Egar

     The scarecrow took its place in the center of the garden in the spring. Hoisted high above rows of vegetables and flowers, the scarecrow was meant to look like a person and frighten birds, rabbits and other animals away.

     Emily and her Dad made the scarecrow from old clothes before the garden was planted. She stuffed straw into a pair of blue jeans and used a red plaid shirt with long sleeves for the body and arms. Newspaper crumpled into an old pillow case made a good head. Emily drew a scary face on it with a marker. She propped a yellow baseball cap her brother never wore on its head and the scarecrow was finished.

     Through the spring and summer, the scarecrow guarded the garden. Rabbits noticed the scarecrow's legs, thought it was a person and scurried away. Crows and other birds took flight when its arms flapped back and forth in a breeze. 

   The scarecrow did its job well and the family harvested string beans and lettuce, tomatoes and squash. In the fall, vines yielded colorful gourds and bright orange pumpkins appeared in the pumpkin patch. 

    When the harvest was over and the last tomato plant pulled and composted, the scarecrow remained at the center of the garden. The holes in its jeans were bigger. Straw spilled from its arms and its shirt pocket was ripped. Its scary face had faded in the hot summer sun.

        "I'm taking it down tomorrow," Dad said.

        Emily thought the scarecrow looked forlorn in the garden all alone, but she was sad to see it go. "Can we keep it up a while longer?" she asked. "Until Halloween?"

        Dad laughed. "If you want, but it's a pretty sorry looking scarecrow!"

       Emily drew a new face on the scarecrow with her markers, making a smiling, happy face. She put one of the pumpkins from her pumpkin patch near it and hung several dried sunflowers on its body.

        Soon, sparrows and chickadees discovered the dried sunflowers and gobbled the seeds. Some of the seeds fell to the ground and a family of field mice found them. They made a winter's nest in the scarecrow's leg.

        For Halloween, Emily draped an old sheet over the scarecrow and put a few green glow sticks under the sheet. She knew she'd done a good job of making the scarecrow into a ghost when a car of teenagers drove by, stopped to look and sped away. 

       "OK, Halloween's over, time to take the scarecrow down," said Dad.

       "We can't," said Emily. "There's a nest of mice in the pants and squirrels hid acorns in the back pocket."

       Dad shrugged. "All right, but a new one goes up in the spring."

       "Of course," said Emily, who loved making scarecrows.

     Emily removed the sheet and put more treats for the birds and animals around the scarecrow.  At Thanksgiving, she put a pilgrim's hat on its head and hung ears of dried corn on it. For Christmas, she decorated it with garlands of popcorn and sprigs of holly berries. 

       When snow covered the scarecrow, Emily pressed two acorns she'd saved for eyes and another for the nose into the snow that covered its face to make it look like a snowman and built a snow woman and a snow dog next to it.  She sprinkled them with birdseed.

       When the spring rains came, Emily knew it was time to prepare for a new garden. She helped her father take the scarecrow down. The field mice had moved and the acorns the squirrels stashed were gone. She put the old straw in the compost heap and the raggedy clothes in the garbage. 

      "Thank you, old scarecrow," she said. "You helped feed and shelter the animals all winter." 

       Emily looked at the red  dress and silly straw hat Mom gave her for the new scarecrow and got ready to make a new one. 

Published in The Sunday Journal Tribune, September 27, 2015. Copyright 2015 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or distributed without permission from the author.





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