Monday, June 21, 2010

The Farmer and the Scarecrow

Farmer Jones has an alter-ego that never stoops while it works in the garden. A leg will flap in the breeze and his hat blows off from time to time, but the flesh tones of the face and the bright red lips can make a person stop and stare for a moment just to make sure the figure in the garden really isn't the Farmer himself. The crows, unfortunately, are not fooled and the corn has had to be replanted for the third time this year. I have to wonder if it is possible to harvest corn in November?

We have never had to plant the corn this many times before. Is it the late spring or have the crows determined, if we don't do well with turkeys, how is our husbandry of the corn? I think the scarecrow idea arose from a convergence. I happened to see part of the Wizard of Oz on TV in a story about the munchkins, and I also noticed a scarecrow in my neighbor's garden. Now, why hadn't we thought of that?!

Most farms settle for scarecrows made of old clothes and maybe some straw. Annie took the opportunity to celebrate Father's Day with a gift to Farmer dad. How about a face for the scarecrow? With no balloons around, but a creative mind, she stuffed plastic bags inside each other until she had something resembling a rounded head. Layers of torn newspaper were bound with a flour paste for the head, the lips and the eyes. After a round with the hair dryer, the head was painted. The resulting mask had an uncanny humanness to it, set off by bright pink lips and blue eyes.

As Farmer Greg often works in the garden in summer, it looks as if he has a companion to keep him company. The arms might move in gesture with the wind. The face smiles over the pitifully picked over rows of corn that are weedy and only about 4 inches high. It's a good thing we have left over corn in the freezer from last year, but I will sorely miss the taste of fresh young corn right out of the garden. Our 10 rows are down to 3 and I can't quite tell yet if we are growing feed corn or that for human consumption. Hard to think we had so much corn last year we actually sold it to the co-op!

I sometimes wonder if the joke is on us. A scarecrow seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe farmers really only use them as garden art and nobody clued us in. Maybe the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz was really just Dorothy's neighbor down the road. The way I see it, Farmer Greg can always say he is working in the garden and no one could contradict him from afar. Is it a man or is it a scarecrow? Only the wind and the birds know.

Photos: top, The Alter-ego Scarecrow; bottom, the Farmer and the Scarecrow trompe l'oeil

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