Yes, it IS a crow, a scarecrow crow that is sitting in the garden of the historic Bianchini house in downtown Cambria, California.
Away, birds, away,
Take a corn, and leave a corn,
No more today."
Ever since childhood I have loved autumn and the crowds of scarecrows that spring up like mushrooms after a soaking rain. At first I believed that scarecrows were a Yankee invention, but I've found, through research, that they've been around for 3,000 years.
Human "scarecrows" or bird-shooers, who watched over seedlings and crops, were shown in hieroglyphics and murals in the ancient Egyptian tomb of Nakht.
Historians believe that the first man made scarecrows were used in the fields of wheat cultivated along the Nile River. Hundreds of years later, the Japanese began their tradition of building tall bamboo kakashi, outfitted in rags, twigs, and clattering fish bones. The Kakashi loomed over flooded fields of rice and struck terror in the hearts of crows and unwary travelers.
Jack Larkin, Director of Research and Collections at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, said that a 19th century traveler's account told of "figures constructed of a jumble of old clothes, piled up on a stick and wearing a hat."
In the American Southwest, native American Zuni peopled their cornfileds with groups of frightening, life-sized figures called "the watchers of the corn sprouts." They were made of poles and branches, with faces of rawhide, long tresses of horse hair, corn husk rounds for eyes, teeth of cornstalk strips, and long, red leather tongues. Feathers, twigs, ropes, rags, and hide strips dangled from the "watchers" and whirled and twirled in the winds.
Throughout the world, the tradition of including a scarecrow in the garden continues and thrives. Now isn't it time for YOU to build your own?
Slow down and take your time meandering through my old hometown of Cambria Pines by the Sea. Their Scarecrow Festival is legendary. They're expecting to show off about 300 of them this year. Take your kids for a ride and visit this sweet town, and while you're at it, be sure to snap some photos of them with some of the scarecrows.
And hovering over the entrance to Linn's Restaurant on Main St...
...is this winsome witch with skinny legs.
Outside the Ball and Skein on Main Street this well clad gal in felted slippers greets visitors.
Next door a shopping scarecrow and tired husband wait for Wildwood to open.
"Artist Gone Wild" at Gallerie Lulu on Main St.
On Bridge Street, outside the picket fence in front of the Tea Cozy, two soldiers stand guard.
In the tradition of the Germans and Amish, it isn't uncommon to find both a male (Bootzaman) and female (Bootzafrau) scarecrow standing guard over fields and orchards.
Amelia, we were wondering where you'd gone. You'll find her in front of the Bianchini house on Burton Drive.
Charles the Grape.
Mom and her children, and oh, don't forget her piggy, too.
At the Bianchini House, this skinny gal in the Pippi Longstocking socks greets you in the garden.
Willie Nelson strums a tune.
Outside of Seekers Glass Gallery, Dale Chihuly strikes a pose.
Lost tourists consult their map.
The sky above a pumpkin-headed scarecrow churns with turkey vultures. I could NOT have asked for a more wonderful and appropriate image.
The scarecrow in front of Robin's restaurant, sort of a Carmen Miranda image.
This well clad scarecrow greets customers of The Porte House on Center Street (just down from Heart's Ease).
Outside The Garden Shed on Main Street, you'll be greeted by this gorgeous lady in pink...
...or this chef...
...or this plump Hippie Mama...
...or my friend Dino, who can be found at Lily's Coffee on most mornings.
Outside the Bluebird Motel on Main Street
Oops, looks like Little Red Riding Hood met an awful fate.
Indigo Moon's chef!
A newly married couple wait for a bus. Their luggage (you can see it between the legs of the passerby) says "Just married."
Some scarecrows just have to keep working.
Dare ye enter the Emerald City?
Glinda, the Good Witch. One of my favorite characters.
The Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, and a bona fide scarecrow.
Ok, don't tell me that I am irreverent. This was done by the folks at Santa Rosa Catholic Church.
My favorites! The dancing driftwood girls scarecrows. Imagine that, and they're in front of the bank!
Can you see the dog flying behind her on the leash?
Two lighthouse keepers cleaning and tending the old Piedras Blancas Fresnel light lens.
All gussied up and nowhere to go!
A driftwood and shells scarecrow waves outside of Home Arts on Main Street.
A fitting scarecrow on Moonstone Beach at the entry to the Moonstone Bar and Grill.
A lone sportsman stands in the bocce ball court on Main Street.
And one of my favorites-this group of ladies playing mahjong in front of the Joslyn Center on Main St.
Now we're packing our bags and props and getting ready to take to the roads of America for my book tour. We'll begin at the A.K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands, where I'll give a talk, and the library will give 200 of My First Bird Book and Bird Feeder to the first 200 participants. I look forward to signing books, both old copies and new, bookplates, and talking to all of you who attend.
Then, it is onto JetBlue and the rest of our journey. Check my schedule as things are being added a few times a week.
Love across the miles,
P.S. The WINNERS of the three copies of Imagine Childhood are:
Lori Ann Graham, Lori Times Five
dc, an anonymous commenter (we need a name and address for shipping. It will be kept confidential)
P.P.S. Husband Jeff here. Follow Sharon on Facebook for a daily glimpse of her book tour.