Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Friday, September 28, 2012

Scarecrow Sampler

Yes, it IS a crow, a scarecrow crow that is sitting in the garden of the historic Bianchini house in downtown Cambria, California.

"Shoo-hoo, shoo-hoo!
Away, birds, away,
Take a corn, and leave a corn,
And come
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.

Welcome to the Scarecrow Festival!

I love this pair.

And hovering over the entrance to Linn's Restaurant on Main St... 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.

Ahoy mateys!

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)
Kathy Tollenaere,  Yard is Green, the Grimy Hands Girls Club member random drawing winner

P.P.S. Husband Jeff here. Follow Sharon on Facebook for a daily glimpse of her book tour

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pumpkin, is your seat belt fastened?

Is your seatbelt fastened? Snug across your chest? Your sisters are tucked safely into the trunk and back seat. You're going to a new home. Believe me, we'll be a huge fan club for you. 

Autumn makes my heart sing. After my Cambria writing workshop, I take the winding road out along the creek to watch birds, gobble with the flocks of wild turkeys, and to soak in the beauty. This is a view of one of my favorite ranches. I visit their roadside stand every year for pumpkins, squash, gourds, avocados, and sunflowers. It is glorious. (Jeff says that since he met me we've never by-passed a roadside stand. True. ) Although the hillsides are a golden brown now, within the next few weeks, after the rains begin, they will turn a brilliant green. My great grandfather from Pennsylvania wrote that when the fields and hills of Pennsylvania would turn dull and brown, the California landscape would take on a green so bright it nearly glowed.

Freshly picked and smiling for the camera

Coins and cash accepted.

Rouge Vif d'Etampes pumpkins peep from under the withering vines. The Rouges are also called Cinderella's or Cinderella's Carriage.

Beth drives me out into the fields for a hands-on lesson in the fine art of harvesting perfect squash. Here she is finding just the right one for our long, old farm table. She is examining a 16 pound Jarrahdale. 

Beth introduced me to some of her favorites for cooking, for roasting seeds, and just for beauty. 

As we were driving out of the field, I asked Beth to stop the 'Gator so that I could photograph these two sunflowers standing near the pumpkins. They looked like a pair of angels bending their heads in prayer.

At home. Now I'll let the pumpkins sit out on the terrace to cure for a week to ten days.

They're splendid! Speckled Hound (heck, I would've bought it just because of the name), Jarrahdale, Tonda, Cinderella's, One Too Many, and Kakai sit out on the terrace. I can't pass by them without a friendly greeting. Do you talk to your pumpkins?

Beth's seeds came from Johnny's Selected Seeds. They have a fabulous array from which to choose.

One of my favorite ways to pass an autumn morning is to make a big pot of soup, which I'll simmer all day long. Here are some vegetables from our garden and from our local organic farm stand. 

This past week I had my best birthday ever. On Monday night, I went out to dinner with my family. Afterward I was allowed into NNICU to visit my grandson Luke. After thoroughly scrubbing and donning a smock, I got to cup my hand around Luke's tiny head. He now weighs two pounds and ten ounces. Still small, but fighting the good fight and surrounded by a great staff and loving family and friends. Go Luke!

Thanks for all your letters, birthday greetings, cards, and e-mails. I appreciate your thoughts and wishes. 

Jeff and I are preparing for our one month book tour. We'll begin in Redlands, California, at the A.K. Smiley Public Library on October 6th, then onto Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and...? We'll let you know. As we travel, Jeff will send out bulletins on Facebook and Twitter. He is getting adept at Twitpics, so you'll be able to see what is going on as you journey with us.

I am happy to offer a give-away of this wonderful book, Imagine Childhood (Roost Books, 2012) by Sarah Olmsted. I read and reviewed the book before it hit the press, and this is what I said on a back cover blurb:

"Reading Imagine Childhood was like finding a guidebook into the brilliant and vast galaxy of a child's mind. The book is brimful of projects and springboards that help your nurture a creative, sensitive, and wonder-filled child in the best possible way." 

Parents, teachers, aunts and uncles, teachers, scout leaders, this book is a MUST read for you. Good luck. Simply post a comment to this blog, and you will be eligible for the book drawing. I'll pull a number out of the "hat" next week.

Sending love across the miles,