Staff and residents at St. Anne’s made our scarecrow, Henry, again Tuesday afternoon. He has been coming to visit every October for the past several years. He sits in our entrance to meet those who pass by. Actually, people have been known to say “hello” when they first see him, thinking he’s real.
Scarecrows, according to one article, have had their place in human society for centuries. Even back in ancient Rome and Greece, people would put wooden figures out to watch over their fields. Scarecrows, or variations thereof, actually cross many cultures. In fact, in Japan, rice field protectors were made of oily material and fish bones, another source said. The first record of scarecrows comes from Ancient Egypt, where wheat fields near the Nile were protected from quail by scarecrows.
European farmers, during the middle ages, followed this well-established tradition. Some actually believed that scarecrows had special powers and actually thought they would protect crops from diseases. A scarecrow ould consist of animal skulls (as in Italy) or a wooden witch (in Germany). In Brittan, scarecrows were actually alive, since boys were given the job of patrolling the wheat fields with bags of stones, according to this same source.
Here, in our own land, the native people used “bird scarers” as well, but these were mostly real men. Some would stand on wooden platforms, howling and shouting at approaching crows and woodchucks. Other means of protection were also employed, such as poisoning crows so that their wild flying deterred others and placing poles around the fields.
Scarecrows had their place in the history of the American Colonies as well. Later immigrants to America also shared their traditions. During the Great Depression, scarecrows became especially popular.
Although we at St. Anne’s aren’t seeking protection from harm due to birds, or crows in particular, we enjoy having our resident of the month with us this time of year. Some staff, however, have commented on being startled by him. Sr. Christina, her mother (visiting from Minnesota), and a few residents put him together one afternoon this past week.
If you stop by to visit us, you might want to say hello to our scarecrow, Henry, as well. Don’t expect any response though, as he is rather bashful and not accustomed to conversation.