Lea Wait, here, reporting on a growing trend …
According to some sources, farmers on every continent have been trying to scare birds away from their crops for over 3,000 years. Some cultures hung dead crows to warn others. Some designed statues. In the Middle Ages, and in the first American colonies, “bird scarers” were young boys, sometimes equipped with bells or gongs, whose job was to protect crops. Bounties were offered for dead crows, the birds that were the greatest menace. Germans in Pennsylvania built human-appearing straw people called “bootzamon,” or “bogeyman” … and the American scarecrow was born.
Scarecrows can also be scary to people. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Feathertop,” about a scarecrow in 17th century Salem created and brought to life by a witch in league with the Devil, gave me shivers when I first read it in junior high school.
Whether scary or not, today scarecrows have been revived as part of harvest festivals, or Halloween. I first saw families of scarecrows in yards and public spaces when I visited Vermont a few years ago, and they’ve now invaded Maine.
Today they cheer for the Red Sox, advertise local products, and occasionally are designed to scare people as well as crows. In today’s post, I’m sharing a few of the scarecrows I’ve seen just in the past week … Are they common in your neck of the woods, too? Or is this just a New England trend?