Assorted scarecrows soon will be visible around the Town on the Sound.
There’s something special about these mostly straw-bodied inhabitants that symbolize the idea that it’s definitely Fall.
These denizens of agricultural times made their first appearance when Egyptians used the figures to protect their Nile River-area wheat fields. Egyptian farmers placed net-covered wooden frames in their fields to trap quails, which they then harvested for their dinners.
Greek Farmers incorporated Priapus, the mythological son of Dionysus and Aphrodite, to scare birds away from vineyards to ensure good harvests.
The bird scarer idea caught on:
In Germany, scarecrows were wooden and shaped to resemble witches. Witch scarecrows were supposed to hasten the coming of spring.
In medieval Britain, young boys and girls were used as “live” scarecrows or “bird scarers.” They patrolled the fields of crops and scared away birds by waving their arms or throwing stones. In later times, farmers stuffed sacks of straw, made faces of gourds, and leaned the straw man against pole to scare away birds.
In the U. S. immigrant German farmers made human-looking scarecrows called “bootzamon,” a name later changed to “bogeyman.” They were dressed in old clothes with large red handkerchiefs tied around their necks.
Native Americans used scarecrows or bird scarers, mostly adult men, to do the job. Creek Indian families moved into huts in their cornfields to protect their crops during the growing season. Zuni children held contests to see who could make the scariest scarecrow.
Pilgrim families took turns guarding their fields against birds and animals, but as Americans expanded west they invented new kinds of nonhuman scarecrows like wooden and straw figures.
During the Great Depression, scarecrows could be found all across America, but in the agri-business era after World War II, farmers switched to sprays or dusted crops with chemicals like DDT until scientists discovered their harmful effects. To substitute for chemicals, some farmers built scarecrows like whirligigs that revolved like windmills to scare away the birds.
The Scarecrow is popular in films and movies, such as the Scarecrow from “Wizard of Oz” story—all he wanted was a brain.
Steilacoom’s renowned autumn icon is “Scarecrow Sue” that stands next to the Bair Store.
Make time during October to view this year’s crop of scarecrows.Print This Post