[a short story by Sha’Tara]
I’m thinking about those scarecrows alone out there in the fields of yore, abandoned to the extremes of winter storms, half buried under snow drifts, no birds to speak to, to speak of. Must be pretty lonely, huh?
Yes, it is quite lonely. I happen to be one of them. The one thinking of scarecrows also.
The last wagon with the last team, wallowing under a heavy load of straw rolled past some weeks ago now. It didn’t stop to pick me up. I don’t blame it. Or the horses for not stopping. It was late, getting dark and horses cold and hungry. As were the people, the makers, the creators, those strange creatures that try to make us look like them so we’d be very, very scary. As long as the illusion lasts, we are indeed scary individuals, all dressed in their hand-me-downs, pretending to wave our arms. Sometimes they even nail a stick to our arms so we look like we have a gun.
It’s full winter now. My second in this field. I have lots of time to think, alone in the snow, my feet frozen into the ground, icicles dangling from my golden straw fingertips.
Do scarecrows dream? When I was young, my outfits not quite so ratty, my head in better shape, I could actually dream. I was told in a dream that winter was a great time to meditate on my purpose in life, that I’d be too busy come spring and summer to do much thinking. My problem is, having a head stuffed with old newspapers and assorted rags that my information and ability to think is somewhat straitened. You try it, you’ll see. Still I was able to record or remember that dream.
Thinking? Yes, I do try. What else is there to do? I don’t feel very much of anything. The scenery doesn’t change and I can’t turn my head. I’m not sure that what I hear I actually hear. Could be something I imagine. I’ve never managed smell though I know about it. A young bald eagle sat on my shoulder once and he was repeating some lessons he was learning. “Soar, stare down, smell, dive, cling, kill, tear into.” Eagle talk, I suppose. I’m just glad I don’t smell like anything so he didn’t use me for practice.
Here I stand, my left sleeve from an old faded red shirt torn open to the elbow, waving in a stiff northern breeze, my brown fedora hat with the hole in the top partially covering my eyes, my coat slipped off the left shoulder and my right arm dislocated and dangling at right angles down from its elbow. I guess I make a pathetic figure, unless you’re also a scarecrow but I’d be willing to bet if I had anything to bet with that you’re not. You’re probably one of our creators in fact. I could say a thing or two about your skills at creativity but I don’t have that authority. I’ll just think it.
The sky is darkening again. There’s going to be another blizzard tonight, I can tell, if I had anyone to tell to. The cold has granulated the snow and its hisses by as if it were angry at something. Maybe it is. I don’t see the point of getting angry, everything dies in the end; the snow melts, however much it hardens itself in little ice balls and my skeleton of cheap reject wood will rot. They might burn me. That’s a thought. It’s so cold right now that burning doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. I didn’t know until now that bad ideas made any sound. I’m learning something new every day, even when I’m just thinking.
Day after the blizzard. There’s more snow in the field, all in shiny icy waves where the wind cleared the crust and the low winter sun strikes its surface. It’s pretty, even if I’ve seen this a hundred or more times. The wind has gone south, where it seemed so intent on going last night. I hope it finds what it was looking for, or chasing after. I don’t speak wind so when I asked it didn’t answer. It just moaned around my body and tried to tear my clothes off. That’s the wind for you. No sense of decency. But I feel pretty proud of myself, I hung on and only lost one suspender button. My coveralls are still holding up.
Hey, how about that. I distinctly hear some chirping to my right. Closer now. I feel a presence or more than one on my shoulder. Snow buntings. Hi little guys, I try to say to them, I’m so glad you are back this year. Are you OK? Finding enough to eat under the hedgerows? You aren’t cold, are you? If you are, you can huddle under my hat for a while. I’d like to hear about your adventures in other fields, if you’ve met any of my folks? I rattle on like this and I think, as much as I can think, that they hear me because they huddle under my hat and go to sleep.
Now I remember. I was supposed to meditate on my purpose in life. Only I don’t know what meditating involves. I think it’s beyond me. Anyway, my purpose, that’s simple enough. In summer, pretend to scare away the crows. Not that I want to scare anything away, quite the opposite, but that’s what they made me for. In winter, shelter little birds. Otherwise watch, listen, observe and store it up in those old newspapers. Who knows but someone who knows how to read may take my head apart some day, read through those old newspapers and learn something from me.
That’s an interesting thought, don’t you think? I mean, if there was a you and you were here to listen to me and think with me. I’ll just pretend. Pretending is OK when you’re completely happy and fulfilled.
Sincerely, Racso the scarecrow from the eastern half section. Sorry, I don’t have any other address.