Simon was just another scarecrow... or was he?
|My first sight of him was in a most unlikely place for a scarecrow — a Jumble Sale in an old country church hall, full of every imaginable item from fresh vegetables, jams and preserves, to every creation dedicated crafters can make, and a huge array of bric-à-brac. I rounded a corner and there he was. |
Rubbing my eyes in disbelief, I looked again. The Strawman from ‘The Wizard of Oz’? NO-o-o, every part of this fellow was woollen—each colourful piece of him knitted! He wore a bright orange carrot for his nose and his golden pretend straw hair poked out every which way from under his battered hat, brim turned up, authentic country yokel style. And woollen ‘straw’ peeked out the ends of his sleeves, and his pants.
His grin made him appear to be laughing at my doubting he was a hero who walked the Yellow Brick road and confronted the mighty Wizard — and now can do anything he set his mind to. That’s what he wanted everyone to believe. But when I looked deep into his eyes, they revealed a different story. He SO wanted to come home with me, because under all that ‘Straw Man’ bravado, he was a most frightful chicken-heart. In time, I would learn the severe and frightening dangers awaiting a fellow of his particular makeup; his fear of electricity, fire, and even compost heaps, that may heat SO much, anything flammable nearby can ignite. A rare happening! My straw man gets scared even at the mention of those horrific burn-type things, hiding his fears behind a cheerful face.
I called him Simon Scarecrow, so he had his very own name to go with his very own new life; desperately needed I discovered, when he told me, with a sob in his voice, of the loneliness and bleak misery of dark and stormy nights... His smile slipped to a dangerous level at the ends, making us both SO thankful that wide grin is secured with tight stitches, so it cannot slide off his face. More horror would unfold in his tale of woe, when he spoke of nights he’d have welcomed EVEN the Crow Man, he’d been SO sad and lonely.
I knew nothing about Crow Man until Simon’s tales of his fearful ‘bad spirit’ visits when least expected. He checks on scarecrows everywhere, able to appear on one side of the world or the other, like Father Christmas. But Crow Man has no presents or love to share. If a scarecrow is NOT up to the job and busy at the ‘scaring’ business, this Big Boss is likely to establish a supreme ‘pecking order’. Simon went all shuddery, remembering the rumour Crow Man is hundreds of years old (there’s no proof — it’s something Simon’s grown up just knowing). Crow Man might be pretending... or not. He’s a terrible liar. Simon said he always knows when that sorcerer is near, because he ‘senses a strange tickle deep inside his head’ — always on the same side the Crow Man is standing, glowering fiercely.
Simon changed the subject, talking instead about times when birds with the worst imaginable table manners perched on him and pecked at his stuffing. A pretend bird, a Robin Redbreast perches on his arm — this is the bird he prefers. And bugs crawl on him. He points downwards to a look-alike Ladybird on his left shoe. Once, a real one visited him; a sweet Mother, who rested for a time to catch her breath before she would ‘fly away home’. He could not refuse her.
A clever old Chinaman called Lao Tzu, who lived centuries ago, taught how being loved strengthens you, and when you’re the one giving that special loving, you gain enormous amounts of courage. It’s as if that ancient Chinese philosopher knew Simon Scarecrow and his siblings, and the love they all share after being abandoned, then rescued, then finding their own special family in their forever home.
Small wonder I rescued then and named them The Small Knitty Gritty Kids.