Scarecrows have been around about 3,000 years. The Egyptians used a version with a net that caught quail. The ancient Greeks used to dress theirs up as a fertility god. ("That leads to a lot of questions," says Andy Williams, manager of the Lichterman Nature Center.) Nowadays, sound and laser can help keep the birds away, but, says Williams, birds may not recognize our super-GMO'ed crops as something to eat.
The Lichterman Nature Center has been holding its scarecrow building seminars since 2008. It was suggested to Williams by a Master Gardener, and he turned to another nature center for a template. Scarecrow builders get immersed in scarecrow lore while learning practical scarecrow building tips. They are given a six-foot-by-two-foot PVC frame and let loose to do what they will with clothes, dirt, garbage bags, or anything their imagination comes up with. They then put their creations up to compete in a contest with categories such as most creative, greenest, and most popular.
- Shoo, crow!
Williams says the center prefers participants steer clear of anything too gorey or too political. Celebrities are A-okay. He envisions a scarecrow with a mop wig and glasses to represent the Flyer's own Michael Donahue.
Williams says he's overwhelmingly impressed by what is built during these seminars, calling them astonishing. Some builders take the scarecrows home, some leave them for the garden. They will be on display through November 16th.
Williams says he's keen on this time of year, when seminar time rolls around. It reminds him of the beginning of the school year. "It's just fun," he says. "It's always been my favorite time of year."