The Peace Garden scarecrows are women. They have ruddy cheeks and garish dress. There are two, both equally alluring and close companions. One presides over the circular garden the other commands the vegetable patch. Unlike their male counterparts they do not stand lonely in wheat fields frightening away their only visitors, the crows. They do not flap outstretched arms pleading for society, for they get plenty. Their clothes are not the dowdy farmer’s cast offs, but bright, bold and bizarre! They are not without intellect like the silly scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz; in fact they are of devious and willful nature.
Let me introduce them. Jezebel has long black tresses that she wears loosely tied with a bright bandanna; she chooses a purple, velvet skirt, ripped to show her gaudy pink underskirt. Her flowered blouson is rakishly buttoned. Ruby red cheeks and dark flashing eyes are a lure to unsuspecting men. The rain has matted her hair and she is tousled by the gales but she cares naught. However, she can be heard to complain that standing all day at her pole is likely to cause varicose veins.
Tatiana has a sweet headscarf that gathers her multicoloured braids. She is a comely country girl at heart. Her long white skirt is painted with colourful flowers of the hedgerows and a frog or two. An abundance of ribbons flutter at her skirt and her orange blouse is frilled at the wrists and neck. She blushes to admit that she handmade all her clothes, painstakingly sewing on every single ribbon herself. She is a lithesome dancer and seeks a partner who loves to gavotte.
Not many people dare go to the garden at night, but it is then that you might catch a glimpse of the women silhouetted in the moonlight. They love to glide in and out the apple tree circles, bathe naked in the silver lit lily pond and dip a gracious hanky into the flowery nectar. The Sanctuary, newly built, now offers a delicious sip of chamomile tea and a nibble on nettle sandwiches. Jezebel insists on 40 winks on the sofa whilst Tatiana does the washing up. They leave tell tale signs of their presence, muddy, pointy footprints and bread crumbs under the table. Later, if you are very quiet, you will hear them both cooing over the compost loo and giggling as they steal the tomatoes from the poly tunnel and precious figs from the tree.
It must be said that they are hardworking scarecrows who have little time for frightening the gentle creatures in the garden. They do not care to deprive the little ones of their food. Instead they help dig rabbit burrows under the soft soil, search for lost vole offspring, fill the bird feeders and help the hedgehogs escape a watery grave. The grateful pheasants present feathery fans to the pair, a gift for cutting holes in the fence to permit them entry. Pigeons feast on shredded cabbage leaves thoughtfully picked by Tatiana whilst Jezebel cooks a nice vegetable pottage for the mice.
The friends often go visiting the neighbour’s pasture to ridicule the male scarecrows who stand mute and forlorn. The men quake as they approach, craving the company of the intoxicating pair and yet knowing they must suffer their insults. Jezebel, tempestuous and cruel, wildly tears off the men’s hats hurling them skyward; where they hang twinkling like stars, never to be worn again. Tatiana is more demure, but she laughs while the crows build nests in the men’s vests and Billy the goat takes great mouthfuls of hay from their trouser cuffs. Eventually tiring of their silent reproaches, the nymphs return to the Peace Garden, the place the gardeners tenderly brought them to life.
Our scarecrows are not Gallybaggers or Tattie Bogals, they are proud and haughty sylphs that taunt the turning of the seasons and brazen the elements. They are regal matriarchs who quietly watch over the garden during the day and kick up their heels at night. At dawn, when they are weary, they slowly adjust their skirts, smooth their braids, redden their cheeks and climb the pole once again.
Visitors, be wary as you potter by! These sirens are dangerous, take care not to cross them; for they are known to throw a winsome smile, crook a painted fingernail and whisper an alarming proposition in your ear.