Whimsical. Whimsy. On a Whim. Mirthful. Mirth. Laugh. Laughter. Smile. Two scarecrows hang on the front of the lattice fence in the front of my courtyard from Fall until I take them down in Winter. A stick that hangs from a burlap string is on each one’s back and I use that stick as an anchor in the lattice to hold them standing straight. When the Santa Ana winds blow is when they begin to lean to the right and remain at that angle until I take them down and march them into the garage just before the Christmas decorations take their places. I leave them leaning to the right because they look so whimsical hanging there with their happy-face smiles and their Keene eyes. More than once I’ve pulled the car into the driveway in a less than happy mood, seen the scarecrows leaning in their crazy dance, and smiled.
I don’t know why they never made it into the garage this winter. Instead, I stood them before the newly trimmed olive tree. They stood as a source of guilt for me when the rains came, until she fell down. She rested for the duration of the winter, her green jacket muddied with the dirt and rain, her straw legs dangling from her denims. He stood sentinel over her by the tree. Guilt triggered in two directions whenever I saw them and reminded myself that I should take them inside. But Winter became more mild, a side effect of Global Warming or the Jet Stream, or La Nina or whatever current theory bathed Southern California in way below normal rainfall, and I didn’t sense the urgency to move them inside. They were comfortable. They didn’t complain. Besides, they were on vacation, the cawing of the crows that often sat on my rooftop, hopped down my driveway and lead a cawcaphony in the trees near my home, evidence of the out of work scarecrows. They were inside the courtyard facing the fountain, feeling the breeze, watching me walk in and out of the house, watching me sitting, reading, watching me with painted smiles. Guilt turned to mirth.
How does time pass? Like the fog on little cat’s feet? The passing of time and the vigilance of scarecrows must have intertwined in some fast forward and one day it is Spring, and I notice the olive tree has begun to sprout new leaves here and there and here and there and I see the new leaves have framed the scarecrow’s face in absurdity. And still he smiles, behind the leaves he peeks, wondering, I project, what will be next. When can he go back to work. When can she come stand with him again in equality. I’ll make sure they’re back on the fence in the Fall so they can dance to the Santa Ana winds and spread their quirky selves to my neighborhood and to the crows.Until then I’ll keep them in the courtyard all to myself, or to my special invited courtyard visitors, and smile at their patience and how they are taking what comes with a stiff upper; a stiff upper lip? Nope. Scarecrows don’t have no lips! They just have smiles. Smiles of patience. Smiles of Kindness. Smiles of genuine scarecrowedness. Smiles that remind me of their whimsy, and to be whimsical. And even, to remember often to do something on a whim.