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Friday, 25 June 2010

Jens, Our Scarecrow

By Ann Berger

Jens was our scarecrow in the cornfield on the East 80 on our farm in Jordan Township, Minnesota. It was spring 1928. I remember because in March, I had gotten to choose the flavor of homemade ice cream for my fifth birthday. Each spring we put new clothes on Jens after going to the straw pile to pull out clean straw from the middle of the stack to plump up Jens.

He seemed never to be tired of waving his arms wearing Grandpa’s last year’s faded overalls and plaid mackinaw. Funny thing is his arms seemed to wave early in the morning and until late at night even without a wind. He waved at horses pulling hay wagons, seeders or harrows. Sometimes a car drove by for him to wave at, too. If that driver happened to be our silly cousin Melvin, he’d wave back at Jens. Melvin was a big tease.

Anyway, this day happened to be the day after the men had planted corn because last week Pa had come into the kitchen and said, “Oak leaves are as big as a squirrel’s ear.  Time to plant corn.” Good news for us kids. If the soil was warm enough to plant corn, we could go barefoot.

Mrs. Greenlee, across that cornfield where Jens lived, had just had a new baby boy so, Donna, who was six, and I, were sent to take over a batch of cookies and a pan of cinnamon rolls that were still hot. Carefully, we put our bare feet between the rows of newly seeded corn, but all of a sudden a bunch of squawking birds threw both of us off balance.

A crow was swooping down on Jens and trying to pick at his straw, but three sparrows kept chasing off the crow who sailed into the air. The sparrows looped around right after him. Not one of them would let up. We enjoyed their show until their wings slapped awfully close to our heads, making us put footprints on top of the planted rows.

Finally, we left the bird show and went on to Greenlees to deliver Ma’s baked gifts before they cooled. We oohed and aahed at Mrs. Greenlee’s sleeping baby. Mostly though, we couldn’t wait to head home to tell the “big girls” about the bird show they’d missed.

I ran into our kitchen yelling, “You shoulda seen what we saw out by the sparecrow!”

SPAREcrow? Older sister, Bee, wrinkled her nose and laughed sorta smart alecky.  Oldest sister, Helen, smirked, “There’s no such thing as a sparecrow.”

I flinched and flounced off mumbling, “Well, there were sparrows by the scarecrow. So there.”

It was harder to get anything past my big sisters than it is to kiss my own elbow.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


As a non farm girl, I loved reading your story. I would just feel my bare feet between those rows of newly seeded corn.

Hello Ann,

Nice story. I am a city girl and love to read stories about farm life and "sparecrows".

We only saw these things in the movies,so when someone writes about their way of life on the farm it really fascinates us.

Loved your story. Fun to read and oh so true about big and little sisters.

Your mispronunciation of scarecrow reminds me of a teacher friend who said one of her students wrote an essay on how to talk to patients. (She was a nurse). She said they learned to talk in 'lame men's language'. The teacher thought she was kidding, but she was serious. I suppose the word laymen had never entered her vocabulary.

I guess we hear things wrong at times; I sure do because of a severe hearing loss.

Cute story.

Dear Ann,
I love your story and your humor--especially the part describing how your scarecrow even waved when there was no wind. I could smell those hot cinnamon rolls too.

Thanks to each of you for enjoying "sparecrow."
Jolly fun to hear about "lame men."

Love your stories. They bring to life a bygone era. Keep sending them in.

I have a corny grin from ear to ear reading this story. What a grand story teller you are!

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