Just because scarecrows come alive and kill people in really bad horror flicks doesn’t mean we should fear them.

Bertha's head/Head design and photo Ryn Gargulinski

Bertha's head/Head design and photo Ryn Gargulinski

These fascinating beings have been an integral part of many cultures, or at least those cultures that like to eat instead of having birds and other wildlife ravage their fields.

They are also pretty darn interesting.

The Tucson Botanical Gardens will be celebrating scarecrows from Oct. 17 to Nov. 30 with Scarecrows in the Garden, a bountiful display by local artists and businesses.

Folks will vote on their favorite scarecrow and the contest is still open. Get your entry form by clicking HERE. There’s not cost to enter. Be assured you’ll see Rynski scarecrow in the mix.

Folks can use anything they want to create the scarecrows, but we can probably they won’t go for some of the more disgusting components of years past.

Rags, rotting meat, poison-soaked cloths and even dog skins have been fashioned into scarecrows, according to a History of Scarecrows webpage.

But that’s only when scarecrows were not made from live people. No, folks were not gutted, stuffed and staked to a pole, but sent to patrol fields with bags of rocks and noisemakers.

Medieval Britain was big on this tactic, employing young boys. This worked for some time until the Great Plague killed off half the population in 1348, making live scarecrows – or live anyone – scarce.

Tucson Botanical Garden photo

Tucson Botanical Gardens photo

The Industrial Revolution later beckoned any remaining live scarecrows with better paying jobs hunched over in noisy and filthy windowless factories.

I’d rather be a scarecrow.

Old men in some cultures are still used as scarecrows. They sit around in lawn chairs and then stand up and yell when birds come around. Sounds like an ideal retirement gig, perhaps even more fun than being a Wal-Mart greeter.

Animal skulls were another interesting scarecrow component. Skull head scarecrows were used in Italy in the Middle Ages and in my New Mexico yard. I plopped a deer skull atop my customized voodoo scarecrow’s neck and named her Bertha.

The New Mexico garden thrived, I’m convinced because of Bertha, until I moved. The new residents then promptly yanked out all the vegetables and giant sunflowers and hurled them into the middle of the street to make room for the trailer they put in the yard.

Even Bertha was more attractive than that trailer.

See the Tucson scarecrows:
When: Oct. 17 to Nov. 20
Where: Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way
How: Pay for general admission and go during business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., closed holidays.
More info: Call 326-9686, Ext. 10 or visit www.tucsonbotanical.org

Bertha in all her glory/Scarecrow by Ryn Gargulinski

Bertha in all her glory/Scarecrow by Ryn Gargulinski

What do scarecrows mean to you?

Do you fear scarecrows?

Have you ever made a scarecrow? Would you want to be a scarecrow?

Have you ever seen a movie featuring a scarecrow that was actually watch-able?