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An Autumn Tale
An autumn panorama encompassed him. The sky shone a vivid blue, the rich earth unfolded a deep brown, and the crops displayed an array of brilliant, fall shades. What else could a scarecrow ask for?
Well, this scarecrow desired more. He was dreadfully tired of sitting up on a post day and night, existing as nothing more than a mere presence to chase away the pesky crows which hoped to feast themselves upon the autumn harvest. He wanted to come down and explore the vast world that stretched out before him.
And so he said to himself, “If only there were some way for me to get down and walk away. Why, even the crows have the privilege of flying about the world! They witness many different sights and experience many new situations, but I just sit here all day and chase them away if they dare come too close to the crops.”
“What can I do?” he mourned. “There must be a way to get down!”
Just then, a big, black crow flew toward a pumpkin at the far end of the patch. As the wind caught the scarecrow’s limp shirt sleeve, the sleeve waved itself about wildly, catching the crow’s attention. The crow instantly took off, flying across the patch and disappearing behind a row of trees.
As he watched the crow fly away, the scarecrow began to formulate an idea in his straw-stuffed brain. What if he had some assistance in escaping from his post? Maybe somebody would be willing to help him accomplish his dream of breaking free and seeing the world! But who would that somebody be? He considered his possibilities for several minutes but soon found himself despairing, for they were slim indeed. Suddenly he exclaimed, “I have it! I know who can help me! The crows themselves! They have strong beaks to lift me and strong wings to take me away.”
“But wait,” he continued, “The crows are supposed to fly away when the see me, not come towards me. They won’t want to help me down from here after all the times I’ve scared them.”
As the scarecrow was talking, he noticed a wooly-bear caterpillar climbing up his sleeve. Believing the busy-body caterpillar to have heard every word of his solitary conversation, the scarecrow suddenly asked, “What do you think, Caterpillar? How can I get the crows to help me?”
“Well, well, well,” said the caterpillar, “So, someone is finally asking my advice on something. About time! I am a very scholarly caterpillar, you know. Hmmph! ‘Tis shocking, just shocking, I tell you, that everyone ignores me as if I’m a…a worm or something.” He dazedly paused, then changing his tone entirely, continued, “So, to get back to your question, let’s see…well, what I do when I want the crows to stay away from me is curl up in a tight ball. However, if you want to attract the crows, I believe you should spread yourself out and – ”
“Hmm hmm,” the scarecrow cleared his stuffed throat, “I am stretched out from head to toe already; I don’t see how I’d be able to spread out anymore.”
“Yes, I suppose that is so,” conceded the caterpillar. “Maybe if you put a piece of food on yourself, they’ll come over.”
“Yes, that’s it! I’ll give them something to eat so they’ll help me,” enthused the scarecrow, adding, “You certainly are wise, Caterpillar.”
This compliment the caterpillar made no effort to deny. So, after a small sniff, he proceeded to crawl down the scarecrow’s overalls towards the ground.
Scarecrow, not wanting to waste a moment’s time scanned the field for someone who could bring the bait to him. Spotting Rabbit some distance away, the scarecrow called in the loudest voice he could muster, “Hey, Rabbit! Would you bring me some of that corn that fell on the ground over there?”
Rabbit hopped over and sat at Scarecrow’s “feet” with the corn. “What do you need this for, Scarecrow?” she asked sweetly.
“Rabbit, how high can you jump?” the straw-stuffed puppet asked briskly.
“I think I can go about as high as your waist if I have a running start,” Rabbit replied.
“Good,” said the scarecrow, “This should work just fine. Get ready, Rabbit! Grab the corn. Everybody clear out for Rabbit! Ready, Set, Jump!” However, when the scarecrow looked down, Rabbit was still sitting below him. “What’s wrong, Rabbit? Is the corn too heavy?”
“Scarecrow, why do you want this corn?” questioned Rabbit.
“I’m getting down from here, Rabbit. I’ve lived this boring life too long! I barely have a purpose sitting up here. What? An occasional crow makes an appearance, and I have to chase it off. No more!” Scarecrow declared, “I’m going to see the world – the big, wide world. I need the corn simply to attract the crows, so they can help me escape. Oh, I know they might be reluctant at first, but eventually they’ll see what a nice guy I am and come flying to the food. Then I’ll ask them to take me away.”
Rabbit pondered Scarecrow’s words for a minute then said, “I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Scarecrow. Those crows can be mighty cunning. They may take the food and run or –,” Rabbit was cut short by Scarecrow.
“Rabbit, I’ve waited long enough. I’m sure this will work. Please just jump this corn up to me.”
“As you wish, Scarecrow. But I couldn’t do it without warning you first.”
So saying, Rabbit stuffed into her mouth as much corn as she could and backed herself up to a large pumpkin. From there she bounded towards the scarecrow, and when she was several feet away she leaped up onto the waist pouch of his overalls. After depositing the corn inside, she looked up at the face of the straw-man and held his eyes for a minute then hopped back down and scampered away.
“Haha!” exulted Scarecrow, “Now the crows will help me!”
After a few minutes, a crow flew to an area several yards away from the scarecrow. Scarecrow was thrilled and promptly called out to the bird, “Crow!”
Upon hearing a voice behind him, the crow quickly flew away, much to the disappointment of his frightener. Soon, however, two other crows landed within sight. Scarecrow was not going to lose his opportunity this time. He was determined that the crows listen to him.
“Crows,” he called again, this time more softly. One of the crows flew away instantly, but the other, either braver or brasher– whatever the case may be – stayed and cocked his head toward the scarecrow. However, when the crow saw the producer of the voice, he too prepared to take off. Scarecrow stopped him. “Wait! I have food for you! It’s corn – your favorite. Come try some.”
“I see no corn,” replied the calculating crow.
“It’s in my pocket,” Scarecrow said, “Come, I won’t hurt you; I never have. I just want to ask of you and your friends a small favor.”
Crow was now becoming enticed, for corn was his favorite, but with the scarecrow always positioned so close to it, he rarely got to eat it. Now, however, the scary straw-giant didn’t seem so daunting. The crow came a little closer.
Scarecrow delighted that the crow had almost reached him. “Don’t be afraid. Just fly up here to my pocket.”
The crow hesitated for just a second, but his fears quickly subsided due to his immense curiosity and desire for the forbidden treat. He flew up to Scarecrow’s pocket and stuck his head inside. Seeing the corn he grabbed a large piece of it and flew to perch on the shoulder of his new “friend.”
When Scarecrow saw that the crow was contentedly pecking at the corn, he decided to carefully present his request. “Crow,” he began, “I am greatly pleased to have this splendid opportunity of contact with you. I know I’ve seemed like a big, scary monster over the past years, but I never meant any harm. You all seem like such a friendly bunch, and I decided that it was about time I meet you.”
“Don’t have to beat around the bush,” said Crow, “Tell me what you want, and let me be on my way. Also, I don’t remember you ever scaring me before.” He continued to peck.
“Well,” began the scarecrow, “I have always wanted to see the world. I don’t want to be attached to this pole for the rest of my life. Since you crows have the marvelous gift of flight, I was wondering if you could take me somewhere – somewhere far away!”
“Hmm. I’d need some help. Might be possible. Might not be,” the crow responded, but then his attitude seemed to change quite suddenly. “Ahh, yes, yes, that would work just fine now that I think of it. I’ll just go round up some of my buddies, and we’ll get on the job immediately. Be right back. Uhh…wait here.” And with a cackle he was off.
Meanwhile, Scarecrow was in his glory. He couldn’t believe his good fortune! He would be leaving, going off to fulfill his dreams of exploring the wide world. How exhilarating!
Before Scarecrow knew it, the crows had arrived. A whole noisy flock of them! They made quick work of unfastening the ropes binding the poor straw-man to his stake. Then came Scarecrow’s long-awaited moment. He was lifted up into the air!
The crows flew him over the large, bounteous field. What fun it was to be flying! “What a beautiful world!” exclaimed Scarecrow as he gaped down at the countryside landscape.
All too soon, however, Scarecrow was being lowered to the ground. “Hey, guys!” he yelled above the raucous “cawing,” “I want to go farther. Keep going!” But the noisy crows paid him no heed. Upon reaching the ground, they carelessly dropped him on the hard earth.
The crow who had talked to the scarecrow earlier now approached him and said, “Hope you have a good time, Scarecrow. We will be having feast – a hearty one at that!” He “cawed” uproariously along with the other crows, and before Scarecrow could say anything they flew away, leaving him lying on the ground.
The worst part was he knew exactly where they were going – back to the field. Back to eat the whole harvest. They had deceived him. What had he done? Now, he was sure, the whole field would be consumed within a matter of minutes while he, the defender, lay helpless on the ground too far away to do any good. Why hadn’t he just been content with his position? He had had a beautiful view and, yes, now he realized, a real purpose. Without him to guard the field, the crows would surely have taken over long ago.
But there was nothing he could do about anything now. He had failed. He figured he might as well just waste away. He couldn’t walk, and certainly no one come to the rescue of a straw-stuffed puppet even if he did call for help.
Determined that this was his end, Scarecrow almost missed a small voice next to him. “Let me help you, Scarecrow.”
Scarecrow turned his head and saw none other than Rabbit sitting next to him.
“Why would you want to help me after I didn’t listen to you? The crows are off eating my field. There’s no way we can stop them. Even if I could go back, the crows wouldn’t be scared of me anymore.”
Rabbit, however, was not going to give up so easily. She gave a shrill whistle, and soon many rabbits appeared from the surrounding woods. They swiftly gathered around the straw man, picked him up off the ground, and headed in the direction of the field.
When the team reached their destination, Scarecrow stared in horror at the sight before him. Crows were everywhere, rapidly consuming everything in sight! Scarecrow began to withdraw to his doom, but again Rabbit stopped him. “Scarecrow, just hang on!”
Scarecrow felt himself being carried out into the field and then somehow hoisted up. Before he knew what had happened, Scarecrow beheld the dispersing rabbits and found that he was high up off the ground. Then, an amazing thing happened. Suddenly, all the crows started to take off as well! Why were they leaving? They knew his ruse; he wasn’t real! And then Scarecrow had a flashback, “Don’t beat around the bush. Tell me what you want, and let me be on my way,” the entity had continued, “Also, I don’t remember you ever scaring me before…I don’t remember you ever scaring me before…I don’t remember…” That was it! The crows suffered short-term memory. Not remembering from one hour to the next, much less one day to the next, the crows had already forgotten the light weight puppet of that morning and once again viewed Scarecrow as the forbidding giant of the pumpkin patch.
Well, Scarecrow certainly wouldn’t forget his hard learned lesson: Be content with what you’re given, because everyone and everything is designed to fulfill a special purpose.