SCARECROWS ON THE MARCH!: part two of a three-part festival dedicated to those solitary, charming–and at times disquieting–guardians of fields and gardens. This week’s event was combined with an annual walk to raise funds for a group home for people suffering from mental illness. Folks all ages showed up to do the walk, which goes along an enchanted lane with a canopy of hornbeam trees, passes through a little hamlet, and ends at the home, a villa in a lovely position in the midst of cultivated fields lying at the foot of the Dolomites.
At the start we divided into three groups, with mine being led by Yuri, one of the Mazarol guides, who elaborated on the origin and significance of scarecrows. Why do they both delight and frighten us? Are they embodiments of our fears? Does their pagan function as protectors not just of crops, but of life itself, strike some ancient, deep-seated chord deep within us? Or do they just evoke a longing for the simpler, more genuine agricultural life, lived in harmony with nature, that our ancestors lived?
As we strolled merrily along the lane, stopping to behold and delight in the scarecrows all along it, live scarecrows posed and crows cavorted, and a country band cranked out lively old-time tunes. It was pure enchantment! We finally reached the home, where we moseyed among stands selling attractive articles produced by the residents. Then we all headed into a huge tent, where we enjoyed a a tasty lunch of pasta, polenta and sausages, cake, coffee, and of course, wine.
In the late afternoon, a light rain began to fall as I ambled alone back down the lane to Feltre, savoring the quiet fall afternoon, and watched all along the way by the scarecrows.