Sunday, September 12, 2010

Scarecrows of Haslingfield

In the UK, I live in ‘The Villages’,  rural areas encircling central Cambridge.  Mostly small farming communities with venerable clusters of thatched buildings, they keep longstanding traditions and value their quiet ambience.

Haslingfield is a good example, a cluster of homes around a central meadow, a big stone church, a butcher and a general store, and, uniquely each fall, lots of scarecrows.



It’s a late-summer tradition; one that everyone seems to join.  The streets are dotted with … colorful scarecrows, none too frightening but each lavished with creative care.

As the sun sets, everyone makes their way to central Well House Meadow for the festival barbeque, an evening of jazz and fireworks.  It’s a very local affair, reminding me of US prairie towns, where neighbors share stories and drink,  nibbles and memories beneath a broad sky accented with stings of colored lights.  Organizers sell hot dogs and hamburgers ; children shriek and laugh underfoot, waving lights and chasing balls.  It’s a vanishing scene, both a warm community event and a relaxed celebration of summer’s end.


As darkness falls, the remaining hot dogs are reduced to half price, the fireworks burst overhead, and the band shifts to a rolling rock beat.  The children dance while the adults gather chairs and tables.  It’s over by 10:30, but, like summer itself, it seems to linger on.


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