Skip to content

Subscribe to campari&sofa and receive new posts via email

The hard and lonely job of the scarecrow

Posted in Things We Love

scarecrowWhen I was about 15 or 16, my father announced he was thinking of moving the family to our country house permanently. My mother, my sister and I were aghast. As far as we were concerned, we were city dwellers, and moving to a house a mere 30 minutes out of town was akin to moving to Siberia.

How was I going to idle afternoons away, walking through the center of town with my girlfriends, checking out boys? What of the impromptu movies and get-togethers and million other social activities just outside my doorstep? What of the freedom of coming and going as I pleased? We presented a united front and such a move was never mentioned again.

I have always considered myself a city rat. The bigger the city the happier this rat. There are very few metropolis I visited I wasn’t charmed by or, at least, found redeeming qualities in: Athens or Mexico City and others that wouldn’t immediately bring beauty to mind, I found a way to love. It must be the energy and the multitude of humanity teeming about.

scarecrow Peter MitchellBut time passes and people change. The only way I can love the extra-large city I now live in, Los Angeles, is by keeping it at a bit of a distance. The canyon where I live, one of many, is bucolic: in the morning I am greeted by chirping birds and at night I go to sleep serenaded by owls and coyotes. No skyscrapers, no sirens, no loud motorcycles. If a move to the countryside was ever suggested, I might even consider it. Briefly.

scarecrow As a child, there were many things about the country I loved: picking fruit straight from the trees; stealing eggs from under the chickens’ butts; lying on the grass watching clouds for hours; sitting in the shade to read; bringing home stray animals. And scarecrows. Knowing nothing at all about agricultural practices, I saw scarecrows as a throwback to a time long gone, a time I would never know, and I found them quaint, amusing and lonely.

scarecrowI hadn’t thought about scarecrows in a very long time, until I saw the photographs of Peter Mitchell who, for the last 40 years, has been photographing scarecrows around Leeds, where he lives.

scarecrowPeter Mitchell is a well-known photographer whose work has been at the center of many exhibitions, none of them having to do with scarecrows, which have always been a private passion of his. Until now, Mitchell had never shared the photographs, taken in all seasons, depicting happy scarecrows, seated scarecrows, tattered or well-dressed. Some scarier than others. Lonely figures trying to do their job. I was immediately drawn to them.

scarecrowAnd which side are you on? City or country? And why?

Share on Facebook

8 Comments

  1. I grew up in a very densely populated city (Macau) and when I moved back to my place of birth (a much smaller city by comparison) I had a hard time adjusting. I’m definitely a big city girl. When I think of myself in the country, I tend to have an idea that I’d be missing out on all the important things that the city has to offer, even if I’m not really enjoying them every day.
    Your version of LA pleases me, though – it’s like living in the city, yet enjoying the calm and relaxation that the countryside seems to offer. I could do that…

    June 3, 2016
    |Reply
  2. I lived the first 49 years of my life in cities, Cape Town, Paris, London, Copenhagen and Los Angeles and always considered myself a city girl but a year ago, we moved to an 18th Century farmhouse in the French countryside and I could not be happier. Life is a slower pace, people are friendlier.

    June 3, 2016
    |Reply
  3. Maurits Kalff
    Maurits Kalff

    I live in Central London on Tower Bridge Road. It is noisy, the air quality is terrible, the road nearly always congested, people are stressed, public transportation over crowded and expensive: you get my drift? ~I f*cking love it here. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.
    I do need brief episodes of nature and calm but the emphasis here is on brief.

    June 3, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Whenever I exit Heathrow and I smell grit, steel and fumes I know I am back in London. Best smell ever!

      June 4, 2016
      |Reply
  4. camparigirl
    camparigirl

    I often fantasize about a house in Cornwall. Sofagirl thinks I am completely mad and would hate every minute of it. Still, I wonder….

    June 3, 2016
    |Reply
  5. I grew up in what was considered a fairly small town. It was quaint and a bit old-fashioned, and everyone in the previous generation seemed to know everyone else. I left it, aged 20, to move to a Big City. After living in several big cities all of my working life, I sometimes feel I could settle down in a smaller place where the fields are green and the trees are big, where the birds can sing and the cats can roam, and where the neighbours are just a little bit further away…

    June 3, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I wonder if we tend to fantasize about the opposite of what we have. Or, maybe, as we get older we yearn for something simpler.

      June 3, 2016
      |Reply
  6. I’m quickly becoming more ‘ambidextrous’ in my older years. While I tend to lean toward city life, I often wonder if I could be content in the European countryside. That idea keeps tugging at my shirt sleeves as I yearn for a somewhat simpler life.

    June 2, 2016
    |Reply

Got some thoughts? We would love to hear what you think

%d bloggers like this: