This is based on a real event that happened to my sister and I in 1999.
When I was younger, it was not uncommon for my sister and I to stay overnight at our grandparents’ house in the rural parts of Central Massachusetts during the summer months. They lived in a small farmhouse with a few acres of land, an echo of time that harkened back to the colonial period, before the arrival of the wealthy contemporary populace. Despite the home’s modern landscaping, complete with an in ground swimming pool, our grandfather made sure to set some land aside for farming.
He loved driving his tractor through the fields, planting and protecting his crops of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and pumpkins alongside his favorite flowers: gladiolas. Every summer, even well into his eighties, he would be working in those fields, selling crops and flowers on the side of the road for a few dollars each and enjoying life in this tranquil pocket of a forgotten era. We would often join him for rides on the tractor, learning to drive it while we were no older than seven, and going out and helping him harvest the current yield. The fields and the surrounding lands were a place of adventure, and despite the intermittent appearance of a red fox, it was a safe place to play and explore for two children.
One evening, when I was around twelve, my sister and I were again staying the night at their house. We had been dropped off in the morning and had spent the day picking wild blueberries in the backyard and swimming. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Our grandfather had gone inside as we were coming out of the pool, heading in for a quick shower before dinner to wash away the dirt he had accumulated while checking his crops. He reemerged as our grandmother was preparing dinner, but he seemed different.
A strange look of concern was cast over his face, something neither of us had ever seen in him before. He came into the kitchen, looked out the window and stared for a good five minutes. Quickly, he walked into the back bedroom, where I would be spending the night, and stood in the growing darkness without saying a word. Dinner was nearly ready, and it was not like him to miss a meal, especially without good reason. As he came back into the kitchen, we assumed that whatever was bothering him had passed and that he was ready to sit down and enjoy his dinner. Instead, he walked through the sliding door adjacent the dining table and stood on the deck, staring into the fields as the sun sat against them. We were all quite puzzled now, so we went out to the door and looked in the general direction that was captivating him.
“Papa,” my sister started, “what’s wrong, what are you looking at?”
Without diverting his gaze, he simply replied: “That scarecrow out in the field.”
“Well, isn’t that what you were working on all afternoon, dear?” our grandmother asked, annoyed that everyone was busy watching the silhouette of a pest deterrent instead of eating her food.
“I’ve never put up a scarecrow in any of my fields,” was his only response as we all watched the human like outline staring silently back.