A BLOOD spattered butcher stands outside his shop, an axe in one hand, a gruesome looking head in the other. At his feet are severed, bloody hands.
It is, by far, the most frightening scarecrow in our village's annual Scarecrow & Pumpkin Festival. And like all the other newcomers in the village, he appeared just in time for the schools' mid-term break.
Each year, all the shop owners participate during the run up to Halloween, in a bid to win the €500 cash prize for the best scarecrow.
Last Sunday, mocking the onset of Winter, a warm sun shone in a bright blue sky, as I strolled through the village with my younger girl and the boy.
'Cool!' exclaimed the boy, reaching out to touch the horrible head. Its eyes flashed and a strange cackling made his teenage sister jump. 'Did you see that?' he demanded, delighted with himself.
Not all the scarecrows are terrifying, of course. Some are quite funny. Like the wonderfully tall fellow who stands outside the local pub, a pint of stout in one hand, the other politely showing the way to the door. A permanent smile on his giant pumpkin face.
Each business strives to produce a scarecrow that represents them. Outside our little bookshop sits a pencil, its severed head stuck to its chest. The hardware, which sells everything from paint to plants, sports a man made entirely of brightly painted pots, complete with growing green hands and feet.
And until Samhain has safely passed for another year, pizza loving locals must negotiate the zombie chef, that stands guard outside one of the local eateries.
Our terrific vet is always fun and imaginative. One year, his scarecrow was a canine vet, dressed in white, about to operate. This year, there's a 'Cops 'n Robbers' theme: a cat burglar, in black and white stripes, scales the wall, as a guard dog looks on.
As we walk back through the village for home an hour later, my daughter shakes her head at the butcher's scarecrow.
'That's so wrong,' she says, taking care to walk on the outside of the footpath. Her younger brother smirks.
'Mum says you were afraid of the vacuum cleaner when you were younger. You're just sad!'
She gives me an indignant look. I smile and shrug.
That's the thing about Halloween.
Like everything else in life, scary is all relative.
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