Storytime With Beth: Snipes

I can remember my eldest sister, Lisa, telling me about snipe hunting.  As I recall we were at Seven Sisters, sitting in the shade of the cottonwoods that grow along the Yellowstone River.  I think it was the time she took me camping, just her and me.  I don't remember how it came up, but she explained that it was a trick to play on inexperienced people--sending them off into the trees in search of The Snipe, a mythical, non-existent critter.  I'd never heard of such a thing.

[Side bar:  When I worked as McDonald's we would send newbies to the storage room looking for "ice mix" and then, when they returned to say they couldn't find any, we'd tell them "Eh, just use water then."  And we'd laugh with evil glee.]

Back to the snipes.  So, imagine my surprise when a decade or so later I got into bird watching and soon discovered that a snipe is totally a real animal.  Matt and I saw our first snipe at the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge and I was flabbergasted as I ID'd it with our trusty field guide!  "Say, what?!?!?  I thought those were pretend!!!"

In addition to being a rather fantastic and imaginary beast a snipe is also a rotund, discreet, and well-camouflaged wading bird.  I couldn't wait to tell my sister, which I promptly did.

This all leads me to share an article I spotted today while checking in magazines at the library.  I do so love linguistics, finding the history and evolution of words and phrases just fascinating!

From The Christian Science Monitor Weekly, January 21, 2019 
(You should be able to enlarge the text by clicking on the image.)
It seems to me that whoever invented this Snipe-Hunting ruse should have come up with a better name for their imaginary animal.  You know, something that doesn't already exist.  Though I suppose it might be harder to trick novice woodsmen into hunting for, oh, a Snargalack or a Spotted Wiskpisker or a creature with some other name more in line with a Dr. Seuss character.


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