As an older Boy Scout I thought that a Snipe was an imaginary creature which younger scouts were sent to hunt in the Snipe Hunt hoax. As a younger Scout myself, I never found a Snipe, whatever a Snipe was. It was not until I was about 35 year old that I learned that a snipe was a real creature, a fairly small water bird with long legs and beak. It spends its time meandering the irrigation ditch along Rabbit Lane, rising with indignant “peeps” as I trudge by on my walks. I also learned that the Snipe was responsible for the eerie, haunting reverberating sounds I heard hovering like a fog over the fields at night. Harvey told me to look up high for the source of the sounds: a Snipe, a brown speck in the high sky, diving and allowing the air to thunder through its wings. I wrote this poem about this mysterious little creature.
Summer sun settles on high mountain peaks,
igniting heavy cumulus over a burning great salt lake.
A ghostly echo begins to move,
low over twilight’s deep green fields
of pasture grass and alfalfa hay;
a lonely laughter
approaching then receding,
soaring then plummeting,
in sunset’s golden glint,
in late night’s moon-glow,
to vanish at the new sun’s rising—
seen only by those who know whence comes
the haunting, moving echo of the snipe in the evening sky.
Bless you Roger…I had nearly forgotten the snipes and the sound that they made when they would swoop and dive. It has been 16 long years since I have witnessed these exceptional birds doing their night time rituals. We don’t have those where I live now.
It took me quite some time to find out just what made that sound. So much volume for such a small bird. Thanks for reminding me.
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I don’t know why, but Snipes appear to have left Erda, at least near here. I haven’t heard one for several years now. I guess that’s what happens when the ditches run dry.