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The Great Snipe Hunt

by David Yehudah, Bellflower, CA, USA


Well, the great snipe hunt didn't work quite like I planned. First we drove all over Southern California trying to find just the right place. We finally settled on some salt marsh along the coast.

We parked up on a bluff and wandered about in the dark until we found just the right spot, about a half mile from the car. Didn't want to scare off the snipe by using a light, doncha know. We found it by stumbling around being blinded periodically by the headlights of passing cars up on the coastal highway. Since my night vision is supposedly better than Patty's, I led the way. I led the way through tidal pools (one of them nearly six feet deep in water), over bluffs, and into cactus patches, all of which Patty declined to follow me into. The sound effects went something like, "@#$%^&*&, don't follow me here." To which Patty briskly responded, "I ain't stupid. I'm going around." At one point I stepped on a sleeping sea bird of some kind, which had a wing spread of about six feet and a cry somewhere between a leopard screaming and a bull elephant intent on mayhem. I passed Patty twice running back toward the car.

Finally I got her in place among some high marsh grass. I carefully coached her to hold the sack just so with one hand, wave a small flashlight around with the other, and whistle softly with a little tin whistle. There I left her, ostensibly to go herd snipes in her general direction but actually to go back to the car and wait in comfort until she figured out she'd been had. I giggled all the way back to the car, my mirth only occasionally interrupted by my stepping into tidal pools, sliding down unsuspected bluffs, and strolling through patches of cactus.

After about forty-five minutes or an hour I figured it was time to have my horse-laugh at Patty's expense, so I retraced my steps (every damn one of them; water, bluffs, cactus. . .all except the bird, thank G-d) to where I had left her. No Patty. I called her name, over and over. No Patty. Was I in the right place? I thought so, at first, but it didn't take long for me to doubt my sense of direction. For two hours I trudged in an ever-widening circle, calling "Patty? Where are you, Sweetie?" Stepped on two more of those huge birds, fell off more bluffs, waded through more water, stepped through more cactus. . .

Finally I gave it up and went back to the car, intending to flash the headlights and honk the horn until she came back in.

When I was almost to the car, I noticed the dome light was on. Then I noticed Patty sitting in the front seat. She was reading. I was really glad to see her, but my joy was tempered somewhat when she told me she'd followed me back to the car at the beginning, waited for me to get out and go look for her, then sat down to read a novel and wait for my return. She seemed quite pleased with herself. She was as neat and clean as when we left the house. I looked as if I'd gone water skiing on my mouth through a particularly nasty swamp.

Patty grew up in the country with a houseful of brothers. She knew all about snipe hunting.


Editor's note:

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