Conversation with a Snipe

evening by the pond
evening by the pond

I fell asleep to the drumming song of two snipes.

They called to one another, the same quick beat back and forth, except one’s voice was a note higher.

I’d gone outside at dusk, just as a sun dog was shooting up from the edge of Hogback, like a mast at the bow of a ship, the mountain’s long ridge line culminating in a column of sherbert orange leading into the purple sea of night sky.

It wasn’t the sun dog that drew me out—it was the open van windows, and the thought that it might rain (after weeks of non-stop rain, even scattered, wispy clouds have me assuming).  I rolled the windows up, then stood staring at the sky.  At the gentleness of it, feeling how its song would be a soft hum, if only I could hear its voice.

And then the snipe called.  Loud and fast and close.

My own voice caught in my throat at first, self-conscious as I tried to imitate it’s call.  For days I’d been hearing the bird in the peripheries of the field, but now it sounded to be next to me.  It called again, and I tried again, louder.

My snipe call was imperfect and blurred around the edges of the notes, but the snipe responded, it’s clean crisp winnows speeding into dusk.  We went on together for a few minutes, me inching closer to the pond and squinting my eyes in the fading light as I searched for the bird.

But the sun dog dissolved and night rolled in and I must have gotten too close, because the snipe stopped talking.

In our conversation I’d forgotten my self-consciousness; the pull towards wildness stronger than the fear of what my neighbors might think.

As the air cooled and bull frogs croaked, I let myself linger on the bank of the pond.  So much of spring and early summer on the farm is dominated by work.  The tasks of opening beds, composting, transplanting, irrigating, cultivating, harvesting, washing, and on and on over again.  And then there’s the marketing, selling, delivering, bookkeeping.

There are days I’m so exhausted I wonder what I’m doing this for.

And then I look up and see a sun dog.

I stop for a moment and converse with a snipe.

I let myself dissolve to the edges of the days, the edges of the fields, the muddy lip of the pond.

Every seedling planted, every step taken is for this: to grow my life.

By which I mean to become entangled with wildness: it’s softness, it’s closeness, it’s endless web.

We enter the fields with soil-stained hands and bare feet and we get close.  We join the conversation.

And hopefully, if I’m able to translate enough of the unsayable into words, I can share this conversation with you, too.  Wherever you are, whatever fields or mountains or ponds or oceans you find yourself in, take a moment to dissolve.  To breathe your way into it.  To become wild.  To enter the world as your home.

What is your conversation?  Share it.  I want to hear it, too.

2 thoughts on “Conversation with a Snipe”

  1. Love the part about forgetting what the neighbors might think. Speaking from personal experience, I think that fear prevents us too often from just letting our true selves out – living life the way we truly want to. Keep up your snipe conversations.

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