April Fool’s in Appalachia
Just in case you didn’t notice, today is the first day of April. OR April Fool’s Day. I’ve never been a fan of April Fool’s jokes, but there IS a long-standing tradition of natives of the mountains (or most any place) playing tricks on outsiders who aren’t familiar with the local habits.
Take Snipe hunting for example.
Now, there IS such a critter as a snipe–it’s a shore bird that I’m pretty sure isn’t actually hunted. But snipe hunting involves taking someone who doesn’t know any better and leaving them alone in the woods in the dark literally holding the bag.
You supply the new hunter with a burlap bag and instructions to hold it open while you and your friends chase snipes toward the hunter. Then you station your friend in a likely spot, thrash around in the woods yelling “snipe,” and making strange calls. Gradually you move away and leave your friend to find his or her way sheepishly home in the dark.
If you’ve done a really good job your friend will think he or she maybe saw an actual snipe but failed to catch it.
Then there’s cow-tipping. Even today you’ll likely find someone who will swear that they’ve tipped a cow. Don’t believe them.
The idea is that you go out in pastures at night, find cows sleeping standing up, and tip them over. Ideally, everyone (except the cow) is drunk.
I suppose it’s possible this has actually happened somewhere, sometime, but my theory is it’s another way of getting city slickers to step in cow poop. Or better yet, to encounter a bull that is NOT sleeping and learn an important farm lesson.
I grew up on a farm with cattle and I NEVER saw a cow sleep standing up. Nor did I ever sneak up on a cow. They’re actually pretty alert. Not to mention HUGE with a low center of gravity. Good luck tipping one over under any conditions.
If you want to dig deeper into just how unlikely cow-tipping is, check out this website (I used their cow-tipping graphic–I couldn’t resist how scientific it is).
So, rather than trying to fool you, let me just say, “Happy April.” Of course, after several days of delicious spring weather in the 70s it’s in the 20s this morning. And that’s April Fool’s enough for me.