Tuesday evening I sat at my desk by an open window listening to the peepers sing. This morning, the temperature is in the 20s and I’m hoping my peonies aren’t goners. This seems to be Appalachia’s favorite April Fools trick. Lull us into thinking spring is well and truly here then send a hard freeze.
All I have to say as I shiver into a coat and gloves to walk the dog is . . . it ain’t funny!
Of course, the people of Appalachia love a good joke maybe better than most. And the native sense of humor is often dry and subtle. With a long-standing tradition of 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 is something else altogether. It 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. Or, they just might turn the tables and come home with one of the neighbor’s chickens. Jokes on you!
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.
So, rather than trying to fool you, let me just say, “Happy April.” Oh, and if you need a good dose of foolishness today, there IS this great book called The Right Kind of Fool. Available at your favorite purveyor of books. And that ain’t no joke!