A modern-day snipe hunt tale


I was eight when my uncles sent my brother and me on a snipe hunt. The snipe, we were told, was a quail-like bird appearing only at night. Snipe could be caught with a burlap bag if we surprised them. So out we went with our flashlights and burlap bags. Of course, we saw no snipe and soon learned we had been sniped.

Imagine my surprise when the village elders of Lake Oswego announced they had caught a snipe on Kruse Way. When they first saw it one night, they chased after it with a large burlap bag, scurrying here and there, but try as they might, the snipe eluded them. They shouted threats at the snipe and even condemnation (!) in no uncertain terms, but still the snipe zigged and zagged. So the elders thought, 'Maybe it's the burlap the snipe doesn't like. If we made the bag of golden fleece, the snipe might just run in.' So they went to the village bank and borrowed 20 million gold pieces to buy the golden fleece to make a gilded bag.

The elders and 100 (followers) dragged the gilded bag to Kruse Way, and just as they thought, the snipe ran into the bag! 'Yea!' they cried. But lo, the lowly snipe was crushed under the weight of the gilded bag. 'Yikes, what now?' Weeks later, they thought of a sumptuous feast of snipe - one that would be the envy of all the villages around. So the elders appointed a committee and they planned and planned; nearly a year they planned. When they were done, they announced with endless buglers the details of their feast and its cost of a 'mere' 100 million gold pieces.

By this time, the snipe smelled quite foul. The elders announced that of course the treasury did not have the money to pay for the sumptuous feast, but to make it more palatable, the villagers were told they could pay for it over 20 years. But the villagers knew better and cried 'Foul!' with the plan and its stifling cost.

The elders, sensing a guillotine rebellion, decided to pickle the odiferous snipe and their plan for the sumptuous feast. 'But now what? How do we pay for the loan which bought the gilded bag? Our treasury is depleting daily paying interest.'

The elders' panic gave way to a brilliant thought, they thought. 'Let's have a vote, but first let's exclude the cost of the sumptuous feast and even the cost of the golden fleece which made the gilded bag which caught the snipe. Let's have the villagers vote only on whether the poor snipe should be kept until we decide what to do with it.' Just as they thought, the villagers were fooled since the vote cost them nothing, and they voted to keep the snipe for now.

The elders rejoiced! But soon their exuberance turned to despair as they realized there would be no sumptuous feast and the fleece loan still had to be repaid. So they devised another story and vote for the villagers. 'First, let's ask the villagers to pay only for the fleece loan and leave the cost of the sumptuous feast for other votes in the future. That way we will finally own the pickled snipe and then later on, the villagers will have no choice but to vote for the sumptuous feast or whatever plans we propose.' The elders rejoiced again even before the vote (because) the whatever-feast could be held after all, and payment for the loan would be shifted from the elders' treasury to the purses of the villagers.

The fleece loan which enabled the elders to catch the snipe is now masquerading as Measure 3-295. Pray the villagers of Lake Oswego are not left holding the bag again.

Gordon Umaki is a resident of Lake Oswego.