Any self-respecting daughter of a gun-toting father should know she can't catch snipe in a paper bag. That's what my father said after I told him about my snipe hunt. I may have been gullible all those years ago, but I was aiming for loyalty.
This economy has ferreted out the most distant of relationships. I received a postcard from VISTA saying, "We found you!" Many years ago, I was a Volunteer In Service To America stationed on a Chippewa reservation in Cass Lake, Minnesota. I had dropped out of my pre-med curriculum at the University of Vermont, and signed up at the recruiting table outside the university shop.
Several weeks later, I arrived on the Blue Goose airline, all by myself, in Bemidji, Minnesota. Seasoned volunteers from the various towns on the reservation met me. They told me they were going on a snipe hunt that night and perhaps I'd like to come along. "Of course, I would," I assured them. After all, I wanted to "be one of them."
Just before dusk, they picked me up at my tarpaper shack. We all piled into their government-issued station. When we got to the field, they handed me a paper bag and told me they would drive the snipe toward me by whistling. I was to stand in one spot and blink my flashlight, and when the snipe came, snatch them up.
I had arrived in town only hours before and there I was, all alone in a dark field. I blinked my light frantically. Then I noticed the headlights from a slow-moving car. It stopped, a shadowy figure walked toward me. My friends were nowhere around. I blinked my light. A policeman drew near and asked, "What are you doing?"
Suspicions about my choice of weapon clouded my response. "Snipe hunting?" my voice reflected more of a question than an answer.
"Don't you know it's not snipe season?" he asked.
Now that threw me. Not wanting to get my new friends in trouble, I simply said, "No."
"You'll have to come with me," he said, and I, back in the days of trust and stupidity, went.
We sat at the counter of the local bar/restaurant/hole-in-the-wall. He pulled out the fish and game book to prove my offense when the door burst open and my friends tumbled in. They laughed. The cop laughed. I pretended to laugh. Oh what you could do on a reservation way back then.
The recent postcard from VISTA reminded me of that night. I wanted to save my friends from trouble and prove I was loyal. I thought about my loyalties now.
"Lord, may I be loyal, be willing to not speak against, but be willing to stand up for, my husband, my friends, my country,--YOU."