There is a 19th century nursery rhyme attributed to the English poet
that goes "What are little boys made of, made of?
Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails...."
The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning of "snips"
as little odds and ends, bits and pieces of things.
The citation from 1624 quotes R. Montagu as writing:
"I like not that the ancient Fathers are sent away...like schoole-boys with snips."
It seems elders didn't get much respect in the 17th century either.
I thought of the snips and snails line
when I walked down to the pier along the Elizabeth River last week.
Here's why I thought of the rhyme:
All the little white spots on the gray rip-rap are some kind of river snail.
Here's a closer view:
Since I'm made of sugar and spice and everything nice,
I don't find the sight of snails stuck to rocks very appealing.
But I'd rather see these mollusks
than the glossy brown palmetto bugs--big enough to saddle--
that usually scurry across these rocks.
Snips and snails and palmetto-bug-tails aside,
this part of the Elizabeth River channel is peaceful most of the time.
On sunny weekdays, it's a good place to watch tug boats
slowly push barges north to the shipyards,
or to see the moonlight reflected in the water on clear nights.
That's the everything nice part.