skipping stones

An old fashioned pastime I’m ever so fond of is skipping stones.

We spent a glorious weekend on Vancouver Island in some of my dearest childhood haunts, with sweet friends. Between picnics, beachcombing, and the odd brave swim in the cold waters, we skipped a lot of stones. My dear friend Lisa taught me some stone skipping skills.

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There’s an extraordinary variety of names for this game, from so many cultures:

In North America it is also referred to as “skipping rocks”. In Italian is called rimbalzello, in Russian this game is called “baking pancakes” (pech blini), in Ukrainian, it is called “letting the frogs out” (zapuskaty zhabky), in Polish, “letting the ducks out” (puszczanie kaczek). In Hungarian it is called “making it to waddle” (kacsáztatás). In Spanish it is called “making white-caps” or “frogging(?)” (hacer cabrillas or hacer sapito), among other names, in Catalan, “making step-stone bridges” or “furrows”, or simply “skipping stones” (fer passeres, fer rigalets, llençar passanelles). Also, in Estonian, it is called “throwing a burbot” (lutsu viskama). In Bengali Stone skipping is played in the name of Bengachi (frog jumps). In Andhra Pradesh Stone skipping is played in the name of Kappa Gantulu (frog jumps). In Portuguese, it is called either “peixinho” (little fish) or “conchinhas” (little seashells). In French, it is called “ricochets“, and in Swedish as well as in Finnish it is called “throwing a sandwich”, if translated literally. Czech language mostly uses dělat (házet) žabky/žabičky (to make/throw little frogs – countrywide, especially in Central and North Bohemia and Czech Silesia) or kačky/kačeny/kařery/kačenky/káčata/káčery/káčírky (ducks/drakes/ducklings, East Bohemia and parts of Moravia) but there are many other local and dialectal words: rybičky/rybky (little fishes), mističky (saucers), talíře (plates/dishes), podlisky/podlíšky/lyšky (wagtails), potápky (divers), pokličky/pukličky (pot-lids), plisky, plesky (flaps), žbluňky (plops), šipky (darts), bubliny (bubbles), židy (jews), páni/panáky (sirs/figures), babky (gammers/wagtails), panenky (dolls/girls/dragonflies), převážet panenku Mariu (to ferry Virgin Mary) and many others.

I like to think that as Lisa skips stones across the cove, someone in the world is doing the same thing by a different name.

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