“I hate snails!”
I have heard those words uttered in assorted shades of matter-of-factness, disgust, anger, as if snails’ only reason for existence is to destroy the speaker’s garden.
I love snails.
I lose myself in observing them explore their sliver of the world. I marvel at their agility.
To bridge the gap between where it is and where it wants to go, the snail stretches the front of its body as if it were a thick rubber band and reaches the destination, adhering firmly to it and testing that it can hold when the heavy rear becomes airborne. The stretching continues until I expect the snail to pop completely out of its shell. There is a suspended moment in which most of the snail is on the destination leaf, while the shell is still on the origin and a thin middle ensures the two halves are still one creature.
Then, as if at the end of a NASA-style countdown, the snail’s elastic body snaps back bringing the shell to the destination leaf. Reunited with its heavy-duty home, the snail rests for a bit and catches its breath, then resumes its exploration.
Every morning I get an opportunity to study snails’ prowess. They are fond of parsley, of the white chard growing in the middle of the garlic patch, and of kale. I may see a large leaf in the evening and decide to let it replenish its moisture during the night to harvest a plumper version the next morning. When the appointed time comes, I find a lace of leaf veins held by the stem where once there was an expanse of dark green leaf tissue.
I am not overly upset at the discovery that a kale leaf has been reduced to a skeleton by voracious snails. Snails teach me to be persistent, to divide the road ahead into small steps and take one at a time, prepare for it, execute it, then move on to the next one.
I don’t kill snails. I make sure my edible plants remain edible in sufficient amount and my seedlings get a chance to develop by drawing a thick circle of crushed egg shells around them. When I catch a snail in the act, or asleep with a full stomach, I relocate it together with the leaf on which I found it, so that it won’t be completely disoriented in its new environment — usually the compost pile — and will have something to eat until it can find a new source of nourishment.
My snail control strategy may seem silly and pointless. But when I feel in my bloodstream the hatred flowing freely around the world and flooding every corner of it, I must do something. Showing consideration for the life of a snail is my toothpick-size contribution to the beaver dam of love that every day hinders hate’s flow.
© 2015-2020 Simona Carini