Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boring? Weigh in!

I've heard the whisperings that this blog is boring... so in an effort to spice it up, I'm sharing a post from my garden blog.  Let me know if you enjoy it!

We're going on a snail hunt!
We're gonna catch a big one!
I'm not afraid,
Are you?
Not me!

Grandchildren love to go on snail hunts 
and I love to rid my garden of these pesky little creatures.

The brown garden snail, Cornu aspersum 
Introduced to the USA from France during the 1850s for use as food
Escargot anyone? 

♦ ♦ ♦

When I was a child, I walked home from school everyday past a beautifully cared for red brick home. I always slowed my pace as I passed this home so I could take in the sight of all the beautiful trees and bushes and flowers galore. 

One rainy day, I noticed a snail moving along the sidewalk. I had never seen a snail before and was intrigued with the creature that quickly hid inside the shell when I picked it up. I held it in the palm of my hand for a few minutes fascinated by the artwork on the shell. Slowly the snail began to peak out from within the shell, probably as interested in me as I was in him. He pulled his little body almost completely from his hiding place and began to move along my palm. It tickled! He was a slimy creature, but not so much that I didn't enjoy our encounter. I placed the snail on the grass and skipped all the way home, content with my day's discovery.

The next day I looked for my little friend, he was nowhere to be seen. Each day I walked very slowly past the red brick house with the pretty gardens hoping to see him again, but he was never there.

Then one day it had been raining as I ran out through school doors. My world was clean and bright and the air smelled so fresh! I loved the rain. As I walked past the red brick house I walked very slowly looking for my snail on the sidewalk as I always did since we first met. Still no snail in sight. 

I was brave enough to walk up the driveway toward the garage as I looked for my snail. There was a fence on the far side of the garage with a narrow strip of land that had just enough room for me to walk in. There were green plants that I carefully stepped over. I felt a little naughty as I took each step as I knew this was a place I was not invited to be in. The feeling in my stomach told me I better leave. 

As I turned to make my escape I saw my snail, and another and another, there was a whole family of snails! The uneasiness I felt persuaded me to run home, but I knew that I would go back again another day. And I did, this time with a friend. 

Funny how brave you can be when there are two. Together we sneaked up the driveway and into the long green corridor looking for snails. We found them quickly and I tried to convince my friend it was ok to pick them up, that they tickled your hand as they slithered along your palm. She wasn't as brave as me, so I picked up two of them and carried them home to put in my mother's garden. I just knew they would love to live there.

The red brick house became our stopping place for several days as I caught snails to take home. Then one day as we came out from the side of the garage we were met by an old white haired man with a stern look on his face.  "What are you girls doing?"  Time has not erased the feeling of fright I had as this man confronted us.

"We're catching snails." I remember saying timidly. I opened my hands to show him my treasure. His dour look burst into a smile as he began to laugh. We were a bit perplexed as we wondered if we were in big trouble.

"Take all the snails you want!" he said in-between chuckles. Just don't step on my plants. He explained how he had watched from the window the past many days as we had disappeared behind his garage. He was curious about what two little girls might be doing there each day. We were relieved to find that he was a nice old man and wasn't angry with us at all. He told us again that we could take all the snails we could catch.

 I can see-e-e you...

When I got home, I decided I'd better tell Mom what had happened. As relieved as I was that the old man wasn't angry with us, I was still a little shaky about the encounter. I showed her the snails I had collected and told her the story of how my friend and I were hunting snails each day on the way home from school. "What are earth are you collecting snails for?" she said with a curious look in her eye.

"To put in your garden so we can have snails too!" was my innocent reply. 

It goes without saying that was the end of our snail hunts after school. My mom just didn't appreciate snails the way I did and certainly didn't want them living in her garden!

And now I understand why...

 ♦ ♦ ♦

Snails are hermaphrodites, so they all lay eggs. 
Brown garden snails lay an average
of 80 spherical, pearly white eggs at a time. 
They can lay eggs up to 6 times a year. 
Talk about multiply and replenish!

 Snail Huddle

What do we do now?

Let's have a Snail Race!

Obviously my perspective on snails changed once I became a gardener.  I don't really like creatures that nibble on my leaves.  Perhaps because of my early encounters with snails I prefer removing them by hand picking,   Handpicking can be very effective but you need to be thorough and hunt for them often or your snail population will quickly get out of control.  Thank heaven for little grandsons!

And what do we do with the snails once we find them? 
We send them all off to vacation at
The Snail Resort
where they can munch away 
to their hearts content... 
(the garbage can that holds my garden refuse.)

Want to know more about snails?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I wouldn't call it boring, just neglected and unloved ;) Great snail story though! I appreciate them too, even when they eat my basil seedlings and spawn a gazillion baby snails.