edited: Sunday, March 17, 2002
By Rose G rose.moss@LineOne.net
Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2002
Become a Fan
As a child I was fascinated by snails,little did I think my enthusiasm would return to haunt me.
As a child I was always fascinated with the various creatures I found in the garden. I disliked anything without legs though, with one exception, snails !
I think my fascination stemmed from my favourite fairy tale book, which showed the beautiful fairy queen riding along in a golden carriage drawn by two snails. I immediately searched my garden for these fairy equivalents of horses, but in vain, I could only find slugs, which made me shudder as I thought them horrible slimy things.
A few months later, my parents took me for our annual holiday on the Welsh coast. We stayed in a guest house owned by a lady, an old friend of the family, who allowed me to play in her garden while my parents were resting after lunch. To my delight, I discovered some real live snails, dozens of them in fact. Snails with magnificent shells, who could have slithered straight from the pages of my book of fairy tales.
I ran straight to my Mother to tell her of my discovery.
“You’ll have to ask if you can take some home with you.” She said “But you’ll need a suitable box to keep them in for the journey.”
The lady who owned the guest house was only too pleased to give her permission for me to take away what she must have regarded as garden pests but was too kind to say so.
The holiday passed all too quickly and I was upset at the thought of leaving the beach and the donkeys behind. My Mother bought me a game the day before we were due to go home to cheer me up and I immediately took it out of it’s box to play with.
“Why not put your snails in the box ? “ My Mother suggested “You’d better collect them tonight as we want to leave early tomorrow.”
I went round the garden and collected the finest snails I could find and filled the box before shutting the lid. I took them inside to show my Mother ,who managed to keep a straight face.
“Yes, they are nice snails, but I think you’d better leave them in the garden. They’ll be happier there outside.”
The next morning I went to collect my snails only to find to my horror that the box had vanished without a trace. I was devastated.
“They’ve obviously been stolen.” My Mother explained. “Someone must have seen the box and thought the game was still inside. I’d love to see their face when they opened it and found the snails !”
“My poor snails !” I protested almost in tears “Will the nasty thief hurt them ?”
Trying to suppress her mirth, my Mother assured me that they would have thrown them in the nearest garden and made good their escape. She found me another box and helped me collect some more snails to take home with me.
The snails thrived in my garden and multiplied over the years, as no one in the household was interested in gardening and as the snails avoided the trees and the rose bushes, they were no problem. For several years I took a keen interest in them, even mending their shells with sticky tape if they became damaged !
My knowledge of biology was also broadened when I came across a pair of mating snails, which is something unique in the animal kingdom.
As I grew up, other interests took my attention and I forgot about the snails though I was aware a thriving colony had established itself in the garden.
About twenty years later, I was sitting in the kitchen with my Mother playing Trivial Pursuit, a game we both enjoyed. It was Halloween and one of those late Autumn days of constant heavy rain and wind, when it’s best to stay indoors and draw the curtains after dark.
We were engrossed in our game, when I heard a most unearthly sound from outside, like something scraping across the window making an eerie indescribable sound.
“Did you hear that ?” I asked my Mother
“It’s probably the wind she replied, Come on it’s your turn !”
I tried to concentrate on the game but the eerie sound continued. It was unlike anything I’d heard before. It didn’t sound like a burglar, but almost unearthly. I felt scared and switched on the outside lights and looked out of the window. Nothing was there.
“I can’t see anything.” I told my Mother,” But I know something’s out there !”
“You’d better look then,” she suggested” It will just be the wind blowing something.”
“ I’m not going out there, I’ve no idea what I might find !” I protested.
My Mother looked out at the driving rain. She sighed before saying. “I’ll come with you then. I’ll just get my coat.”
We put on our rain coats and found a powerful torch then unlocked the door and cautiously made our way outside, taking care not to skid on the wet leaves covering the yard.
My Mother shone the torch over the window. I held my breath, half expecting a spectral hand or some hideous insect species I’d never seen before !
The light shone on two large snails slowly struggling to make their way up the slippery glass !
We both burst out laughing. The other worldly visitors were nothing more than very ordinary snails !
Still grinning, we carefully picked them up by their shells and placed then on the flower bed in the garden.
I haven’t seen the snails recently, but I’m sure they are still around hiding in the darkest nooks and crannies of the garden.