Snail Nests

In the garden the night-scented stocks are flowering. A crowd of delicate four-petaled white stars with pale pink tips, each clamouring to be the tallest, their sweet scent mingling with the cold air. I can smell a bonfire too, somewhere nearby, on this damp evening.

A large brown and orange slug is sliding across the lawn near my feet. I do try not to be disgusted by these solemn creatures, but I am not very successful. It has surely been good weather for slugs, they are loving it. Leaving their slimy trail patterns all over the place and nibbling everything in their path. Oddly, I don’t have the same dislike for snails. When I was a child I used to collect grass cuttings from the lawn and make little nests, decorating them with daisies and other flowers, then go collecting as many snails and furry caterpillars as I could find to put in the nest. Time and again I would deposit those that managed to escape back inside the nest and would always be disappointed next morning when it was empty. The shyness of snails – hiding in their shells, and caterpillars – curling up into a ball as they do, appeals to that person in me who wishes to hide away from the world sometimes…

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