For a long time it was moles. “Let’s go on a mole hunt!” Norah started saying. She suddenly became an expert on moles (“Moles are very cute little things, Mommy”), where they live (“Outside in the grass”), and how they can be hunted (“We need to get a stick and go outside”). This was the more interesting as, to our knowledge, she has never seen a mole. I’m not sure where she even heard of them. One weekend she gave her Daddy a lengthy outdoor lesson in the art of mole-hunting that revealed what a great amount of serious creative thought she has put into this.
I decided she needed a pet, but I didn’t want to start with a mole. Then one day last week moles were out and snails were in. She was hunching herself under blankets and refusing to respond to any address other than “Baby Snail.” We wiled away many a mile of walking to town last week with snail-hunting. This is a more rewarding sport than mole-hunting, as we found snails on many occasions. We watched them sliming along and examined empty shells.
So Saturday morning on a family walk I gritted my teeth and finally suggested that we bring one home for a few days. Norah ecstatically snail-hunted until we found a little brown one, which rode on top of the baby buggy. After running errands in several shops, I realized the snail had left us (It’s probably still in the bakery at M & S). This was all the more unfortunate as Norah had just fallen down and scraped both knees and was still feeling blue. Suddenly we needed every one of our snail-hunting skills. It was Alex who found our pet, a striped snail that Norah promptly named “Tiger.”
Tiger has remained with us, living in a tomato puree jar along with Flowering Bush (Flower for short), a smaller snail that Norah later found that couldn’t be resisted. They’ve sort of grown on all of us. We’ve watched their slimy movements with interest–there have been several moments of great excitement, as when Flower began to slime across the jar and Tiger was in his/her way. What would he do? He actually went directly over Tiger’s shell–and Tiger never even came out to see what was going on!
The original plan was to release Tiger and Flowering Bush in a few days. However, I fear Norah is becoming a bit attached (she hugs and kisses the jar). In our quest for information about what to feed snails (they are vegetarians), Norah and I learned that they live an average of 15 years, particularly in captivity (!). I also read that they are both male and female and frequently produce eggs . . . which, no doubt, turn into baby snails . . .
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in his heaven–
All’s right with the world!