I wandered up to the plot on Thursday afternoon, in a little bit of a funk. It was one of those days where I just wasn’t getting anything done, I couldn’t get my act together. I thought if I took a stroll up to the plot, I could at least water the vegetables, then I’d feel that I’d achieved something.
I grabbed a couple of watering cans and headed over to the water trough by the gate. I filled one can, and went to fill the other when I saw there was a snail fixed fast to the inside of the watering can. I went to pick him off and to my horror, I dropped him, straight into the water trough! He sunk to the bottom, like a stone. I immediately reached into the trough to retrieve him. I popped him on the grassy verge. He seemed okay.
Now, the keen gardeners among you will be shaking your heads and tutting at me for my foolish ways. Why on earth would I save a snail; enemy of the salad leaf and the brassica!?
But wait, there’s more…
I set about watering the plot. We’ve had lovely dry, sunny days this past week or so, and the earth was looking a little parched. I reached the leek bed and started watering the plants when suddenly, the stream of water from the spout stopped. There was still at least a litre of water in the can, I could feel it, why wasn’t it pouring? I wondered if there was a stone blocking the spout so I went to check, and two little tentacles poked out the end; a pair of curious eyes staring at me. A snail had been inside the watering can and had got swept into the spout as I poured the water, but the very tip of the spout was too narrow for him to come out, and he had gotten wedged.
Now a proper gardener would have probably bashed the little thing back inside the can and then thrown it away, or even killed it, without another thought. But I couldn’t possibly do that! It’s little eyes were peering at me, pleadingly. He vainly tried to struggle out the end of the spout, but couldn’t because his shell was trapped inside, he was completely stuck. I tipped the remaining water out of the top of the can, and then tried shaking it, to free him. He wouldn’t budge. I needed to push him back inside the spout, but his little face was there, staring at me – I couldn’t hurt him! I found a small piece of dried stalk and gently tried to prod his shell, but it was no good, his body had too tight a grip on the inside of the spout.
After much gentle prodding he released his grip, and I heard a little thud inside the watering can. I upturned it and he fell onto the grass. I thought I’d give him a moment to recover, he’d clearly had enough excitement for one afternoon, so I continued with my watering.
After I’d finished, I went over to check he was okay. He wasn’t moving much. He was clearly traumatised, poor fellow. I needed to give him the mollusc equivalent of a nice cup of tea, or a port and brandy. I went over and snapped off one of our chard leaves and put it next to him. (I know, I know!).
He had a little munch, and then curled himself up in it for a while. I left him while I did some other chores and then went back to check on him. He’d clearly perked up, although I could see some damage to his shell, probably from where it had got jammed inside the spout. I watched him, and he watched me.
We shared a very special moment, my friends.
After he’d had some food and a little rest, he was soon on his way. (Yes, I know. He probably slithered over to a neighbouring plot where he ate a blue pellet and died immediately!) But I watched him disappear into the grass and I was glad he was okay.
You see, I’ll never be a real gardener as I’m just no good at killing anything. I leave the more grisly gardening jobs to Ade. I don’t like slugs at all, but even those, I can’t kill. Lobbing them into the hedge is about as far as I can go. And I’m the same with plants. Pricking out young seedlings and throwing away the weaker ones is the horticultural equivalent of ethnic cleansing as far as I’m concerned!
The truth of the matter is, that snail had no less right to be there than I did. And look what a beautiful little fellow he was! See his delicate little shell? Those strange translucent tentacles?
Maybe this afternoon was the greatest adventure he’d ever had. Maybe he’d go back to his family and tell them the strange tale of the face that loomed down from the sky and saved him. Maybe I’m, like, SnailGod in mollusc folklore now.