It’s raining again. In So Cal the way people react sometimes causes one to wonder if they didn’t get to spend the first nine or so months of their lives swimming in fluid. Or, if they ever take baths or showers, or sipped a glass of water. In some places, the populace must learn how to drive in blinding snow and steer on ice. Here, it seems to be all some can do to stay on the road because of a little water. But, while there may be mayhem on the asphalt, there is liquid magic taking place in the garden.
Drops of water flow from the heavens to cleanse and hydrate the earth. Moisture beads up on leaves. It looks like little liquid diamonds sprinkled on flowers. They get especially sparkly when the sun finally manages to peek through the grey clouds. All this happens to the peaceful rhythm of falling rain. And hail. Hail adds occasional staccato to the melody of the rain.
The music the rain provides seems to cue the snails that they can comfortably come out in droves. There is a sort of slow gracefulness about them. Their brown shells have a beautiful spiral that gets simultaneously tinier and higher. Like little land ships they slowly sail over soil, concrete, and flora. Gentle and quiet. Glistening with moisture. Making their way over seemingly impossible obstacles.
I have such mixed feelings about these local mollusks. They too are transplants from Europe. So pretty in a clunky way. But, they can be so destructive to a garden and the young plants they fancy. Never even had a desire to try escargot. Snails were such a problem in our yard growing up that our parents would pay us one cent for every snail we picked and two cents for every slug to help control the problem. So, in my subconscious there is a certain level of disgust of them as vermin even though I appreciate their awkward beauty at the same time.
When Mario Bitali was doing the show “Malto Mario” on the Food Network, he did a recipe for snail pasta showing how our little locals could be used to produce a gourmet Italian meal. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to reclassify the chewy protein source and try it out. But, for now, my shelled neighbors will retain consideration as a food source possibility only as part of an earth quake preparedness plan -along with opossums. And, of course, they remain a magical glistening sort of garden hermit crab. Little land gypsies whose beauty I appreciate when they’re not robbing my little garden blind.