Where Have All the Snails Gone?

The other night, at a regular dinner gathering I go to, a friend asked what I did about snails. You see, among my friends, I am what passes for a gardener. In my mind, I’m not; I would say instead I putter around with it.

I would describe gardening as one of my “interests.” I only truly participate in a few, like cooking (ya gotta eat), writing, reading, and taking care of pet cockatiels, but over the years I have had the usual number of life experiences and a greater-than-usual interest in knowing about stuff and have been continuously fascinated by people who know what they’re doing. To a greater or lesser degree, I am capable of becoming interested in almost any subject. This has led to a pattern of random, diverse, but full-of-holes learning which gives me the knowledge necessary to shout out the correct question to a Jeopardy answer from two rooms away where I can barely even hear the TV, but not enough to make me feel as if I know much at all.

I am therefore surprised, even shocked, when a friend turns to me expectantly and says, “You know about birds. What is that one, the one singing, way at the top of that tree?”

If it’s not a crow, seagull, hummingbird, pigeon, hawk, mockingbird, or duck, my answer is: I don’t know. I have cockatiels. They screech and whistle a lot.

Anyway, back to snails. I occurred to me, while giving what little advice I could, that I haven’t seen any snails on my property for several years, and that I have never seen any in my backyard, not in twenty-five years of living here. Another friend at dinner mentioned that there weren’t any in Florida, and it was an experience to move to California and occasionally step on them and feel that awful, slimy squish.

Aphids sometimes, but no snails!

I did know that our garden snails are not native to California, and have heard that they were imported here from France as a food delicacy. I have eaten snails–in restaurants, not in my garden–and really, they aren’t much. Sort of like pencil erasers, but okay if swimming in a little pot of garlicky butter.

For snail basics, here’s the wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helix_aspersa

I could not recall any snails in science fiction, so I tried googling mollusks in science fiction. No snails, but A. Lee Martinez came out with Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain. But it’s more squid than snail.

Below the book reviews, however, came the truly interesting Google result. Take a moment to glance at it.

http://www.standard.net/stories/2011/09/16/not-science-fiction-giant-snails-invade-neighborhood

Bear in mind, this happened in Florida. I guess my friend was lucky to get out in time.

Photo: Mine. All rights reserved.

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