At a Snails Pace

Last week was spring break for my boys. They were home on vacation for ten days.  In the middle of the week, a few of my other mom friends and I took turns having them and their friends at our houses. Thursday, I had my two boys and four of their friends.  They were all so good.  And, they had a blast playing basketball, video games and an epic Nerf gun (Fornite inspired) “Battle Royale” in the backyard. 

I let them have their space playing, but also wanted to keep an eye out.  We live on a busy road. And, when they were playing basketball, I just wanted to be near in case anyone needed a band aid or ice pack – lol.  Luckily, none were needed. 

So, to keep from hovering over the boys, I worked on pulling some weeds in the front garden.  It was near enough to the court that I could see and hear them.  But, far enough away that they could play without hearing my helicopter propeller. 

Weeding the garden is so similar to taking a walk for me.  It is mindful and intentional work.  I have to pay attention to what I am doing, so I am present.  I am always on the look-out for a new flower, frog or a colorful and interesting insect.  (And, I am also conscious of large overgrowth areas and the possibility of a snake.)  Being in the “now” doesn’t allow for other thoughts (such as ruminating over the past or fretting about the future).  It is enjoying the garden, and only the garden.  It is restful for my brain.

I always have my camera ready, because you find so much glorious life in the garden! 

On this Thursday in the weeds, I could hear the laughter of the boys and the bouncing of the basketball.  I put my gloves on and went for the large orange pot that appeared to only have dirt, old leaves and the start of weeds in it last week.  But, surprisingly, started blooming wild pansies this week.  I had planted the “Johnny-Jump-Up’s” because they reminded me of my Grandma Jones.  She always had them in her garden. And, purple was one of her favorite colors.  So, last Mother’s day, when the boys got me a garden store gift card, I bought some to plant in that pot.  I didn’t expect them to last more than one season.  I knew that wild pansies were a perennial, but I never expected them to come back in the pot.  So, it was a beautiful surprise to see them blooming. 

As I started weeding the pot, I discovered two snails. 

I weeded gently around them, trying not to disturb them.  I think that the movement of the weeds jostled one to movement, so I stopped to watch.  Snail number one moved VERY slowly.  Watching the movement of a snail is SO relaxing.  It is like meditation for me.  I love watching them stretch their bodies from the ball in their shell, to fully extended.  And, seeing their tentacles and eyes appear and elongate as they move about – is exquisite. 

I thought that snail number one was going to go around snail number two, but to my delight, snail number one “leap-frogged” right over snail number two. It was the fastest and most direct path across the flower pot, but it still surprised me. I could feel myself smiling. This simple joy is so distracting from everyday life. It is so healing for tension and anxiety. It is my respite.

As I watched this small, steady crawl of the snail, I wondered if it knew where it was headed? Did it have a plan? I don’t know how long I watched. It could have been a minute, or ten. I snapped a few photos. I watched it move its tentacles around and over the other snail.

Soon enough, snail number one, had traversed over top of snail number two. Then, it took a quick glimpse(?), or taste (?), or sniff (?) of a pansy.

It was a very quick drive-by of the flower, and the snail continued on its way to the edge of the pot.

Once it arrived on the smooth surface of the pot, the snail picked up speed.

Fairly soon after it reached freedom, outside of the pot, it curled up and reattached itself underneath the curve at the top. It looked so cozy.

I moved away from the pot, and further down the garden. I weeded some more and listened for the boys. As I walked back toward the house, I glanced back into the pansy pot. I was elated to see that snail number two was on the move. And, it too, seemed to be appreciating the pansies.

Such a blissful sight. A blessing. I posted this one on Facebook, because it made me so happy. I thought it might make others happy, too.

I got so many thoughtful questions, and positive feedback, from friends and family. How did you find a snail doing that? And, how long did you sit there watching? It isn’t a quick answer. I think I watched for a long time. But, it might have been short? When I get caught up watching nature (meditating), I lose myself for a bit. And, I think that we all see them – snails, insects, birds, flowers. But, I think we sometimes forget to really look. Not just look with our eyes. But, look with all of our senses. To really take in the whole experience of being acquainted to another creature moving, seeing, smelling, stretching. It is not only enlightening to observe. It is being awake and alive. It is so healing for our soul!

I know it might seem silly to observe a snail so intently. But, it is like medicine for me. Like everyone, I don’t have a lot of extra spare time. But I make time for this. It really does temper my spirit.

There is a daily blessing out there, in our yard, every single day!

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