Len & Kit's Missionary Adventures in California

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Snips and Snails

Last week was mostly swallowed up in the routine of Zone Conferences. In church they announced a project in the vineyards to “sucker” (or could it be “succor”?) the grapes.  We thought it must mean pruning off suckers.  It is very green as we travel around now that trees have set their fruit and the blossoms are gone. Some entire orchards are covered with netting.  We are guessing it is to protect from birds eating the fruit, but we don’t know what kind of fruit it is.  We sometimes see crops growing that are unknown to us.  We need a native guide!  In some areas, old farmhouses have a three story tower built into one corner – likely to view the crops.  The houses with towers are nearly all very old and dilapidated, so we wonder what sort of technology made them completely outdated

My assignment at transfer time entails standing near one entrance to the stake center parking lot and waving to Len to signal when it’s time for him to send along another group of cars so missionaries can transfer their belongings and go off to new assignments.  It takes about an hour, which was a perfect opportunity to observe an industrious snail.  We have not encountered many snails in our lives.  

Escar, the friendly little snail who used to move so slow!

When I got to my post, the snail was very near the curb, but making his way across the sidewalk toward some lush grass.  I loved watching him propel himself along, leaving a neat series of almost square damp “footprints” as he went.  The trail reminded me of a place to cut-on-the-dotted-line.  I wondered if he had truly crossed the entire expanse of driveway to reach his present spot. Would he be able to store enough water to make all those wet marks?  In addition to being his portable, exquisitely designed dwelling, was his shell also a water storage reservoir?  His progress was undeniably slow, but so steady that he actually reached the lawn by the time the first cars got there.  It was a sermon to me about the power of perseverance.

A couple of days later, as I went up the walk to the mission office building, the morning sun shone on the concrete picking out beautiful silvery arcs which I realized for the first time, were snail paths.  They made a stunning design –intertwined softly curving patterns.  Fuzzy recall told me I had uncomprehendingly encountered literary descriptions of this phenomenon.  I asked a couple of the missionaries what they thought we were seeing. “I think they’re snail tracks,” one promptly answered.  Shocked, I asked how he knew that and he replied that he grew up where there are lots of snails.

By Googling, I found that some writers definitely take a more romantic view than others.  Wikipedia reduced it to: “Snail slime is a kind of mucus, an external bodily secretion which is produced by snails.”  They went on to declare that it had qualities of both glue and lubricant.  Ouch!  It didn’t look slimy or mucus-y in the least, just damp.  Perhaps these are the words of gardeners who see snails as the enemy.  A children’s gardening site in UK yielded, “Snails make interesting learning tools for kids and can be easily located by following the path of the snail trail, which is easily spotted glistening in the sun or shining under a flashlight at night.”  In 1845, Blackwood described someone, “His cloak was of rusty orange, embroidered with the slime of snail tracks…”My clear favorite was Truman Capote:  “I went up through the Quarter to the old market, where at that time of year are . . . Closed windows looked on blindly; snail tracks glittered silver on elephant ears, nothing moved except his shadow.”

Now I see snail paths of various sorts daily.  I’m so glad I can learn new things all my life!

Here are some favorite quotes from general conference:

Children are great imitators so give them something great to imitate.  –Joy D. Jones

It is better to follow the Creator than the crowd.  Gary B. Sabin

The Lord promises to direct our paths, but the Him to do that, we have to walk, trusting that He knows the way.  –L. Whitney Clayton