It could not even see or hear. It simply smelled and tasted and touched its world

snail-elizabeth-tova-bailey

I finished this book a month ago and it hasn’t left my consciousness. Who would have thought a book about a snail would have so captured my attention, and held it for so long.  Here’s the book summary from Amazon:

“While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater under standing of her own confined place in the world. Bailey becomes an astute and amused observer, providing a candid and engaging look into the curious life of this underappreciated small animal…told with wit and grace, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a remarkable journey of survival and resilience, showing us how a small part of the natural world illuminates our own human existence and provides an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.”

And here’s a few memorable passages:

“…I observed without thinking, looking into the terrarium simply to feel connected to another creature; another life was being lived just a few inches away.”

“By day, the strangeness of my situation was sharpest: I was bed-bound at a time when my friends and peers were moving forward in their careers and raising families. Yet the snail’s daytime sleeping habits gave me a fresh perspective; I was not the only one resting away the days. The snail naturally slept by day, even on the sunniest of afternoons. Its companionship was a comfort to me and buffered my feelings of uselessness.”

“…my snail could not see the moss over which it glided or even the plants it climbed. It could not see the trees, nor the stars overhead. It could not hear birdsong at daybreak, nor the midnight howls of coyotes. It could not even see or hear its own kin, let alone a predator. It simply smelled and tasted and touched its world.”

“The snail was awake. It made its way down the side of the pot and investigated the offering with great interest and then began to eat one of the blossoms. A petal started to disappear at a barely discernible rate. I listened carefully. I could hear it eating. The sound was of someone very small munching celery continuously. I watched, transfixed, as over the course of an hour the snail meticulously ate an entire purple petal for dinner. The tiny, intimate sound of the snail’s eating gave me a distinct feeling of companionship and shared space. It also pleased me that I could recycle the withered flowers by my bed to sustain a small creature in need. I might prefer my salad fresh, but the snail preferred its salad half-dead, for not once had it nibbled on the live violet plants that provided its sleeping shelter. One has to respect the preferences of another creature, no matter its size, and I did so gladly.”

~ Elizabeth Tova Bailey, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Highly recommended…

Comments

  1. On my list now…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. this sounds lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember hearing Scott Simon interview the author a few years ago and was fascinated by the story. Had every intention of picking up the book, and then it slipped my mind. You have just brought it to the fore again, DK. Thank you! And here’s a link to Simon’s interview if you’re interested….
    http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=129475625

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m with you.
    Highly recommend it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “…I observed without thinking, looking into the terrarium simply to feel connected to another creature; another life was being lived just a few inches away.” Such a moving sentence.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a fascinating perspective…this is a ‘need to read’ one. Thank you, David.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s more to whet your appetite:

      Each morning there was a moment, before I had fully awakened, when my mind still groped its clumsy way back to consciousness, my body not yet remembered, reality not yet acknowledged. That moment was always full of pure, sweet, uncontrollable hope. I did not ask for this hope to come; I did not even want it, for it trailed disappointment in its wake. Yet there it was, hovering within me— hope that my illness had vanished with the night and my health had returned magically with daybreak. But that moment always passed, my eyes opened, and reality flooded in; nothing had changed at all.

      Then I thought of the snail. I’d look for the tiny, earth-colored creature. Usually it was back up in the flowerpot asleep, its familiar shape reminding me that I wasn’t alone.

      By day, the strangeness of my situation was sharpest: I was bed-bound at a time when my friends and peers were moving forward in their careers and raising families. Yet the snail’s daytime sleeping habits gave me a fresh perspective; I was not the only one resting away the days. The snail naturally slept by day, even on the sunniest of afternoons. Its companionship was a comfort to me and buffered my feelings of uselessness.

      ~ Elisabeth Tova Bailey, “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved loved loved this book. Need to pull it out & read it again when I get home.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Going to keep in my cart. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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