At the bottom of the garden, underneath the ivy growth, lived a snail.
It was not a remarkable snail. It was in fact quite common. And it left a trail wherever it went, as common snails always do.
But it never went very far. Snails are homely creatures who have no illusions about seeing the world. Besides, there was no need for the snail to go anywhere.
It was well accommodated. There was always enough to eat nearby, and it was quite content with its own company.
At night it would dine alone, when the blackbirds and thrushes were sleeping.
A good deal of the day it would spend curled up in its shell, snoozing or hoping to sense the splash of a raindrop on its roofing. This was a satisfying sensation for the snail loved the rain. When the ground was wet it helped one move with greater ease. The increase in speed was always exhilarating. The snail would glide majestically from one end of a leaf to the other, waving its little antenna with regal dignity.
There was always plenty of time, and no point in rushing things. Patience is the supreme virtue, thought the snail.
But the day came when the snail's patience was to be tried much further than it had ever been before.
It was decided that the heavy ivy growth should be removed from the garden. It happened without any warning and left the snail in a terrible state of shock.
'It's the end of the world,' it thought, as it huddled in its shell, not daring to peep out its antenna.
The ground trembled and ivy creepers fell thudding. Flashes of light shone through the snail's shell, then suddenly it was bowled over, at least three ivy leaves in length, at shell splitting speed.
It was terrifyingly undignified and extremely uncomfortable.
By the evening all as calm, but the snail was too disturbed to go out to dine that night.
Only in the morning did it have the stomach to venture out to try to snatch a bite to eat. But then the snail had another shock. There was nothing there!
It was another world.
There were only stones, earth and a few dry leaves.
The snail went back inside its shell to consider things carefully. As it did so, it began to feel the heat of the sun.
For the first time in its sheltered life, the snail was faced with a serious problem. And there was no time to spare.
It had to move out of the sun into a damp and shady spot as soon as possible. But first it had to decide which direction to take. Decisions of this kind are most important for snails.
The sun glared down.
The snail was hot and thirsty, but it had reached a decision and was about to move.
The sun rose higher drying the earth and heating the pebbles.
The snail was moving, but it was gruelling work.
After half an hour it still had not managed to get very far.
Its shell was like a little oven, but the snail braved the discomfort to rest awhile, firmly closing its front door to conserve the last drop of precious moisture.
At that same moment, a thrush flew down. Vexed by the snail's unexpected withdrawal, the bird took it in its beak and flew up into an elm tree.
Inside its shell the snail's little antenna trembled with confusion. 'It must truly be the end of the world,' the snail thought.
Never had it felt such jolts and such rapid weather changes. But it was relieved to feel the coolness, to be apparently no longer exposed to the sun.
Then the thrush began to knock the snail against a branch high in the tree. 'Tock, tock; tock, tock'!
Instinctively the snail withdrew still more, as tightly as it could within its shell.
The thrush cocked its head then again tried to break the shell. 'Tock, tock; tock...?'
But this time the bird lost its hold and the snail fell, bouncing down through the branches and the leaves.
In three seconds the snail fell a distance that on a nice, dewy level stretch of ground would have taken it 36 hours at full speed to cover. But as it had no idea of this, it's really of no importance.
Below the elm tree grew a large rhododendron bush. The snail plunged right through it.
Its travels ended abruptly but surprisingly softly, and it landed without suffering from even a crack to its shell.
A tiny bit at the front was missing, it was true, caused by the thrush. Yet this didn't seem to bother the snail. It may have even added to its nonchalant charm.
After all these awful adventures, the snail needed time to rest. But gradually it was well enough to feel around a little.
The snail had landed on a pink rhododendron flower. As it groped further, still somewhat dazed yet enchanted by the perfume and the magic in the cool, damp air, the snail made contact with another...
It was the most beautiful creature the snail had ever seen or felt. It glistened as it glided with grace and polished ease, and its shell, like the finest of jewels, radiated infinity...
Naturally they made a perfect couple, and they were wedded without ceremony or delay. And there was always plenty of time. But none was ever wasted.
|From the Rainbow Series|
Texte and images © Mirino (PW) July, 2010