A Small But Positive Sign In The Shape Of A Snail

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” 
~  Oprah Winfrey

When we holidayed with a friend and her family early this year, her small children asked me what I had done to earn pocket money when I was little.

We didn’t get pocket money when we were growing up, but sometimes we would get paid for chores, and the one chore both my mother and grandmother would pay for was snail collection. Both of them were avid gardeners, and there were always so many snails threatening their annuals, vegetables and flowers. I would wake early each morning to silvery trails along all the paths, and of course all of the soft plants and flowers would have been nibbled voraciously. I’d be sent out with an empty ice-cream bucket (the family size!) to gather snails so they could be disposed of. I’d easily fill that bucket with perhaps half an hour’s work. They were everywhere, especially if you knew where to look.

Fast forward to today, and I have barely seen a single snail in years, except for the giant rainforest snails that we sometimes see around the farm. I’ve grieved and ached for that loss, and for my role in contributing to the demise of so many creatures. Our modern garden is so different to the gardens of my childhood. Where have all the snails gone? The bees? The insects? As a child I would amuse myself for hours catching small green grasshoppers or odd-looking beetles. There was an abundance of wildlife in my own back yard. Birds, dragonflies, stick insects, praying mantis, butterflies, Christmas beetles by the battalion, moths, all kinds of grubs and crawly things. And so many bees, especially when the summer lawn was full of clover.

Forty or so years later the skies and gardens seem empty. And I hadn’t seen a snail in my garden for a decade.

Until today. A tiny snail on one of my roses. Ben pointed it out to me. ‘Look, honey’, he said. ‘A snail is eating your rose.’ ‘Good!’ I responded. ‘I’ll grow more!’ If that little snail likes roses I will make sure she has an endless supply.

I can’t tell you how happy this one little snail has made me. I am hoping to soon see more.

A garden snail – courtesy of the Breathe Easy Project

Here in our little corner of the world, at our farm and at our neighbours, we don’t use chemicals or bug spray or any kind of pesticide. I favour companion planting. If bugs destroy a certain plant I make a note of it and either don’t grow it again or I grow lots of it so we can share it with the bugs, or so they can eat it and spare the rest of my garden.

Birds like to eat snails and bugs. So do lots of other critters. They are all part of the cycle of life, and I want for that biodiversity to continue. To that end we’ve planted lots of native flowering trees that are food for birds and butterflies and possums. We’ve placed birdbaths strategically around the garden. We’ve replanted species around the denuded areas of our farm to encourage biodiversity and restorative ecology. We farm organically. We use worm farms to enrich our soil and to compost all our food scraps. We do what we can to make our home a home for all.

Perhaps that little snail is a sign that we are doing something right.

Today I’m intending for you some small positive sign that you’re moving in the right direction too. Much love, Nicole   xx

 

 

9 thoughts on “A Small But Positive Sign In The Shape Of A Snail

  1. Your story about the snail reminds of my Dad. I lived in the country when I was small and we had deer that would visit his garden, when asked by friends why he didn’t try to stop them from eating the corn in the garden he would say “why, they have to eat too. I plant enough to share”. 🙂

  2. Oh Nicole! Come to my garden where there is an abundance of snails. All your must have heard the cry “go west young man” and they loaded up their wagons and came. 😄

  3. Dear Nicole. Thank you so much for the loveliness of this post. I am proud to say that my garden here in Brisbane is awash with snails…roses, citrus, geraniums, beans…they are everywhere. Another recent arrival is a beetle that is reminding me of the Christmas Beetles of my youth. They were such a part of the ritual of Christmas at my beloved grandparents house. My children do not know of their shiny, colourful, spikey beauty and are frightened and annoyed by the dull brown creatures that are so reminiscent of them. I have sadly however watched them perish due to the “organic” spray we have used on the house and I have realised how much a part of the demise of the Christmas Beetle I have been. Vowing now to leave the outside of our house untouched by spray in the hope that they will find more of a welcoming home next season. Another wish I have is for the return of the Pippie…such a rare sighting now on the beaches close to home. Much love and gratitude to you. Simone x

  4. I remember reading about tomato worms and their transformation to sphinx moths. My FiL used to get paid to kill the worms, later he was telling me how lovely the moths were. He was startled to learn they were the same creature.
    I do NOT like the borer bugs which kill punkin vines. One day the vines are healthy and full of ripening pumpkins. The next, almost overnight, everything is dying. It doesn’t matter how many we plant, the bugs get them all. Incredibly depressing.

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