A Snail’s Place

Did you know that terrestrial snails love portobello mushrooms?  It does make sense.  I love portobello mushrooms and they have an earthy flavor that I think snails would love.  But, until recently, I had never thought about what these creatures eat.

I love snail shells.  We have a small collection on our kitchen windowsill.  Some we’ve found (empty) in our yard, some we’ve brought home from the beach.  We have a friend who’s focused much of his career on research of olive snails.  These tiny snails comprise much of the diet of wading birds.

But until I discovered a treasure of a little book a few days ago, I had never thought about things I didn’t know about snails.  I knew their shells possessed geometric qualities related to logarithmic spirals.  But now I now that though most of those spirals are counterclockwise, some are clockwise.  And, only if the spirals spin the same way can a pair of snails mate.  And when they eat, the hole (such as in a leaf) is a square shape.  Snails and their geometry – oh, my!

I learned all this by reading The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. I found this little book at our local used book sale a couple of weeks ago.  The Friends of the Library hosts an annual sale with more than 100,000 books.  The prices are bargain basement level and we usually come home with some treasures.

This delightful book charmed me instantly.  There’s something especially appealing about a small book.  And the simple drawings of the snails intrigued me, too.  The description in the overleaf reminded me of another charming little book that’s been part of our library for several decades, That Quail Robert.

The wild snail in this book doesn’t get named, but provided  companionship when Ms. Bailey most needed it, and delivered lessons in observation and philosophy that we can all heed.  Reading this snail’s story makes me slow down and appreciate the little things.

I’ve already been motivated to pull out the watercolors and play with them.  A stitched snail in wool has a new level of respect now.

As I often do after reading a delightful book, I searched for podcasts with the author.  I found a delightful conversation with Bailey and her “snail scientist” advisor Timothy Pearce.  His research has included affixing thread to the back of a snail in order to track the snail’s travels.  What a delightful image!


The book is readily available in print, as an ebook or audio book.  The charm of the paper, the size of the book, and the illustrations make me recommend the paper version.

The podcast I found was a broadcast from October 9, 2014 on NWP Radio.

Author: Sandy Gilreath

I've stitched my way through life. Early skills in utilitarian and decorative sewing have merged with art in the world of quiltmaking. My love of journaling has now crossed into the cloth world, too. I love old songs, old souls, old words; my collections attest to my fascination with memories.

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