Friday, March 11, 2011
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating / by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
After her hectic though seemingly fulfilling life is put on hold by a strange and utterly overpowering illness, a stricken Elisabeth Tova Bailey found herself not only bedridden but incapable of even the most basic tasks. The disorder, loosely identified as complications to her autonomic nervous system, left Bailey with hardly the strength to roll over much less sit up in bed. "It was all I could do to get through each moment, and each moment felt like an endless hour . . ." (p. 6). Things went on like this until a friend brought around a peculiar present: a woodland snail dug up from a garden. From her bedside, Bailey, with little else to do, began to monitor the only slightly more stationary life of the small creature inside its terrarium, gradually becoming intimately familiar with the oddly fascinating world of her new neighbor.
As the days, weeks and months passed, Bailey became enraptured by the movements, maneuvers and eating habits of her gastropod companion, noting how its steady diet of mushrooms and mold made for some startlingly loud eating habits and subtly discovering the captivating serenity of the creature's plodding yet purposeful approach to life. Quite literally, the snail's pace proved to be a perfect fit for Bailey's deeply diminished status, her awareness and consciousness of the creature's world soon making her aware of how much the human world was throwing her off. "I found myself preoccupied with the energy level of my visitors . . .whereas the energy of my human visitors wore me out, the snail inspired me" (p. 37). With scientific data and curious factoids fitted right in to the narrative (some snails are actually hermaphrodites), the author of this candid little book, one fitting nicely into a part memoir/part biology niche, shows us how much we are really missing when we forget to slow ourselves down and observe the astonishing beauty of the natural world. (594.38 BAILEY)