Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Matter Of Life And Death

My daughter is fond of snails. And very soft hearted. Today, she found a snail in the garden; and named her Mary: Snail Mary. Unfortunately, mummy trod on Snail Mary…

Susannah buried Mary, under a leaf. On the leaf, she placed a piece of paper saying ‘Mary’; and then weighted down the paper and the leaf with some flat stones. Then she decorated the grave with grass clippings and flower petals. As if to explain herself, she told me, in a very matter-of-fact way:
“I loved Mary very much. And I only found her today. But she’s dead now. And I don’t know how to show that I loved her.”

A few minutes later, she said: “I did love Mary, but now she’s dead I’ve found a replacement. I think she must be Mary’s sister: her shell is very similar, only she is much smaller.” At mummy’s suggestion, the snail was named Martha. Then Susannah and Noah found another small snail, and set about making a playground for them: various leaves, stones and handfuls of soil, on a decorative slab set in the lawn.

After tea, Susannah went back out into the garden and sat in a silent vigil at Snail Mary’s graveside.

Then she and Noah went to find Martha and the other snail, to play with them again…but both snails had long since headed for the flower bed. (“But they can’t have. Snails are incredibly slow!”)

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