How odd that I've reached this advanced age and never paid attention to a real live snail before yesterday! I've known about snails but rarely saw them anywhere. Yesterday, a warm, lovely Sunday, I sat down on my little patio with part of the Sunday paper and noticed a shiny white trail from the grass to the white doormat (it's a very small patio: one chair, one little table, one doormat and a bit of volunteer ivy). Frankly I was a little mystified by that almost sparking white trail. There at it's end was a tiny snail shell, no more than an inch tall or long. No snail visible.
But as I read I glanced down now and then and saw him emerge, looking almost exactly like this photo. For about ten minutes he slowly moved in meditative (it seemed) increments, perhaps it's just a matter of working up the energy after each heave for the next heave. Eventually he moved off the mat and stopped moving, apparently totally fatigued. He had left more trail. In fact, he stayed there just at the edge of the mat the rest of the day. The last time I looked, about 6:00 in the evening, he was still there. Sometime, after his long rest, he left making a parallel line back to the grass several inches from the line he made to come explore the barren wastes of concerte and polyester. It must have been like a desert crossing for him.
When I get involved looking at something in the natural world like this, although my concentration is not intense, I think of Mary Oliver's poem "The Summer Day" and especially the words "I do know how to pay attention." Here's the end of that poem:
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
Into the grass, how to stroll through the fields.
Which is what I have been doing all day.
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!