Friday, February 18, 2011
A convalescent, nailed in prime adulthood by a mysterious virus which nearly kills her and confines her to bed for years, leads a morose and purposeless existence until a friend brings her a woodland snail. The snail lives for a time in the convalescent's room inside a potted plant, but as Ms. Bailey becomes more interested in the tiny creature and its peculiar habits her caregiver arranges for more suitable habitat: a terrarium with mosses, ferns, rotting branches, and a mussel shell watering dish. The wee beasty thrives, and the fascination it holds for the observer helps bring her renewed purpose and the possibility of healing.
Ms. Bailey meditates on the habits of her companion, and researches dilligently into the surprisingly diverse literature on snails and other mullosks. This charming little tome is half memoir of illness, half amateur naturalist's observations of an amazing little creature. Just as the tiniest creatures might seem insignificant but prove most resiliant and complex, so can the smallest of books.