Every morning I wake to the sound of tweet of the day on radio 4 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s6xyk). I’m trying – yet again – to learn to recognise birds by their calls. Birdsong is one of the joys of Slow Summer Snail Farm, but some of the noises made by other animals would certainly annoy the neighbours. As farm animals snails have a lot going for them in that respect: being very quiet is one of their endearing features. But ‘The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating' : isn’t that a wonderful title for a book? I had to read it of course and I’m so glad I did. The author (www.elisabethtovabailey.net/) is ill and is given a potted plant with a snail living in it. Bed bound and unable to leave her room she becomes fascinated by the activities of her snail especially at night when she can’t sleep. She reads everything she can to find out about snails too and tells us all about them. One of the poems she quotes is The Four Friends by AA Milne. I’ve read all his children’s books about Winnie the Pooh but I didn’t know this poem. The line she quotes is:
‘James gave a huffle of a snail in danger And nobody heard him at all. ‘ ‘Huffle’ is a lovely word - perhaps it’s the sound of a snail retreating into its shell. Snails have no ears. They can’t hear and they don’t make deliberate sounds. But if you listen carefully you can hear them drinking water and their thousands of little teeth make a rasping noise when they eat.
I’m not yet half way through the book so I don’t know what happens next but I can’t wait to get back to it.