I went hunting in South Side. Our spring has been hot and after weeks of no rain, a beautiful shower opened up upon the Columbia valley. It rained all night leaving the edges of the world perfumed with the smells of earth and plump leaves.
When morning came, I put on my gum boots and drove across town to South Side. European escargot snails have taken over a parcel of forest on the edge of town. With a bucket and a few enthusiastic friends, I slowly walked through rain soaked bracken ferns and knee high grass. My eyes adjusted to finding the whirled brown shells and silken bodies of these large snails underfoot. Our buckets rang with our mollusc prizes as we slowly plucked the sticky snails up from the grass below.
I had to feed them lettuce for 10 days to purge their bodies of grit and detritus. The snails lived in a large purple glaze dipping bucket in my front entrance. I put a bowl of water and lettuce at the bottom of the bucket and put a large basket as a lid. The first night in residence, the snails pushed the basket off the top of the bucket. I woke up to my dog pacing in the porch as if trying to herd the small bandits.
As the week passed and I reached day 10 of my snail farming, the snails had lost their luster and were no longer as beautiful or healthy. My friends who helped harvest the snails had all gone away for the weekend and our snail feast had to be postponed. My job as snail farmer seemed more like a jailer. The snails did not have to vigour that they once had. They were giving up their fight and with each day, the idea of submerging them live in a bucket of salt water to de-slime them seemed like a rough end to a long drawn bucket torture. So, I drove back to South Side at 10:30 at night and scooped the sticky mass of snails out of their prison and back into the grasslands.
Apparently European snails can live up to 35 years. I am sure in the near future, I will rekindle the desire to try escargot. It just seemed like if I was to eat these wonderful creatures, they should be singing for life like a troubadour. I guess my escargot will be gritty.