Today I am thankful for a colony of snails drinking in the moisture collected on the three-pointed leaves of rain-splattered ivy. (Do snails even live in community? I don't know...but "colony of snails" sounds nice to me.)
The four of us had just spilled out from the five-story stairwell, eager to get in a brisk walk before the raindrops fell again from the lovely gray sky. It had been a perfect no-clock-watching-Sunday, but sometimes the girls get a little stir-crazy and deliriously wild-tired on a day with no routine and very little structure. So a walk before bedtime was in order, because only the distractions of fresh air and nature could cure my little ones' wiggles and make bedtime even possible.
Then we saw the snails: tiny, medium, and big, or, as my toddlers decided, babies, mommies, and daddies, many with shells more colorful than I would have expected. They left shiny membranes of slime in their wake as they eased over the deep-green leaves of ivy and climbed the red-brick garden walls. We counted past 20 before we lost track. And my husband laughed and declared that the four of us were "snails" too; because of our fascination with watching them, our walk didn't take us any further than the moss-covered courtyard of our own apartment building.
Later, as I gazed from my living room/studio window at the bushes where the snails live, I discovered that one of the little creatures must have followed us upstairs and was now "living" in a "practice" scrap of watercolor paper I've had laying on my work table for weeks. And these are beautiful things--finding an unexpected horned-and-slimy treasure trove, just outside our front door, and watching another shelled-friend emerge from paper painted but destined for the back-shelf.