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  • Hunting snails in your pajamas

  • Over the years, we have hunted and gathered many things: mushrooms, shale, huckleberries, sea shells, clams, fish, deer and elk. All of these pursuits have their own necessities: the clothes, the paraphernalia (i.e. shovels, a bucket, a weapon), the drive to get to them, the need to get up early (chances are best if we are th...
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  • Over the years, we have hunted and gathered many things: mushrooms, shale, huckleberries, sea shells, clams, fish, deer and elk. All of these pursuits have their own necessities: the clothes, the paraphernalia (i.e. shovels, a bucket, a weapon), the drive to get to them, the need to get up early (chances are best if we are the first ones there), the stalking, the gathering and then the cleaning and preservation once you get them home.
    You arrive home tired and dirty. Mushrooms have to be soaked, rinsed, trimmed, dried or frozen; the same process applies to huckleberries. Rock has to be unloaded, shells rinsed, fish cut up, wrapped and frozen, elk and deer taken to the butcher shop.
    So here is the point of the story. I have found the ultimate quarry. There is no travel, no need to get up before the sun and no special clothing or weapon. A little rock works fine, but the easiest way of dispatching them is smashing them with your fingers. They make a very satisfying "pop" as they are squashed.
    Snails, yes, snails. Big ones, little ones, doesn't matter. They are right out there in your yard and can be hunted in pajamas or in work clothes. They are slow, you don't have to chase them. There is no bait required, no license or permit. They are elusive enough to be a challenge (great camouflage), and after being dealt with, they can be left right where they are, no cleaning, sorting, packaging.
    Several years ago, I read a magazine piece that said garden snails are the same as the ones in restaurants. I think it said you put the garden variety in a pan of cornmeal and leave them for a couple of days until they "clean themselves out." Yuck. I'm a little sketchy on details, because I neglected to save the article. Darn.
    My favorite hunting time is just before heading to work in the morning. I slip into my purple gardening shoes and clomp out to the front retaining wall. I examine each plant, carefully lifting leaves and branches.
    One morning last week, I almost missed one that was hidden under a leaf. I commented, "Thought you could hide from me, didn't you, you little sneak?"
    Just as I made this remark, I heard a dog chain rattle behind me. I knew that the human attached to that dog had to be wondering why in the world that poor woman was talking to a bush. I didn't even turn around, just kept hunting. Some neighborhood children will undoubtedly be cautioned to walk on the far side of the street in front of our house.
    There must be some kind of a saying, probably from Shakespeare or the Bible, about simple pastimes for simple minds, and it definitely applies to me. At least I'm harmless — except to the snails.
    Linda Peil lives in Talent.
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