The Gliding Snail of Perceptiveness

Virginia Woolf in her essay 'Street Haunting: A London Adventure,' describes the transformative moment of leaving the house as the shucking of an oyster. First she sets the stage for this dramatic image by describing the common and familiar surroundings of our home where "we sit surrounded by objects which perpetually express the oddity of our own temperaments and enforce the memories of our own experience.” Then, at the beginning of the next paragraph when her walk gets underway, she hits us with this: “The shell-like covering which our souls have excreted to house themselves, to make for themselves a shape distinct from others, is broken, and there is left of all these wrinkles and roughnesses a central oyster of perceptiveness, an enormous eye.”

Being an inveterate walker (I almost wrote invertebrate!), I understand what she's trying to convey. We are changed when we leave our houses and enter the larger world, whether the destination be a neighborhood, a city, or a wilderness. I would have preferred the use of a less violent image (though I trust she had her reasons). Perhaps a different class of Molluscs, Gastropoda instead of Bivalvia, would have worked just as well. Wouldn't the image of a snail do the trick? That moment it extends out of the safety of its shell, stretching out its tentacles, eyes at their very tips. The gliding snail of perceptiveness.

Reading this morning from Slugs and Snails by Robert Cameron, a recent title in the New Naturalist Series, I felt my curiosity about real snails intensify. So, while out walking today I thought to look for snail shells along the creek bank in Cowling Arboretum. Even with the temperature dropping back toward zero, with three days worth of new powdery snow, I succeeded in finding two snail shells without much effort. One shell that of a tiny Ramshorn Snail (3mm). The other a dextrally spiraled Pleurocerid Snail (27mm). Both freshwater snails.

[I'd like to note here, that I really know next to nothing about snails. Fortunately for me and others posting observations of snails there are several vigilant malacologists on iNaturalist that never seem to tire of lending their aid. Thanks in particular to @susanhewitt, your help has been much appreciated.]

Publicado por scottking scottking, 12 de janeiro de 2017, 04:42 AM

Observações

Fotos / Sons

Observador

scottking

Data

Janeiro 11, 2017 02:37 PM CST

Descrição

Snail
Spring Creek
Cowling Arboretum
Northfield, Minnesota
TL=27mm

Fotos / Sons

Observador

scottking

Data

Janeiro 11, 2017 03:07 PM CST

Descrição

Snail
Spring Creek
Cowling Arboretum
Northfield, Minnesota
TL=3mm

Comentários

I enjoy your writing. Please keep on.

Publicado por toddfolsom quase 5 anos antes (Sinalizar)

Love your brain. Thanks for sharing its.. ahem... wanderings ;)

Publicado por happynaturalist quase 5 anos antes (Sinalizar)

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