Wild Snail Festivals

“It’s a wild snail festival out here!”
—Tanner (age 3)

We recently got home from a family mini vacation to Table Rock Lake, about three hours away from home.

At its best, working and schooling from home with our family of six feels like a beautifully seamless integration of work and life—there is no need to compartmentalize or draw distinctions between “life” and “work,” because it is ALL just life and living. At its worst, it feels like the work bleeds into everything else in an all-consuming way and the to-do list just never ends and something or someone is always getting overlooked or shortchanged. We find that it is helpful for us all to sometimes just all step away and be somewhere else, while the to-do list stays at home! We try to take at least five family adventures/trips a year (some of them small and some more involved). This trip was one of the small ones and it was wonderful.

One morning, I went out for a walk with our youngest son, Tanner, to collect supplies for a goddess grid. As we came up the steps near our room, we discovered that there were many different sizes of snails crawling along the rain-dampened stone steps. Tanner exclaimed: “it’s a wild snail festival out here!” and squatted down to admire the snails. I crouched and admired with him, watching them slowly investigate the goddess figurine I’d set on the steps and reflected that if we hadn’t made the time to squat down, to get to a snail’s eye level, we would never have seen them. I loved it. I loved the rhythm of the “wild snail festival.” I loved Tanner’s choice of wording and how incongruous and charming it is to think of “snail” and “festival” or “snail” and “wild” in the same context and it felt like this charming moment, time out of time, just partying with the wild snails. (He meant wild in the sense of “crazy party” rather than “opposite of domestic.”)

We found snail shells later and collected them for our mandala, examining each one, upon which he would announce: “Nobody’s in this one!” or, “oops! Somebody still in this one!” We set up our goddess grid on the balcony and when returning to it a little while later, I noticed an “error” in my snail shell pattern from the center…as my eyes slid over the altar cloth I saw the culprit. Part of our mandala had made a break for it and was sliding away across the cloth to the edge of the table. One of our “empty” shells was still inhabited! (We took it back to the rocks and set it free.)

 May we always
have time to take part
in wild snail festivals.  

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