The weather, never settled for long, has changed again. After baking heat - always welcome when venturing into the city to shop (aye, right!) - Saturday night brought heavy rain. Driving home late, I became aware that things were moving in the headlights’ beam. Frogs. Lots of frogs. They’ve spent the hot spell hidden under the dry stone walls or in deep undergrowth, until the rain came. Then it’s way-hay! Look chaps - puddles! Which made driving the back roads rather more akin to a slalom course, avoiding frogicide.
Arriving home, we unpacked the car; another slalom session as we avoided the snails sliding happily across the path. With rain dripping down my neck from the tailgate of the car, I turned and noticed around fifteen on the end wall of the house, all heading upwards. One slid purposefully up the edge of the gable; all seemed bent on reaching the roof, or even the chimneystack. Those on the path made their slow and stately way to the wall, and proceeded upwards. I couldn’t see anything up there that might attract their attention, no algae, no moss, no tempting plants at all.
Were they trying to tell me that flood were expected? Is there a snail nightclub somewhere on my roof? Do they gather up there in the first rain after the last full moon in July for some esoteric snail ritual? Baffled, I took the last of the shopping indoors and went to dry off.
In the morning there were no snails to be seen. And none that night on the window pane. I began to wonder if some silent interstellar space-shell had descended in the damp night and taken them away, to report on their observations of Earth life.
Wherever they went, it was a short trip - five were back last night. Of course, it was ‘Mastermind’ and ‘University Challenge’ on the TV. How else can interstellar snails learn?