A Very Tiny Snail

tinysnail3.jpgI’m a procrastinator. I normally wait until the last minute and leave the house in a big rush or start projects flying by the seat of my pants with not quite enough preparation.

It’s exciting to duck and dive and improvise and make it all work out, but tiring. I decided a few weeks ago to start giving myself the luxury of enough time, space and resources. Starting with my trips into town.

The last time I went into Exeter, I gave myself a half hour to get to the bus stop. It’s normally about a 10 minute brisk walk. Down the steep, hedgerow-lined dirt drive and over the stream that runs across the bottom. track3.jpgJohn and I have made a footbridge from two tyres filled with stones, anchored with rebar and laid across with a long plank of wood. If I am wearing my wellies, I can wade through the stream.

I have reached an agreement with my neighbour Cliff who lives near the bus stop that I can stash my wellies behind his garden wall. So in muddy, rainy conditions, I carry my ‘town shoes’ down and change out of my wellies once I reach the main road.

Once I cross the stream, I walk down the single track road which wends its way down to the road into Exeter. It’s a pot-holed little road, more of a track really, only wide enough for one car at a time or two horses walking side by side. One morning, a woman was riding along and track4.jpgsinging a tuneless, wordless melody to her horses, the trees and the birds. There is a hedgerow and fields on one side of the track – the Long Field and then the Sheep Field. On the other side, a steep bank with a pine forest called English Plantation on the old maps, the entrance to a farm and then a wooded hillside on down to a cluster of houses next to the Exeter road.

If I’m wearing trousers or jeans, I can walk through the Long Field. This field is bordered by the hazel-lined stream on one side and holly and oak trees on the other. Sometimes I follow a deer track through the trees. The field is strewn with wild flowers and butterflies in springtime.

One summer when the grass was high, I came across a dappled fawn hiding in some shade after its mother had bounded away. Depending on rainfall, there is a small pond at the far end. Some springtimes, the pond is filled with frog spawn, which we relocate to a nearby, more permanent body of water. Once I reach the bottom of the field, I climb through the barbed wire fence near the horse chestnut tree – challenging if I am wearing a dress – and continue along the road.

track.jpgThis last stretch of road passes between the Sheep Field and the place where the fox and the wild ants live. I never walk through the Sheep Field, because there are often sheep pastured there and it leads onto Cliff’s property past his bee hives and chicken house.

The bus stop is a 1/2 mile from my house at a T-junction with a stone barn and an apple orchard. The river runs nearby and it’s quite a pleasant place to wait. There are lots of trees around and this time of year, many birds are about.

The other day, I got there about 10 minutes before the bus was due to arrive. I contemplated the apple orchard and daffodils, watched and listened to the birds singing tinysnail4.jpgand flying from tree to tree. Then, I looked down and noticed a very tiny snail crawling up my boot. I thought it would be happier staying in the country than going into Exeter, so I put a leaf in front of it and transferred it to the ground. The snail continued its journey up a blade of grass and reminded me to slow down and enjoy the present.

Thank you little snail!

There are some times and days that I like to be busy and have lots to do, but at other times, I need to remind myself to slow down and breathe deeply and adapt my day and my schedule to suit my pace.




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