In last Saturday's article entitled Sophia photo update [display], I explained that I had found a colony of baby snails a hundred meters up the road, and that I've been bringing some of these tiny creatures back to a place near the house. Well, my Swedish friend Eric M Nilsson has just sent me an email in which he reacts with astonishment to this news. Here's my translation of Eric's email:
So, you've been bringing snails back to Gamone! We've got lots of them in our "garden", thousands of them, and it's impossible to get rid of them. They proliferate by impregnating themselves! King Gustav III introduced them into Sweden, at Drottningholm Palace, more than a hundred kilometers from where we live. By now, the snails have invaded the entire southern part of Sweden. It's said that ducks of a certain race eat snails. As for the snails, they eat everything.
Eric's email gave me a lot of pleasure, in that I suddenly saw myself engaged in the same majestic preoccupations as a great Scandinavian monarch. On my last snail excursion, I imagined myself accompanied by a throng of sexy blond Swedish maidens who were dancing with joy at the head of the great snail procession, alongside their noble king and his gracious dog, Lady Sophia.
I should explain that what I've been doing could well be illegal, since a French law prohibits the collection of Burgundy snails during the breeding months of April, May and June. Apart from the fact that I'm not sure that these are indeed Burgundy snails rather than the ordinary garden variety (but I think so), I've been checking that there weren't any gendarmes at Gamone during my excursions. Besides, I'm not really collecting these snails. Most of them were wandering around on the macadam or roadside gravel, and I've been simply moving them a hundred meters down the road, to a nicer environment.
I take the opinions of Eric very seriously, because we've been collaborating and agreeing about almost everything since over 35 years ago. Besides, Eric knows my Gamone property quite well. He even made a short video here back in December 2004, at a time when my billy-goat Gavroche was still alive and Moshé was my only donkey.
Finally, there's an interesting technical point. It's true, as Eric suggests, that snails—which are hermaphrodites—can be impregnated indiscriminately by any other snail. But there's a limit to this notion of indiscriminate impregnation. A snail can only be impregnated by the sperm of another snail… but never by its own sperm! Otherwise, just imagination the turmoil. Every time a solitary snail happened to derive innocent pleasure from a bit of masturbation, it would suddenly find itself pregnant!
POST-SCRIPTUM: I've already spoken of snails in my articles of 2007 entitled Busy Sunday [display] and Pet snail [display].