My daughter Gamma has a small pie-cherry tree that gives us a bountiful harvest every year around this time. Yesterday my father-in-law and I were picking some.
(By the way, I came home from work one evening a few days ago and heard this clip-clip-clip noise in the back yard and see my wife sitting on the steps in her bathing suit, bent over. Her back was to me. I was like, my wife is in her bathing suit clipping her toenails in the back yard? It was a pretty loud clipping sound, as if she had really thick toenails. I can remember how thick my father’s got late in his life, and yellow. But my wife was only pitting cherries – our cherry pitting device broke, or vanished, and all the store had was this one-cherry-at-a-time hand pitter that makes a sound a lot like clipping my father’s toenails, I guess. My wife put on her swim suit because pitting cherries is such a messy affair. Also: maybe there is a charming way to say, “Oh! You are pitting cherries! Whoa! I thought you were cutting your toenails!” but if there is it did not occur to me in time.)
We were picking and picking. Pounds and pounds of cherries, kilograms and kilograms. It had rained that night and the tree was wet and little tiny snails were on the cherries.
Little bitty guys. Not, like, on every cherry, but on quite a few. I held a cherry with a snail on it up to my fingernail and the little, tiny snail climbed off the cherry onto my fingernail. Really tiny, seriously. Light yellow shell with a greenish tint, translucent snail-part. He was a friendly little guy, kept his feelers out the whole time, just marched right onto my fingernail. I picked cherries like that for a while. Then I had another cherry with a snail on it and held that up to the same fingernail. This snail looked just like the first one, but was even smaller, about a half to two-thirds the size. It was more bashful about climbing onto my finger. I don’t know what it was. Maybe he was just timid. Maybe he was, like, this finger is already occupied! I finally got impatient and just gently placed him on my fingernail beside the first snail.
The two snails looked at each other and then started climbing on each other and got all tangled up. Were they fucking or were they eating each other? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. I was in a Schrödingerian quandary. If they were eating each other, they ought to be separated cause otherwise it would be my fault when one got eaten. But if they were having sex, then it would be rude to do that.
I watched them for a while. Then I put them on a leaf and picked more cherries.