What’s with the snail?


Aren’t snails slow?  And would you really want one leaving a trail of shimmery goo across a manuscript?

Yes.  And no.

The “literary lemon snail” is a mash-up of history and ecology, with a dose of symbolism thrown in.

That is, this snail is abundant in the gardens of Quebec City, and makes a great subject for sketching and photos, thanks to the color contrast of blue-ish skin and lemon-yellow shell.

Would you believe we don’t know what it is, though?

We have tried to ID this snail, so far to no avail.  Possibilities include Praticolella griseola and Bradybaenidae, but their reported distributions suggest it is unlikely.  If there are any snail experts out there reading this, we’d be delighted to solve the puzzle.

While the snail remains a mystery, the story behind our icon need not.

We paired a photo of this ‘charismatic micro-fauna’ with one of an original proclamation signed by King George III of England.  Still on display in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (Quebec City), the document directed the British conquerors of the former-French colony to erect the first English house of worship in the region.  The two photographs were enhanced, simplified, and melded using Adobe Photoshop.   

But why?

Because.  Blue and yellow look great together.  Little critters are the foundations of our ecosystems.  Brittle old letters are beyond cool, particularly for a gal that still writes letters.  And has boxes of them saved up from pen pals past.  The image underscores our emphasis on details and effective combinations of text and images to communicate about the natural world.  

Bottom line, though, is that we love the original photograph – the snail seems to be gazing out into a green future full of possibilities.