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.

A little bit more about Bethann…

RMF panorama_rs

I grew up leaning into the wind of Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front.  

That is where I developed my passion for the natural world, and for sharing its wonders with others.  Today, I use word craft and images to help people communicate about ecology, sustainable food, and community issues.

I became a communicator and “project catalyst” incrementally.

Working for conservation education and  sustainability nonprofits fueled my passion for planning, proactive brainstorming, and combining art and ecology to help people connect with the world around us.  Later, working with urban sustainability initiatives, research scientists, and a community newspaper showed me how much fun (and work) it is to help frame a message, and to tell a story both clearly and compellingly.

Today, I collaborate with nonprofits, entrepreneurs and scientists to organize outreach and education efforts, plan and execute programs and projects, and develop effective communication strategies.  These projects include writing, editing, photography, illustration, and facilitation work.  It sounds like a lot, but the diversity is stimulating and I love it!

In my free time, I do things that fuel my creativity and keep me engaged in  my community.  Specifically, I read voraciously, and devote plenty of time to growing, hunting, and gathering food.  I make ink and watercolor sketches, and volunteer frequently.  As an author and artist, I contribute to anthologies, magazines, newspapers and collections in Canada and the United States.   I also chronicle the adventures of exploring cultures, ecosystems, and sampling flavors from around the world at www.fruitrootleaf.com.

Want the nitty gritty?

Sketchbook Snapshot: “Nocturnal wonders: Looking closely at a couple of moths”

Have you ever watched a moth breathe?

Or looked so long and carefully at one dangling from a tree branch that it actually seemed to disappear?

To be perfectly candid, I never had until quite recently.

Most of my past Lepidoptera indulgences were focused on the butterflies, with little to no attention paid to the moths, their so-called “plain clothes cousins.”  A few weeks ago, though, National Moth Week notices started catching my attention on social media and science communication news feeds.  So I paid a bit more attention during the last few weeks of our field season, and what a wonderland I found!

Continue reading “Sketchbook Snapshot: “Nocturnal wonders: Looking closely at a couple of moths””