A snail. Not a particularly mighty or spectacular specimen but a snail none the less.
'Stamp on it. Throw it to the hens' I hear you say. But no, I feel benevolent. When they are a distance from my lettuces and with their feelers out I think they have a certain charm - besides, the juxtaposition of this snail and this piece of wood give me great pleasure.
The piece of wood is the remains of a very ancient boat - possibly from the Bronze Age - which was retrieved from the peaty lands that are now adjacent to Marton Pool, just down the hill from here. In the distant past these self-same lands stood at the water's edge but modern drainage schemes have wrung them dry and they are now rich and fertile fields. Forged by primitive tools from a trunk of oak maybe 4 millennia ago the simple craft drifted between the reeds, alders and oaks of this watery place and was finally abandoned - who knows why - to settle into the silts. The deep-digging shares of a powerful modern plough brought it to light a few years ago.
It's about 4m long and .7m wide, slightly curved at one end and a hollowed shape can just about be discerned on one side. In truth some imagination is needed to identify it as a boat, lying as it does at present in a hedge bottom and not in a glass case with informative labels. Rowley's House, latterly Shrewsbury's Museum has one similar and we are informed with authority that this is a boat too.
Local history meister Doreen ran it to ground and arranged for us to meet the farmer who found it and now has it in his care. Sadly the local museum service are unable to curate it so it stays down on the farm. Our farmer though, appreciates its antiquity and cares for it - in his own way. It is not after all mending a hole in a pigsty door or patching the barn roof. He also has some magnificent pieces of bog oak from the same source, which he touches fondly and 'has plans for'. He turns the plank-of-wood-that-is-the-boat so we might get a better look, and the little snail, disturbed, slithers away to find another damp sanctuary.
We dutifully take notes and photographs and wish that we ourselves could unearth something like this. Or gold maybe. Gold would be good.