Michael's Happenings


A couple of snails were on the road before me yesterday morning. Not small ones, either, and not slithering along at a snail’s pace. They were massive, and they were going fast.

As I was on my way to the pool under the cover of darkness, I saw a cacophony of lights in the distance. Accident? (there seemed to be no red lights of an ambulance, however). Police stop? (at 5.30? … and there were no blue and red lights either). As I drove nearer the orange of the lights became clearer and the pilot vehicles in the front had the usual pulsating lit up red batons to warn oncoming traffic of a huge load following. Not the “bigger, bigger digger was brought up on a truck” type of big, but house big. Without street lights, it was hard to see what was coming, but with three pilot vehicles of increasing size all shouting the same non-verbal directions (“get off the road”), I drove onto the grass verge of the backcountry road.

And then the snails came. Huge trucks – two of them – each carrying half of the house. The trucks were driving in their allocated lane, but their load spanned the full road. It was good I was off the road, otherwise, I would have gained a convertible car at a fraction of the price. The dimly lit shapes shivered past quickly, their outline clear to see for but a moment, but their presence on the road out of place nonetheless. I felt sorry for the driver stuck behind them going at a snail’s pace compared to the normal speed, and who would have no options to pass unless the whole armada found somewhere safe to pull over. While there was a grass verge on their side of the road too, the unevenness of the landscape and the presence of water races (irrigation channels) would condemn such an attempt to fodder for “New Zealand’s worst drivers.”

In the darkness, they were daunting opponents on the normally quiet road. But when I arrived home after my swim, I saw them both again. A house chopped in half they were not, but rather the two sides of the new classroom for the country school just down the road. So while the children slept dreaming of the school day yet to begin, the snails were already at work.

Categories: Michael's Happenings