(yes, it is) 23 of May – 26 of June I’ll be one of three residents in the project Walking Peace in the Avian Kingdom in Sweden, organised by ARNA at the very spot where two pilgrim trails meet in Harlösa. Walking Peace is a green, slow and peaceful way of making new connections across cultural backgrounds and religions, creating art as a statement for peace while walking. Afterwards I'll be researching the pioneer life in Värmland.


Full circle


First day. Arrival. In the evening I went out for a walk. I left the village of Harlösa behind me and followed a small trail. Big snails crossed my path. The moon was almost full. When I turned around to walk home, I saw a snail with an almost white house on his back. He must have been around for a long time. He looked as if he was carrying the moon.


Fika (which is very important in Sweden, meaning drinking coffee –or something else- with cake or cookies –or something else-) at Kirsten’s place. She tells me the snails were brought by the monks who came over in the 12th century from Premontré in France to stay in the Övedskloster, the monastery at Öved. Little is known about them and there is nothing left of the old monastery. These days there is a privately owned castle. But the big “escargots” that wander around these days are the descendants of the snails that lived there in the 12th century. People here hate them because they eat the vegetables in their gardens.


Small walk. Lots of snails. I carry one all the way. The last kilometer we walk up hill from Harlösa to the wooden museum houses. The path is called the snail trail. I saw why.

I take the snail home. I put him in a plastic container. I wonder if he likes lettuce. My housemate Sean adds some leaves from the garden so he can have his pick.


Rain. Snail weather.


First part of the Pilgrim Trail. The sea, the sea, the sea .......


Second walk. Presentation in the evening.
The first thing I did when I came home from my artist’ talk, after I had poured myself a glass of wine, was checking on the snail. I left it outside when I went to the community house at 18.00 and since it was 23.30 now, he couldn’t have moved farther away than 3,5 x 4,8 meter = 16,8 meter. In fact he only moved 50 cm. If i would be sentimental I would write now we had gotten attached to each other. Of course we haven’t. Still I was glad he hadn’t gone far.

I did some writing and went to sleep. Around 5 in the morning I woke up and realised I had forgotten to put the snail back inside. I walked into the garden to discover he had climbed back into the plastic container I kept him in. I know it was only because there was food inside, but still ......


I’ve been researching snails and read about the love dart. Prior to copulation, each of the two snails attempt to "shoot" one (or more) darts into the other snail. There is no organ to receive the dart; this action is more analogous to a stabbing, or to being shot with an arrow. The dart does not fly through the air to reach its target however; instead it is fired as a contact shot.

Mating always begins with a courting ritual. The two snails circle around each other for up to six hours, touching with their tentacles and biting lips and the area of the genital pore. As the snails approach mating, hydraulic pressure builds up in the blood sinus surrounding the organ housing the dart. Each snail manoeuvres to get its genital pore in the best position, close to the other snail's body. Then, when the body of one snail touches the other snail's genital pore, it triggers the firing of the dart.



Last walking day for this week. I forgot my map. Too many things to do in the morning. Hurrying. Then just after we started there is a big snail on the road. Somebody says “yes, this must be the right way”.


A week has passed. Our first day off. Breathing in, breathing out. There has been a lot of rushing during the walking. There were always appointments with people we had to be in time for. Keeping the speed, keeping an eye on your watch, limited time to wander off. Lots of people to talk to. Little silence. Don’t get me wrong, it was wonderful. Meeting beautiful people, being welcomed in the warmest way possible, never ending hospitality, and being in situations that gave me new things to think about. They need to be balanced though and they were this morning when I sat in the grass and looked at how the snail slowly and silently moved in its own way, touching the grass halms with its tentacles (they carry their eyes on the upper set and smell with the lower two).

Here we are. And as my walking partner Sara told us on our last walking day: always at the right time in the right place.