When we first moved to Salt Lake, I couldn't help but notice how everyone here wanted to know where I went to high school. It's the ultimate Salt Lake question.

"Hey, hi. Where did you go to high school?"

Turns out, however, that "Provo" is NOT the right answer. That's because (and I'm very sorry to say this) there are some people in this valley who look down on Utah County.

It's like they think we sit on our front porches with our kin and play the theme song to "Deliverance" on our banjos all day long.

This used to bother me, especially since many of the people doing the stereotyping were also the kind of people who were really, really opposed to stereotyping. But whatever. I stopped caring when I remembered that our mountains down south are prettier (Yes! They are!) and also that there are no snails in Provo.

That's what this column is really about today. Snails.

And how MUCH I hate them. And also to give a word of warning to my dad.

Truthfully, I don't ever remembering seeing snails when I was growing up.

The closest I ever got to them was when I sat by kids who ate them in French class for extra credit. Then I got married, moved to Salt Lake City, put in a vegetable garden and Oh. My. Gosh. It's been me and the snails going mano-a-mano ever since. Not that snails (technically speaking) have manos.

But still.

Anyway. I'm fond of surfing the 'Net, looking for new tips when it comes to killing snails. They include setting yeast (i.e. "beer") traps, raking up dead leaves and debris, and minimizing moisture in the garden.

Here's my favorite new tip: "Remove slugs and snails by hand. If you are too finicky, use chopsticks."

First, I swear I didn't make that up. And second, really? You can pick up snails with chopsticks?

So here's your assignment.

Head out to your garden first thing tomorrow morning and see if you can pick up a snail with chopsticks, then report back to me. E-mail me a picture and I'll give you extra credit.

I was complaining about snails the other day to my neighbor around the corner, who's a master gardener. She told me that snails aren't indigenous to Salt Lake City. And then she said (although I could be making this part up) that they emigrated here with the pioneers.

Since then I've been thinking about snails wearing little snail prairie bonnets and driving little teams of snail oxen, and it occurs to me the reason there are no snails in Provo is that THEY HAVEN'T MADE IT THERE YET.

They're probably at the Point of the Mountain right about now, singing little pioneer snail songs as they walk and walk and walk. Not that snails (technically speaking) walk. But still.

Anyway. Word to my father who still lives in Provo.

Dude. BE AWARE! The snails are coming, and when they do they are going to lay your crops to waste. Snails are like that. Merciless, as well as remorseless. Also slimy.

Time to go get yourself some chopsticks before it's too late.


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