The thawing of a slow worm

Anguis fragilisIt’s tough being cold-blooded in April at 1100 m in the Apennines. The sun comes out. It’s hot. You get crawling. Then the temperature plummets, along comes the snow again and you get caught out there, frozen on your way. Literally frozen. And that’s not a great way to be. This slow worm (Anguis fragilis) got lucky. We found it more than half frozen on the path to home, kept it off the ice in a makeshift shelter for a few days, then when the sun deigned to shine again, happily watched it slither away across the terrace. They are creatures of such beauty. Elegant, graceful, with a sheen of silver and russet in the soft spring light. Slow worms were a great love of my childhood. Hundreds of them (or so it seemed) frequent my memories of running wild in our dishevelled garden in Kent. I would meet them as we both slithered through the long grass on our bellies hunting for flies, or we would lie stretched out on hot summer stones together, them and I, as the sun seeped through the skin and into the blood. Far off feral days, so distant, so near. Stay out of the snow, slow worm. Happy slithering and a lifetime’s flies.