In the classic 1939 movie Hunchback of Notre Dame hump-backed bell-ringer Quasimodo [played by Charles Laughton] from a deaf judge receives a sentence of fifty lashes.[*] From the pillory after the last one he begs for a drink of “ Water. Water.”

The masses guffaw derisively.

Only the beautiful gypsy girl Esmeralda dares to walk through the hushed throng and from a bota gently drips water into Quasimodo’s parched mouth.

The need for water is not only human it applies to all life on earth: even those diminutive creatures we barely notice in our everyday routine.

Around here that starts with tiny snails.

I thought their presence was linked to environments of water: marshes, ponds, lakes, streams. If that’s the case then what are they doing oh-so-slowly slinking up my sliding glass door? This part of south Texas is bone dry again despite massive storms earlier in the year that brought record rainfall.

The only explanation I can offer is that each morning there is condensation on the glass outside created by the AC inside.

The escargots are smart enough to go where the water is; it’s not like they need a twenty ounce big gulp.

Then there are very small moths that mysteriously turn up at my bathroom sink just about every morning. Overnight they bask in the glow of the tacky Buckee’s nightlight. A few sit in the sink apparently waiting for the giant of the premises to splash droplets their way. Careful, you might drown! I minimize that calamity by gently flicking the drain plug under which they dare to hide. Getting that ear-splitting hint they move just far enough away to try again once I’ve retreated.

The snails and moths are nocturnal water seekers; there are insects that challenge the 110 degree heat of day. In some cases, though, that could be serendipitous.

I once found outside a maybe half-inch long glistening blue-green winged bug in a partially filled five gallon pail of water. He was flailing about: a Michael Phelps he wasn’t . Commiserating that we all make mistakes with my index finger I gave him a lift out which he graciously accepted. He did a shimmy-shake to shuck off water just like Ernie does; after a few seconds he regained his composure and headed towards the toad sanctuary. Ooh, that might not have been a good idea. Guess what toads dine on?


My favorite spiders – the amazing clan of Argiope Aurantia – are by nature tethered to their own reservoir: their web. From the intense humidity I assume they capture tiny droplets overnight. They must also get liquid nourishment by prey wrapped to go.


I’ll keep watching over these myriad neighbors. Who knows, maybe they have their own version of Esmeralda?


[*Note: For classic movie buffs here is the line from the script spoken by the judge: “You are accused of disturbing the peace, abducting a woman, and resisting the King’s Guards. What is your defence? Quick, and to the point! Credit for script quotes is given to:    http://frollozone.org/1939script.html]

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