While I am away, doubtless the slugs will play… Another old one revisited…which I hope the slugs won’t take as in invitations as they have been at it again with the weather this past week…
It has rained this week, all week. My feet and every pair of walking shoes I own … well, both pairs… have been permanently wet and the heating has gone back on. Ani, of course, completely oblivious, insists on having the back door open which leads from the living room to the garden. The wall just inside the door is now rain streaked and the carpet damp, which probably explains the persistence of the resident slug.
Now, I have written of slugs before… fascinating creatures, but not ones I want to get up close and personal with. Especially uninvited and barefoot. They are also not recommended for dogs… or, for that matter, plants. Nor do I want them on the dining table or kitchen worktops. Slugs, on the whole, I can personally live without.
Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate their contribution to the ecological balance and food chain… except for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s slug fritters… but as house guests they leave a lot to be desired. As well as slime trails.
It is odd, perception changes. I positively welcome the first slug of spring, seeing it as a herald of warmer months to come. But now those technically warmer months have been and gone they are taking advantage of my welcome and moving in without so much as a by your leave. And I object.
The big fat black one seems to come in every night. I mean, this thing is huge. I keep a large duck quill handy to eject it gently… it clings obligingly while it is returned to the garden. Yet whether it is the same one or one of its stunt doubles, the darned thing is back every evening as soon as dusk falls. The first night I got it before it did more than cross the threshold. Every night it gets more daring, more intrepid, stealthily making its way along the dark crevice that runs between the skirting board and the carpet. Last night it made it a good three feet past the door before I spotted it. This morning it sent in an undercover agent. Disguise... very clever…. I picked it up by its shell and placed it gently at the bottom of the garden. It had also sent in the stealth reconnaissance team in the form of a miniature slug which narrowly escaped being the victim of a small, bare foot.
Breakfast in Slug Town indeed…
Yesterday there was the Trojan horse ploy … a large bunch of valerian I had brought in, being obliged to cut its rain-heavy blooms away from the path, apparently played host to a small posse of the things … which ended up on the dining table. One even hitch-hiked a lift from Ani, hiding inside the half eaten tennis ball she favours. Is there no end to their temerity or ingenuity?
Perhaps the worst was the one in the sink where I had been soaking Ani’s food bowl. It could have been the fall that killed at as I dropped it… I couldn’t see it for the bubbles to be fair. Bare hands too… it might have been the scream that scared it to death. Either way, it didn’t make it… the hot, soapy water seemed to disagree with it…it was a funny colour… I don’t think they are made for bubble baths… and I wasn’t about to try and resuscitate it. Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set, And blew. Robert Browning might have been happy to try artificial respiration, but not me. It took two feathers and a fair amount of cringing to dispose of the inert little body.
Maybe I’m being unfair. A little research shows the humble slug has been regarded as a magical totemic being, a numinous, liminal creature of the place between the worlds and the epitome of the inner equilibrium, leaving its iridescent trails… Perhaps it is so…
But please…not on the carpet.