Sunday, March 10, 2013

Feeling Sluggish this Winter?

My neighbor keeps a pristine yard and a wary eye on mine, occasionally commenting on the wild hedgerow at the back of my property that borders his perfectly manicured lawn. When he told me he was going to remove the small pile of logs I keep on the back hill, I stopped him by explaining that this pile makes a refuge  for the smallest of creatures, providing shelter from the heat of summer and cold of winter, not to mention that it's not his property to mess with. I have introduced him to Silver in an effort prevent an unfriendly encounter that would surely end badly for the opossum and to educate him and his wife, who once insisted she had seen snakes with legs (skinks). I felt if he saw firsthand the bounty of animals we are so fortunate to have in our yards, he might be a bit more understanding of my passion to keep a little land set aside for the lives that lived here before we took over. But like most people, he would be appalled if he knew what I was studying this winter under those logs - cold, sticky pillows the color of molasses. In other words, huddles of hibernating slugs.

I wonder what it's like to be viewed as repulsive when your cousin, the snail, is at times considered beautiful because he/she sports a shell and you don't. (Yes, they can self fertilize in case you're interested.) Slugs are fascinating creatures, eating up to 40% of their body weight each day and are most active in the early morning hours, unlike me. In dry soil like mine, they will bunch up when hibernating. You can see a photo of my group in the November 11th post of last year. It's been hard to count how many there are since they all look alike.

So throughout the winter months I've been peeking under their log, checking on the health and activities of my fleshy tenants. Finally, this week I noticed all but two of the slugs have either relocated or have met their untimely demise, and with vacancies at the log, two cousin snails have moved in. The slugs are now going out to forage each morning and are safely back into their leaf litter beds by mid afternoon. I'm thinking since it's Spring, and a young slug's fancy turns to love...

"You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures."   Thomas Pynchon


  1. google:
    "An intimate look at a slug"
    carole macrury
    poetry contest winner

  2. What a fabulous poem. Thanks Patricia. I hope everyone takes a minute and reads it.