Is slug exorcism a thing? Asking for a friend.

I’m going to tell you a tale of horror about this massive slug. Here he is in all his gastropod wonder.

slug

I found him in my kitchen. The species, I’ve learned, is called Limax maximus, which literally means “biggest slug.” It’s commonly called the leopard slug, or sometimes the great gray slug. Or maybe it should be called the great grave slug. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Somehow, this creature slimed his way under my kitchen door just after a heavy rain. When I found him there on the floor next to my fridge, I knew he had to go. I’m not proud of this, but… I dispatched him with some salt. (How? Science, bitches!) It was a mean thing to do, and I do feel remorse. But I’m a gardener, and I’m as passionate about keeping my hostas pristine as slugs are passionate about putting holes in them. I have a bias. I wasn’t thinking clearly.

hostas

These lovely plants don’t deserve to be treated as a slug salad bar.

This needs to be said, ugly though it may be . . . I used a shitload of salt to put this guy down.

I plucked salty Mr. Slug from the floor with a paper towel and placed him in the garbage can, wrapping him tightly and shoving him down into the depths so I wouldn’t have to think about what I’d done.

The next morning, he had risen to the top of the garbage and was sprawled on a newly disposed-of piece of paper towel. He wasn’t moving. In fact, he looked quite deceased. I cringed, balled him up in the towel again, and sent him deep down into the trash. I washed my hands, figuring I’d seen the last of him. Oh, how wrong I was.

Now, I recycle (I hope you’ll forgive me the recurring paper towel theme), so my garbage doesn’t go out often. A day later, I went to throw something away and there, on another paper towel, was the slug. He had emerged once more from the depths, answering the siren call of a freshly thrown-out piece of paper towel. I named him Lazarus. And, again, I sent him back to his tomb.

Last night, he reappeared. The same still, rather desiccated form. The same position atop a napkin atop a pile of garbage. I think this time I actually yelped, “What the FUCK?” as I hastily rewrapped the paper towel and shoved him down, down, down into the trashy depths, chanting the only slug exorcism I know: “Ew ew ew ew ew!”

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Well, I’ll counter that creepy is putting a (presumably) dead slug down under a bunch of garbage only to have it re-emerge.

So, this morning . . . Well, you see where this story is going. There was that menacing mollusk again. This time, I took the slug-infested paper towel outside, gave it a shake over the grassy area in my backyard, and sent what still looked like a very demised Great Gray back to the earth.

Then, I took out the trash.

If Lazarus returns, I may have to consider having the house saged and performing some sort of ritual cleansing for ghost slugs. For the sake of my waning sanity, let’s all hope that doesn’t happen.

A Solstice Reflection

winter sunset

Image Credit: Zach Dischner

Updated December 21, 2016

Every year, in my part of the northern hemisphere, the leaves forsake the trees and the snow starts to fly in December. Nature is still. Dormant. Even the animals that remain active through the cold, dark months have changed—instead of seeking out mates and producing young, they’re in survival mode, scurrying around in search of food and shelter. Earth is tipped on its axis away from the sun’s warmth and light. The days grow shorter and shorter. When I wake, the sun is barely over the horizon. By late afternoon, it’s sinking low in the sky. This is December—a time for descending into darkness, for hunkering down, for settling in to ride out the bleak months.

But in late December, a small, miraculous thing occurs. On the eve of the solstice, we slip into the longest, darkest night of the year. At this time of year, many of us partake in traditions, most with ancient origins, designed to fight back against the darkness. Instead of surrendering to the gloom, we light our homes and hearths. Our towns put up seasonal decorations. We deck our halls in red and green, silver and gold. Candles glow in our windows. We wish each other peace and joy. We celebrate the love of family and friends. Christians celebrate the birth of the Son, the Light of the World, while Jews light the menorah to commemorate the miracle of a one-day supply of oil lighting the Maccabees’ lamps for eight days. Pagans place a Yule log on the fire to symbolize warmth and light and sustenance.

On the solstice, the longest night of the year, a tiny bit of cosmic magic will take place and gradually, day by day, the light will grow. Instead of our days getting progressively darker, now they will get progressively lighter. It will take a while for the earth to warm again, but warm it will, and spring will come, bringing new growth, followed by the warmth of summer, and eventually the harvest, and then the decline into autumn as nature grows quiet again and heads back into its long winter’s sleep.

You see, it doesn’t matter what we celebrate. No matter whether we’re saying “Merry Christmas,” “Happy holidays,” “Blessed Yule,” or “Happy Hanukkah”… nature will do what nature does, quietly and simply. And every year I’m in awe.