Thursday, July 23, 2015

confessions of an 8-year old

Yesterday Felipe commented that I have a rather odd fascination with wildlife.

I confess I do.  My attitude toward things that move is that of an 8-year old.  The type of kid who, in the summer, would jump on his bike and go exploring with his best friend.  To the woods.  To the river.  To the old log pond.

And always there were slithery and jumping things that would catch our attention.  Frogs.  Snails.  Water dogs.  All needing to be picked up and thoroughly examined.  And often tossed into an old Miracle Whip jar.

Some of the trips were not merely adventurous; they were entrepreneurial.  Our neighbor, the high school biology teacher, would pay us a bounty for all of the frogs, tadpoles, and eggs we could scoop up.  I suspect most of them ended up on the wrong end of a pithing -- giving up their lives for the furtherance of science and high school squeamishness.

When I took biology in the high-falutin' city, the frogs came from a local science supply business.  Looking at the about-to-be perforated green frog, I wondered how much my teacher, Mr. Kilmer, would have paid me for it.

But my discovery yesterday was not a frog.  Or a snail.  Or a water dog.  It was a slug -- which, I guess, is just a homeless snail.

When I moved the car out of the garage, there was the slug.  Calling it a slug is a bit of a compliment.  The slugs down here are weedy, anemic things.

We have real slugs in the Pacific Northwest.  Often, longer than your hand.  Capable of turning a dahlia bush or a head of lettuce into a stalk overnight.  They are the leaf cutter ants of Oregon.

This was the second slug I encountered in the area.  The first was in my garden in Villa 
Obregón.  Both were dry compared to their rather slimy northern cousins.  Almost leathery -- with a bit of moisture on its foot to lubricate its glide across the garage floor.

The slug almost fell victim to the roving tiny ants, who were willing to add their spin on the Monty Python "bring out your dead" skit.  The ants eventually stopped tormenting the poor slug.  Maybe they realized the cost of bringing him down would outweigh the benefit.  Ants are quite the economists.

So, yes, Felipe, I admit I have a certain obsession with things that go bump in the night.  After almost 60 years of being an 8-year old, I doubt I am going to kick the habit before the ants and slugs are dining out on me.

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