Monday, March 03, 2008

Flora and Fauna

But hey, we protest, even paradise has its problems - banana slugs, wet weekends, two-sailing waits (though why would you want to leave?) and house prices that read like phone numbers. Torontonians have to understand the hellish pressure that comes with trying to get 18 holes in before nightfall in February.

I guess there aren't that many people in the world who know what a banana slug is. Vancouver Island isn't big enough to have a lot of people born there.

A banana slug is a critter only too familiar to gardeners on the Island. My grandpa used to go around the garden with a box of salt every couple of days. I was in the biggest trouble I ever got into with him when I was about seven and went around with a garden hose after he had finished and washed them all off. I've always thought they were cute, though Grandpa's garden mostly attracted leopard slugs.

The grand variety of slugs occupying the West Coast and Islands is an important part of a happy British Columbian upbringing. Whether you are watching them in the garden with close, unwavering fascination, or putting them down your sister's collar, the slugs of BC are endless fun.

My favourite slug story was the one when I took my annual stomp around the Gulf Islands with a friend of mine, Ken, when I was 17.

Ken had told me that he was afraid of only one creature on earth: slugs, but I hardly credited it. Who could be scared of something that doesn't even have legs? Though, admittedly, banana slugs can get pretty big, as much as a foot long, given the right climate.

We were on Pender Island, (my favourite one) and I was just getting close to waking one lovely morning, listening to the birds twittering, when I heard a sound coming from the direction of Ken's tent, the scream of a damned soul, long and horrified and despairing.

Thinking that Ken was being eaten in his sleeping bag by a giant raccoon, I grabbed the first weapon that came to hand, (my sneaker) and prepared to do battle.

I popped my head out of the tent to find Ken sitting with one hiking shoe on and one in his hand, with one bare foot held towards the fire. He was shaking visibly.

He had forgotten to take his boots inside his tent before going to sleep.

Slugs love a nice damp boot to snooze in after a hard day of slithering and Ken had just reached out of his tent, grabbed his boot and...well...


Steve said...

Image thief!

Anonymous said...

The little baby Jesus had to die because of this post.

Are you happy now, Hilary?