Woodland Creatures

We live in a fairly rural part of Connecticut. Our home is set on 4 acres on a woodsy hill. Our neighbors have horses and chickens. Down the road a piece there are farms: dairy, cattle, horse, alpaca, you name it. Heaven for an ole city gal like me. We see all sorts of wildlife: coyotes, foxes, raccoons, owls, possums. I love them all. Even the possums. Some people think they are nasty ’cause the hiss but who of us hasn’t hissed at one time or another? They’re ugly-cute. Just don’t look at their creepy little rat tails.

Don't look at tails.

Don’t look at tails.

We’ve never seen a bear though. We know there are around. My husband says he wants to see a bear. Not me. Don’t get me wrong -I’ve got nothing against bears. But I saw a movie once about huge, mutated bears in New England. It was probably a bad, made for TV movie but it might have been a documentary on Discovery. I don’t know but I’m not taking any chances. I don’t want to see some giant, slobbering, saber-toothed Connecticut bear eating out of my bird feeder. If my husband wants to see a bear, he can watch National Geographic.

Giant Mutant Bear

Giant Mutant Bear

Anyway, I love my bucolic setting. I see myself as Snow White singing to the little birdie in my hand as it tweets in harmony with me. I am one with the animals.

This morning, my weekday routine changed. I have a wake to attend in NJ so instead of training it, I was driving into the city. This gives me a little extra time to do chores so I walked the recycling bin down the hill to the bottom of the driveway. When I got back up to the garage, I noticed that one of the potted plants on the stone wall wasn’t doing well. I felt the soil and it was overly wet. As we were due to get some heavy storms, I decided to trim off the dead stuff and leave it on the porch where it could dry out. I brought it into the kitchen and put it on the counter. I reached down to remove some of the withered stalks and froze. What I had mistakenly thought were dried leaves were ….SLUGS!!! At least a dozen of them. I swear they had not been there before. They just ….materialized.

Now for all you entomologists and invertebrate lovers out there (and a slug, though some would refer to it as a bug, is actually a terrestial gastropod mollusc), I have made my peace with all of our six, eight and no-legged friends. I no longer shriek when I step out the back door and directly into a freshly woven web. Instead, I admire its beauty. I don’t swat wildly at any buzzing, flying insect. I welcome the bees and their wonderful work of pollination. I do not recoil at the sight of all the fat, wiggling earth worms that work their way across our lawn after a heavy rain. I feel pride at the rich fertility they bring to our soil. But I draw the line at SLUGS!!!

I’m sure these vile things perform some sort of useful function in the universe. There are people out there who devote their whole life to the study of these slithery piles of slime. They were most likely the inspiration for the very successful horror film “The Blob”.

The Blob

The Blob

But to me they are just thumb sized globs of Satan’s Snot.

Arion Ater From the Latin meaning Satan's Snot

Arion Ater
From the Latin meaning
Satan’s Snot

I had to get them out of the house. Before they attacked. Very slowly, I reached to my left and opened the utensil drawer. I gently pulled out a steak knife. I prayed that the dogs would not move and give me away but they sensed the danger and just laid there watching me with cocked heads. I moved quickly and stealthily to the door to the garage. It seemed an eternity for the overhead door to open. Once outside, I placed the pot on the ground and with several quick flicks of the steak knife, flipped the filthy things one by one onto the driveway pavers. I could sense them eyeing the stone wall, thinking perhaps to slither over and make their way up it to once again attach to some innocent vegetation. I flicked again, tossing them further onto the driveway where they would hopefully be dispatched by some hungry crows. I ran quickly inside and lowered the garage door.

When I left later in the morning, I rolled down the car window and searched for some sign of the beasts but there was nothing, not even a slime trail drying in the sun.

Now I am concerned. It will be late tonight when I return from NJ. It will be very dark. There is no light on country roads – only the shine from my headlights. As I make my way up the twisting road to my home, there will be glowing eyes watching me from between the trees. (Most likely deer or the neighbors’ cat but in the pitch dark, even Bambi looks like the Spawn of Hell.) I will make the turn toward the garage at the top of driveway and the headlights will bathe the door in the eerie glow of Xenon. Attached to the door I will see, glistening and pulsating like some hideous alien spleen, a million angry slugs. Bound together by some ancient, mysterious instinct. Ready to protect the herd. Slowly, they will begin to slide down the door. I will hear the whispery, sucking sound as they sidle toward the bumper of my car. A voice in my head will scream “PUT IT IN REVERSE! PUT IT IN REVERSE!” but my hands will be frozen to the steering wheel.

On the other hand, maybe I’ll just see a bear.

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