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Slug it out

Lezlie Lowe writes an open letter to her least-favourite backyard companion.

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Dear slugs,

You have won, you great stomach-turning bastards, with your slimy, decelerated ways. I concede a grave, shoulder-hunched defeat. Take my garden. You can have it. And go fuck yourself while you’re at it. I believe that is the only time I’ve been able to say that literally.

I read in the paper last week that your breed of invertebrate, hermaphroditic malevolence has been spotted creeping—dare I say advancing—from the south end spot where you were first discovered in 1933 into backyards across the city, and even as far away as the Annapolis Valley, Cape Breton and onto PEI. Did you hitch a ride across the Confederation Bridge? Or have you learned to swim in salt water?

And I thought I had been so clever, year after year, picking up your muscular little masses night after night and hurling you into the field behind my house. I never cared if you smacked a rock and splattered, simply that you were gone. Only now does it occur to me you may have landed on a bed of grass and come a-callin’ back under the fence. At .04 kilometres per hour, and with full consideration of your need to stop and snack, you buggers were probably gnawing on my lettuce before sunrise.

And therein lies your evil, Great—Ha! That’s rich—Grey Slug. I have seen you—OK, your slime trails—cross fields—ok, feet—of weeds to get to my pumpkin plants. I have seen your clammy, mouse-grey bodies undulating against the leaves of my morning glory vines when there are unkempt feet of goutweed for the taking. Why? Why don’t you ever eat the weeds?

According to Eve Corbel’s The Little Greenish-Brown Book of Slugs: “Slugs in an untidy garden are frequently much less harmful than in a well-kept one, as they eat whatever lies in their way.” Not true. Not true.

I take to my garden with an accidental air. Plenty goes unweeded. But I’m sure you must watch me from wherever you’re hiding all day, Machiavellian in your plans to destroy the plants I admire, or merely smile at.

You have eaten my lettuce, broccoli, spinach, sweet peas, lilies, lupine leaves, hostas, sedum and Japanese anemone (for which I will never forgive you). You have channelled up into squash, rummaging around like a cancer. I have read that you are capable of killing and eating butterflies and that your slime can gum the wings of young birds.

I have found your disgusting eggs and worse yet, worst of all; I have seen you having sex. I have seen you hanging off my fence on a shoelace-thick cord of slime, screwing. Seeing that—two dripping, entwined, grey-brown intestines—made me wonder whether I could ever have intercourse again. I’ve attended live sex shows in sticky-floored rooms with stained curtains and found the exploits more palatable.

You may put up your own curtains now. Have seats installed for the show. Truly, the fence is yours. So are the strawberries. The whole backyard. If you assholes have managed to create slime highways that stretch tentacle-like around the province and beyond, there is no stopping you.

I’m putting a new sign up on the garden door: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. You have won, slugs. You have won.

Slugs, send responses to: lezliel@thecoast.ca

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