My dad brought me out to Oregon for a week when I was 12. He showed me around the stomping grounds of his adolescence: Portland, Vancouver, Mount Saint Helens (granted, he knew her before she went topless–30 years ago today!), Multnomah Falls, Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, the Oregon Coast from Astoria to Cannon Beach. We stopped at every kite shop along the way and hit Powell’s twice. And we hiked! He bribed me with a promise of $50 to spend at the Mall of America upon our return to the Midwest if I hiked all the way around the barely-established Harmony Falls Trail with him so he could see once again his beloved Spirit Lake. I was terrified. The sheer drop off the edge of the trail, maybe 2 feet wide in some places, was menacing. And in those tight spots, there was only a rope anchored to the side of the rock face as a railing to hold on to. We took pictures to prove we had done it, but somehow the film got exposed.
We did other less terrifying hikes, too. And I remember, vividly, pointing out every slug along the way.
I’m so glad to be back here for good. I absolutely love the slugs.
I went for a run this morning. We’re having a rainy week here, and the slugs which generally hide out during the sunny day in order to not a) dry up or b) get eaten by birds are out in full force. It’s a veritable slug party out there.
Sandra and I went for a hike in Tryon Creek a couple weeks ago. She told me about how she and Dylan had been debating about whether the hole you see on the side of so many slug heads was a wound or a feature of the anatomy. Turns out Dylan was right to suspect that the hole was, in fact, not a battle scar but an organ. Wikipedia explains that the hole, or pneumostome, is used for breathing and can be closed by a slug at will in order to prevent water loss.
We stopped and took slug pictures. One passerby ran up to us, concerned: “Oh, I thought you fell!” Nope. Just a slug photo shoot.
Did you know that these things lay eggs? When fully mature, slugs have both “male” and “female” parts. And that’s all I will tell you about slug reproduction. Because it gets really, really gross. Jesse thinks I could find delicate enough language to explain it here on the blog, but I’m not so sure.
These banana slugs can stretch up to 20 times their normal length and move up to 6.5 inches every minute. Which doesn’t sound like much, but that’s just fast enough for the damn thing to disappear by the time I come back from the house with my camera.
This puppy’ll probably end up getting as long as the bill when she grows up. They’re basically garbage disposals on foot. If we didn’t have slugs, we’d probably be knee-deep in rotting vegetable matter right now.
Aww, he’s eating!
And now the next time you open your wallet, you’ll think about pulling out this European red slug instead of that quarter.
I’m just here to help.