Many years ago, I wrote a short story for small kids about slugs. And not just any slugs, but the Spanish slug. In Danish they have a very sonorous name “dræbersnegl”, which stands for “killer snail”. You might wonder why, why a book about the Spanish slug. Well, that was my way to cope with something I was so disgusted by and couldn’t do much about.
Spanish slugs are probably the most hated pest animal in Denmark. They’ve given so many gardeners the urge to pull out their own hair. Now and then (depending on the year) you can come across photos on social media of buckets with hundreds and thousands of slugs collected from the garden. There are numerous methods from more humane to less humane for getting rid of them.
I first got acquainted with them when we were on vacation in Denmark (at that time we were living in Ukraine). We stayed in a summerhouse with a small garden. The weather was cold, windy and rainy and we were not spending much time outside. One day I was out in the garden and there they were. Frankly, back then I didn’t know it was them. I remember wondering what these big brown things are, lying around. That cannot be dog pooh, can it?
I encountered the slugs for real, once we bought a house and moved to Denmark. Our house is nearby a creek and some bewildered areas, so there were plenty of them. I always loved gardening, growing own herbs and veggies. I was disgusted and frustrated. You couldn’t walk barefoot in the grass, they were everywhere. The parsley, the leeks, the squash, everything was eaten or covered in slime. Keeping them under control was endless (and, frankly, disgusting)work.
Some years later, I noticed that my two-year-old son was quite fond of them. He liked watching them and even asked if he can pet them. PET?! That gave the book its’ ending. Well, almost. I must say that for a long time I was not entirely satisfied or convinced. Is that what I have to offer, this idea of kind of giving up? Luckily, a few years later my permaculture journey started, and I realized that this is not about giving up, but about “accepting every life form as valuable, no matter how inconvenient they are to us or to other life forms that we value” (D. Holmgren). It is about having a cold mind and not jumping into rash decisions. It is about “the problem being the solution”.