Friday, March 12, 2010

A Slug Fest . . .

Now I realize this post may not be for everyone, so I'll advise at the outset, if you are averse to mollusks, or have a high revulsion factor for slippery slimy slugs or their cousins the snails, you may want to stop reading right here, because this could get gooey . . .
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Ah, still willing to go on ? Ok, well, what I wanted to say is that quite some time ago now, purely by chance, I discovered a blog out on the rainy Pacific coast of Oregon which is produced by a slug, and I think she is the loveliest slug one could ever want to meet, the Mrs. Slug in question, alias the Babbler. She creates the most charming and gooey stories imaginable about the lives of her sluggy husband Mr. Slug and herself; everything you ever wanted to know about slugs but were afraid to ask can be found in the blog in question. So without further ado, or should I say, agoo, I'd highly recommend a visit to the Adventures of Mr. Slug and Friends, please drop in and take a look around, being cautious not to slip and fall on any slimy slug trails. And see if you don't get just a little hooked . . .
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Ever since I discovered her blog, I've not been able to look at slugs in the same light. How I've mis-judged them all these years. Or even abused them by sometimes being so awfully cruel to have stepped on one or two over the years. I even admitted to Mrs. Slug (and she kindly forgave me) that when I was a very little boy, with my brothers we sometimes poured salt on slugs, or put out bowls of beer for them to drown in. But never again would I dream of harming a slug. And while we were on Reunion Island in February, I came across simply the largest molluskular type creature I'd ever seen anywhere. This must be some distant cousin to the slug, which don't have shells, probably a closer relative to snails. . . but some sort of giant land snail the likes of which I'd never encountered before.
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So, for your viewing pleasure, and in homage to Mrs & Mr Slug of Slug Rest, Oregon, I submit the following photos for your consideration . . .
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My daughter courageously placed her hand next to it to illustrate this mollusk's gargantuan size . . . Hmmm, I wonder if any local Réunionais recipes call for sautéing them in butter and garlic sauce ? ? ?
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41 comments:

Snowbrush said...

And it looks to be on lava too, which means that it would feel right at home in Mrs. Slug's neighborhood.

The Sagittarian said...

Either your daughter has a small hand or that slug is HUGE....

@eloh said...

This brings back memories. We had this piece of jungle we had to patrol several times a night. We had a hard top jeep to keep the snakes that hung in the trees from getting us. But the snails... most were over three pounds... a darker shell than the one you have pictured and a bit larger... the road would be covered in them... pop pop pop by the scores.

The worst patrol was after the heat in the morning and before the other creatures could clean up the free road meal.... lord it stunk.

I agree... never mash one of these big boys.

Adam said...

I still don't see what's wrong with killing off slugs. Have you seen the damage they do to vegetables in the garden! Drowning in beer had always seemed like a reasonable enough death to me.

Steve said...

Both meaty and strangely beautiful...!

the watercats said...

I love snails!... a really cool thing you can do is make a flour and water, watery mix and paint it onto a sheet of glass, leave to dry.. then add a snail, who will munch over the mixture and you can watch it radulla (mouth), moving, like a piece of sandpaper with ridges... I love them!.. does your daughter play guitar? :-D

desi said...

wow, its a huge snail!! :O

:)
There's something on my blog for you!! ;)
Being-desi.blogspot.com

:)
desi

French Fancy said...

I've never eaten snails and I have to admit that on the occasions that I have put down the granules that kill them - well, I do feel very sorry afterwards. It must be a horrible death. I think I might go back to the old traditional method of beer in a bowl - if Mr FF lets me siphon some off.

Jill said...

Ooooo, it's magnificent!

babbler said...

Owen,
Thank you from the bottom of my skirt for this incrrredddible photo of my Uncle Sluggus Gigantis! Ah, the magic of internet! I feel as though we are on Skype, having a conversation with him over a couple of brandied eggnogs. Uncle Gigantis sends a box of fancy greens to the family every year and we send back a year subscription to the Slider's Digest. He is truly the largest and most colorful member of our clan, it is so nice to see that you have located him for a portrait so that he may receive the accolades and adulation that are befitting of an important mollusk of his fine lineage! Too bad the picture does not show his many ribbons and trophies displayed in his library; Mother reports that he has a rather extensive collection of awards during his racing years! She says his muzzle, harness and saddle are currently on loan to the Museum of Important Mollusks in Washington, DC. I would like to share with you that Uncle is a very humble and kind gentlesnail, and quite the philanthropist. He routinely volunteers to slide for charitable organizations and donates copious amounts of goo to institutions of slider education. In his youth, he made his fortune by renting out space on the side of his shell for advertising back in the eighties when it was popular to adorn your vehicle with graphics of various sponsors.
Thanks again for giving my Uncle the international press that he so richly deserves! May I also thank you for your kind and thoughtful words about all of us here at Slugs Rest, we are delighted by all of the attention and hubbub that follows! You are truly a gentleslug yourself, Sir.
With goo, a knowing nod and two happy flicks of the tail, Love from Mrs. Slug and Mr. Slug!

louciao said...

Talk about happy trails!

louciao said...

It reminds me of that "joke":

Why did the snail have a big "S" painted on the side of his sports car?

So that when he'd drive down the street, people would point and say "Look at that S car go!"

TechnoBabe said...

Actually it is full of color and minding its own business, I guess I like them after all.

clo said...

coucou Owen...aurais tu organisé une course d'escargot pendant tes vacances a la reunion :o)
non,en fait, il court le plus vite qu'il peut pour que tu ne le cuisines pas au beurre et a l'ail...il est enorme...un seul peut suffire pour remplir une assiette...
enfin pas pour moi,trop baveux a mon gout...
mais si tu me fais un petit café...je veux bien rester jusqu'a la fin du repas...
passes un bon weekend tres cher Owen...
bisoux du sud...ou il fait toujours aussi froid...même les escargots restent encore dans leurs coquilles...
ciao ...a plus tard..:o)

L. said...

Oh, lovely pictures! I quite like slugs and snails. Of course, my hostas do not... But the Hostas are usually so leafy, I think some greenery can be spared for the little critters!

When my daughter was in 4th grade, her class studied snails. And when they were done with their studies, the snails were allowed to come home! At one point we had quite a few in a terrarium. Often times some would crawl out and be found in the strangest of places. And they quite liked to eat our mail, which was problematic!

They were pretty creatures, and sweet in their own slimey way. I think (maybe) I actually miss them. :)

Ann said...

ok...just wanted you to know i visited..could not look at the pics or read...I have a bizzare fear of these creatures..can't understand it...feels like what a panic attack must be!! Makes no sense,but,.....oh well!!!

Karine A. said...

ah ben finalement cela fonctionne !
Ton blog est sympatique, il a tout pour me plaire: de bons textes ( but my english need to be improved!! ) de belles photos, le tout sous les couleurs de la Réunion...
Je reviendrai !
Merci de ton passage et de ton appréciation si gentille et flateuse.

Deborah said...

This was fun, Owen! I love the quirky things you come up with and will definitely pay a visit to Mr and Mrs Slug.

I've never poured salt on a slug, but did pull the legs off a Daddy Longlegs once.

Stickup Artist said...

Yowzer. Amazing. That sucker is huge. Your daughter certainly is brave to put her hand so close. I'm surprised at how much color and pattern the slug exhibits. Quite an awesome creature.

Crescendo said...

Nice shots and big animals !
Have a nice day !

Roxana said...

"A snail's shell, this house that grows with its inmate, is one of the marvels of the universe" - G. Bachelard

marvelous, indeed, i especially liked the hand parallel :-)

(thank you for your email address, i keep it safe until... :-)

Selina Kingston said...

The shell is beautiful - it's the rest of it that is freaking me out slightly !!

K'line Bloom said...

Dear Owen,
Have you ever heard about Patricia Highsmith and her famous short novel "The Snail watcher and other short stories"?
I will never look at them anymore like before!
Cheers,
K'line

Owen said...

Hi Snowbrush, it is lava, indeed, you are quite observant... At only 3 million years old la Réunion is relatively young as islands go, entirely volcanic in origin. This photo was taken in a river valley in the shadow of the volcano, down which plenty of lava has flowed over the millenia, and continues to flow regularly... there was a major eruption in April 2007, and even a small eruption in January 2010... it was quiet while we were there...

So, are you suggesting we should ship a few of these slightly oversize snails to slug rest to keep Mr & Mrs Slug company ? I don't know if the wildlife authorities in either country would be to keen... but perhaps they could be smuggled...
:-)

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Dear Sister Saj, it was GIANT, I couldn't believe my eyes, when I found it making its way into a bag of trash someone had dumped by the roadside, I had no idea such monster size mollusks existed... the sort of thing one might see after a hard night of Tuesday tippling ! I definitely would not want to run into a gang of these things in a dark alley !

Owen said...

@eloh, wow, where on earth were you on patrols where there are snails weighing in at three pounds ??? That must be even bigger than this darling creature, which already I thought was humongous... I'm not sure I even want to start to imagine the slime trail a three pound snail would leave... heaven help us ! I hope they aren't capable of leaping up at one's face !!! And driving over them, the fractured shells didn't puncture the jeep tires??? You wouldn't want to break down with four flat tires in the middle of a horde of angry giant mollusks bent on revenge over the deaths of a multitude of their close relatives... getting smothered in snail slime is surely an unpleasant way to leave this existence...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Adam, well, slugs and snails have to eat too, and they probably love us for supplying them with gardens full of sweet lettuce and cabbage and whatnot, and we repay their love with poison and salt... I guess beer is the kindest revenge if one must protect one's garden... But I really have grown quite fond of them after discovering Mr & Mrs Slug...

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Steve, hmmm, I'm thinking you have beautiful snail burgers on your mind ?
:-)

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Hey Vicky, that sounds like lots of fun, to get to see the dark underbelly of the feeding snail, although perhaps the stuff of nightmares too ?

She does play a little bit of guitar, I just wish she would set her mind to practicing a little bit more... practice makes perfect...

Owen said...

Hey Desi... a million thank you's for thinking of me with your beautiful photo, your mysterious photo, the magical mug... I still don't know what it is about that image that really grabs me, the fingernails missing a little polish? the nightgown? the juliette lewis lips ? the promise of hot tea or is it coffee? the tender contemplative feeling... and not a single snail in view... Do people eat snails in South Africa ???

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Hi FF, by all the gods of french cuisine, how can one live in France and not at least once have tasted a snail ??? They are so good when smothered in hot butter and garlic, with a bit of baguette to crunch along with them... :-)

I agree with you, those granule kind of things must be awful for the poor slugs and snails that consume them... I think beer is far kinder, at least they go out drunk... though it sounds like you might have to battle Mr FF for the beer ?!?

Owen said...

Hi Jill ! I thought you might like that... I can remember seeing lots of slugs in Pennsylvania, but I don't recall any snails... and certainly not anything giant like this...

Owen said...

Oh Dear Mrs Slug,
I am thrilled here to learn that this was your highly esteemed and renowned Uncle Sluggus ! What a marvellous coincidence it was that led us to him then by a roadside on an Indian Ocean island... And what a career he clealy had, careening around racecourses, sliding his way to the greater glory of the gooey races... You never cease to amaze me with your visions of life seen from a slug's perspective ! The pleasure is mine, I assure you ! And may many many readers slide on over to Slug's Rest to discover the wonders of slugdom, the slippery adventures of simply the finest and most eloquent slugs alive today ! And may your paths stay well clear of poison granules or little boys with salt shakers... and although a drop of beer is nice from time to time, just don't fall in the bowl...
:-)

Owen said...

Hiya Lynne; Happy trails to you too ! Slippery trails that gleam in the light of the moon !

And thanks for the major groan as one sees the S car going down the road, into the sunset... had never heard that one before, and can only marvel that you had it at the tip of your tongue, just waiting to tell it again at the next mention of a snail.... you never cease to amaze me...
;-)

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Hi TechnoB, well, they can grow on you, errr, well, perhaps not on you, but in one's affection... they're peaceful little critters, mainly minding their own business, unless it happens to be your lettuce garden they are minding...
;-)

Owen said...

Hi Clo & Howdy !?!
Ah, donc l'hiver n'a pas fini avec le sud ? Dommage pour les escargots enfermés dans leurs coquilles qui doivent commencer à s'ennuyer après des mois là dedans... Nous avons plus de chance qu'eux quand même, nous pourrions sortir même quand il gele dehors, et aller glisser dans la neige, ou monter dans un avion et partir au chaud... et heureusement ce n'est pas nous qui se font cuisiner dans du beurre, sans ou avec ail ! Bon, mieux vaut avec ail quand même... et bien sûr on te fera un petit café... tu veux un court ou un long ? Avec la nouvelle machine à café que la grenouille m'a offert pour Noel, il y en a du bon enfin ici...
Grandes bises et bon dimanche !

Snowbrush said...

Owen, we already have the banana slug which get to 9.8 inches, so will pass on any imports. So often these thing go terribly awry anyway as did Scots Broom and Gorse.

jeff said...

Mais quelle horeur !
Déjà, je trouve que bouffer des escargots est une chose horrible... pas pour ces petites bébêtes mais pour l'estomac... Beurk ! Et en plus, s'il faut imaginer une seconde que c'est ce genre d'asticot qu'on pourrait se mettre sous la dent... merci, thank you, grazie mille...!
Mais t'as vu de bien belles choses à la Réunion dis-moi ! Je sais maintenant que tu as fait un voyage familial, vu que tu nous dit que c'est la main de ta fille qui se trouve là, sur la photo ! Elle te ressemble je trouve ! Même couleur de peau, petits grains de beauté et les doigts si fins qui traduisent une vive intelligence...:)
Trêve de plaisanterie douteuse de ma part... je te trouve bien cool après ce commentaire diforme que je t'ai pondu l'autre fois...(8|
Mais, apparemment, tu ne t'en souviens pas et c'est une bonne chose ! Moi qui croyais occuper l'essentiel de l'espace vital de ton cerveau...! ! !..:)
Mais dis-moi au fait ! Comment fait-on pour dénicher ce genre de bestiole ? On trouve ce type d'escargot comme ça, à tous les coins de rue de la Réunion ?...
J'attends toujours des photos de la verdure luxuriante de cette belle île... mais tu me fais attendre !
Aaaaahh ! Owen ! Comme je partirais bien aussi quelque part sur cette planète ! Mais pourquoi n'ai-je pas le temps et le pognon pour décider... clac !... de partir comme ça, en claquant des doigts ? Je te le dis là... je t'envie d'avoir eu la chance de pouvoir quitter la morosité grise des villes de l'hexagone ! ! !

A bientôt Owen !
Passe un excellent week-end à te repasser dans la tête, à partager ce que tu as vécu loin de France dans ce si beau pays qu'est la Réunion... ( soupir...)

Amitiés hexagonales !...;)
Ciao amigo...(8]

Owen said...

Hi L., Hopefully there'll be enough hostas to go around, share the wealth right, those mollusks need lunch too... and if we were to succeed in eliminating them all just because of their sliminess and their well developped taste for our green vegetables, we'd probably find they filled some irreplacable niche in the larger order of things... As for sewing and knitting, I think you'd best get in touch with Mrs Slug at Slug Rest, they may need some tail socks knitted for them and their extended family...
:-)

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Hi Ann, oh, I'm sorry to hear this one caused some unease, I know there are some people who really do have powerful aversions to these creatures, or to spiders, or snakes; it's a visceral reaction for some, hence the opening sentence of warning, which was only partially tongue in cheek. I promise, at present I don't have any other slug or snail photos in the wings waiting to come out on stage, these were the only ones...

Owen said...

Bonjour Karine, merci infiniment, s'il y a des choses ici qui pourraient te plaire... je suis bien content... ce n'est pas que de la Réunion, c'est juste ça c'était la destination la plus récente, si l'on remonte un peu plus on se trouve un peu partout... à bientôt... et bravo encore pour tes tableaux...

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Hi Deborah, quirky is a good word for the affliction I suffer from... I'm still trying at age 50 to figure out some of the quirky corners of the mind I was bestowed with at birth... :-)

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Dear Stickup, yowzer yer darn straight ! I'm just glad they didn't seem to be able to jump or leap or move very quickly, otherwise they would be quite frightening ! So none like this around the mountains outside Los Angeles ? Guess you need to go farther up the coast to see some of the banana slugs that Snowbrush just mentioned in a comment here... up in Oregon.

Owen said...

Hi Crescendo, many thanks and bon dimanche to you too... these giant snails might look nice in 3D ?

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Dear Roxana,
Totally marvellous, the spirals of a snail's shell are stupendously well designed... how on earth did an organism with a minuscule brain and rudimentary nervous system manage to engineer something so nearly perfect in its symmetry and sheer beauty, flowing curves gently rounded, coming to a graceful point, completely functional... such mysteries leave me speechless... how should I even begin to secrete such a magnificent work of art from my very pores ??? It is beyond me...

Owen said...

Hi Selina, how are you ? Hope all is well... and I know what you mean, I can't look at the slippery parts either for very long without getting just a little bit queasy, something about that rubbery flesh actually living and crawling... oooof, not sure I'd want it crawling up my arm !

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Hi K'line !
No, was not familiar The Snail Watcher... will have to keep an eye out for it; many thanks for the tip... and hey, I forget whether you've ever commented in English here in the past, a pleasant surprise anyway... I get used to seeing French from some, it's good to keep me on my toes. Un excellent dimanche à toi ! Avec ou sans escargots !

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Hi Snowbrush, am off to look up "banana slug" on google, wasn't familiar with that branch of the family. Now would that be the branch that Mr & Mrs Slug come from ??? Perhaps they are dimensioned more robustly than I'd previously imagined ?
;-)

Owen said...

Et Enfin... Cher Jeff ! ! ! ! !

Tu m'as fais crouler de rire !!! Encore une fois. Ah, toi, tu n'as pas l'esprit d'une limace, ça, ça c'est abondamment clair... tu as l'esprit qui court à la vitesse d'un pur sang arabian, et avec autant de nervosité et force de conviction, un plaisir de voir courir cet esprit, sans contraintes, à pleine jambées, oh oui, une belle machine qui ne mache pas ses mots... et qui ne veut pas macher non plus des escargots ??? Mais Jeff ! Serieusement Jeff ! Comment un français pourrait déclarer qu'il n'aime pas mastiquer des escargots ??? Cela ne fait pas partie de l'identité nationale quand même ??? Et c'est quand même bon ces petites friandises qui sortent du four toutes chaudes, noyées dans le beurre ailé, yum, moi qui n'en avais jamais gouté avant de venir en France, moi j'aime bien, comme les fruits de mer, les bigorneaux et compagnie... bon, à chacun leurs goûts, mais là tu me surprends, je t'imaginais bien comme un qui pourrait bien déguster une petite douzaine d'escargots avec moi un jour dans une brasserie, bien arrosé avec ce qu'il faut... et les cuisses de grenouille ??? et les os à la moelle ? Il y a quand même des spécialités qui valent la peine de déguster ici... ah, et l'andouillette ??? Ne me dis pas que tu n'aime pas l'andouillette ??? Bon, on verra bien tout cela un de ces quatre sur un bon verre de........

Alors, euh, oui, c'est bien la main de ma fille, et non, on ne l'avait pas découpée avant de partir à la Réunion, donc oui, on est parti tous les 4, et oui, tu es plus qu'observant pour constater à quel point elle me ressemble par ses seuls doigts...
:-)

Et oui, on a quand même vu quelques belles choses à la Réunion, j'y arriverai bientôt, mais il y a tellement de choses à afficher sur un blog quand on y pense, mais oui, cela viendrait, faut être patient, et les escargots géants, c'est quand même un oeuvre d'art indéniablement beau, non ? Surtout les yeux au bout de ces antennes... ça c'est fabuleux. Imaginons si les êtres humains avaient des yeux pareils, qui sortaient de leur tête quand ils voyaient quelque chose d'intrigant ?

Quant au commentaire diforme dont tu fais allusion, franchement je ne sais plus, tous tes commentaires sont un peu diforme, et c'est pour cela que l'on les aiment, brute de coffre, franchement exprimés, merveilleusement subtiles, ou pas, mais toujours avec cette franchise, cette joie de vivre, ces malins jeux de mots qui font bien comprendre à tout bon entendeur que oui, la vie est belle !!! Et qu'il faut en profiter...

Donc, soit indulgent, les belles choses (et certaines moins belles) de la Réunion, et d'ailleurs, vont venir se montrer à la lumière du jour, petit à petit... Rome n'était pas terminé dans un seul post de blog... errr, dans un jour... Et tu repartiras en voyage un jour j'espère, faut garder l'espoir... mais déjà tu habites un endroit qui serait la destination de rêve pour bcp de monde, non?
A bientôt... et bon dimanche...
:-]

AmyR said...

I would absolutely run away if I saw a slug of that size. I'm glad for the photographs of it, but I wouldn't want to meet one. Ever. ;)

Snowbrush said...

Amy said: "I would absolutely run away if I saw a slug of that size."

Here in Oregon, you would probably step on forty more if you did!

English Rider said...

Beautiful photo. What an elegant snail.