Meet my new friends. They crawl out in the early morning, especially now in the rainy season. They avoid the sun, and they definitely do not watch where they are going! I swear, one on these days I won’t be looking down. That’s when it will happen. Squish!
I’m talking about Banana Slugs. They are plentiful here on the North Coast of California. Their color is a deep, dark yellow with brown spots like a ripe banana. Someone obviously saw a resemblance. I do not!
I used to think that they moved along like snails leaving a slime trail. I also used to think they were ugly and disgusting. Ugh, Slug!
Something magical happened to change my thinking. I decided to take pictures of each one I found.
My goal was to see if I could tell them apart. Also, to find the biggest one.
That’s when I made my discovery, with my camera lens only six inches away. Through my lens I could see that the banana slug was crawling along on hundreds of itty bitty feet. I know! It was a “wow” moment for me too!
The ones I’ve seen range in length from 4 to 5 inches. The amazing thing is they can grow up to 10 inches.
I mentioned my new photo project to some of the locals. They told me about the annual Banana Slug Festival down by the Russian River. During the festival there are slug races and slug recipe cook-offs. There must also be a prodigious consumption of beer by the people who dare to eat slugs.
After hearing that they are an exotic food item, I did some research. Here’s what I found. Be prepared! It is not pretty! Banana slugs eat animal droppings and other decaying matter. To my mind, some things are just not meant to be eaten.
Still, they are a wonder to watch. I feel a kindness toward them. They are responsible for making me feel all the more patient with people’s idiosyncrasies and less judgmental.
I now can look upon this slimy yellow creature with kindness rather than revulsion. Just as I can look upon the old gentleman alcoholic who walks daily to the beach store for his provisions of beer.
This man unclean, unkempt, dressed in ragged clothing bears witness to our human diversity. It must take great courage to walk outside the line of normality, to challenge the limits of the human body. I know I could never walk in those shoes but I won’t sit in judgment either.
Slug or human; rather than repulsion or judgment, kindness is the key.
Joy! Tin Can Annie