For those of you who have never seen (nor heard of) a banana slug, it is a rather large type of slug which lives in the great forests of the Northwestern United States. Perhaps some clever human once upon a time decided that they resembled a banana, but regardless, they are a yellowish color and are otherwise quite typically slug-like, with feelers that come out and up as they apparently gaze around in their slow and languorous way, eating and mating at will and otherwise just hanging out in the woods. Does anyone really know the purpose of slugs, really? (okay, I can already hear some of you thinking, does everything in life have to have a purpose? Some things simply are, for their own sake. I guess this applies to slugs, among other things. But maybe some kind of brave birds eat them?)
For those of you who have not had the great fortune to experience being in a redwood forest, it is one of Earth’s rare treasures: they are the tallest trees on the planet, and contain a kind of grace and dignity which cannot be explained in paltry words, but only felt from the ground, where a human being basically resembles a rather large insect (or slug, even,) in comparison. Twenty years ago, I was fortunate enough to stand in a redwood forest in Northern California. As life would ironically have it, this summer my two oldest daughters are doing their own teenage version of this same pilgrimage, taking that same highway 101 down from Oregon to Santa Cruz and finding all sorts of fascinating adventures along the way.
Dear Readers, today I let go of all the troubles and problems of the world and the times we are living in, and invite you to relax into the great fern forests of Northern California, where giant trees still abide, slow slugs dwell, the great Pacific ocean continually ebbs and flows against the west coast, and youth still persists in all of its complexity, simplicity, lustiness and vitality. Here is a snippet of my seventeen year old daughter’s latest adventures there, for your entertainment…..
“So, one of the first times I came into contact with the redwoods, we were led to a certain trail and camping spot that some musicians we met knew of, and the trees were so beautiful, when we stopped I rushed out of the car to run into the forest. And instantly noted a rather large banana slug on a plant next to me. Instead of freaking out, I thought, oh how interesting slugs are, cool kind of. Then I walked a step only to find my foot a half centimeter from an even larger one. Then I saw them everywhere. And not just slugs, MASSIVE slugs, some really fat and slow and some 9 inch ones all splayed out disgustingly on the trees, the path, the plants, everywhere. I was trying so hard to just enjoy, appreciate the slugs, so as to not ruin my redwoods experience..but it was so hard, I was secretly freaking out due to my irrational phobia of all in the mollusca family…meanwhile, Mellissa was cracking up knowing just how much anguish I was in, and how I was trying so hard to cover it up…pretty funny.
The best part was when I leapt and darted and made it without stepping on any into the forest, and once I made it in there were much less, not everywhere on the path in front of me. The redwoods are incredible. I’m sick of camping different places every night and having to load back up everything every night and morning, I personally think we should go hide up in the redwoods and make a sweet tree house type temp. homestead for a few nights…there are many beautifully carved out old dead tree stumps that can’t be seen from the path…but who knows. We’ve been camping all over, the beach, cliffs, redwoods, state parks…and it’s been great, though I haven’t gotten a full nights sleep in quite some time.”
How about you, dear Readers? What stories are lurking in the corners of your memories about large insects, mollusks or otherwise unsavory characters from the natural world which you had all but forgotten? Summer is the season for not only sunshine, strawberries, and skinny dipping, but also for adventures of all sorts, both sweet and unsavory. I, for example, remember once camping in Wyoming after setting up the tent in the dark with my not-yet-future husband, sleeping at a nearly 45 degree angle all night on hard, stony ground, and waking up the next morning in an exceedingly bad mood. Amazingly, I still ended up marrying him (granted a few years later) anyway. Those teenagers had to get to earth somehow, after all…..
- Trinidad, California, and the Redwoods (fieldnotesfromfatherhood.com)
- Among the Redwoods (cabinjournal.typepad.com)
- Look no further! (seapunk2.wordpress.com)
- The Tallest of Them All ~ Muir Woods National Monument (paintyourlandscape.wordpress.com)
- Maybe Abstinence IS The Answer: Banana Slugs Try To Bite Each Other’s Wieners Off After Mating (geekologie.com)