J. is a serious gardener, and she grows the best tomatoes I’ve eaten since I moved to the U.K. I don’t know how she kills slugs and snails on her patch in the spring, but I know she does, because if you’re going to grow anything around here, you have to. Otherwise they mow down every plant you stick in the earth. They move through like a scene from Slug Apocalypse, leaving nothing behind.
A couple of us were at J.’s house and we went outside to admire the garden. It was that beautiful time of the evening when the sky’s a tissue-paper blue and you can almost convince yourself that the world is at peace, even though, yeah, of course you know better. Even though it was late in the year, she still had some flowers in bloom.
On the edge of a flower bed was a slug. The big, creepy kind, easily the length of my ring finger.
J. flicked it away—and I’d have to say she did it gently—with the toe of her shoe.
“That’s why I don’t come out at this time of day,” she said.
So it’s not just me. Everyone who gardens knows they’re out there. And at least for part of the year, we don’t look. If we did, as surely as if we’d sworn an oath, we’d have to kill them. And really, you can’t dedicate your life to eliminating an entire species, even if it’s only from a small patch of ground you call your own.