Thursday, June 16, 2005

Slug fest

I've put in my veggie garden here in Ireland -- lettuce, onions, beans, peas, squash, things that have a chance of reaching maturity before the end of summer. I don't plant because I expect many meals from the garden, but for the pleasure of watching things grow.

I've surrounded my tiny plot with wire fencing to keep out rabbits, but insects have free entry. Most devastating of all are the slugs.

Biologist E. O. Wilson has coined a word -- biophilia -- for what he calls our natural affinity for other organisms. We are rooted by the tree of life, he says; bound to our fellow creatures by history, biology and destiny. Biophilia means literally "love of life." All of life, insists Wilson. Koalas. Butterflies. Daisies. Bluebirds. Slugs.

Slugs?

Am I expected to love these globs of slime, these God-awful ugly eating machines? These viscid vermin? These ghastly gastropods? These glutinous gluttons? These clammy, pituitous malfeasors of mucus? I pluck them out of the garden and hurl them across the field. I really want to bash them with a rock.

I wonder what the warmly biophilic E. O. Wilson would do if he found a herd of our fat Irish slugs devouring his lettuce?

Love of life? I draw the line.