Friday, May 28, 2010

A Formal Declaration of War

The age of Obama was supposed to usher in an era of cooperation and hope, a repudiation of Bush Administration policies and assertive (aggressive?) policy. And yet my inner Bush has formally declared war on the vile little slug.

For weeks, I’ve been conducting a low intensity battle on the slimy creature, but a stroll at dusk the other evening to survey (and dust off) the ramparts shocked this reigning monarch (please, folks, keep the “queen” comments to a minimum!) into launching a massive offensive to save his kingdom. (My inner Realist and my inner Liberal rejoice: for in battle I affirm an instinct of self-defense, enact that putative law “the strong do what they can, while the weak do what they must,” and manifest my predilection for a particular kind of rule—and do all that I can do to ensure my preferred governance remains unmolested.) Sprinkling pounds of poisoned food pellets between rainfalls (especially around the hostas) has been effective at killing off the first assault of springtime slugs; ground warfare has been of a guerilla sort, and while a few slugs manage to resist the temptation of delicious “mollusk-cidal” caviar, most have fortunately succumbed to the law of delicious desire.

Yet the other evening the second, massive wave of astonishingly plump slugs slimed their ways across the leaves of the Sum and Substance hosta—the largest, tallest, and thus perhaps most visible of the hostas. I panicked. With my bare hands I plucked tens and tens of slugs from the leaves, deposited them on the stone walls, and smeared them with my sandals. Smearing the slug is necessary because slugs can self-amputate and survive a predator’s assault. Killing must be swift, and it must be totalizing; nothing but a smudge must remain.

As further evidence of my brutality, I’ve decided not to dignify the slug’s existence by posting a photograph of it. Instead, I opt to exhibit some of the slug’s damage: I under-planted the June Plantain hosta with this Dead Spotted Nettle, the leaves of which show some slug damage (notice the [thankfully minor] hail damage on the hosta leaves). A former, now deceased, acquaintance from Houston, Wynn, possessed a peculiar fascination with the slug, and even painted at least one mammoth portrait of it. Clearly, he did not have a garden, nor did he ever garden—else he wouldn’t celebrate this destructive creature. Wynn would no doubt protest my cruelty, and actively campaign against my methods.

But deploy various, sometimes lethal methods we must, else the fruits of our labors vanish with exacting precision, rendering once lush leaves to lacey Swiss cheese appearance. If groundcover, as I previously concluded, is "the perfect proxy for measuring the certitude of one's will," then decimating the slug population (decimation is about all we can hope for given their hermaphroditic orgies and, consequently, exponential reproduction rates) is the first major test of our established certitude. 

I am happy to report that I annihilate without regret, and indeed find satisfaction in every slug I smear across the walkway.  

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