It’s wet in Scotland today. Very wet. The river outside our house is flowing with force after a relentless 36 hours of rain. Not the best day to be working in the veg patch but first chance in a while and there is plenty of old vegetation to remove, relentless weeds to pull and gazillions of slugs abounding. They seem to thrive in the wet and this morning I found tens of them, ranging in size from a couple of millimetres up to a couple of inches.
None quite as monstrous as this badass from earlier in the year:
My relationship with slugs varies with my mood. They have suffered at my hands and heels when I’ve been wound up and I have abused their bodies as sacrificial targets in darker days. They certainly suffered as I went through a bleak tunnel of grief a couple of years ago. That year my veg was relatively hole-free and my ‘dawn patrol’ slug squishing was an effective way to keep them from rampaging.
Then I began to explore yoga principles, to reflect and shift toward living more aligned with considered values. The yogic concept of ‘ahimsa’ - the idea of living in a non-harming way - presented a challenge and I began to wonder how that could work in a veg patch. We are an almost-vegetarian household and conscious about where and how we source any meat or dairy products we use and yet I was crushing slugs willy-nilly in the name of nicer looking kale.
This year my attitude has been somewhat more laissez faire. I have transported slugs to the compost heap rather than drowning them with the weeds or squishing them. I have been less diligent with weeding, giving them more places to hide and more leverage to get up to the nice juicy leaves. They have gone rampant, the compost heap is obviously a brilliant place for them to breed and a brilliant place for them to work their way back to the veg patch or over to the greenhouse…
Now I’m wondering what I can get out of this. I am accepting the holey veg and treating them kindly and I can see now an opportunity that perhaps I can treat them as training ground for my emotional landscape. Those squidgy, unpleasant, annoying feelings that come up, that chomp away at me – rather than crush them under my heel or find a way to silence them, can I let them be? Can I let them chomp a bit, give them a bit of space and then help them move on?
This morning I was feeling quite premenstrual and a bit grumpy so a couple of slugs got it. But then I softened and spoke kindly to myself, forgave myself for being grumpy and for the killings and extended myself a little kindness. I saw my frustrations as slugs and decided it was ok for them to be there, they didn’t need to rule the roost but they did need to be acknowledged and let go.
The grumpiness lifted and I put the rest of the (many) slugs in the compost pile.
I have been writing occasional blogs for my work with West Norwood Therapies for the past few years so have published some here and am in the process of trying to find a regular blog writing habit for my own enjoyment and creativity. I'm not doing very well with it so far as other things seem to take precedence, but the intention is there and I'm sure I'll find the habit when it feels right :-)