I love history. I remember studying the massacre of Cherokee Indians (Native Americans for the PC people) as they were forcibly removed from their lands and made to march thousands of miles away to an Indian reservation. This event later came to be known as the Trail of Tears. It was a sad time and I feel a special sadness when I think of it because I have some Cherokee ancestry.
Today though, I am talking of another trail. This one is also filled with murder, gore and carnage. But this time I am the perpetrator of these deadly deeds. I speak of the snail trails in my garden beds.
This past Saturday we harvested our sweet potatoes and in the process found hundreds of snails and slugs. These aren’t just the cute little garden snails but they are the invasive species of African Snails that have decimated my previous pepper and cabbage crops. They can grow to be very large and I found one that measured from the base of my thumb to the base of my pinky finger (the diagonal width of my palm).
I took the biggest rock I could find (one that had rough edges to make it easier to crack their shells) and started smashing snails like a possessed person. I discovered their nurseries and egg clutches and smashed them all. I stopped counting at two hundred snails and never even started counting the slugs. I just went on a murderous frenzy, smashing and crushing my enemies.
Before I was half done the flies were buzzing loudly and the sun had risen enough to make it very hot! Did this stop me? Are you kidding??? I was taking revenge for all my poor defenseless pepper plants and cabbages that they selfishly ate and then pooped all over my garden!
I confess this murderous streak in me is most definitely not hereditary. I remember my mother was always so kind to animals, even insects. When a stray wasp or bee got into the house she would have one of us kids get a cup and paper plate to catch the poor thing in and release it outside. I am usually of the philosophy that if it is in my house then it is fair game, but if it is outside I will not hurt it. But, snails and slugs are another story.
While on my murder spree I had discarded my shoes with reckless abandon and cared only for the next kill. I tell you I was possessed. When I could find no more snails I stood up from my crouching position to hunt somewhere else and stepped right onto the squishy remains of the largest snail. Its juices splattered all over my feet, and oozed up between my toes. Hopping on one foot I made it to the hose to wash my feet, but the snail remains were very sticky thanks to the heat of the sun. I thought I heard the new Sugarland song playing somewhere: “Uh oh, uh oh, stuck like glue; you and me baby we’re stuck like glue.”
“Get off you sticky piece of goo!” I grumbled.
My husband (with his impeccable sense of timing) walks around the back of the house to see me hopping about, spraying water from the hose everywhere but where I needed it, all the time mumbling and grumbling.
“Murder is a messy business,” he quips and strolls inside the house leaving me to wrestle with the snail goo still lingering on my foot.
I smear my foot on the grass thinking, “why didn’t I just do that in the first place?” Then, just to make sure no slug or snail escapes my wrath, I sprinkle Slug Out all around my new pepper seedlings.
That night I dream of huge killer slugs and snails dragging me off to snail jail and banging me on the head with rocks. Not really, but it sounded like a good ending. I slept like a baby knowing that my garden was a lot safer than it had been the day before.