We celebrate this most important holiday on May 28 every year. There is a lovely holiday in March, the “Swallows Return to Capistrano Day,” when flocks of cliff swallows arrive at the beautiful Mission San Juan Capistrano and begin to build their springtime nests. For years, people have had a parade and festival to welcome back the sparrows, and they traditionally ring the mission bells. Well, today we celebrate the slugs returning from the same place to once again inhabit our yards and gardens. Of course, this is one of those totally made up holidays, because slugs don’t actually go anywhere, but I couldn’t pass it up.
One of my fond memories of the days when I was a librarian in an academic library was faculty retreat on the Oregon coast. It is the home to a temperate rain forest, because moist air from the ocean has trouble getting over the Coast Range, and drops a lot of water along the western edge of the state. It was always amusing to take new faculty members hiking and introduce them to the yellow banana slugs, which can grow up to 10 inches long but are usually only five or six.
I found a page of truly terrible slug jokes. One of the best is How do you know your kitchen floor is dirty? The slugs leave a trail on the floor that reads “clean me!”
For the cutest slugs you ever want to see, visit Elizabeth Ruffing’s Web page, where she sells handmade stuffed slugs in a variety of colors. Below is a graphic of her “Hug Me Slugs.” They look like they could be returning from Capistrano!
Quotes about slugs
All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair
The bees are stirring, birds are on the wing,
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of spring.
–Samuel Taylor Coleridge
It seems to me the worst of all the plagues is the slug, the snail without a shell. He is beyond description repulsive, a mass of sooty, shapeless slime, and he devours everything.–Celia Thaxter
What would become of the garden if the gardener treated all the weeds and slugs and birds and trespassers as he would like to be treated, if he were in their place?–Thomas Huxley
Children start off reading in books about lions and giraffes and so on, but they also – if they’re lucky enough and have reasonable privileges of any human being – are able to go into a garden and turn over stone and see a worm and see a slug and see an ant.–David Attenborough
Among gardeners, enthusiasm and experience rarely exist in equal measures. The beginner dreams of home-grown bouquets and baskets of ripe fruit, the veteran of many seasons has learned to expect slugs, mildew, and frost.–Roger Swain
The large black slugs … come out at dusk. Enormous slugs. As big as crocodiles. So huge we need a gun to shoot them. And by the end of the summer, if they go on growing, we shall have to go out in pairs together for protection.–Nan Fairbrother
We die, we turn, we are reborn as we deserve to be reborn, based on our doings in this world.” Will looked down at his bitten nails. “I will probably be reborn as a slug that someone salts.–Cassandra Clare
There are three things in the world that he held in the smallest esteem – slugs, poets and caddies with hiccups.–P. G. Wodehouse
You have the morals of rabbit, the character of a slug, and the brain of a platypus.–Cybill Shepherd
Girls are like slugs – they probably serve some purpose, but it’s hard to imagine what.–Bill Watterson
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