Thursday, October 28, 2010


Isn’t it wonderful how children have a natural fascination with the creatures in our world, even the slimy ones? 
My nephew, who is autistic and my daughter have always loved to find quiet nooks in the garden to relax and de-stress.  They spend hours examining leaves, flowers and ‘creatures’.  They use all their senses – smelling the perfume of the flowers and crushing scented leaves; listening to the sound of insects and the creak of the trees; feeling the different textures, feeling insects, caterpillars and slugs crawl over their hands, looking closely at all the tiny elements and colour that make up a backyard garden; talking and singing quietly to themselves the whole time.  I deliberate plant gardens with as much variety as possible, both for the children and to provide a home for insects, lizards, birds and frogs and any other creature that finds its way in.
Recently the kids went outside to play in the sandpit only to discover it still contained the sandpit toys, but had been emptied of sand.  In amongst all the toys were slugs – lots of slugs.  Instead of being upset they sat in the empty sandpit letting the slugs glide over their hands for hours. Feeding them blades of grass, being fascinated by the slug’s mouth and how the optic and sensory tentacles retracted when touched.  Yes, they had to wash all the slime from their hands when they came inside, but they had fun.  They were peaceful.  They giggled.  They were gentle.  They enjoyed an amazing creature that we usually just try and eliminate from our gardens.

For an interesting look at how leopard slugs reproduce view the following video from the BBC wildlife show and hosted by Sir David Attenborough.

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