Slugs and Slime, a Girl’s Best Friend – Michelle B

This past weekend my family participated in the Bushman Archers’ annual 3D archery shoot in St. Helens, Oregon.  The two day event is nestled in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range.  Comprised of 40 targets, the shooting course is spread out over a hiking trail that meanders through lush green forest, along ancient creek beds, and through open, flowering meadows.  Although a participant can shoot the course any one day, in order to register your score for an award in the tournament, you must shoot both days of the event (Saturday and Sunday).

Participating in 3D shoots is a great opportunity to take in some fresh air, and fit in much needed family time.

On Sunday, as we walked quietly through the woods between targets, my son commented on how beautiful the birds sounded as they sang their songs of worship around us.  We paused for a moment and looked to the sky above.  The forest canopy was full of chickadees, hundreds of chickadees.  It was a beautiful site.  We watched the birds dance through the branches above to the sound of their own music.  It was the perfect opportunity for me to remind my son of the gifts we have been given.  “Wyatt, isn’t this world God has given us beautiful”, I asked.  “Yeah, I suppose”, he muttered in response.  Clearly, I had my work cut out for me.

A bit later in the morning, as my husband Todd took aim at a black buck target, I looked behind me to see Wyatt harassing a banana slug with a stick.  “Wyatt, stop that!” I exclaimed (quietly enough not to disturb Todd’s concentration).  Wyatt looked back at me with a numb look on his face, “But mom, it’s just a slug.”  “Yes, it is just a slug,” I affirmed in annoyance. “ A banana slug, in fact, and it it needs to be respected.  That slug serves a purpose in God’s forest and that purpose isn’t for you to poke it with a stick.”  Wyatt looked at me as if I had lost it.  A slug, with a purpose?  Sure….

We continued on with the course and enjoyed our time together as a family.  Late into the shoot it was my turn to take aim at a white-tail buck target.  I estimated the buck to be about 43 yards.  I raised my bow, drew back, took aim, and released.  Clearly, I had misjudged the yardage as my arrow flew right over the back of the beast.  The target had no back stop, so my arrow fell into the high grass to the rear of the shooting lane. “Crud!” was about all I could say.

Not only did I miss out on points, I risked losing my arrow.  I was running low.  (I will neither confirm or deny that I may have lost a few other arrows earlier in the day.)  After the others in our group completed their respective shots, I walked behind the target to search for my missing weapon.  It was only a matter of moments before I spotted my neon green fletchings in the grass… surrounded by stinging nettle.  Of all my luck!

After quick assessment, I realized I could reach my arrow, but must step carefully if I was to avoid the paid of the nettle.  (Although stinging nettle is an edible plant used for a number of medicinal purposes, it is covered with with microscopic hairs that deliver a painful toxin when touched.)   I proceeded carefully, knelt down, and retrieved my prize.  As I stood up, however, I lost my balance, tripped over a hidden blackberry brier, and stumbled straight into the nettle patch.  The pain and itch was instantaneous.  “Crud!” and a few other expletives ensued.

Remembering back to my days of search and rescue, and wilderness survival classes, I recalled my cure… the banana slug.  It is said that if you rub the slime of a banana slug on stinging nettle wounds, it will calm the pain.

Yes, Wyatt, the banana slug has a purpose.

I had never put this traditional remedy to the test, but the searing pain in my leg told me now was the time.    We searched and searched, and finally, we found a nice, big, juicy slug.  I hesitated but a moment, picked up the slimy glob of disgustingness, and proceeded to rub it up and down my legs.  Much to my surprise… it worked!

It is said the slime of a banana slug includes a mild toxin that creates a numbing sensation intended to keep it from being eaten by predators.  That numbing sensation was my saving grace.  I would describe the relief it provided as being like applying aloe vera to a burn.  It cools, it calms, it relieves the itch.

Everything in the forest serves a purpose.  I am thankful for the purpose served by the slug.  Although sting nettles were my nemesis, and banana slugs had become my savior.  That day, the slug (and its slime) became this girl’s best friend.

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