Thursday, November 17, 2011

Banana slugs drink water...

Last weekend, as a part of the fun, we took the kids on a hike through one of the most painfully beautiful woods I have ever seen.

To give context to my woods-niavity, most of the bushwalking near where I live is kinda crunchy and eucalyptusy. Not that there's anything wrong with that. You can travel to far, milder corners and find less natural crunch, but for the most part, it's fairly bright open country. Beautiful in its own right, but not like Northern California.

Billy needed a bit of quiet time (read: time away from people) so he stayed back and I got a chance to hike alone, and see both the countryside and the company I was keeping in a relatively relaxed state.

Relaxed, that is, until the discovery of the banana slug.

On the rich smelling, dark ground, many feet below the tops of the giant redwoods lay banana slugs. They were bright yellow, they were huge (think, small banana) and they were slimy to the max. All of which made them irresistible to the kids.

As a homeschooler, I can confidently say you could base an entire integrated curriculum on these guys.

Mathematics: count the banana slugs, compare length, girth, weight.
Literacy: ode to the banana slug, invent banana slug language, a banana slug is slimy: discuss
History: where was this banana slug born? What did this forest look like before the banana slugs?
Geography: plot the banana slugs on this map
PE: can you move like a banana slug?
Drama: can you think like a banana slug?
Religion: what does a banana slug believe? where do banana slugs come from?
Writing: why does your handwriting look like a banana slug did it?

See... it goes on forever.

Banana slugs became the glue that kept the kids together. Eeew. That reads much more literally than I meant it to. But they did unify a group of kids of all neurological persuasions. The kids spotted them, stared at them, watched them intently, protected them, and identified with them. It was quite a joy to behold.

The best part was when a banana slug, previously thought to be an orifice free (if that is possible) organism, turned its head (or perhaps its other end) and slurped up some water off a leaf. You would have thought someone had turned on a DS. All the kids were gathered around the poor thirsty banana slug, willing it to drink (or moisten its nether regions) again. They talked, they theorised, they argued, they wished... and in that moment, it was genuinely hard to tell which children had autism and which ones didn't.

Thank you banana slug. Glad to meet you. Don't want to eat you. You helped us all have a hike in the woods without worrying about all that other crap I talk about all the time.

You may have another drink (or bidet) now.


Lisa said...

Damn you. First chunky soup, now banana slugs. I think I'm mentally scarred for life.

No wait..

Alright. *More* scarred.

Ro said...

I am quietly shuddering here in my loungeroom at the mental image of banana slugs dipping their dainty nether regions into damp spots for nefarious purposes!

Wendy said...

I've never in my life had the desire to see a banana slug up close, but now, thanks to your post, things have changed!