Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Of Slugs and Life Cycles: Early October Notes

Indian summer, Véronique the weather woman explained on Radio Can this morning, is when we get three sunny day with temperatures above normal after the first frost. In Montreal we aren’t there yet, since there hasn’t yet been frost, but certainly after several nights of near freezing temperatures today looks like Indian summer—clear blue sky and lots of sun. What my mother called “October’s Bright Blue Weather.” Lee says this is the finest season of the year

However, one of the downsides of this splendid season is that tender plants have to brought inside to escape the cold. Not only is it fair amount of work, but sometimes you bring in more than the Boston ferns, begonias and the like. Last night I saw a glob of something on the floor of the living room, and discovered a slug, valiantly making its way across the polished hard wood toward…well, I imagine it was seeking a place of shade and moisture.

Like the insects that Renaissance painters often put among flowers and lush vegetables in their still lifes to indicate the tension between the abundance of life and our eventual death, the beastie made me think of the various fashions one can view things. I profoundly dislike slugs, and I dropped this one in the trash with no compunction. Yet its end must have been a tragedy in slug terms. Slugs, like the lovely spider in Charlotte's Web, die in the fall.

Those painters knew that we will die too. For the generations brought up since the advent of antibiotic and vaccines against many killer diseases in peaceful countries, death is a stranger, so it is understandable that many of us forget that simple fact. Knowing that is essential to making the most of what we have and can do between now and the end--and hope that our fall will not come either painfully or before our time.

Carpe diem!

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