I seem to have a knack for ending up in literary dialogues with insects and inanimate objects.
Oh it starts off awkward and uncomfortable – conversations with insects and inanimate objects don’t come that naturally to me. But a pot of Earl Grey and the topic of books will nail it – every time. After two cups of tea time, location and apparently species are forgotten as we explore the colours and shades of the literary world.
This evening, my cohort was Mugg, a pink slug who lives in my garden. I happened across her as she was trekking the long journey towards the book-lined walls of our study.
She wore a small pair of glasses perched on the edge of what might have been her nose, though I’m not too familiar with slug anatomy. Bags lined her preoccupied eyes and she carried a small purse. I had a moment to wonder whether it was filled with the same kind of non-essentials I walked out of the house with: my son’s racing cars, orchards of apples, used tissues and a book, of course, always a book. I thought it would be impolite to ask.
She wore the determined look of a woman on a mission – I recognised the look immediately as I’m sure its an expression H has seen cross my face many times: a ferocity that said The only damn thing I’m doing tonight is reading my book! I liked her.
Ordinarily, I might have ignored a bright pink slug wearing blue glasses on the wall and gone about the business of reading my book. But i’d just finished reading 11.22.63 and needed desperately to debrief! So I offered her assistance in getting to the study, to which she was grateful (at her rate it seemed she’d take a few days). Mugg directed me to place her on the shelf that housed my ‘classics’ collection. She’s got good taste, I thought. When I learned she’d never read Jane Austen, I almost knocked her off the shelf. “What?! Every woman needs to read an Austen!” I handed her Sense and Sensibility. She accepted, laughing.
Our conversations led us back to the kitchen where a brew of Earl Grey awaited. We enjoyed a delightful little chatter about our latest reads. Obviously I chewed her ear off about 11.22.63 – she’s never read any Stephen King, but I think I had her convinced to give him a try:) (I’ll share some reflections on 11.22.63 shortly). I’d never heard of the slug authors Mugg mentioned, in fact I was embarressed to say that I didn’t know slugs were authors! Apparently there are many. Mugg’s favourites are Begg Mulosc, who wrote a series about a young slug who befriended a butterfly, much to the chagrin of her slug community, and Ligg Millow, apparently a great feminist slug who opened my new friend’s eyes to gender inequality in the slug home. Fascinating! I was very interested to know more about this slug world I’d never considered before. Mugg promised to return with some books that she would translate for me, as long as I provided a nice hot cuppa. I could definitely do that.
It’s not always the case that I enjoy book banter with insects – my previous encounter with Scout the wasp was horrific, but Mugg was pleasant, a good listener and fascinating to chat with.
‘Twas nice to make a new friend.