Food has been scarce in the Hamiter household since being waylaid with a mild version of the plague. My menu unfortunately has been limited to hot tea with honey, sick day soup, and an arsenal of vitamin supplements. In an attempt to breath some life into the house, and hopefully into myself as well, I left our windows open for the better part of the day yesterday and around noon I noticed that the wind had blown in a bit more than fresh air (our windows lack screens). A diligent slug had snailed his way across the window ledge, inviting himself into my daughter's bedroom. Sensing a teachable moment, I called for Isabella and Josephine, who greeted the mini mollusk with squeals of delight, and repeated chanting of "Can we keep him Mommy?!". I acquiesced and the excitement broke out. Plans for housing, accessories, and naming rights began, in something akin to Cinderella's scene with Gus, but with a gastropod. Deciding that he (and as a slimy creature he would have to be a 'he') should be spared no luxury, we refashioned a Nordstrom shoebox with dirt, an old pumpkin stem and, at Isabella's insistence, fresh bread crumbs. Within 15 minutes, votes were cast, and a name was chosen- 'Slurry', the Slug, our first family pet.
It did not take long for us to realize that an open shoebox provides a rather large escape hatch. Wanting to maintain his open and viewable environment, I had the not-so-brilliant idea to wrap a line of foil around the box, believing that perhaps when his slime trail hit the foil the surface would be too slick for him to crawl out (I know. But I have been doped up on cold medication). Not surprisingly, we were foiled again, as an hour later I was accosted by my girls who were in a hurry to find Slurry. I did not have to look far however, to find him scaling the wall a foot above his abode. On to plan B. Realizing the need for a properly ventilated cover, I secured a piece of wax paper to the box with a large rubber band and poked in air holes with a toothpick. Ta-Da, success. Until bedtime. Isabella and Josephine got into Slurry's box for another round of viewing when Izze began to worry, "Mom he hasn't touched his food!". Albeit relatively unaware of the dietary habits of mollusks, I assured her not to worry, and told her to come and get ready for bed. After jammies, teethbrushing, and water drinking, we returned to the bedroom to find Slurry's box vacated. Tears ensued. The girls began to call him frantically,"Here, Slurry, Here Slurrrrry" while images of 'Reward- Missing Snail' posters briefly floated in my consciousness. But, I reasoned, part of the family pet experience is learning to deal with loss, though it was unfortunate that the whole exercise was compacted into a single day. After a flash-lit search party, we had to face that Slurry was gone.
As Wes and I concluded the bedtime routine, which included a fair amount of consoling, we assured them that Slurry was indeed happy and had moved onto to a better place... A Neiman's shoebox, perhaps.