What do you call a group of slugs? A herd? A flock? A slither? I don't know, and neither do I know why so many slugs were crossing one small stretch of my road this morning. I didn't see any clear difference between the two sides of the road, but there they were, slugging their way across. Why?
I've spent more than 12 years closely observing and studying my surroundings out here in the woods, but I'm struck by how much I still don't know. What was that tiny red lizard I saw this morning and why have I never seen one like it before? Don't know. How does that pesky fly figure out the most annoying possible place to hover, just on the edge of my peripheral vision? It's a mystery. What kind of critter once wore that chunk of fur stuck on the barbed wire? No clue.
The other day (this is true) I saw two cows wandering in the woods where cows don't belong, and I hesitated to report the loose cows to our neighbors because I knew their first question would be "What kind of cows were they?" For years my nearest neighbors have been cows but I still can't answer that question. I can identify dozens of birds by sight or song, but I still can't distinguish a holstein from an angus.
But then again, for every bird song I know, I hear dozens that I don't, and every spring it seems I have to re-teach myself the same common birdcalls. I recognize by sight exactly two types of ferns. A walk through the winter woods is full of mystery because I can't recognize trees without their leaves on. Those colorful rocks all over the cliff face? If it's not slate, it's a stranger.
The things I don't know about my woods could fill up the woods twice over: Mushrooms! Lichens! A zillion different kinds of bugs! I can't even know how much I don't know.
I certainly don't know what made those slugs slither en masse across the road, and if they know, they're not telling.