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  • Katherine Dudley Hoehn

Even Banana Slugs Can Trigger Cherished Memories

Updated: Mar 9

When I read my daily One Good Fact email from Encyclopedia Britannica, I had a sudden urge to call Mom and share it with her.  She would have loved it, but she’s begun her seventh year in heaven, and I can’t call her anymore.


The fact was about banana slugs and how they can self-fertilize their eggs.  We had a banana slug experience in common and I wanted to relive it. When she was alive, I often called Mom about things like that; we share the family love for things unusual and had our own definition of "interesting."


Years ago, I planned a lengthy trip to Seattle and Vancouver with my tween and teen sons.  They loved their grandmother, and this was just the kind of trip she would enjoy.  Nature, seeing a city she’d never visited, and spending time with her boys, were all part of our plans.


One of our day trips was to the Hoh Rainforest, part of Olympic National Park and the largest rainforest in the lower 48 states.  None of us had ever been to a rainforest and we were excited about it, then over the moon when we read that it would be filled with banana slugs. 

Mom and boys on the ferry

Native to that part of the world, banana slugs can be up to 10 inches long.  They get their name from their resemblance to the fruit and may be yellow like a ripe banana or appear more like a bruised one in mixtures of brown, white, black, and green.  Until that time, we had only experience with the much smaller pests that slimed our garden vegetables.

A page from the photo album of the trip.

Sadly, it was unseasonably warm and dry that summer and the rainforest was not rainy or the least bit damp. Banana slugs were nowhere to be found; they thrive in moist environments and were presumably hunkered down under leaves and rocks awaiting rain.  We looked and looked and never found one.


I don’t remember anything else about the rainforest, which is sad because it is, apparently, quite amazing.  We’d been so focused on slugs that we didn’t pay much attention to its vastness. 

Mom on the Capilano Suspension Bridge, one of her favorite parts of the trip.

Farther north, we found a wonderful restaurant on the water near the Canadian border that specialized in oysters.  Mother was thrilled and ate more than her share.  To me, oysters are too much like eating slugs and I refrained. While the boys were cautious, they enjoyed the fried versions (only referencing “boogers” a few times).  Mother, with her usual dry wit, finished her last oyster and announced she felt a little sluggish.  We all cracked up.


Except for the slug disappointment, we had a fantastic trip.  Mother loved the state parks, the gardens in Vancouver, the Pacific Ocean, the San Juan Islands, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, and the uniqueness of every day.  Her enthusiasm helped pique the interest of two young boys who enjoyed being outdoors, and being adored. They listened intently when she told stories of her childhood or about me.  It was priceless. 

In her last year, more than twenty years after the trip, and after many nice vacations abroad and in the United States, Mother often mentioned that it was the best trip she’d ever taken. I’m so thankful she was willing to go with us and add to our memories.

As for the banana slugs, I’ve never seen one, but I did buy this little glass slug for Mother in Seattle. She kept it with some of her favorite things.  Now it's special to me, too.


Moral of the story:  family experiences stick with you and something silly like a banana slug can bring a smile to your face and bring back a memory, even when the person you love is no longer there to talk about it.

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Mar 12

I echo all the previous comments - another great story. Thank you!


Mar 11

Another charming story by you to enjoy!


Mar 10

Thank you, Kat! Another wonderful story! Love, Lori


Mar 09

Katherine, I love the way you write. And your memories.


Mar 09

This was very good partly because I feel that you are showing us more of your heart and your delightful family relationships.

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