July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:35 PM
"How do you do it?It is a question often asked of me when people come to understand that I am married to a wildlife biologist who not only does his thing at the office, but brings his passion for animals home - invariably onto the kitchen table.Last week it was a baby crow, in need of a little rehab, who took up residence in a lighted box. He was placed in the corner of our kitchen with easy access in mind, for he was a growing guy and loudly squawked as only crows can when hunger overtakes them. I quickly learned that his enormous, gaping mouth was soft and needy, not threatening or finger consuming.Some days ago it was the neighbor's pet bunny, inflicted with a growing pocket of infection under his chin, who entered our home. Tenderly wrapped in his owner's towel, his wound was gently drained and flushed by none other than Mr. Wildlife, who was the only one given the constitution to perform such a task.And it was the very morning I write this column that I discovered yet another dead bird body - carefully wrapped in layers of plastic and placed inside a shoe box to avoid direct contact with our food. It had been secretly tucked into my freezer directly under a bag of Tater Tots - just like hundreds of other dead birds considered way too important over the years to simply throw away.The attached tag indicated that an area Audubon member had found it, carefully recording the day it had been recovered and the circumstances surrounding its demise - a clean family room window. I know from past experience that the ornithologists at the Burke Museum in Seattle will love it. And if they already have one in their collection they will pack it with dry ice and ship it on to the people at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., who warehouse specimens for worldwide distribution. Rather than killing live animals, museums now collect through natural attrition.Even Martha Stewart would think it is a good thing.To say that it takes a whole lot to make me shiver and turn away is an understatement. My husband says I have evolved into one, strong, biologist's wife.But I have a terribly hard time with slugs and the mild, wet June we have enjoyed of late has brought them out in droves. I have tried to like them. I have even enjoyed a couple of fascinating conversations with a local resident who is the self-described Slug Lady. She is delightful and I must admit that I have made a life-long commitment to never destroying those slugs natural to our area.They have, however, attacked my garden and I am not only a very unhappy camper but the mere thought of them makes me shiver and do a little dance that would, without a doubt, embarrass my kids beyond words.This problem is my own fault. I planted a portion of my garden and allowed the soft weather to draw me into the house and away from the soggy beds. I had, in fact, neglected to keep close track of my garden and had not provided any deterrent whatsoever. When I saw from a distance that my plants seemed taller and appeared lavish in green foliage, I stayed away.A close, sun-blessed assessment this week has left me horrified. Hundreds of slugs have moved from the ground, up through the very centers of my plants, and created great havoc.I know what has to be done. I will move the naturals away and kill the immigrants. I will also take note of this extremely visual lesson, it seems heaven sent to me: If I want to protect my garden filled with tender, young plants, I must put on the armor. Build the barrier. Stay on top of the task and never let up.There are a whole lot of tender young people that need tending and protecting this summer. Too many, now out of school, will be out there unsupervised and left vulnerable to the pure evil that knows just where to attack. While I live with optimism, I cannot ignore the fact that the Bible tells us we must put on the full Armor of God - for good reason. God longs to protect us and enable us to protect ourselves, as well as those we love and care about.Next week I will describe God's concept of spiritual armor and the protection He promises it will provide.Joan Bay Klope is a freelance writer and former editor of Christian books published by Gospel Light Publications. She can be reached at email@example.com."