April 17th, 2012


Communing with Butterflies

It's my second favorite time of year, and the ideal kind of weather for this time of year, when it's still cool at night and in the mornings and warms up a bit in the afternoon. I love fall the most, when the weather is like that but the leaves are turning, but spring, when the flowers are blooming, is also lovely. Since it was that kind of day and I had no pressing deadlines, I headed over to the river for a long walk. I hadn't been over there since November, and it's amazing how much it's changed. Instead of the fall after a long drought it was spring after a wet winter. The leaves and grass were lush and green, the water level was much higher, and I could see that all those bridges on the walking path weren't just decorative because there were some ponds and streams. There were lots of wildflowers blooming and the butterflies were running amok.

In fact, the butterflies startled me with their boldness. It was like going to an urban park and being mobbed by squirrels expecting to be fed. As soon as I sat down to eat my picnic lunch, a butterfly landed on me and sat there a while. Later, I had one sitting on my arm for a good five minutes. It seemed to be staring me in the face (maybe it saw its own reflection in my glasses). When I resumed my walk, I had a swarm following me, and several landed on me. At one point, I was walking with at least three butterflies sitting on me -- one on my shoulder, one on my leg and one clinging to my belt loop. That one hung around for a long time. I was starting to wonder if it was going to follow me home. I'm not used to butterflies being that assertive. But it wasn't just me. A jogger passed me at one point -- a big, muscled guy with a buzz haircut and a US Marines "pain is weakness leaving the body" t-shirt -- with a cloud of butterflies following him. I thought it best to wait until he was well out of earshot before I burst into giggles at the image. Now I'm afraid that I'll mentally insert a cloud of butterflies around every Marine they show on NCIS.

While I was sitting and communing with the butterflies, I did some reading, trying to get into a book. I'd checked it out of the library because the cover description rang all my chimes -- an interesting arc for the main character that would force her to change her entire perspective and a leading man who sounded just like my type. Only I halfway suspected them of accidentally putting the wrong cover on the book because that wasn't the book I was reading (though the names did match). The story promised on the cover didn't even start until halfway through the book, and then it really didn't get going until near the end. The book described on the cover is likely going to be this book's sequel. It was very infuriating, and the just my type guy was a pretty bland and generic version of the type, so I doubt I'll bother with the sequel. Now, though, I want to write the book described on the cover. I think I'd build a totally different world, and the central plot is pretty generic, so I might even be able to get away with it. I did find myself mentally griping that something like this can get published when they won't buy my books, and at least this time most of the Amazon reviews seemed to agree with me. Aside from making the main characters more interesting and less generic, it would have helped if it hadn't spent so much time on the villain, showing us how evil he was. I found myself saying, "Yes, I know you're evil, but can we get on with it?" I need to have a reason to want the main character to win more than I need a reason to want the villain to lose, and part of the plot is that the main character doesn't know the villain is evil and she's hoping he'll help her when she gets into a bad spot. I thought it would have been more interesting for that to come as a surprise to the reader as much as it's a surprise to the character, but it just makes the main character look dumb about not realizing his real nature when the book spends so much time with the villain doing his "I feel evil, oh so evil!" number.

But now that I've finished that book and have only one short one left from the library, I can get the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I may have jokingly griped about it, but when I finished A Clash of Kings I wanted to immediately go to the library and get the next one. I do kind of need a scorecard to follow the characters -- maybe one of those message boards like we used to have at my old job so the receptionist could keep track of us. There was a grid with the names of the staff down one side and then categories like "In," "Out for the day," "Lunch," and "Meeting," and we moved the little magnetic disc to the appropriate spot. But for this series it might be "Dead," "Captured," "Missing," "Changed sides" and "In Battle." This might also be the first series I've read in which I not only need a list to keep track of who's dead, but I also find myself wanting to maintain a hit list of the characters I want to die, who never seem to be the ones who actually do die. And it's a good thing I didn't trudge to the library in the rain on Sunday after finishing the previous book because the copy at my branch is checked out. I now have one from the central library on hold. I wonder how long it will take them to get it to my branch.

It might be fun to read that book while surrounded by butterflies. The incongruity would be amusing. "Oh no, everyone's dying or suffering horribly. But look! Butterflies!"