Another Nature Piece

As I’ve remarked once or twice before, I live outside of town in the Texas Hill Country, and not terribly far from a creek, so I often get critters of one kind or another in the yard or in the house. I suppose I ought to mention also that, while my yard is fenced all around, the fencing is of uneven quality. Some of it is simple chain-link–with gaps at the base. Some is tall privacy fence–with gaps at the base. Some, in the back corner, is frayed and faltering wire–with gaps at the base and elsewhere.

White-tailed Deer — Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Not quite this majestic, but moving that way.
Image is Chase A. Fountain’s from TPWD, here, used for commentary;
I am given to understand the image counts as public domain since it’s from a government entity.

Now, it is no strange thing for me to see deer in my yard–or anywhere in the area, really. They abound in this part of the world, some years more than others, but there is a reason my old high school and a few others in the area use them–or parts of them–as mascots. So when I saw a young one, spots still showing on its hndquarters, out along the fence-line a couple of days back (as of this writing; it’ll be a while before this gets where other folks can see it), I didn’t think anything much of it. It was one of those things that was nice to note but nothing to stand out in memory, like a sunrise or sunset that strikes the eye but does not linger in the mind so much.

When I noticed the same deer along the fence-line the next day, though, I began to wonder about it. And when I saw it for a third day in a row, it occurred to me–idly, because I had not had enough coffee for the day yet–that the poor thing was stuck in the yard, that it didn’t know how to get out.

Again, though, deer are common enough around here, and it is widely known that they’re unintelligent. There’s a reason “deer in the headlights” is a common description for inability to answer a question. As such, I didn’t really think much about the deer’s plight–until one morning, I was looking out the window with a cup of coffee in my hand, I saw the deer and pointed it out to my wife, commenting that I’d seen it in the yard across several days. She came to the window, and we watched it for a few minutes, seeing it pace back and forth along the fence-line and try to get through one of the gaps at the back corner of the yard–and fail.

It was when my wife commented on it that something finally clicked inside me, and I went out to open the gates that close off our back yard. I walked around one side of the house, making noise as I did so that the deer would be aware of me and, I hoped, would try to flee, finding the open gate in the process. And that worked, although I saw the deer jump headlong into my fences twice before it sprinted through the gate and out into the road, its hooves clicking on the asphalt as it ran away.

Care to support my ongoing wildlife efforts?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 136: Ship of Magic, Chapter 35

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series soon.


The chapter that follows, “Pirates and Captives,” opens on the deck of the Vivacia, where Kyle rages against Sa’Adar as the Marietta draws near to the liveship. The Vivacia panics as the bodies of her former crew are put overboard and the serpents feast upon them; Wintrow maneuvers to comfort the ship as the pirate crew boards and is welcomed by Sa’Adar and his comrades.

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/pzo9055_wormwood1_0.jpg
Something like this, perhaps?
Image taken from TV Tropes, used for commentary

Wintrow’s presence is noted, and he dickers for his life and his father’s with Kennit, aided by the angry intercession of the Vivacia, herself. Neither Sorcor nor Etta are entirely pleased by the situation, but Kennit seems pleased with the spine Wintrow shows and agrees to decidedly dangerous terms. Kyle is taken into custody again, and Kennit assumes the captain’s cabin as his own after presenting himself to the speaking figurehead of the ship.

Kennit courts the Vivacia audaciously, provoking strange responses from the ship, from Wintrow, and from Etta. He then assumes the captain’s cabin, surveying and inventorying it as Etta frets and fusses. Meanwhile, Kyle lies sullenly in what had been Gantry’s cabin, Wintrow tending his injuries. And the ship considers the sudden shift in her circumstances, taken but now crewed well again, remembering the sweet words Kennit had spoken to her.

The chapters have shortened as the book has drawn to its close, feeling somewhat rushed as they have come to the penultimate section of the novel. Where there has been a series of actions, the shortening makes sense; it reinforces the jagged, choppy nature of many things happening all at once, the layout of the novel reinforcing the effect of the events within the narrative on the reader.

In the present chapter, however, things feel somewhat rushed; for one thing, Wintrow seems to have grown courage and solidity almost overnight, whereas he had earlier been most frequently taken with analysis paralysis or had talked himself out of effectiveness in the name of righteousness. Having lived through puberty (somehow), I can attest that attitudes and emotional states can and do change wildly from day to day and even hour to hour–but even so, the shift seems extreme.

The rush is something I have noted in Hobb’s work before, and it is something I have found annoying in other properties, as well. I will admit, though, that that may well be a matter of personal taste and practice; when I read for pleasure (which does not happen as much anymore as it used to or ought to), despite reading quickly, I like to feel like the writing takes its time. Reading is a conversation, and I like to have my conversations run on at length. It’s something I know annoys more than a few people, though, so, as I note, it may well just be me. But it remains ever so slightly vexatious…

Care to help keep this month going right?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 135: Ship of Magic, Chapter 34

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.


The next chapter, Restorations,” begins aboard the liveship Ophelia, with Grag Tenira rousing Althea, still in disguise as Athel, with a summons from the captain, his father. She fears she has been uncovered, but she reports as ordered. The captain confronts her about her true identity, and, after she admits to her ruse, he orders her put ashore–so that he and his crew can take her aboard formally and properly, under her own name. She will also have the opportunity to act as the ship’s mate, as Grag will feign illness to allow it to her.

The Drunken Sailor
What to do with him? What to do…
The Drunken Sailor by BeSea on Pxleyes, used for commentary

As the principals involved agree and make arrangements, the senior Tenira notes the increasing political tensions in Bingtown. Grag sees her off, and they make arrangements to meet the next day, both recalling earlier, happy encounters previously.

Elsewhere, aboard the Springeve, Brashen has an encounter with one of the sailors under his command. The sailor, one Tarlock, voices recognizing Brashen from earlier voyages. Brashen reviews his situation and present condition, including some unsavory dealings with pirates in trade, and attempts to steer conversation away from his own past. Succeeding, he leaves the passed-out Tarlock behind and returns to the Springeve with cindin in his lip and a spring in his step, happy to have evaded identification.

I note with some satisfaction another bit of support for my notion that the milieu of the Elderlings novels is more North America than medieval/ist Europe. In the present chapter, Brashen and Tarlock drink together for a time, with Brashen calling for rum in his attempt to get Tarlock drunk enough to pass out. While that liquor has origins in southern Asia–there are early attestations in India and Persia–it is indelibly associated with the Caribbean and with the Americas through the horrors of the slave trade (with which topic the present novel also grapples), as well as with the pirates that continue to feature in the text and which, themselves, are a traditionally New World phenomenon.

I note also the ease with which the Teniras handle the revelation of Althea’s ruse. Perhaps it is because they are Traders with a liveship of their own, to whom (which?) they listen, that they are able to adjust so readily to the deception, annoyed only at being taken in instead of at the presence of a woman working aboard ship. Whatever the reason, in or out of the milieu, they do mark a pointed contrast to how others have viewed things, perhaps indicating that there is something of value in Bingtown society, after all.

Care to help me start this month off right?