Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Riffday: alligator lizards in the air

The title is unrelated to anything--I was listening to (what music?  anyone care to ID? no fair googling) on my drive home today and that line stuck in my head. So I have nothing significant to say today, therefore I will just tell you some of the things I was thinking about while driving.

First of all, I have reached the point in the semester where the commute just feels ennnnnddddllllllesssssss.  It feels like I'm driving and driving and driving.  Thankfully it has been a beautiful fall, because the scenery is the only thing making it worthwhile at the moment.

So here is my rhetorical physics question for today.  (I said that like I have rhetorical physics questions every day.)  My commute takes place almost entirely on a state highway that runs more-or-less straight North-South.  For most of it, I'm driving parallel to a mountain range-- not as spectacular as anything in Colorado, but pretty enough, especially now that the tops are dusted with snow, a nice contrast to the golden wheat fields and changing leaves that are closer to the road.  The mountains are about 20 miles away from the road.  There is one long straightaway where there are several ponds and marshes along the road, and the mountains are reflected in them perfectly.  The water is right there next to the road, and the mountains are 20 miles away.  How does that work?  It just doesn't seem right.  It seems like you should just see sky.

But however it works, it's spectacularly beautiful.  It's like a mirror image of the mountains on the ground.  Especially this afternoon, since I was driving that stretch right as the sun was going down and the water was practically glowing.  And THEN, as if that wasn't enough, when I got to the part where the road follows the edge of a 27-mile long lake, the moon was up, casting a long path of light across the water.  It was breathtaking.

Another section of my drive, maybe a couple of miles or so, is along the west edge of the National Bison Range.  The NBR is over 18,000 acres, so in the four semesters I've been doing this commute, I've never seen bison out there, and I haven't really expected to.  You have to drive into the middle of it to see the bison.  But then a couple of weeks ago, there was a huge bull bison right there, about 250 yards from the road, just grazing in a field.  And both days this week, a herd of about 30-40 bison were grazing in one of the coulees.  I'm not sure what changed, but it's fun to see them. 

So. I guess I can't complain too much about the drive after all.

I'm listening to Hyperion, a Dan Simmons science fiction novel that is (with its sequel, The Fall of Hyperion) one of my all-time favorite books.  This is my 3rd time reading it, but my first time on audiobook.  This first volume is all setup-- there are 7 travelers on a mission, and in the first book, you just hear all seven of their stories.  They've used different people for the seven different voices, and although sometimes I don't care for that, it is pretty well done.

But I have to say I've been hanging out too much on writing websites.  I was mentally critiquing the first 35 pages or so before I got sucked into the story.  Tsk, tsk, he's telling and not showing.  Too many -ly adverbs in that paragraph.  The prologue isn't really necessary, is it?  Or if it is, why is it called a "prologue"? why isn't it just chapter 1?  I wondered if I was going to be able to get through it.

But once the first traveler started telling his story, I forgot about all that.  So I think this will remain firmly on my all-time favorites list.  I had forgotten how creepy it is at times.  Perfect for this time of year.


  1. Even though Delia is not as old as we are she'll know this song before I do. I will NOT cheat and go googling around (although it's now stuck in my head too). All I can tell you is that it's by America.

    Oh, and I'm sending Dan over here for your bison update (COOL!!!) as well as the confusing reflection question (which Dee will also probably know, fine she and Daniel can fight it out).

    P.S. I always think of you on Thursdays when I'm on the bike, knowing that you are out there on your long commute day, and I'm just going around in a little neighborhood circle for 35 minutes.

  2. Horse with no name?!

  3. Yup, America. HHBL's favorite group but not mine. And the bison are just plain cool. I will trade you some deer for a bison or two.

  4. Nope - Ventura Highway

  5. ooh, Dan wins-- Ventura Highway. if I owned a bar in Ventura, CA, I would so name it the Alligator Lizard Lounge. You could answer the phone with "Ally's!" I had a scene half-written in my head while driving today.

    You guys are good. Before I put together this playlist, I don't think I would even have known the group.