This evening, I was sitting at my desk, working away at my current work-in-progress. It is my second entry for Rooglewood Press's Five Enchanted Roses, and it is giving me no little grief. It's about a magic herb that grows in mountain caves and sends people to sleep... except that the herb never quite found its way into the plot, and seeing as it was the key Sleeping Beauty element, my retelling is progressing slowly. So far I have a castle-full of people exacting halfhearted political revenge and not much else. So I was reasonably open to the possibility of being completely distracted from it.
My desk, for the record, is planted firmly in front of a window so I can look outside at the twenty-foot myrtle tree in our garden while I work. But why this exposition is necessary... well, you'll see.
So my heroine had the missing prince locked in her root cellar, and she was trying to explain precisely why her family kidnapped him. And I was bored. And as I glanced out the window, I noticed movement in the myrtle tree. Something large was half-hidden by the last deep-pink blossoms... and for all that I searched, I could not see what it was!
My heroine and the missing prince continued squabbling endearingly, but my attention was caught up in the mysterious movement in the myrtle tree. As the hero and heroine resolved their argument, something half-fell out of the myrtle tree and writhed, dangling, in its branches.
And I couldn't see what it was, because I was twenty feet away. So, naturally, I abandoned my heroine and the missing prince to their argument and fetched a pair of binoculars. I gazed out the window... and it was a praying mantis!
It was heartbreaking. So naturally, I called for my dad to come see it. What followed were several minutes of him fiddling with the binoculars and me saying, "If you look at the tallest branch and go down a bit, then to the right some, then sort of up, around that one flower, you should be able to see it." I shan't recount it all here. Suffice it to say that he couldn't see it.
Dissatisfied, I returned to my work-in-progress and managed a good minute and a half of solid work before my mom came in. I screeched for her to come see it, and she, mercifully, could interpret my directions and actually saw the the praying mantis's struggle.
"But I don't know how to save it!" I said. "It's right at the top of the tree."
"Well, we have a wiffle ball in the garage," she said.
"But what if I kill it?"
My sister pragmatically said, "It'll die anyway if you don't."
Well. We can't have that, now, can we?
Armed with a wiffle ball and a camera, I sallied forth to my side yard in the dying light. I noticed that the myrtle tree was a lot taller than it was from my window. Definitely more like thirty feet.
And it was crawling with big, brown, hairy spiders.
|The myrtle tree in my side yard|
But the praying mantis was in much worse condition than I! Who knew how long his struggles could last before the spiders feasted upon him?
So I worked up my courage and threw the wiffle ball.
|This is a wiffle ball, by the way.|
It missed. Again. But-- and this is important!-- it missed on the other side of the tree! That, dear reader, is progress.
The next attempt wasn't quite so good. The wiffle ball got stuck in the tree.
|The wiffle ball|
|A close-up of the wiffle ball. (No, I don't have shaky hands.)|
I have an awesome mom. She came out with the branch cutter.
|It's pretty much a machete on a stick. It does not, to the best of my knowledge, glow blue in the presence of orcs. But hey, still works.|
We returned ready to rescue. But the praying mantis was gone.
I have no idea what happened to it. I can only assume that our rescue attempts provided so much entertainment for the spiders that it gave the praying mantis time to escape. I don't know that we can exactly take credit. We knocked the wiffle ball down and came back inside.
I didn't finish my work-in-progress. Instead, I wrote this down for you.
And then I finished my work-in-progress*, because some things you just have to do.
*Not finished-finished. Just finished the part I was working on today.