Saturday, April 23, 2005

Anatomy of Life

A Canadian coldfront snuck in last night. It's windy and cold - in the 50's. I'm procrastinating starting work outside on the ranch by gazing out my window as I sit here caressing my hot coffee cup (ahhh, the elixir of coffee....)

I'm watching the white egrets on the grass. There are dozens of them, several under my window. Their heads and necks bob back and forth and sideways. Suddenly the head and beak dive down to the grass and grab an insect (I hope they eat fire ants). Gotcha! Waddle and bob on to the next victim.

While observing them so closely, I tried to imagine their musculoskeletal system as if I had x-ray vision. Do they have numerous tiny little vertebrae throughout their neck? Their necks flex side-to-side and undulate like a snake. I wonder what the shape and insertions of the neck muscles look like to facilitate the undulating flexibility. When the wind gusts, they draw their necks down close to their pectoral (chest) body region for balance. Conversely, when they run, their necks are extended up and out to balance their forward motion.

They are such interesting and pretty little creatures. I hesitate to disturb their meal gathering, so I'll procrastinate a bit longer.

At the other end of the scale, I had the opportunity to personally introduce myself to BBAB (BigBadAss Bull) living next to me. As I picked up my mail on the main road, BBAB grazed next to the fence separating my private road from his pasture.

What a supreme example of muscle! His reddish-brown coat shines tautly over his musculature. A real-time movie of muscles under the skin reveals the form and function of muscle, tendon and skeleton. The left glute and hip muscles contract while the left rear leg extends forward, the synchronous contraction/extension of the spinal and torso muscles, a brief pause before the left shoulder and neck muscles extend the front leg. The dance of muscles and bone during his gait.

The effect of his size and potential strength and power is almost hypnotic. I stood there and watched in awe as he slowly moved towards me, only once gazing up, chewing, to note my presence. At that moment I was very glad to have several strands of barbed wire between us. But I also realized that it would not stop him if he insisted on going through.

Yes Sir, Mr. BigBadAss Bull. You may have all the space you want. In this time and reality, *you* are Mr. Macrobe.

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