Foals, Birds, Cats, Balloons and the Third Law of Motion

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Foals, Birds, Cats, Balloons and the Third Law of Motion

At long last, I have returned to Earthwise and the Alabaster Horse and to the third law of motion. Regular readers of my irregular posts may recall that almost a year ago, in the spring of 2022, I wrote a post regarding how Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion and second law of motion appeared in my life. As life goes, there was an interruption(s), and I am now return. For those of my readers who are curious, or would like a reminder, here is information about Sir Isaac Newton.

The interruptions were the arrival of two foals last spring. Happily, their arrival actually introduces the idea of the third law of motion: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Additional clarification of this statement can be found here. The arrival of the foals (action) had an opposite and equal reaction on my part. First, my heart cleaved to them with the same force as their arrival. Secondly, the force of their arrival resulted in a similar force of work and time involved in their daily care. Thirdly, an even greater force was the force of time in simply hanging out with them. Irreplaceable. Thus, less time to be caring for Earthwise and the Alabaster Horse!

Below are several images of the foals. The solid bay foal is a filly and her name is Red Wing. Red Wing’s mother is Cricket. Cricket’s nickname is Miss Chirp, so her foal was dubbed Little Chirp until we decided on her real name. The foal with the blaze is a horse colt (boy), whose mother is Rosie. His name until he got his proper name was Mr. Cuteness. Now his name is Nettle, which I initially decided upon as his mother has a botanical name and I like the word. But “nettle” came to fit him perfectly as he has a mischievous streak and likes to pester (nettle) the other horses. Red Wing was born first, followed three weeks later by Nettle.

Red Wing saying Hello
Nettle and Red Wing as they get to know one another. An investigation of who ARE you.

Red Wing and Nettle are half siblings, as they share the same father, who is our Lusitano stallion, Airoso. You can see him below in his younger years and steel grey color. As grey horses do, as he aged he became whiter and whiter. These days he is even more white than in the photo where he is under saddle.

There are many ways the third law of motion can be said to affect our daily lives. In refreshing my memory of it, I came across this site. I like how it explains the two forces in this manner: the equal force they exert on one another are an action and a reaction, and that the forces always come in pairs. It seems to me that an action and its opposite and accompanying reaction result in a state of balance, and this is what we see. This makes it easy to see the third law of motion at work.

Interestingly, the above referenced article includes an example of the third law of motion I had planned to show here as well. The action of birds in flight. Their wings push against the air with the same force the air pushes back against their wings, causing them to fly and perform other acrobatics. Where I live, when I am out hiking in the hills, I often see crows or ravens. First, I generally hear their call, rough as a lichen studded rock when you run your hand over it, and just as gravelly. Then, I will see them either perched at the top of a juniper tree, or flying. I always stop to watch them fly, as they are gymnasts of the air. I love how their black silhouettes play with currents of air as they swoop, dive, soar, and flip. They call to one another, and it becomes an aerial dance with one transfixed audience participant. Me.

My black cat, Taz, is a grand example of the third law of motion. Ever since he was a diminutive kitten, he always had to be on top of whatever he could find. I have been plucking him off of buildings, vehicles, horse trailers, hay stacks and out of trees for his entire life (he is 10 years old now). It is not uncommon for me to be out in the backyard in the dark, with a ladder, extracting Taz from the high, bendy branches of a tree. I can say, now, that I am fairly good at climbing various things, then descending one armed with Taz clinging to my left shoulder as I hug him to me. The things Taz climbs, then rests upon, hold him up (fingers crossed that they do) with the same force he exerts to stay on them and to be held up (or hopes he does).

The day I almost drove off with Taz lounging on the horse trailer.

Last summer, on an early, pure morning, just as the sun soared over the far line of the horizon, my friend Sue and I clambered into the basket of a hot air balloon. The balloon, in bright horizontal bands of red, orange, yellow, aqua, sky blue and navy blue, tugged from above at its anchor. I chuckled to myself to see that the balloon was restrained from immediate flight by a rope running between the basket and the front bumper of the pilot’s pickup. The hot air balloon ride was a first for both of us, and we buzzed with excitement. Soon all six of us passengers, plus the pilot, crowded cozily together in the basket, and we cast off. To save space here, I will say the ride was an incredible experience. Take one if you can. To see the sun rise over the land as we rose ourselves was breathtaking. As we floated peacefully along, a propane burner (yes, occasional flame with a whoosh) heated the air within the balloon so it could rise and fly. Action (warm air rising) and reaction (the container of the balloon pushing against the warm air) caused the balloon to rise. We flew at the mercy and direction of wind currants, although the pilot could control the height at which we flew. The highlight of the flight for me was flying into and across the Crooked River Gorge. Our reflection in the river was the balloon in soft focus, viewed from above by the deep blue waters. There is information about the balloon company here.

Finally, as I walk across the land and gaze over its contours and soak it in through every pore on my body, I encounter the force of the land. My only hope is that my scrutiny and regard returns this force equally and that my reaction to its action is a thankfulness as deep and as enduring as the land itself.

Dusk in this arid land nourishes a kind of fathomless reverie. There is sorrow in the light at this hour, a sorrow that can be comforting when you are alone and let it come right into you.

Ellen Meloy

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