Saturday, March 20, 2010

Vern Al, the Equine Ox, and other legends

The equinox is getting away from me. It was actually yesterday, a day that achieved a rare 70+ degrees in March. There should be a special yoicks! or halloo! for attaining such a rung of pleasantness. Perhaps it should be the Latin word for seventy: septuaginta. I can picture people calling to one another across Mystic Lake as they hoist their ukuleles: "Septuaginta!"

I also forgot to balance the egg. The tradition being that on the precise moment of the equinox, you can balance an egg on its end. But it turns out Snopes, the urban legend debunker, says this is a bogus claim. Apparently you can balance an egg on its end any day of the year.

That leaves me with one more piece of folklore that I seem to be sole custodian of. Namely, the thundering hoofbeats of Vern Al, the Equine Ox. Since no one has actually seen Vern Al, it's hard to know whether it has the body of an ox and the head of a horse or vice versa. I prefer to see it as a combination of the best features of both: fleetness, endurance, strength, sensitivity, wildness and domesticity. Vern would be the equine name, Al the bovine. Kind of a Norman-Saxon thing.

Which brings us to the song, sung to the immortal theme of that classic TV show, The Adventures of Robin Hood:

Equine Ox, Equine Ox, riding 'cross the plain;
Equine Ox, Equine Ox, with your horns and mane...
No one but you
whinnies its moo,
Equine Ox! Equine Ox! Equine Ox!

To carry spring abroad requires a blend of ox and steed
A victor strong of back and swift of leg!
As robust as a bison yet equine in dash and deed
And sensitive enough to right an egg!

Equine Ox, Equine Ox, riding 'cross the plain, etc.
And so, as the thundering hoofbeats echo into the distance, we wish good luck to Vern Al, the Equine Ox, who may well resemble a wildebeest (above), which also possesses the horns and mane, if not the breadth in the beam. We are mindful that the balance of day and night, ox and horse, is but a momentary equilibrium, and that we may not see septuaginta again in March, but we're grateful to see that reassuring rump disappear up Mass. Ave., toward Lexington, as William Dawes and his mount did 235 years ago: a fiery horse, the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty "Hi Yo Silver! The British are coming! Halloo to the spring!"

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