When I visited the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge last year, I fell in love with the only wild American bison (a.k.a. American buffalo; Bison bison) I had ever seen in my life. Though ‘wild’ is somewhat of a misnomer given they are isolated to the refuge.
Nevertheless, the moment I saw a small herd meandering across a meadow toward the distant trees, I had to stop to snap a few images of the two who stayed behind to mill about a small pond. I felt as though my eyes rested on a piece of history nearly lost and now only a remnant of its once great glory.
Watching one of them scratch its face on a tree enchanted me as though I watched an alchemist conjure gold from lead. What a common, simple act, yet I could not turn away.
There was a time when the ground shook under the feet of herds so vast that they covered the land from horizon to horizon. There was a time when the plains turned dark as night as these behemoths moved about in numbers so great that it would boggle the mind. There was a time when they roamed their world with freedom. Though I haven’t the power to give that back to them, I can give them my respect and admiration. They deserve as much.