Saturday, 9 October 2010

Sign of the Season

I have been driving past the buffalo all season and have been watching their characters change with each season.  

In spring they are jaunty.  The yearlings gambol and play. Even the wise old ones raise their heads and observe.  They watch, they look, they listen.  The young ones look  every bit as rugged and ruffly as the old ones, as their coats shed.

In summer, they eat tender shoots from young trees, and crisp green grasses. Their hides are almost golden brown.  They gleam.  There is a richness about them that speaks of warmth and sun and harmony.  

As the summer sun starts its inexorable journey to its low winter path, the earth heats up.  Buffalo take to dust bathing to keep the bugs down.  They might look a little scruffy in high summer, but they carry an air of unhurried contentment.

In the autumn, buffalo look solid.  Quite simply solid.  You might think they would graze as usual, but there is something different going on. In spring they raise their heads and look at all that surrounds them  In the fall, it is heads down, focusing only on grazing.  

There is no desperation like a squirrels frenetic gathering of nuts and seeds.  It is a solid sort of eating.  They slowly move along but they make sure that they have all the good stuff.  

Shorter days and cooler nights have switched on a buffalo's internal signals that it is that time of year.  Their coats are starting to get thick and dense, ready for whatever winter brings.  They look thick, powerful, and beyond a doubt are the kings of the prairies. 

Soon they will be slipping deeper into the mixed bushy landscape.  I seldom see them along the edge of the road as I drive in once winter rears its hard head.  They will be gathering and hunkering down in the small treed valleys, keeping out of the reach of harsh winter winds.  

The end of my buffalo season nears.  I will be sorry to see it go but I know that within the park boundaries, these massive princes of the west live on as they always did.  I will see them again in spring when they search for the new shoots at the side of the road.  

I won't count the hours till then.  I will follow the path of the buffalo.  I will practice looking focused.  I will make sure I have all the good things gathered round me.  I will hunker down.   

In this house, the good thing is wool and hunkering down means knitting.  To all things there is a season, and every season is knitting season.