Friday, June 20, 2014
There are still white bison in Jamestown, North Dakota. They're in a big enclosure at the National Buffalo Museum. As you're driving along Highway 94 headed west you can sometimes see them, if you're very lucky. I'd never seen them from the road. My friend Ann Hoffert, who drives there all the time, has never seen them from the road.
So I'm coming out of Fargo and it's very late, getting dark, and I'm trying to make it to Carrington, 2 1/2 hours west if you go 75-80 mph. I'm exhausted and discombobulated and I've had things coming at me to accept and deal with that I simply can't. I've hit a wall.
Out of habit and hope I search the hills around the Buffalo Museum as I roll along in my little white rented Ford Fiesta, hungry and tired and wrung out.
And there on a ridgetop is White Cloud, the albino cow bison who is so famous she has her own sign on the highway. She was born the day before Phoebe, on July 10, 1996. She, too, is 17. The perfection of seeing her, when I'm missing my kids so much, overwhelms me.
I can hardly believe it. I want to take a photo of her. I pull over, hesitate. Should I run across four lanes of highway with my big camera? The way my luck has been running, I would likely end up a spot of grease on I-94. But I grab the camera, bide my time and dash across, in between roaring semi's. It's worth it to me to see White Cloud again.
She's really white, and looking healthy and beautiful. I remember her twisted little horns from the first time we saw her in 2008.
I'm so grateful that she presented herself to me this evening. I needed her. I look up from the viewfinder and someone is coming up over the ridge. Someone I remember.
I'd last seen him with his mother, White Cloud, in 2009 when he was a half-grown calf. You can read that post here.
He is no longer slab-sided or spindly. He is magnificent.
I cannot believe that Dakota Miracle has come up to meet me.
I start crying again, this time in joy and disbelief, and I can't stop. I feel these bison were waiting for me. I'm sure of it.
I try to be quiet so as not to alarm them, but fail. Miracle is curious, and he looks straight at me. Which moves me even more. I've never had a bison pay the slightest attention to me. They have always seemed above noticing a mortal. These white spirit bison, even more aloof.
Woman, why do you weep?
I've been here, waiting for you. The prairie is waiting for you.
Go out in the wide open spaces. Look up at the sky. You don't even have to look up--look straight ahead, all around. At your feet. The sky arches over you.
Breathe the clean wind, hear the meadowlark and the longspur, listen for the sparrows you love so much. Nature heals you at home. Here, even more. You'll see. The prairie is big medicine.
He walked past the World's Largest Bison.
And stopped to turn a kindly ice-blue eye my way.
You have a long hard journey ahead of you. I hear that in your voice.
In time, all will be well. Go now. I will watch over you.