I hunch down in the tall, yellow grass – awestruck and giddy at my proximity to the hulking black creature which stands only a few yards in front of me. It’s large head looks furry and I imagine that it might be soft to the touch. It’s long tail swishes spontaneously at the endless swarm of flies buzzing around it’s body. The creature moves slowly but deliberately through the grass, over the uneven terrain, passing directly in front of me. With my Canon Rebel out and at the ready I watch until the perfect moment presents itself. The buffalo pauses a moment. It is facing ever so slightly away from me, waiting as if pondering something. A cool, breeze blows through the grass and the green sage brush that surrounds us. I raise the camera to my eye and focus the lens in…waiting…waiting… With no sense of urgency, the buffalo turns his massive head towards me. I see his great eye, filled with a deep intelligence and beauty, focus on me – a strange little being, crouching not far from him with my camera plastered to my face.
For a moment we stare at one another, me through my camera’s lens, him through deep, liquid brown pools. Each of us evaluates the other, weighing the danger that the other presents. I feel an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. I know that if this creature decides that I am a threat, it could turn on me and in a very short amount of time it could cover the distance between us and that would be it for me. I would not stand a chance. I am at its mercy.
The buffalo’s tail continues to swish back and forth. It’s eyes continue to size me up and down. I slowly rise up a bit from my crouch in an effort to get a better shot, refocusing my lens. The buffalo remains statue still. I slowly press my finger down on the button. The camera snaps a few pictures of the buffalo. I lower the camera slowly. The buffalo hasn’t moved and is still watching me. I hold my breath, waiting for what the creature’s reaction to my invasion of its privacy will be.
Then, with a grunt, the buffalo turns and quietly drifts away, over the plains and out of sight.