Friday, July 15, 2011

Dances with buffalo

One of these bison is not like the others.

On a recent weekend, I made a pilgrimage to the Lakota Ranch in Greenville, Texas, to visit its new white bison calf. Lightning Medicine Cloud, as he was named in a ceremony attended by more than a thousand people, was born in May during a raging thunderstorm. The Lakota Sioux have a long-standing belief that such animals are sacred, as I learned during my talks with the many bison (all brown) I encountered at Yellowstone National Park last year. So I was eager to meet the little fellow. 

Lightning Medicine Cloud
greets the ayatollah with an
enthusiastic, "Whaaasssssup?"
I am a big fan of buffalo in general, regardless of their coloring. With their iconic silhouette and natural charisma, they are much like pugs. Young Lightning did not have quite the gravitas of his herd's elder statesbison, but he was charming in his own way as he followed his mother and more conventionally colored sibling back and forth along the fence line. 

"Greetings, young calf of prophesy," I barked, as I crossed the parched earth to meet him. "You have been a veritable cash cow for the ministry's formerly unprofitable Lakota wing. Just look at all the T-shirts we're selling at that booth over there. You should be proud."

As we spoke, I noticed that Lightning's fur looked a few shades darker than what I'd seen in the photos taken shortly after his birth. My aunt, in fact, went so far as to say that Lightning was no white buffalo at all -- an assertion that I quickly denounced. After a brief but cordial exchange, it was time for me to return to the comfort of my air-conditioned carriage and bid the sacred calf adieu. I looked once more toward the ringing cash register at the merchandise booth as I said my farewell to the herd. 

"Oh, and Lightning?" I barked, "I'll send someone over with a batch of bleach later this week -- just in case."

Mother made this homage
to Lightning that afternoon
with her burrito wrapper
at Freebirds. 


Marie said...

Mother has amazing talents as a sculptress.
Perhaps she can use her talents to raise funds for the ministry.

Wilma said...

Not really white at all....more of a fawn color. Hmmmmmmm.......