I am not one for routine. I would be happy to wake up every day in a new world, with little familiar around me.* I don’t like watching the same movies over and over, and I am rarely inclined to re-read a book. What can I say? There is just so much new to see and discover in the world that I just want to keep exploring.
Is that some sort of life advice from me? Hardly. In fact, I don’t think it is even particularly wise. There is a balance, which I must constantly seek.
I may have nature to thank for that particular lesson. I’ve learned that returning to the same location over different seasons and years let’s a place reveal itself on its own terms and at its own pace. Nature operates on its schedule, not mine, no matter how impatient I might be.
Using my best internal Yoda voice, my mantra has become “Slow down, must I do. Patience must I have.”
This is especially true at Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico. I have been working there for over three years but I have barely begun to scratch the surface.
Learning from Bison.
One subject I will never, ever tire of is the American bison. I feel part of myself rooted in them, somehow.
Every time I stop amongst Vermejo’s huge herds and watch for an hour or three, I am rewarded.
They will certainly test the will of an impatient photographer, keeping their heads down grazing for what seems like hours before raising to stare you in the eye.
I returned during our annual June “Babes and Blooms” photo workshop last month and again learned this lesson.
I had seen and photographed the calves in their bright red coats. And I had seen them in small herds with their mothers.
But it never occurred to me how many there and what an amazing spectacle I was witnessing until I saw them spread across Vermejo’s grand landscape in winding curves of bison and dust. It was beautiful to watch.
When I take the time to slow down and observe bison, they give me all the little moments I could ask for.
A mother and calf standing passively may suddenly start into a trot with the young calf awkwardly stretching its legs into an ungainly gallop as it tries to match its mother’s stride.
Or a hungry calf might suddenly approach mom with what seems like an overly violent assault on mom’s poor udder. (But mom is like a honey badger. She just don’t seem to care and just stands there, dutifully).
So many moments there for me to see, if I am patient.