After years of drive-by stalking of the bison at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, Tennessee, I finally saw a chance to capture the gentle beasts on film while driving through the park one beautiful afternoon.
I drove this way to work for years before moving into the city. They had successfully evaded me for so long; I figured I would have more luck observing one up close and personal at a zoo or family farm than the park where they graze everyday, just out of reach for my fixed lens. I started driving out there after I moved just to see if they would be close enough that day… I still got shots in the area that made me happy, but not of the bison.
I hurriedly changed lanes so I could make the turn to enter the park that day that I saw them close to a fence. I was so excited I pulled over to park as soon as I saw a space, which in my haste turned out to be an extremely long, and hot walk in this particular humid Memphis afternoon.
The smell of grass and hot pavement filled my senses as I walked towards the herd of seemingly calm beasts. They grazed continuously except for the two small calves who were playfully jumping, running, and knocking into their mothers further out in the field than my lens could reach.
Luckily, there were two bison that were particularly close to the flimsy wire fence that I nervously approached with an innate sense of excitement and caution. I didn’t really know anything about these animals; one can only be too careful and I am not the “running” type of person should something happen, especially in skinny jeans and flip flops.
The two bison continued to graze as they walked along the fence unconcerned and apparently unaware of my presence. After carefully watching them and taking some shots with my LC-A from afar, I nervously inched closer to get a better view. At that moment, one of them turned to me as he was chewing his cud and stuck his tongue out at me getting the pieces of grass around his mouth. It was so unexpected to me for some reason, I laughed and continued to watch them for what seemed like the entire afternoon, but in reality was only about an hour. I wish I had more film to capture that moment, but I am happy I got this picture specifically because it just seems so perfect to me, capturing the texture of the beast’s hair and nonchalant attitude while he grazed just as he does everyday. But this time in reach.
That day, I felt as though I won the lottery. The simplest things in life are often times the most beautiful and peaceful to witness. I’m happy I had my camera with me, and a little film too, so I could remember that day forever. This remains one of my favorite photos despite it not even being “liked” enough to be on my popular page. But I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.