The most recent was yesterday in Quincy at the Illinois Veterans Home, which for some reason has a pen of them. I was there to call a civil war ball for a local reenactment group, but managed to squeeze in some tourism (a pressed penny and a pressed dime in Hannibal, the Jesus Tree and a pen of bison in Quincy) and some shopping (I couldn't help it--a bit of yarn and fabric in Hannibal) along the way.
The prior encounter was last weekend at Shoal Creek Living History Museum. They also have a pen of buffalo. I was able to walk near the fence and stood about 20 feet from them for nearly half an hour. They snorted into the cold air and turned to bolt, but eventually went back to their business, although they never really took their eyes off me. They were mainly interested in the waterer, but one was munching away at the dead grass through the snow.
I had never been so close and kept thinking about how bizarre they must have seemed to the first French explorers. With their bodies so front-loaded and their noses so broad, they're unlike any European ruminant. They look like something out of a medieval bestiary.
My first encounter of the three was in Urbana, IL where I was also calling a dance. On my way out of town I stopped into Klose Knit, and Brigette carries Buffalo yarn. Oh, it's nice, the color of a dark beef reduction, and the texture . . . but at about $60 a skein, it's not in my future.
So, in just a short period of time, from considering their fur for clothing on 2/3, to gazing into their eyes on 2/11, to zipping past in my car on 2/17, to no expected encounters in my future, I've pretty much managed to cover the entire human experience with the mighty buffalo.
*Yes, I know that buffalo and bison are different beasts--the former African, the latter American--but I'm going with common usage. It's been that way since 1635; if you don't believe me, check the OED.