Ha! Once again, I seem to have failed to press the Publish button yesterday. I just noticed that this post was still queued up and not yet available on the blog, so I guess it’s a two-fer day today. Appropriately enough, it’s a post on my natural gift for failing to blend in with the herd. Make of that what you will!I think I may have mentioned before that there is a ranch only a short distance from where I live that raises bison, a herd whose distinctive companion is a camel. When my spouse and I were out on a little expedition in the area recently, the bison were even nearer the road than usual, and to my delight there were among them many calves of the season. We are generations away from the time when bison covered the American plains in masses that blackened the grasslands from one edge of the horizon to another, so it’s a pleasure to see even modest groups of them thriving and growing as they do in protected places like this one anymore.
But where was the camel?
It’s possible that the two times we passed the pasture that day, the camel was on its dromedary coffee break in some less visible spot toward the back of the fields. Maybe there is more to the bison herd than I know, and the camel was on duty, keeping the other bovine bunch company elsewhere. A little part of me couldn’t help but puzzle and worry over it, though. Camels can grow old and die like the rest of us, I assume. What a pity if this one camel should have died. I would be sad if I knew that to be the case.
It’s surprising, perhaps, that I find myself thinking about a camel and wondering about its welfare. It’s only partly made clearer by recognizing the seeming strangeness of a camel being at home in north Texas in the first place and the further oddity of said camel being companion and guardian to a herd of American buffalo.
Then again, not so surprising. I am, after all, something like a cousin to this unique camel. As a native Northwesterner who has always lived well north of the Mason-Dixon Line until moving to Texas five years ago, I am by definition a foreign body, an alien, in Texas, no matter how at home I find myself among the locals. As the perpetual listener at the back of choir rehearsals, unable to make my vocal folds cooperate dependably enough to sing along, I am affiliated with the herd in a way that is very meaningful to me and that I take seriously not only as a source of pleasure but as support for my singing, conducting, and accompanying friends, but I am still not a part of the herd myself.
So it matters to me to know that all is well with that mysterious and slightly humorously incongruous camel. And I’ll keep you posted on the bison-loving camel that is me.