The driver of the big yellow school bus had parked his bus for the day, done his post trip inspection, clicked off all the lights and switches, and had left the doors unlocked and the keys in plain sight, as per company instructions.
Didn’t make any sense to him, but if that’s what the company wanted, then that is what the company got.
And so, safely and warmly tucked into his home research room, the driver had done some book learnin’ about bison.
Turns out, according to his sources, the term “ buffalo”, at least in North America, pre-dates the “bison” handle. Apparently, the name "Bison" might be considered to be more scientifically correct, but as a result of standard usage the name "Buffalo" is also considered proper and is listed in many dictionaries as an acceptable name for this creature. In fact, the term "buffalo" dates to 1635 in North American usage when the term was first recorded, and so has a much longer history than the term "bison", which was first recorded in 1774, at least according to one internet web site. Other explanations might be out there, but, as the driver had previously stated, those big guys would always be “buffalo“ to him.
No, there weren’t any herds of buffalo (or bison, if you insist) freely wandering hither and yon on his bus route, but there was a field along his way that was home to about a dozen of the furry beasts. They look slow and ponderous, with their low slung, heavy heads, thick necks, slumped shoulders, short legs and chunky bodies, but --according to more reliable sources -- buffalo are fast and can sometimes run as quick as 55 kilometres per hour.
Their extremely thick coat keeps them warm in winter but in the summer they shed to keep cool. Bison's eyesight is poor, but their hearing and sense of smell is very good. In fact, a bison can smell an animal three kilometres away.
Oh, and here’s the amazing part: they are known to be quite good swimmers because they are very buoyant. Who knew? ( Everyone out of the pool-- this is a buffalo safety check for your benefit!)
The driver had called the chap who runs the buffalo ranch, asking if any buffalo steaks were for sale.
The answer: No.
What? No buffalo steaks for the grill? No bison roasts for the oven?
“ No”, said the rancher, “ these days I’m better off selling the calves at six months of age than raising them to butcher weight. “
Made sense. Guess it was a case of more money for less work, and any farmer or rancher will take that deal any day.
So much for buffalo. Time to go back outside and scrape some ice from the windows of that big yellow school bus, and wait for the next adventure.
One more thing: you can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd.