Monday, July 28, 2008

Wasping, Birding, Baseballing

One thing I've noticed is that you can take any word and make it a verb by adding "ing" in the science world: Botany - botanizing, birds - birding, and even wasps to wasping apparently.

I learned this by helping one of the research students carefully identify wasps for her project last week and actually had a pretty good time.

my idea of "helping"

Then after much more hard work on the beach sitting out under the sun after finishing my management plans I took off for a saturday-sunday trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes. While 4/6 of us went down the Platte on tubes, Adam and I took off down the beach to find Piping Plovers: a bird that I saw once long ago and didn't even recognize its importance due to being bird-illiterate at the time.

In front of the piping plover nesting area

They are a very rare bird because they have very little breeding habitat left because they prefer beaches with some cobbley areas for nesting. When a nest is discovered its such a big deal that they mark the area off to prevent people from intruding so that the bird can nest. The beach in those areas is also kept free of dogs and animals during the year.

Young Piping plover and white rumped sandpiper (we think)

We had extrodinary luck and saw 7 fabulous individuals - 6 juvies and 1 adult. We found them in the area of their nesting site off of a good tip from a park ranger. Luck was on our side as migration has already started and no one had seen the plovers in a few days and suspected that they had taken off.

The next day, after camping in a back country site 1 mile in, Adam, Micah, and I took off for the scenic drive leaving 3 others behind. We had a great time and visited my favorite place to watch a sunset (despite not getting to see the sunset) in Michigan. The overlook is a dune drop off of 450 feet which some people roll or run down. Adam carried Micah the entire way (not really).

Adam and Micah "climbing" part of the dune

On our way to the dune we of course stopped randomly on the side of the road to pick up a good look at some Sandhill cranes, including one juvy. Here we also heard grasshopper sparrow, saw vespers sparrow, and saw eastern meadowlark.

Stopping on the side of the road to look at birds

Finally we trecked back to AuSable and made it in time for lunch without stopping for either of the hawks we saw - redtail and northern goshawk. It was my last "Messiah" weekend for a long long time... But certianly not the last time we'd hang out - as even yesterday we drove into town to watch the Sox beat the Yanks 9-2 when Jon Lester pitched.

Only a few more days remain. It makes me sad - I'll miss these people but new fun awaits.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Ok so again I've failed at continually updating but not entirely I guess. Things are winding down here. Nine (9) days left to go. Seems crazy! But hey thats how it goes. I will miss some of the people here for sure. Last night 5 of us went out together for some laughs and thats what we had. I've never seen some of them so happy as last night and it reminded me that life isn't always so bad and that things can be lots of fun with the right people, the right time, and the right attitude.

Work is winding down significantly - need to identify the later summer things but few of them are flowering yet. However, things are definitely showing that it's late summer. Spirea alba is in flower as is Swamp Rose and life around is showing that change is coming. Glimpses of the late summer are here pointing to the impending glory of asters, goldenrods, and the fall.

Plants that are still figuring themselves out - evolving before our eyes... changing... genetically we have no idea what separates one from another and really only time can tell. Sort of like college graduates emerging from their little shells like butterflies from a crysalis. We are starting on a path but the exact path is as blurry as the asters genetics. We are all flowers that are going to bloom, you might not have a name for what we are - we might not even know that yet actually - but with luck we'll be successful, fruitful, and fit to continue.

However, unlike flowers, if we fail - we'll have something, someone to fall back on; friends, family, and oppertunities to try again.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Session I Photo-memories

Field Botany Class:

JRV with Field Botany

The 300th Life Bird Cake, Jane, Me, and Kira:

Playing Carpetball with Jane:

Showing Pine Cones at an Integrative day at Hartwick Pines

Many trips to Rite-Aid:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It Feels Like Home

So I already like all the new people a lot here for SSII and it makes me sad that I'll have to leave early. Perhaps they will start irritating me soon though. What makes me happier than all sorts of new faces and potential fun people are seeing the 3 new Messiah'ites who I've missed since leaving: Lindsey, Katrina, and Adam... not to mention the most exciting face of all my friend Jon who was here last May and took Woody Plants with me.

Jon and I have a "life long" mini-golf/putt-putt challenge underway tied at 1 game a piece (the first of which he won by 2 strokes, the second I won by 2 strokes). The moment he and I met last year we knew we'd get along (no not as anything more than friends).

So even though its sad to have to move on and say good-bye to good experiences, good botanists, and good friends. Its great to be able to say hi to one session closer to the next step, one session with a handful of people who I want one more go with.
I feel ready to go on to the next step after having learned so much in the last one, particularly from Ken (the prof I was the TA for). Now its time to become a little more independent and a little stronger on my own - putting to use that which I have learned and been given.

Ken (Prof) and me (TA) in the field

On a final note... I bought new shoes - pictures to come soon.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Fourth of July and more

This past weekend was filled with lots of sitting on my chair at the beach with a book reading, a few crossword puzzles, some sun-tanning, laughing as students studied for finals, and fireworks on the lake.

Nothing much eventful happened. A friend came to visit and we trampled through the preserve I'm working at which was probably the highlight of the weekend. Students, who are now packing to leave and leaving, studied and took their finals. A few goodbyes were said... and life went on.

Being at AuSable has taught me that people come and go. Its good to get to know them because for 5 weeks its all you have. You may even see them again one day... maybe not... but maybe.

Nothing is certian in this life, and there's nothing you can do about it besides try to enjoy every day you have. Life is full of surprises good and bad.

Every one and every thing impacts you - you just might not know it or recognize it until its too late.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

By The Way:

Happy Canada Day!
Enjoy it... go for a swim, hike, play some volleyball...but don't tear your meniscus like I did one year ago on this fateful day with a canada beach ball on AuSable's volleyball courts goofing was the start of a long downhill health journey.
This Canada day makes me happy for the Canadians I know (celebrating 141 years of "freedom"), proud to have overcome so much in 366 days (leap year), and sad to remember that which happened one year ago and left me changed forever.
Sure change is good sometimes, but RA is something I still wish I could live without no matter how good things have gotten and how much I have grown from it.

Expedition to the Bog

Yesterday we went to one of my favorite places to visit - a bog. While June is really lack of excitement in a bog it was still fun (May and July are the best times to visit).

Just call me "sedge girl" or "bog girl" (woman once I get my phd)

Of course we found lots of orchids: white fringed (not in flower), grass pink, rose pogonia... sedges, including a new rhynchospora for the collection, and of course: leatherleaf!

Grass pink: common bog orchid

Bogs are really exciting places. Perhaps the most excitement for the day though came as a surprise. Unfortunately Ken had an allergic reaction so in the morning I took care of the class and even gave a lecture. It was kind of nuts but it went OK. Usually when lecturing I've had weeks to prepare - however, this was more of a "real" last minute experience. Literally we went over it in 3 minutes and then the class came in and he left for the ER.

Euphorbiaceae, Asteraceae, Cyperacea, and Poaceae were the 4 families I covered - talk about a challenge!

Carex sp.

These four families have some real crazy stuff going on, neat pollenation mechanisms, evolutionary twists, etc. They are huge, diverse, difficult to key out families. None-the-less they are fun, entertaining, and interesting. Difficult to teach about - I don't think I'll ever forget the looks on the faces in the class when I tried to explain glumes, lemmas, paleas, spikelets, florets, etc. Perhaps the only thing more memorable than the looks on their faces was Ken's "I know exactly what you mean" chuckle and grin when I questioned him later if he always gets that look.