Fall brought some drastic changes to my life here in Carson City. The first time my gloves froze to my handlebars, I knew I was in for a dramatic couple months. In September, a tiny kitten, not more than 5 weeks old, moved into the space between the insulation and the floorboards of my house. After 2 days of quiet mewing echoing up through the heating vents, I decided that our new housemate needed to move upstairs. Andrii (another intern), Oksana (his wife), and I rent a prefab house on the eastern edge of town. We’ve loved this shabby little place since the very first day we moved in. Unfortunately, the house hasn’t really loved us back. A leaky roof, dripping pipes, hidden mold, ant infestations, fruit fly swarms; we’ve had it all. 2 weeks after we moved in, our kitchen mysteriously disappeared one evening. We got back from the field to discover our refrigerator was not where we had left it! And now it appeared that, to top it all off, we had a critter in distress somewhere below our feet. I donned my PPE (I didn’t take the DOI learn HAZWOPER course for nothing!) and army-crawled into the dust and grime. I made it out wheezy, sneezy, and clutching a new best friend. We called him Griffey or Kits, after the famous baseball player and the Ukrainian word for “hey cat!” He has quickly become accustomed to the pampered life of an adventurous kitten.
After such drastic changes in weather and family structure, a change in employment really shouldn’t faze me. But after 9 months living, tromping, and adventuring in the sagebrush and the sierras, it’s a shock to the system to consider leaving.
Carson City is where I learned to monitor fires, to assess riparian habitats, to identify great basin flora, and why the coyotes cry to the stars at night. My tent has been my home in the dunes of Death Valley, the granite slabs of Yosemite, the canyons of Dixie Valley, and almost everywhere in between. I’ve gawked and gasped at innumerable stunning plants, from the delicate blooms of the rare Webber’s ivsia (Ivsia webberi) to the ancient wisdom of the bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva). “Oodles” doesn’t even come close to the amount I’ve learned and experienced.
I owe a tremendous debt to my mentor, Dean, and our fantastic team. Whether we were fixing flats, purposefully getting stung by fiddleneck (Amsinkia tesselata), or searching mountains for rebar and rare plants, they helped me maintain my positive attitude and appreciate every moment in the lovely landscape. When times got tough or the plants got feisty, these excellent people always had my back.
Sierra Front Field Office, BLM
Carson City, NV