It Smells of Daisies

Every time I write the date at the top of a new page, I feel a small shock as I register the year. Already 2012. For a life which can only be lived once, it flies by rather quickly. One excellent characteristic about Zion National Park is that regardless of how long one has been walking the galleries of its canyons or speculating from the rims of its plateaus, there is always something more to be seen. Some new adventure waits to suction the minutes from my days. Fortunately, the diversity of activities also makes the moments string comprehensively into a full year, which is almost how long I have been here.
Being a returning CLM intern, I find these next three months to be particularly productive; at least they will be in my mind. I have finally figured out all the ins-and-outs of the park, I have used GIS to make maps guiding me toward my now weekly expeditions. There is an overall order to the internship’s progress, a more clearly laid out path toward success.
I suppose I should have begun by explaining what my internship consists of. The official herbarium collection is safely locked away since it has specimens dating back to the 1930s that cannot get tarnished with daily wear and tear. As such, years ago, the vegetation department and the fire research crew began a herbarium that was meant to be more readily accessible.
The working herbarium is constantly being updated; Northern Arizona University donated hundreds of vouchers from two areas they surveyed after wild fires. When I arrived, there were about 800 species that had yet to be collected, processed, and filed. That has been my job since last May. I also volunteered for three months over the winter. During these months I wrote project proposals for federal funds with a colleague who soon became a close friend/ coworker/confidant/ and house-mate.
Now, back on herbarium work, I am concentrating on the early blooming species starting from the lowest elevations and moving upward. My latest trip was somewhat of a botanical failure because few species are blooming. However, I got to take the ZNP Chief of Resource Division on a multiday trip; this in itself was fantastic. Hearing all his stories, laughing from curious life situations, keying out anything we found in bloom, and hiking through beautiful remote canyons was altogether spectacular. I suppose this is a new beginning for CLM but I feel like I have lived a lifetime in this wild land. Oh, and the manzanitas smell of honey, the daisies of chamomile, and junipers of the Colorado Plateau.

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