Those are lichens, packets of lichens. Today I was staring at the Ocean, breakers roaring as I collected Bromus carinatus, Danthonia californica, Elymus glaucus, and Stipa lepida seed by seed in a prairie. It hearkens back to my college days. I passed my days running barefoot through the Thuja plicata, Pseudotsuga mensiezii, Tsuga heterophylla forests- and scraping lichens off branches. Collecting any plant I could to analyze it’s volatile’s with every minute I could spend on a GC mass spec. I lived on the water nearly the whole time. going out on midnight hikes through the woods on full moon nights, canoe voyages on moonless nights. Always watching the waves from the Pacific creep into the Southern stretches of the Puget Sound. Flipping side after side of LPs and cassettes, coz you’d better know the grass ain’t greener on the other side, but better than that Jerry’s there too!
Anyways, living in a college town again, with ecologists, working near the water and still screaming along to Pigpen is making me something like nostalgic. It makes me appreciate how fortunate I am that CLM ever put up with me and offered me an internship in the first place-let alone ths extension for the fourth time. It’s shown me how much i’ve grown. When I was a junior in college I never thought i’d be able to get a job as a botanist- I thought I was a hopeless case. Then I got one, then after my senior year I got another.
When I started as an ecologist my goal was to work in the wet wet forests of the West; and then my head got spun right around by heading to the Columbia Basin. After my second season in the desert i’d started to metamorphose into one of the infamous desert rats. I didn’t really think about coming back over the crest for long, but then well ya know life happens..
So yes, as mentioned i’m a 4th term intern now- I might finally be a CLM legend, although only Justin could verify this. So what am I up to? When not writing sub-par blog posts-despite my extensive experience, I am working on the Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument collecting seed and surveying.
It’s a fascinating area to work. It’s small, only 6,000 acres. It’s composed of three main habitats, Coastal Prairie, Soft Chaparral, and Coastal Redwood, but their is some Oak Savannah and mixed forests in here too. It’s not open to the public yet, but it’s in a very urban area. It’s apart of what i’d almost call an endangered ecosytem-much like the San Joaquin Desert. It was designated in the last week of Obama’s presidency. It’s really unlike any experience or area I have heard about in BLM.
Anyways, i’d like to say it’s all relaxed, but it’s not quite yet. This extension here started kind of late, and so every day I find myself doing an insane amount of activities. I now carry a burlap bag full of envelopes to collect seed into- 19 types of envelopes, yes these woodland species, don’t produce much seed, and they are distributed at low density, so alot of my time is spent flipping through this accordion of envelopes looking for the right guy. Most of these collections are multiple (5+) day events! Not what i’m use to with SOS…
In between flipping through my purse-like bag i’m mapping weeds, collecting every plant, noting GPS of anything interesting, and collecting anything that I look at and go “yeah X genus, uhm but what species?” As you can imagine, I don’t cover a lot of ground.