There are some things growing up in a city can never prepare you for. Driving on dirt roads and two tracks are one of those things. I’m not an absolute novice on country roads, but that’s certainly a skill I’ve had to work on during my internship. It seems like one of those things that comes as second nature once you know what you’re doing, but the learning curve is steep. On paved roads, the only impediments you have to look out for are things cutting in front of you like people, cars, and wildlife. Off the pavement, the road itself is sometimes an impediment out to get you. I’ve learned it’s all about angles and speed. Unfortunately, I had to learn that the hard way. It’s a sad thing to call your mentor an hour before your weekend is supposed to start to explain you’ve gotten your truck high centered and you need a rescue. Emma (my mentor) is thankfully very understanding and came out with another guy from the office to tow us out. From what everyone at the office has told me, this happens to everyone. Failing is a crucial part of learning. It still sucks.
My office has a great sense of humor with field work, so they have an “award” called the Golden Shovel that you get to sign and hang up in your cubicle if you have to get rescued. I’d like to say I only had to sign that shovel once, but we’ve had a couple other incidents out in the field regarding keys. We’ve locked ourselves out, and a key magically dropped off the key ring one day in the sagebrush. In terms of keys, I’ve learned that zippered pockets are absolutely ESSENTIAL. If the keys aren’t in the ignition, they’re in a zippered pocket.
As I write this post, I feel silly because it sounds so common sense. Of course it’s important to learn how to navigate the terrain and keep your keys safe. But truly, it’s been a big part of my summer. I take a couple seconds to stop and think about my surroundings and what I need to do to do my job well and keep myself safe, and this consistency and mindfulness has been key (sorry for the bad pun, I’ll see myself out).
If you’ve made it this far, here’s one of my favorite flowers to collect seeds from, Perideridia gairdneri ssp. borealis. Apparently, the roots were a staple food for Native Americans; I’ve yet to try cooking them, but I’d like to. Truthfully, they’re my favorite flower because the seeds are so satisfying to collect. They produce a lot of seeds per flower, and the seeds are surprisingly big for having so many on an umbel. It’s a wonderful little plant that I’ve enjoyed working with. (My coworker also thinks they smell like Diet Pepsi, which is a plus).