Before I started this project, my explanations for what my daily work would entail probably sounded pretty boring. On a most basic level, what I do every day from 8:00 until 4:30 or later is count plants. I look at them, figure out what species they are, and write them down. Oh, and occasionally I dig up some dirt. Thrilling, right?
What keeps me constantly engaged in my fieldwork–other than an underlying obsession with the wonderfulness of plants–is the different terrain at each of my sites. As I discussed in my last post, many of my sites host an assembly of logs that provide all sorts of challenges, and the logs are just the beginning. Wetter sites have vibrant communities of rushes, that hide little gullies and streams. I’ve frequently taken an oblivious step that’s landed me a couple feet lower down than I expected to be. My most vegetated sites are often grown up above my head, so that I have to shove my way through overly-friendly saplings and grasses. It reminds me of movie stereotypes of running through fields of corn, except instead of corn it’s the highly invasive reed canary grass, and instead of running I’m crawling. Even writing down lists of plants becomes a lot more interesting when you’re trying to write while balanced on a log, or with a stick shoving into your side.
Maybe some of these challenges sound annoying, but mostly I find them rather amusing. After all, they help keep my work constantly interesting, and make me really appreciate the few easy sites where all I have to do is count plants.