Friday, May 30, 2008

Woodsy Recap

I got back late last night from another trip out of town, too tired and hungry and covered with bug slime to do much but eat dinner and shower and collapse. I probably hiked 10 miles or more yesterday, and delineated eight wetlands, taking turns carrying the backpack GPS unit, then rode an hour and a half back to the park and ride lot where I'd left my car. A solid 13-hour day, which might sound bad, but it's not really. Thirteen hours in the office would slay me, but fieldwork? It's a lot like getting paid to hike.

One particularly rewarding thing about the last few weeks is that I've been returning to the same general area, watching the phenology progress. The buds I saw last week on the blue bead-lily, Canada mayflower, and sarsaparilla have burst, and they are flowering for the first time this week. The leaves on the ephemerals, such as trout lily and squirrel corn, are turning yellow and beginning to wither. June is nearly upon us... if I hadn't just listed the evidence, I might not believe it. Time is really flying lately.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day Tripping: A Garden Photolog

SodaBoy and I took a photographic expedition yesterday to a state historic park, which contains the mansion and grounds of a late 1800s philanthropist. The grounds are extensive, the gardens both numerous and lovely, and the particular philanthropist near and dear to me, since she donated the land for a favorite state park, the one closest to my home. There were greenhouses

filled with lovely orchids

and lushly verdant growth.

There were magnificent roof lines, complete with fairy tale chimneys,

and ample statuary.

And while it wasn't in the tourist brochure, and we may have been the only ones admiring it, we also saw this totally awesome lace wing. (I think it's a lace wing, anyway. Any entomologists out there?)

The return trip featured a stop to eat dinner outside, on a patio overlooking a lovely Digit Lake. It was grand, I tell you, simply grand.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Flower Blogging

wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fringe Benefits

This line of work may not pay much, but there are some definite perks. I wasn't terribly thrilled to be going out at 7 am this morning, to give a tour of invasive plant species. It was drizzling, with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees. The dread in such situations is always worse than the reality; I do have decent gear, and properly layered I was neither cold nor wet. Plus I'd already decided that since it was a local site with such an early start, I'd return home afterwards and shower before heading into the office. This worked out well, allowing me to safely remove a deer tick before it got too attached.

It also allowed me to bring home and wash up these morels. First I rinsed off the dirt, then while I showered, I let them soak to be sure to get all the crud out of the folds. Patted them dryish, then threw them in the fridge, and headed off to work. They made a delightful side dish with the veggie pizza SodaBoy cooked for dinner. I sauteed them in butter with a clove of garlic and a few splashes of white wine, throwing in some fresh spinach to wilt shortly before serving. There are no photos in situ, due to the rain, and no photos of the final dish, due to the hunger.

You'll just have to take my word for it: these babies were tasty.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Laptop Advice, Please

Field season is back in swing, and I have been traveling for work several days a week, staying in hotels across the region. Last year, this meant I would be out of touch with friends and family for days on end (not to mention apart from bloggyland). My Mom lives out of state, and we email regularly. This past Christmas, she got got me a laptop, no doubt in part so we could could stay in touch while I am traveling. I thought that would solve the incommunicado issue once and for all.

However, it hasn't really panned out like that, at least not consistently. I took the laptop with me out of state for several nights, and got online in my hotel with no problems. But that was doing visual fieldwork, driving around taking pictures all day. I never had to leave the laptop locked up in the vehicle, because I was always either in the car myself, or in the hotel. However, the majority of my fieldwork is environmental in nature. Basically, I park the vehicle on the side of the road and hoof off into the woods or fields, often not returning for many hours.

I am afraid to leave the laptop in the car because I worry the extreme temperatures would be bad for the computer. That means during weeks like this, I'm back to being out of touch a lot. Monday morning a co-worker and I drove out to a field site, and it was nearly 8 pm before we checked into our hotel. Then we checked out first thing in the morning, and headed back out to the woods for another full day. Had I brought the laptop, it would have to be locked in the hot vehicle for two days straight. This scenario will repeat itself exactly tomorrow and Friday.

My fear is not based on any knowledge, just instinct. I won't leave my camera in the car to bake in the sun either. Extreme heat doesn't seem like it would mix well with electronica. Can anyone debunk this theory for me? Offer any advice? My laptop is new and shiny and I like it a lot; I don't want to destroy it. On the other hand, if a car hot enough to kill the hordes of black flies is harmless to a computer, maybe I should bring it along.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Lilac Quandary

I haven't been reporting all of my Project Budburst phenological observations here, as I know everyone does not share my botanical obsessions, but the lilacs are pretty enough to warrant a photo. Despite the lovely and rather unusual hue, our lilac bush doesn't seem too terribly thrilled. As you can see, there are just a few blossoms in the cluster open, and we never get more than three or four racemes worth of flowers. Other lilacs in my neighborhood are just laden, sagging under the weight of their own fertility. Perhaps my backyard simply doesn't get enough sun? I don't know, but I enjoy them all the same.

I have another lilac quandary to ask you all about. I took an unusual route home from work today, detouring through the old neighborhood to pick up catfish burritos for our anniversary dinner. The lilacs in Stormwater Park are in full bloom, but I was horrified to see a woman boldly cutting a herself a bouquet in a broad daylight. I was so enraged I almost stopped to confront her, but then I started to wonder if that would be justified. See... on occasion it has come to my attention that a truth I thought was gospel is not widely held. For example, I was brought up indoctrinated that turning around in a private driveway is rude, that one should always use a public roadway. I have since learned from SodaBoy, friends, and co-workers alike that no one else but my family, apparently, subscribes to that particular theory.

So back to the lilacs in the park... Stormwater Park is a city park, paid for with taxpayer dollars, for the public to enjoy. I view those lilacs as being there for the public benefit; I see cutting them for private use as downright thievery. However, I doubt the woman doing the cutting sees it that way, as she wasn't being the least bit furtive. She probably also views the lilacs as a public resource, there for anyone to take and enjoy as they please. Does that old park mantra, take only photographs, leave only footprints only apply to national parks? Or should state and county parks enjoy the same protections? Or is it only natural areas that deserve respect, leaving my humble city park free for the hacking? What do you think?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I'm a Winner!

All week long, Crunchy Chicken has been hosting a series of green book giveaways. Being the book whore that I am, I greedily entered each separate contest. [Except the Green Chic giveaway, because I am so far from chic, the concept doesn't even appeal to me--no doubt a sour grapes coping mechanism from the uber dorkiness of my childhood.] Crunchy has hosted book clubs for several of these books, and although I wasn't participating, I read her reviews and the ensuing discussions with much interest. They all sound like really great books.

Crunchy announced the winners today, and I am the lucky winner of Michael Pollan's latest book, In Defense of Food. I am so excited! I very rarely enter giveaways or contests, but as I mentioned, I have a serious weakness for books. I have read several of Michael Pollan's earlier books, and loved them. I am definitely interested in eating healthy, nutritious foods, and have been eagerly anticipating the paperback release of this book. Crunchy, thank you! You have spared me the wait.

And if you missed this round of giveaways, don't despair. Crunchy has already announced plans for another green book giveaway later this month. Like many of us, Crunchy is trying to reduce her impact on the environment. Despite being utterly sincere about changing her life and inspiring readers to do the same, Crunchy keeps things fun. It's definitely good stuff.

If you haven't visited her blog, go check it out.