This summer, I’ve had a slew of projects to manage and complete. I’ve been able to go on a perspective-changing trip to Yellowstone and camping on the Santiam. I’ve been the recipient of a University field work grant. And life has been pretty great.
The first project has to do with an NSF grant in which my advisor was given money to create a field school for high school teachers in the state of Oregon. He and my labmate wrote curriculum for the teachers and we took them out to Triangle Lake for a day to core, so that they would have the experience and be able to explain it to their students. The resulting film and more about that project will soon be available on a webpage.
The other project has to do with the labs for the introductory geography course that approximately 400-600 students a year take at the University of Oregon. I’m pretty close to finishing that up.
In my own research, I have been able to collect every variety of spruce in the Pacific Northwest except for Sitka spruce, which fortunately is abundant in the Oregon Coast Range less than an hour away. I’ll get it next week. Then, all of these modern samples will have the pollen extracted in order to form a reference set, and all will be measured and subjected to statistical analysis. This builds on the great Linda Brubaker’s work as well as that of Mats Lindbladh. I hope to establish a framework by which the species of spruce that are present at a site can be determined by the pollen grains alone.
In the lake core project, we are in a radiocarbon-date holding pattern, with results due to come in. Which is actually fine, because now is prime time to finish the other things I’m doing.
The Yellowstone Moor Excursion was incredible and amazing, and I hope to be able to go to next year’s Excursion in northern Germany. There is no better way to understand a landscape than to go listen to the scientists who have researched it explain what they found, while you are all sitting there looking at the site. It was my first visit to Yellowstone, but it won’t be the last. I’m grateful to have received a University of Oregon grant which helped tremendously with the cost. I learned an immense amount.
Once I got back, I was treated to a relaxed weekend camping on the Santiam with good friends. The water was low and the river ran through bedrock channels. The walls of the riverbed are mosaics of moss and ferns, with springlike seeps watering all the plants. Overall it is an enchanting place. I know that the Santiam runs violently in the winter rainy season, but during late summer it is a lazy, dreamlike experience to walk around and just be there.
Yesterday, returning from Central Oregon to Eugene, we stopped at the top of the pass at the unimaginatively (and rather inaccurately) named Big Lake. The lake is ringed with subalpine fir, western hemlock, and lodgepole pine. Bear grass grows in large clumps. We saw a few birds including some sort of dipper or ouzel, a raven, and wrens. It was a lovely stop, though I don’t think I’d want to camp there. The entire area is an OHV park, and though it was quiet when we were there, I remember all too well the incessant motor noise that OHV areas generate from previous camping trips, and I try to avoid them.
Two and a half more weeks of blissful, gentle unscheduled work, then back to nonstop busy-ness.