19 October 2012

From swamp to marsh

What do you do when you get back from a hike? You get all soggy things out of your backpack to avoid them getting even more disgusting, and then you go to bed. And the next morning you get back into your waterproofs for some more mud. At least, that’s how things worked out this time. By coincidence, we would take the students into the field for the annual sea level module the day after I would get back. And I wouldn’t be home before 10PM.

Luckily, all travel went well, and indeed I was home at 10. But 11 hours later I was already supposed to jump into a minibus with the students! So I had already dug out my fieldwork waterproofs. The wellies followed soon. So the next morning I only had to prepare a thermal flask of hot water, and off I was. Rob had offered to make me lunch! That was really kind.

All went well. Quite in contrast to my expectations we had good weather. And the students were switched on (though that was in line with my expectations!). I had heard rumours we wouldn’t have very many students, but that turned out to be wrong. We had two minibuses full.

Roland gave his introduction, and soon I had a group under my wing to get started. We would start coring; as last year, we let Marshall, the driver of the second minibus, do that, for otherwise he would be twiddling his thumbs all day. And that is tense business; he tends to be unneccessarily rough with sediments, and I don't want the students to think that's how they should go about things. So when he either jerks at the barrel so the core breaks, or he scrapes off the core top, or something like that, I comment on it. And I know it's not appreciated, but you don't want your students to be educated to be careless sediment-handlers. But at the same time, you do want to give them the impression all staff are capable and comradely. It's a fine line between letting the student be taught the wrong things, and presenting them with staff fighting things out in front of them. I think we managed. 

When the core (not broken, this time) was wrapped and labelled we could get started on the surveying, mapping of plant zonations, and then the surface sampling. The students went to work like they did such things every day, and in no time we had a beautiful transect, lovely samples, and information in all field books. Good job! The only thing left to do now was wait for the other groups to be finished too, while having lunch in the sun. Isn’t life tough. And next week they’ll start processing the samples. I actually look forward to that!

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