Monday, June 22, 2009

Tad Arrives; So Does Inclement Weather

Tad arrived yesterday and proceeded to make curry, enough for Jake and I to share a bit. YUM! I had some leftover fried rice so I mostly just enjoyed the smell of his cooking, but I fully approve of making tasty meals in excess.

Today we began field work at 8, and by 1 we decided we’d had enough. It rained pretty much constantly the whole time, and I didn’t’ have rain pants!! I was wearing my zip-offs, which are water resistance but certainly not extended-rain-proof. We were all a bit chilly and soggy at that point, although we managed to rig two trees and set up an edge plot before nature shepherded us off her mountain. I shot the crossbow for one of our tree rigs and it TOTALLY WORKED! VICTORY!!! I also observed some crazy rolled-up fern leaves (see photo). They remind me of Doctor Suess, as does much of Hawaii's vegetation.

I also managed to cut my finger – the picture looks worse than it is because thumbs bleed a lot, but it still stung a big. I was trying to shape the stakes we use for litterfall traps and my hands just slipped because it was so wet. I first tried wrapping a bandaid around it, but my finger was too wet for it to stick so I used some of Jake’s athletic tape to fully cocoon my finger. It looked a bit foolish and I felt like I was devolving because I couldn’t use my thumb like a human being. That’s what Hawaii has done to me – turned me back to my more primitive self. Soon I’ll be wandering like some wounded dinosaur through the tarantula ferms (see photo below).

Sidenote: the ferns are super creepy because the leaves bend just like tarantula legs and are covered in a very fine reddish fur that rubs off on you as you walk by. WAAAAH!!!

We came back to the apartment and changed into dry clothes, went out and bought proper rain pants (yay Army Surplus Store!) and made more litterfall traps back at the US Forest Service station. I found an awesome radio station that Jake described as “catering to the 80+ year old crowd” – lots of kitchy Hawaiian music, some obscure oldies, and bluegrass. Totally bizarre, but I liked it and no one cared enough to change the station after I’d picked that one.

All in all, this has been a moderately successful and extremely soggy day. We have to rig 6 trees and place 4 edge litterfall plots on Thursday so we’ll have our work cut out for us, but I believe in us. And I won’t underestimate the power of positive thinking!

Tomorrow and Wednesday we’re all going to Peter Vitousek’s conference on Hawaiian research, which is being held at the University of Hawaii at Hilo (the same school I’m staying at). Peter Vitousek was actually one my two professors in EARTHSYS 111 (Biology and Global Change) this past winter quarter and he’s a cool guy. It should be good! He basically invites any scientists doing research on Hawaiian ecosystems, natural processes, etc… to come and give 10 minute presentations on their work so that everyone knows what’s going on around the islands.

Jake, Devin and I will just be observing, but Tad is giving a talk about our work and we’ll be cheering for him! I voted for making a poster since it’s been too rainy to body paint, but apparently that’s not really popular at scientific meetings. Who knew…? Anyways, will update more after the talks!

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