Just as John Steinbeck said in his novel, Travels With Charley, as he refers to people who rely solely on maps to dictate their travel, their adventures, and their stories and lives, “[W]hat I remember has no reference to the colored lines and squiggles.” Sure, I could easily tell you very specific directions to a number of field sites from memory. It’s what I do, I studied Geography in school, I’ve made a study of visual perceptions of places and how they change. However, that was not the point of the internship, not the point of the experiences I was hoping for in Rawlins. The point was to learn, to absorb information, to learn from those experiences, to make memories, to live.
There were certainly ups and downs but when I finished my five months, I was sad to leave Wyoming in general… the rocky outcrops, the ridiculous cattle (such sweet, clueless, fuzzy faces), the open sky, and, of course, the people I have the privilege to call friends. My one regret is that I met most of these friends with only two-three weeks left in my internship or else we only just managed to schedule times to work together or hang out in those last couple weeks.
What’s the point in carrying regrets though? So it goes. I loved my final weeks in Rawlins. It was fantastic. To quote John Steinbeck again, “So much there is to see, but our morning eyes describe a different world than do our afternoon eyes, and surely our wearied evening eyes can report only a weary evening world.” When I started my internship in Rawlins, I was determined to make the most of it. There are obviously going to be beautiful places not too far out of reach, I had new skills to learn, it was going to be great. My first impression was tinged with openness to appreciate new experiences and new places. It’s a huge field office and there are so many people to meet early on, so much to learn and to explore.
Seed collection and monitoring did become monotonous. Same thing every day, same location for days on end sometimes, same person for company. It was great when I was able to get out on my own to meet new people and do other things in town. It was difficult but there were some wonderful things too. There are so many stories to tell.
Early in the internship we were out with our mentor and an NRS. Our mentor was very excited to describe unique things about the area. Distracted, he pointed and told us to look at the herd of wild horses in the distance. No-one really said anything, we just sort of kept quiet. A minute later, closer, he stops mid-sentence. “Oh, I guess that’s not horses. That’s a water tank.” Yep.
This sort of conversation happened all the time. I thought it was kind of hilarious. Out there you obviously just have to watch out for, as my mother put it, “those herds of crazy water tanks. You never know what those wily beasts will do.” Thanks for making me laugh Mum. That might be the best reaction I’ve had when I’ve told someone of what happens in the field.
So, now I have some good stories, some good pictures, and a better attitude about the experience again. I have more stories than I really care to write in one post. That’s one of my favorite things about field season. I always finish a new position with fantastic stories. My “evening eyes” may have been wearied by the end, but I came out looking at the same place in a new light. It truly was a great experience and I cannot accurately describe my appreciation for the wonderful friends I’ve made or the grand adventures I’ve had.
Ask me sometime about my David Attenborough inspired documentary dialogue “A Day in the Life of a Gatherer Woman” otherwise known as “A Day in the Life of a Botanist.” Now that’s a crazy story best told in person, in my very best British accent.
Leslie, formerly in Rawlins, WY