…I don’t think we’re in Massachusetts anymore. And, somehow, I got a job in the most beautiful place I could ever imagine. There was a whirlwind (otherwise known as graduation) that lifted me up over the mountains, and I somehow landed on the Wicked Witch…of the Eastern Sierra.
Before I started in the Bishop BLM office two weeks ago, people would ask me what I was going to be doing. It was still a little unclear to me at the time. I knew that I would be doing some seed collection for the Seeds of Success program – but how could collecting seeds take up five months of time? So, I would make something up. “Oh, I’m going to be counting sagebrush”. I imagined the Great Basin filled with sagebrush — only sagebrush. Its a desert right? So, not very diverse – its pretty much just sagebrush?
Yeah, right. Like Dorothy in Oz, I had (and still have) a lot to learn about the cast of characters that make up sagebrush scrub. First of all, there are the three different subspecies of “regular” sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), and then there are other species, like Artemisia spinescens (budsage), and Artemisia arbuscula (low sage). But I already knew that there is some sagebrush around here; it’s the multitude of other shrubspecies that has flabbergasted me. There is rabbit brush, bitterbrush, cheesebush, and indigo bush to name a few. Indigo bush is a particular favorite of mine, with it’s spectacular blue flowers and speckled seed pods. I really love the whole Fabaceae family, in fact. I’ve spent sometime looking for and IDing lupines, have beautiful spikes of flowers, and the more cryptic milkvetches – of which there are several rare species in the area. Let me tell you a little something about the month of June in the Great Basin – it is wildflower beautiful central. Having never been much of one for flowers – driving up a gully which opens out on a patch of blooming scrub with the white peaks of the sierra in the background is one of the most phenomenally things that I have ever seen.
This is my job? Driving around looking for and collecting seeds from wildflowers? What could be better than wandering around looking at wild-flowers all day? Unlike Dorothy, I am not going to tap my heels together and whisper “There is no place like home”. I’m staying in Oz for as long as I can.