leaving a mark

My time in Carlsbad is quickly drawing to a close. I decided to take a break from packing to take a minute to reflect on the five months I’ve spent here…

There’s a hill on the north side of town with a gravel trail I frequent. This morning I decided to visit once more before I depart. The weather’s been atypical. Dreary, cold, and hardly a glimpse of the sun. The last time I had visited this trail, the mariola hadn’t quite started blooming. Today, the hillside was covered in a blanket of creamy composite flowers with a fragrance unlike anything else. Every so often, a dayflower would fight for pollinator attention with its striking azure flowers.

While I’m relieved to be returning home to my loved ones, I realized this place and the work I’ve done here have left a profound mark on me. I have learned so much from my coworkers, my mentor, and the landscape. I can only hope I’ve left a similarly positive impression on this place.

This season has been one of the shortest chapters in my life, but I believe it has also been the most profound.

A view from the top of Guadalupe Peak in Texas. My final weekend trip out here. Any time a field day would take me and my team southwest of the office, these mountains would be watching over us. I had decided early on that before I left I would pay them a proper visit. I’m fortunate for the opportunity to connect with this incomparable landscape.

I would encourage people to take some time to explore the land should they ever find themselves in the Desert Southwest. While the climate can be less welcoming than the forests found in other parts of the region, this area has its own distinct beauty. The richness of life and colorful essence of the land will move anyone who stops to take it in.

El Capitan, an old Permian coral reef who now watches over the desert landscape stoically, looks very different from above.

My time here was not without challenges, but I suspect that element persists wherever one ends up. I am excited to take all the knowledge and experiences with me as I continue this journey. I’m also happy to proclaim my love of plants has not wavered. It has grown exponentially since my arrival in Carlsbad. Furthermore, I’ve come to the conclusion people who don’t like plants can’t be trusted… But that’s a different soapbox.

To anyone thinking about applying for CLM, I would say this: It won’t be easy. The work conditions and expectations will test your limits. However, this work is some of the most rewarding work I’ve done, and the connections I’ve made with people and landscapes will remain with me for a long time. I can’t think of a better opportunity to learn and grow. I’m deeply grateful to have had this opportunity with CLM.

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