Summer on a Shoestring


Life in a Little Red House
August 1, 2016, 9:03 pm
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What is life like in a small red house? Well first off there are snow shoes and sleds on the wall so that’s pretty neat. There’s two comfy couches and a pretty sweet back porch (our favorite place to eat dinner). There’s also a LOT of wood paneling, the most that I’ve seen since pictures of my parents in the 70’s. There’s a pretty spacious kitchen with a GAS STOVE!! I NEVER EXPECTED IT’D HAVE A GAS STOVE!!!

Besides the neat décor there’s a whole bunch of interesting people who are/have been living in this house for the past 8 weeks. It’s been an interesting group of rotating researchers and students. Each with their own quirks and quarks. Throughout the summer we’ve had a huge rotating schedule of things to be done in the field. Every week is different from the previous week and we always know that the next will also be different.

Food. Food is major portion of our life in this little red house. Not only does it give us physical sustenance and energy to continue carrying on with the great scientific endeavor on which we have embarked. It is the time for us to get together and recharge our mental batteries as well. We have spent many hours eating and talking on the back deck about topics far and wide.

Living in the Red house is pretty sweet. Previously I’d only been up here in the winter to go skiing, but this past summer has opened my eyes to the beauty and variety which are available in the White Mountains.

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Does this even need a caption?

 



Grassy Green Glory
August 1, 2016, 5:29 pm
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The following is a stream of consciousness that materialized as a result of a morning meditation session in the backyard of the red house.

The first green arrived on the scene around 2.7 billion years ago and this powerful verdant force created a hospitable atmosphere for life approximately 0.4 billion years later. Millions of years after this event and the evolution of terrestrial land plants, a floral component provided a niche for the evolution of our first primate ancestor. The radiation of angiosperms, flowering plants, occurred around 60 million years ago, which is around the same time that the first ancestor of primates, Plesiadapiforms, evolved. Some hypothesize that the fruit on terminal branches are what facilitated the evolution of grasping hands, which is a characteristic inherent to primates. Angiosperms enabled the evolution of Homo sapiens who then domesticated lineages of our benevolent leafy companions giving rise to agriculture around 10 thousand years ago. A population boom and the establishment of cites followed. In every conceivable way, our history is inextricably linked with that of plants.

Plants not only dictate our history, but our daily life and future prospects. Humans breathe out and plants breathe in; plants breathe out and humans breathe in. Flora captures noxious gases that are released from our bodies, cars, and coal plants. It then uses that carbon dioxide to create beauty with a functional purpose—leaves to capture the sun’s energy, flowers with a nectar reward to entice pollinators, honeyed fruit to attract seed disseminators, and all the while yielding oxygen as a by-product. This splendor is pervasive and awe-inspiring: a blissful summer day with sun-ripened berries and the thick, sweet smell of honeysuckle; an unforgettable fall with fiery leaves carpeting every surface; a heartwarming winter with a dusting of snow coating fragrant pine needles; a luscious spring with wildflowers exploding across hillsides. Plants provide food and shelter for our beloved birds, invertebrates, and mammals (ourselves included). We live in trees, eat on trees, sleep on trees, and will likely be buried in a tree. We owe our very existence to the green world around us, embrace and respect it.

-Laurel Brigham



High with Fists in the Air
August 1, 2016, 5:11 pm
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I had no flipping clue how long and intense the Mount Adams trail was going to be when i decided to go along. 

Name’s Sosa, and I have short flipping legs. This made the climb a lot more challenging and the hike felt like forever. Though ironically, time was not on my mind as my goal was to survive, literally. Why literally? The story is that at the beginning of our hike the trail got so intense that my breathing problems got in the way. Luckily someone had an inhaler. Thanks Caitlin. 

But, the trail was beautiful and the stream/water breaks were so satisfying. We had Craig’s pup, Meatloaf, come along and he was the cutest as he jumped in the streams. It was a good laugh when he would start attacking the small falling streams. He gave me life. We miss him ♥

Anyway, after 5 hours or so, the group made it to the tippity top (~5,800 ft), past the trees and into an area of rocks on top of rocks. We got there in one piece with no quitters. ‘Cause momma ain’t raise no quitters. 

Wet shoes and socks, leg cramp, butt cramp, two asthma attacks, sore paws, headaches.

All worth it. 

PC: Shiyi Li, Ben Lee 

(P.S. Everyone was so sore the next day and still went out for field work)



For the love of soil
July 22, 2016, 1:35 pm
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IMG_2779Caitlin Buchheim

This is just a glimpse of all the work that Cindy Sosa and I put into our soil research projects. We spent countless hours collecting, sieving, weighing, and manipulating our soil. Our results aren’t completely finished yet…so stay tuned!



Birthday Drama
July 19, 2016, 5:54 pm
Filed under: Daily life, Uncategorized

Shan Shan

Fell sick during fertilization.  Shinjini took me to Memorial hospital right on my birthday.  The examination went on and on with the doctor coming up with hypotheses.   Finally doctor told me my blood sodium level dropped below normal and handed me two cans of Gatorade.  It was nearly dinner time when we left hospital.  Worrying messages kept coming to Shinjini’s phone.  We went to Hannaford for two whole packs of Gatorade then went to a steak house where others have been there waiting for me.  Everyone made sure I ate lots of salt on my steak.  After dinner when I got home all lights were off.  When I entered the door everyone welcomed me with a giant chocolate cake lighted by candles in their hands, singing happy birthday to me.  Candle light warmed up the house and my heart, along with a little goose draw by Caitlin and my name written by Shiyi.  It was a great cake.



Keepin Hubbard Brook Weir’d! By Jessica Swindon
August 3, 2015, 3:52 am
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It all started on an early Tuesday morning in July when I woke up with racing thoughts about the upcoming week, How will Ruth like my presentation? What kind of talks am I going to hear at Hubbard Brook? Who will I meet there? The 2015 shoestring crew loaded up and headed out to meet Ruth at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest to practice the presentations we would be giving the very next day. The long but productive practice session ended with plenty of yummy pizza, thanks to Ruth, and setting up our tents at the Hubbard Brook intern’s house. The next day was the start of the 60th anniversary of the Hubbard Brook Foundation and we were all excited to be a part of it!

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The very next day we would all be presenting our projects to 180 people ranging from interns just like us to phD professors to the creators of the Hubbard Brook conference. The morning came quick and the shoestring crew was on their toes because they always kick off the conference bright and early at 8 am. Once we arrived at the conference the adrenaline started up and the fact that we were going to have to present to a packed room of scientists really started to set in. We all presented one after another and survived without too much scrutiny from our peers. After the talks were over there were a lot of deep breaths and smiles on everyone’s faces. We did it! Now it was time to sit back and listen to an array of projects that were also being conducted at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. The presentations were of a range of topics including ice storm experiments, swimming salamanders, calcium manipulations and many more! After a long day of listening to amazing scientific studies being conducted in the nearby forests it was finally time for a quick swim in mirror lake before heading to dinner and the famous barn dance. After a quick but delicious meal it was finally time to put on our dancing shoes. Choosing the right contradance partner was by far the most difficult task of the day! My advice is to choose someone who is fun and likes to pay attention, it’s easy to get tangled up. After lots of stumbling feet and uncontrollable laughing we headed back to our camping spot and ended the long day with even more great conversation around a bonfire. The following day included more talks from the higher professionals and we ended the day with a BBQ at mirror lake to make it all worth it. The week of the Hubbard Brook conference was a long one but at the end we left as more educated individuals and gained insight into the many different kinds of projects that are being conducted nearby! A special thanks to all the people who helped organize the conference and to everyone who took the time to present their projects!



Survival Guide: The Long and Short of it. A memoir of the guy, by Matt Hayden
August 3, 2015, 3:48 am
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The forest and the city are not so different when you look at things through a proper scale. The biggest change here is time. The hustle of the human timescale locks us in to the perception that a week is a long time, and potential events after two weeks time might as well be as defined as prophecy unless explicitly defined. For the forest, a week may be as slight as a second. The forest remains, and it bows to no schedule.

This is an important lesson to learn for the average Shoestring-er. You see, ten weeks can feel like an eternity when you start in June, but now, it is past mid July and the data is just leaking in. You can’t rush results here. That’s exactly where I fall in- I’m the decomposition guy. My  experiment is literally weeks upon weeks of idling, allowing for the forest to progress along that stretched relative timescale and eat away the tea I laid in the soil. I learned very quickly how to be a capable everyman, because when your dedicated project literally involves doing nothing, everyone on the crew has something that needs to be  done. So to be THE GUY, you need a set of resources:

1) Endless wonder. Whether you’re hammering soil cores, running transects, or waiting for the Li- Cor to do whatever it is the Li- Cor does (magic), keeping an open mind for discovery is essential. You’ll go nuts if your mind isn’t active.

2) Undying optimism. You got SOMETHING for results… could be worse, right?

3) Unwavering confidence. Even if you’re not sure if the Ca plot is to the east or the west of the NP, someone needs to make the call. And hey, who can complain about a little extra exercise?

4) Exceptional navigational skills. The reference in #3 may or may not be fictional. Owning a vehicle is a huge plus.

5) Patience. This- and that- and the other, too- shall come to pass.

Really, I could not have asked for a better, more diverse experience. It has been a huge effort on the part of everyone here, and I am glad I got to tag along for the ride(s). Every day surprises me, and it keeps me sharp and on my toes- an invaluable life skill as a scientist in the field that we should all take away from one or another.

“In the forest I return to my faith and reason” – The Earth Speaks

-M