Summer on a Shoestring

The 2012 MELNHE crew awards!!!
February 18, 2013, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Posted by Craig

I can’t believe it’s been over 6 months since we were all packed into that strange and beautiful ecological compound we call BEF.  Is half a year too soon to be nostalgic?  It was a summer full of hiking, swimming, camp firing, Frisbee throwing, bridge jumping, firespinning*, crossword puzzling, shower mushrooming**, and field researching.  Who could ask for more?

At the peak of the summer we numbered 17, which is a lot of people to have in one place.  That we managed not only to avoid any weird, Lord of the Flies-esque scenarios, but even had fun is a testament to our collective awesomeness.  I’ll take a little credit for the recruiting too…

Here they are folks (in no particular order): the much anticipated 2012 MELNHE crew awards!!

Best Mouse Catcher: Kikang

Kikang kept the spring rodent population in our plots at bay with her ingenious minirhizotron pitfall traps.  Her method of retrieval was equally creative.  Most of us didn’t even know they made extendable barbeque forks…

Best Crossword Guesser, Best Soil Corer: Clarissa

Clarissa’s ability to repeatedly pound PVC into the ground, apparently without tiring, was matched only by her ability to guess the names of 1950’s sitcom stars, many of whom died before she was born.

Best Navigator, Most Improved Eater: Kate

Many people (myself included) get easily turned around in our colorful grids of PVC, flagging and Viburnum.  Kate always seemed to know where she was in the plots, even the ones she had never been to before.  She also likes tacos now.

Best Public Relations, Best Shot: Hannah

With her congenial smile and professional demeanor, Hannah was able to convince dozens of strangers to allow us to remove chunks of their yard in the name of science.  People go door to door making strange requests all the time, but a 90% success rate takes finesse.  I have also heard tell of her deadly marksmanship while sampling tree leaves with a 12 gauge.

 Best Story Teller: Kelsey

Kelsey had the ability to make people smile, even during the longest days of fieldwork.  Her stories of hamsters, lawn fires, and port-a-potties remain the stuff of legend.  After her early departure she was greatly missed both in the field and around the campfire.

 Hardest Worker, Most Improved Swimmer: Hyun Jun

Cumulatively, Hyun Jun probably spent more time in the field than anybody this summer.  She was an important part of the soil flux/rhizotron crew, and her contribution to the MELNHE crew as a whole cannot be overstated.  She may also hold a record for the quickest anyone has ever learned to swim, especially in the Saco River.

 Constant Composure Award: Alannie

Doing research can be tough.  Alannie (along with Kate) was the first to arrive, and was subjected to a week of nonstop rain.  Then came the bugs.  During these low points (and others) Alannie always had a sense of calm about her, and often even a smile.  Throughout the course of the summer, Alannie would always volunteer to help out where needed, and without complaint.  This is an invaluable character trait in this line of work.

 Best Chronosequencer:  Adam

I can’t remember how or when in the summer “chronosquencing” became a verb, but Adam was undoubtedly the best at everything the act entails.  Adam led the effort to inventory seventeen stands this summer, but his contributions to the crew went far beyond that.  The MELNHE crew smoothly accomplished everything it set out to do in 2012 largely due to Adam’s work ethic and attention to detail.

 Coolest Hobby, Encyclopedic Mycorrhizal Knowledge Award: Franklin

Franklin’s fire spinning and unbridled enthusiasm for the world of mycology enriched everyone’s summer experience.  He brought out the inner-pyromaniac in all of us, and everyone walked away with a better understanding of the world below our feet.

 Best Detangler, Best Musician: Tyler

Tyler was the final addition to our summer crew, and dove into the resin strip project headfirst.  In her first week, she assisted Shinjini by fearlessly taking on a tangle of knots that would make even the most seasoned fisherman cringe.  Her musical stylings around the campfire consistently wowed everyone present.

 Most Enthusiastic Fertilizer, Best Haircut: Austin

Austin was present for both rounds of fertilization, and was one of the most enthusiastic workers.  He maintained a delicate balance of speed and grace, expertly weaving ropes through jungles of beech saplings and sprinkling phosphorus from his P cup.  Then, towards the end of his tenure with the crew he shocked everyone by going from handsome to handsomer in a single day.

 Biggest smile award:  Yang Yang

Yang joined the crew just in time for the Hubbard Brook meeting, and was in a perpetual good mood for the rest of the summer.  Showing up late is never easy, but Yang sure made it look that way.  From his first day he cheerfully offered help wherever it was needed.

 Best dog wrangler: Tony

I didn’t see it happen, but I heard it was epic.  Tony was also an integral part of the carbonflux/minirhizotron team.  What a guy!

 Best organizer (for handling the litter samples and leaving them in an organized fashion):  Daisy

I know from personal experience that weighing leaves is not the most glamorous job.  This doesn’t mean it’s not important. Thank you Daisy.

 Best quality control, Best cook: Shinjini

Where would we be without quality control?  Drowning our p-values in measurement error . . . that’s where.  Thankfully, we had Shinjini to make sure things were being done properly in the lab and the field.  Oh yeah, and she makes way better food than that Indian place off 302 in Conway.

 The Tao of labwork award: Russell

This guy!  There were days that he was in the lab from sun-up to sun-down.  When others looked bleary-eyed and frazzled, you would have thought Russell was on a beach sipping a pina colada.

 Best New Collaborator Award: Rick

At times it can seem like being a good scientist and being a good teacher are mutually exclusive.  Anybody who talks to Rick can see how invested he is in his students.  He is also clearly invested in research, as evidenced by his willingness to store hundreds of pounds of ammonium nitrate in his garage in the name of science.  Thank you for that Rick, your involvement has been a huge boon to the project, and we sincerely hope you didn’t end up on some government watch-list because of it.

Omniscience Award: Matt

Despite the fact that he wasn’t based in Bartlett this summer, everyone can agree we would be lost without Matt.  He visited frequently, and every time he arrived he was barraged with questions ranging from fieldwork plans to advice on summer projects.  He is receiving the omniscience award for the second year in a row for being, well, omniscient.


*If anyone feels like editing this, perhaps “crossword puzzling” should not directly follow “fire spinning.”

**For those readers not in the know: ”shower mushrooming” is not nearly as cool as what you’re picturing…


A Frozen Shoestring
February 17, 2013, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Recreation, Winter

With much joy I can report there are no black-flies or mosquitoes out in the stands today.  Of course it was a bit windy, gusting over 2o and a bit cold, somewhere around -10C.  Such conditions will deter even the mightiest of pesky biting bugs or so I have heard.  After spending so much time through summer and fall my curiosity got the best of me.  I had to see at least some of the MELNHE stands under cover of snow.

Skier climbing a steep snow hill

Where are we headed? Name that stand.

A solo trip would not be a good idea so I recruited Sean, volunteer on the leaf litter decomposition experiment and assistant emptier of baskets for the fall basket collection.  Somehow, he hasn’t learned yet that I have a few crazy ideas and agreed to join the expedition.

Skiing up Bear Notch Rd. in winter was rather pleasant.  Most often the gusts were above us as the road cuts across the terrain.  Local snowmobile enthusiasts groom the road so the snow was in near perfect condition.  With all the blowing and some falling snow, there was little to look at along the way save for the trees at hand.  I did notice a number of areas still exposed bare from the previous melting events, now frozen solid.

Given all the melting from rain and warm weather recently I was surprised at the overall depth of the snow in the woods.  Nearly one meter in places. The snowpack left by the Nor’easter last weekend had added some good depth.  The result was that no corner posts were visible.  Ok, we didn’t look that hard, but the obvious ones were buried and the plot signs were at about DBH or lower.  Skiing in the woods is always fun and I love the open spaces between big trees. Skiing through tight trees is also fun (read “hair-raising”) but I had never experienced young stand skiing before, glad I had eye protection on!

In the woods

Name that stand?

Skiing down the road was pleasant although less so then the trip up.  The exertion of the climb had kept me warm earlier, not so for the downhill.  Each stop along the way I had to shake my hands out to get the blood back but that is typical for the Whites this time of year.  Getting out into the woods in winter means cold fingers and toes.  But since I can type this out I guess I recovered just fine!