Summer on a Shoestring


My summer has been just beechy-keen

Grad student Gretchen here! This was my first summer up here in Bartlett, although I did come up last year in July to attend the Hubbard Brook Cooperators meeting. It was cool being back at that meeting this year but being one of the people giving a talk instead of just listening!

We are staying in “the white house” which is US Forest Service housing that is located 5-15 minutes from 9 of the experimental forest stands that we do work in. The property itself is comprised of 2 separate buildings that act to house cool researchers like ourselves, as well as a building that contains lab space, a conference room, and a supplies garage. We’re not the only folks on the property, there are also forest service and university-affiliated field workers, like the small mammals crew that tracks voles and catches field mice and moles – – they let me hold a dead star-nosed mole!! Ok, that may have been more exciting for me than it sounds to you.

The project that I’m wrapping up is photographing trees to quantify beech bark disease. BBD has been around for 100 years and we still don’t know everything about it which is scary because the mature forest up here is mostly beech and sugar maple – – imagine a bunch of diseased trees falling down. Eek. Anyway, I’ve been painting trees with 10x5cm “L”s so that I can use an imaging program to quantify insects and fungus on the bark and see if and how the nutrient manipulation that is the MELNHE project has any effect. It takes me the better part of a day to complete 20-25 trees, so this effort took a week. Each day I generate 750-1000 photographs so I’ll have a lot of work still to do when classes start up again.

Field work is a bit more laborious than the work I’m used to doing during the school year so I’ve made sure to play just as hard as I’ve been working! I love fishing up here in NH and there are a few great ponds within 45 minutes of us. My all-time favorite fishing was down on Squam Lake, which is by Lake Winnipesaukee but with much less traffic. I have a little rubber rowboat raft that suits 2 people and since I brought 3 rods up I’ve been able to take some of my compadres out with me! While fishing isn’t new to me I made it my mission to work on cleaning and cooking my catches this summer and I had great success! I’ve been intimidated by the idea of filleting but practice has made perfect and everyone here (well, not the vegetarians) has enjoyed tasting my efforts. After filleting I let the fish sit in brine water for 1-2 days (bass can be one of the fishier tasting fish) and then I coated them with bread crumbs and baked them, if you’re wondering.

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