Today dawned slightly warmer than the past few days, and we spent a beautiful morning doing demography out at Staffanson. The west side of Staffanson was burned late this spring setting things back a little later than the east side and the remnants, and the big blue stem and indian grass are now in full bloom and about five feet tall. Dichanthelium is flowering, and I even saw a phlox, which I haven't seen for weeks at any other site. The echinacea there have all finished flowering, but many still boast pink ray florets. The recent burn also removed all of the duff that we often have to dig through to find tags and check for nearby echinacea, and left everything greener and softer. One other result of the burn was this pencil that I found next to the last plant I demo'd. It looks like someone forgot to remove it from seedling searches...you can see the part that was sticking in the ground survived the flames.
It was Andrew's last day today, he and Jill left after lunch to present their posters at the Chicago Botanical Gardens, and only Jill will return. To send him off we had rootbeer floats after a lunch which was also enhanced with bowls of delicious cucumbers, cantaloupe and grapes from the Wagenius gardens.
This afternoon we all had some time to work on our independent projects. Although we presented posters last Thursday I think all of us have plenty more that we could do. In some ways I feel like I have more work to do than when I started this summer, although much of it is still just ideas of new projects or parts of my project that I could build on if had more time. I did take the opportunity to get in a little more fieldwork, and Gretel drove out to Hegg Lake with me to help gather more data. We GPSed all of the plants for my crossing experiment again (the first time around the files got a little mixed up) as well as all flowering plants in my population of E. angustifolia. We also began developing a protocol to measure leaf pubescence for my characteristics study. From each plant we cut off the end of a leaf to be pressed and viewed under a scope, and then I painted a small patch of "new skin" (liquid band-aid) on the top of the leaf, waited for it to dry, peeled it off and mounted it on a slide also to look at under a microscope. While we were out there I completely lost track of time, and when Kelly called to see if we were done yet I was shocked to realize that it was already 5:30!