The Best Internship Ever

25 Oct

It’s quite possible that I have the best internship ever. I get paid to, at the very least, drive a vanful of people up to a beautiful New England woodland, Smith’s Ada & Archibald MacLeish Field Station, once a week. Sometimes this happens more often; sometimes there are events, and I frequently conduct tours; I also do a lot of behind-the-scenes work for the field station. But Field Station Fridays are one of my favorite parts of my job. Despite the stress of hurrying from my 12:10 class to lunch and then to the parking lot to pick up a van and get to the meeting point by 12:30 (usually more like 12:45), I absolutely love my weekly visits to the field station.

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I’ve spent the last few weeks watching the seasons change: each week the colors are brighter and more varied, the leaves on the ground more numerous, blowing up behind the van like glitter as I pass. A farm along the way has been hayed, the hay packaged into neat plastic giant marshmallows (as I like to think of them); its pumpkin patch has been advertised, harvested, and now finally turned under. Another farm has finally run out of peaches to offer. The sign advertising fresh eggs for $3 a dozen hasn’t moved from the end of a family’s driveway in all the time I’ve been visiting the field station.IMG_0791

The wildlife has been quite an enjoyment for me in the last few weeks. I saw my first wild porcupine, a fat old fellow who seemed to have a bad leg; and then, a couple weeks later, I saw another! The wild turkeys are always numerous. And I take great enjoyment in the autumnal proliferation of woolly bears and other fuzzy caterpillars, which seem to be everywhere these days. I’ve been told that the ratio of black to brown stripes on a woolly bear can predict the intensity of the coming winter; does anybody know the formula for these calculations?
 
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Speaking of fuzzy things, I’ve discovered an odd flora: a minute beige furball, densely packed, littering the forest floor especially around oak trees. Jesse Bellemare, Smith’s plant ecologist, confirmed that it was some sort of gall, but didn’t know what kind in particular. For now, I’ve decided to call the things Tribbulus terrae, Earth-Tribbles, because they are tiny, fuzzy, and seem to proliferate before my very eyes.
Fall2013 025One of the many fuzzy creatures to be found at MacLeish- a hickory tussock moth larvae.
 
The weather this autumn has been stunning. I’ve yet to have a poor-weather day at the field station this semester. It’s been mild, sunny, and breezy most days, though there was one rainy day that merited a cozy time in the building with a CEEDS mug full of tea. Visitors have traipsed through in great numbers; I take a special joy in introducing first-timers to MacLeish and to the classroom.
 
My next trip up is this afternoon, and it’s looking to be another gorgeous autumn day. Hopefully there will be a couple more newcomers to introduce to one of Smith’s hidden gems, the MacLeish Field Station.
 
– EJ Wald ’15 is a CEEDS intern, a Mathematics major (because math is fun!), Landscape Studies minor (“because that’s what I want to do with life and I can’t major in it!”), and Sustainable Food concentrator. They consider themselves to be part cat, part plant, and part human.
 
 

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