I have been really busy the last several weeks working on writing my dissertation and preparing to teach an Introduction to Ecology course. All the time spent staring at my computer has me daydreaming about all the hours I have spent doing field work over the course of my PhD. I flipped through some half finished blog posts and journal entries form that period, and found the start of the story I’m about to tell you. I was instantly transported back to that day, which was memorable but also pretty representative of how most of my field days went. Some of this is certainly Type II Fun.
Sometime in August of 2016…
I wake up before the sun has inched its way above the horizon, and fumble to turn off my alarm as quickly as possible. At the foot of the bed, my dog whines softly. My husband, Daniel, turns over and away from me in his sleep. In my non-field season life, I often hit the snooze button. I know it’s not good for my brain, or whatever, but I don’t care. I love it. During the field season, my alarm is set so uncomfortably early most days, 4:00 am or maybe 4:30, that snoozing seems masochistic. Also, it’s a little rude to the sleeping partner and pup. Besides, when you’re racing the tides, time is always of the essence. So, instead of rolling over for five more minutes of sleep, I roll out of bed and try to land on my feet. The cat judges me from Daniel’s pillow.
Welp, that title is actually a bit of a misnomer. I really have about 4 more days of field work that I need to knock out over the next week or so. DETAILS. I know I wrote a lot recently about how stressful the summer can be for me. It’s my busiest time of the year, field work is exhausting, and I probably don’t get enough alone time to really recharge (#introvertprobs). But, more than any of those less positive things, I really love how much time I get to spend outside each field season. I know I really like it, because I take about a zillion obnoxious iPhone pictures in the marsh each summer.
For your enjoyment, here is the view of my summer, from my smart phone.
Sometimes graduate school feels like diving into a lake on an early summer morning. You know the cold will be shocking, but you feel confident that you’ll adjust. You can’t quite see below the surface of the water, but you’re excited to submerge your head and open your eyes. You swim out away from the shore. It’s challenging. And thrilling. You’re testing yourself, and your body is responding. It’s downright joyful.
Sometimes, it’s like that dream you have just as you’re drifting off to sleep, where you feel like you’re falling. You’re stomach and your heart are up in your throat. You realize, on some level, that if you had the presence of mind to check, you’d probably actually be wearing a parachute. But you can’t check, so you don’t. And, in all likelihood, you’ll wake up with a gasp in your own bed, finding you aren’t falling at all, though you’ll still feel it in the pit of your stomach. But you’ll go back to sleep, and when you wake up, you’ll probably think “Hey, I think I’d like a swim.”