Early morning; a faint light filters through the blinds and accompany the dim glow of the computer screen. Just enough light to study my plant notes for today’s plant survey. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I wanted to be prepared for anything. I wanted to know as much as possible, for leading this survey was TRNWR’s botanist, Ginny Maffitt. After being warned of this person’s experience as a school teacher and prolific use of the scientific names for plants, I was quite nervous to join the surveyors at Wapato Lake.
I rushed to put my over-sized rain-boots and a million pair of socks on, and jumped into the infamous Mouse Mobile (which surprisingly did not smell as bad as I had braced for). Ginny made introductions, John the mushroom guy in front, and Ryan, the recent college grad beside me, and of course myself.
As we made our way to Wapato through farmlands and meadows, Ginny and John talked a bit about Oregon history. In particular they talked about the Rajneesh religious cults in Oregon, A dark history that I had never known (Google it y’all it’s interesting).
“We are making our way to our first stop, it’s at a yellow house” Ginny informs me. When Ryan interjects, ”actually we just passed it”. Calmly, Ginny pulls into a house and makes a u-turn, in a giant Durango, on busy narrow streets. Just as I finished admiring her awesome driving, we arrived at the first spot. I step out and on one side there is a neat little yard in front of a house, and on the other side, tall, grasses. I saw and learned a variety of different plants and grasses despite the homogeneous appearance.
In total we made four stops and collected about 20 new species. It was a hot yet eventful afternoon as we looked at the wildlife as well as the plants. Being in a hilly meadow with warm air and nice sunshine, felt so nice and unreal.
As we made our way home, old buildings whizzed by me, history and quiet chatter hung in the warm humid air; I drifted off to sleep, reminded of what I found beautiful in Oregon.