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28 Sept – 6 Oct: a week in Minnesota

September 28 started as any ordinary fall day would – in the lab at the Chicago Botanic Garden – but if one were to pay attention they would notice slight change from usual. Our backpacks were more full, the lab tasks were taking lower priority, and both Amy and I had brought a full bag of carrots as snacks. At around noon, Stuart arrived at the Garden after an already long day of traveling, informing us that he and Gretel had just arrived and we would be leaving as soon as possible for Minnesota. After a little more time in the lab, we were off in a white pickup truck with a skybox bearing the crest of the CBG. The journey was long, but uneventful besides a stop in the Twin Cities for ice cream. We arrived in Kensington after 11pm and quickly fell asleep in our former summer residence.

The next 4 days proved to be very productive for the group. We finished measuring at Caroline’s and Lydia’s plot, finished seedling refinds, finished all the “can’t find” rechecks in both P1 and P2, and we removed all the flags from P2. We prepped the burn site by mowing the burn breaks and cutting down branches that were in the path. The weather didn’t cooperate so we weren’t able to burn last week but the forecast was hopeful so we planned to try again Monday, October 5th. Amy stayed up in Kensington with Ali and Katherine and together, the three of them finished dissecting all the heads from Q3. I stayed in Northfield for the weekend, and Stuart and Gretel went back to Illinois.

Monday came and Stuart and I headed back up to the farm with hope in our hearts that we would have a successful burn. We got all the supplies ready, including water packs, buckets, giant containers, and most importantly, drip torches. We started the fire at 3pm, worried about the high humidity and lack of sunlight, but we knew we had to try. After an hour of patchy, inconsistent, slow moving fire, we decided to put out the fire and wait for a better day. Though we weren’t able to burn p8, we were able to create a great burn break and get the team experienced with our fire fighting gear.

On Tuesday, Ali, Katherine, and Amy drove the Ranger down to Illinois, while Stuart and I took the train. It had been a long week filled with many victories and only a single defeat. Though the weather won for a day, we know that we’ll be back and ready to burn once more.

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