Adventure Time with Ali and Katherine!

Yesterday afternoon, Ali and I went on a journey of epic proportions. What for, you ask? To find the elusive recruitment plot 7, of course! During the past couple weeks, we have been taking demography data on the Echinacea plants flowering in small recruitment plots planted by members of Team Echinacea in previous years. These plots are demarcated by poles in the corners and have generally been a breeze to find. Ali and I had just taken data at a plot north of Steven’s Approach, and were looking forward to finishing off the day with this last plot. We started out with spirits high; on the map, the plot appeared to be only a 5 minute walk from the road. Using the GPS unit to stake the point we needed to find, we realized that to get straight to the plot we’d need to plunge through the heart of a dark, swampy, scraggly forest that most likely contained a witch’s hut. To bypass this obstacle, we set off through a recently harvested corn field, keeping an eye on the GPS and hoping to cut back over to the plot as soon as we had a clear path to it. However, once we saw the complex of lakes and wetlands that lay to the north of the small woods, we realized that our path might not be as straightforward as we’d imagined. So began an hour and a half long journey through fields, marshes, pastures, mud, prairie, and a mysterious junkyard that I almost believed was a hallucination until Ali commented on its strangeness. We became increasingly convinced that the plot had been swallowed up by wetlands, or that it didn’t exist at all. Finally, having at last found our way back to the road about a half mile east of where we’d started, we decided that we had to give up and call it a day. These pictures are all we have to show for our adventure.

Started off with clear minds and hearts

Started off with clear minds and hearts

Where are we? Is this plot a prank??

“Where are we? Is this plot a prank??”

"It's probably just through these reeds!"

“It’s probably just through these reeds!”

"NOPE. That's a lake."

“NOPE. That’s a lake.”


We escaped the junkyard of broken dreams to find ourselves in a lovely pasture.

After escaping the junkyard of broken dreams…”Are we in Ireland now?”

Aside from these misadventures, we took advantage of the damp and dreary weather to start dissecting Q3 heads. They’ve all been harvested by now (yay!!), so all that remains is to remove the achenes and sort them based on pollen donor. This takes some time and concentration, but it’s enjoyable and relaxing. So far we have dissected 20 heads…only 134 more to go before we take the achenes down to Chicago to be x-rayed!

Ali hard at work at her dissecting station

Ali hard at work at her dissecting station



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