September 09, 2008

A Brief Summary of the Florida Expedition

Today is the last day that I will be here in Florida. The field work has been productive for both myself and my colleague. Each day has begun with our getting up no later than 6 AM, eating breakfast and getting out to the field before 8 AM in hopes of escaping the heat for a little while. That last part hasn't really worked, of course, because this is North Florida in early September we're talking about. A bank sign that gave the temperature in Tallahassee read 100° by the time we came in from the field yesterday.

I've collected numerous specimens of Tenebrionidae, Tetratomidae and Erotylidae. Already winging their way back to Massachusetts are such critters as Platydema ellipticus, Megalodacne heros, Neomida bicornis (the Florida morph, which has an orange prothorax — and which I suspect isn't actually the same species as the Northeastern N. bicornis), and Penthe obliquata. All in all, I've collected at least seven species for which I previously had no specimens and possibly more. I'll be able to better sort this out once I've gotten back to the lab in Worcester. I suspect the final total will be closer to ten. The specimens should be getting back there on Wednesday, and I'll be getting back on Thursday.

As for today, we're going to take care of some housekeeping. My field companion needs to get some water from within a pitcher plant back to her lab in order to culture the yeasts therein. Then we're going to do laundry; sweaty clothes accumulate quickly in this part of the world. After that, we'll play tourist for a bit and see the Florida Caverns in Marianna.

Don't get the impression that this trip has been all work. We've had time in the evenings to hang around with our gracious hosts, toss back a few beers and consume more than our fair share of oysters. It's been quite nice to see a few friends here in Tallahassee for the first time in over a year and also quite remarkable how well my mycological compatriot has fit in with them. She's generally an agreeable sort, of course, as long as one doesn't get between her and her oysters. The woman is a whirlwind of cocktail sauce and spent shells when the things are set before her; one could easily lose an intrusive hand!

I've been studiously avoiding mention of all things non-biological this week and no doubt have a ton of catching up to do on the latest in religious lunacies and electoral nincompooperies, and I could try to write a more detailed entry about this trip. I may still do that over the next few days as time permits. There will soon be photos as well. For now, though, I have to admit that as much as I've enjoyed the company of fellow science geeks and friends here in Florida, I'm feeling just a little bit lazy today. I'll neither be catching up with news nor editing photos today.

I'm also ready to get back home to LL. She's one of the very few things in this world I find even more interesting than a beetle-infested polyporoid fungus, truth be told. Yes, that's actually a compliment, and she's probably the only woman who knows me well enough to understand just how big of one it is.

For now, I'm going to step outside and get my first few breaths of the muggy morning air.

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