2016 has been a wonderful field season in Acadia National Park. To start, there were no six-foot-tall snow drifts covering the experimental gardens well into May. Our all-star undergraduate research assistant from 2015 returned for a second season on the project before graduating from College of the Atlantic earlier this month. And best of all, no maternity field pants (just leftover maternity sweatpants waiting at home at the end of a long field day). The 2015 field season had its high moments, but I think that after the challenge of pregnant field work last year, it's easy to see this year as all smooth sailing!
The youngest phenology researcher in our lab has been busy collecting data from her perch in the baby backpack. When she is not tagging along on observational transects, baby Mara spends her time crawling, clapping, and climbing all over the place. This field season would not be possible without early-season help from Mara's grandmother, followed by the final chunk of Mara's dad's parental leave. Every transect, every garden, every new leaf or flower, and every observation recorded this season is backed by the love & support of a whole family.
Despite a mild winter, in many ways it's been a normal-to-slow spring in Acadia. For example, low bush blueberry leafed out on the Cadillac Mountain transect during the second week of May, just as it did in 2014 and 2015, and slightly later than in 2013. Rhodora first bloomed on the Sargent Mountain transect during the fourth week of May, just as it did in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
I'm looking forward to spending the final weeks of the field season out on the ridges, in the (non-marshy) gardens, and with my family in Bar Harbor. At the end of the day, nothing beats some cozy old maternity sweatpants, slobbery baby kisses, and the opportunity to share my favorite field sites with my husband.