Wednesday, 14 Jul 1999

Craftsbury Common, Vt.

I rush back to my room over my lunch hour, needing the break from a six-hour ecology class to finish cramming for an exam this afternoon. For me, tests provoke nail biting. As I sit down at my computer to log my thoughts for this entry, I lift my fingers to my mouth. I taste dirt.

We’ve been out in the woods for the last hour and a half, delineating a wetland through plant identification and soil sampling. Dirt is stuck under my fingernails and caked into the creases of my fingers. I check the keyboard for gley soil and go to the sink to wash my hands.

Our test will cover five weeks of class spent on mountain tops, in yellow bogs, northern hardwood forests, a patch of wildflowers, today a wetland. Dried smudges of soil mark the pages of field notes strewn around my desk, and some of the notes are illegible from rain drops that made the black ink run and smear.

Hours worth of note taking; I will remember only some of the data. But the ideas I have grasped and will take with me into the test; soil smudged onto my paper and stuck beneath my fingernails h
as embedded those ideas in my mind.