11 November 2006

'Neath the Mistletoe

Do you think of mistletoe as a nice bit of Christmas greenery and an opportunity to steal a kiss? If so, you really should learn more about it. It's a nasty parasite that leaches water and nutrients from host trees; you might just as well be kissing under a tapeworm. What, you may be wondering, prompted this odd little discourse? I spent all morning with my Population Ecology class clambering around the soggy slopes of Mount Pisgah monitoring the population of Phoradendron mistletoe for our final project. We tramped through both poison oak (which, thankfully, has largely died back by this time of year) and blackberries (which are a pain at any time of year) and wound up collecting far less data than we'd hoped. For all that, it was still a good time. The sun managed to break through once or twice, there was still some Fall color left on the trees, and the knoll on which we stopped for lunch had a pretty stunning view of the south end of the Willamette Valley. There was also a swing hung from an oak branch at the edge of the cliff that made you feel like you were flying - great if you like cheap thrills. How do I follow up such a busy morning? By writing this, eating pickled okra, washing my poison oak-ridden clothes, and watching Oregon play USC. Hey, not every hour of every day can be eventful...

No comments: