Sunday, February 04, 2007

Flicking flowers, Fire and the Future

Sorry. That level of alliteration really is quite unforgivable.

The first F relates to my photo of a Stylidium productum flower I posted here previously. It's just been published on Botany Photo of the Day, here. Thanks, Daniel! If you're into plants and you haven't yet subscribed to BPoD, then you should. Most of the photos there put mine to shame, but I'm pretty happy with those Daniel's published: Dendobium speciosum and Telopea speciosissima 'Wirrimbirra White'.

The slogan of Botany Photo of the Day is "In Science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily." I love that. It distills what Dawkins talks about in Unweaving the Rainbow.

F #2 is fire. As I was travelling up to the Central Coast on a Herbarium internship field trip, we passed the bushfires that were besetting Mount Kuring-gai, less than a kilometre from our new home. This is a photo taken on 22 January, looking towards Sydney from Staples Lookout on the Kariong-Woy Woy Road, showing the smoke from the fire.

Such an ominous sight, and I hated being away from my family while we all worried.

We visited Mount Kuring-gai yesterday, to see the damage. While from the ridge you can see a lot of blackened damage from spot fires, the areas around the houses have only been browned by back-burning by the Rural Fire Service. It's distressing to know that the fire was caused either by an arsonist or by an idiot careless with a cigarette butt, but fortunately the fire near us wasn't too intense or extensive. Already there are signs of regeneration: lomandra appearing from the earth, xanthorrhoea leaves exploding from charred stumps. By the time we move in, there will be a lot of action. By the time the fire was controlled, a total of over 1,000 hectares were burnt. Hopefully most of the animals got out of the way....

But I'm afraid I'm not able to post any more photos from my Herbarium exploits yet. So many photos, so much to write, so little time! I'll catch up as soon as I can.

And the final F is my future. My experiences at the Herbarium have thoroughly crystallised my plans for the rest of my working life. A while ago I realised that horticulture wasn't going to be enough for me. Much as I love the practical stuff, I was craving more knowledge and science than my courses were designed to provide. Now I know where I want to go, and it's into botany and biodiversity.

So in the second half of this year, I'm going to go back to Macquarie University, my alma mater, and start studying for a B.Sc in Biodiversity and Conservation. I'll be studying part-time, so am going to look for part-time work in hort/plant science to pay for it. (It's a shock to the system for a girl who did her Arts/Law degrees during the halcyon post-Whitlam era, when tertiary education was entirely publicly-funded. Now, it's expensive. Yikes.)

Catch up soon!