The Good die young

baby chipmunk

I apologize for the delay in my blog posts. The past few weeks have had some very interesting moments and other not so interesting ones. I had a hard time finding something to write about. The funny thing is that I learned that even the most mundane moments in life can teach you a lot. I never thought before that life was always exciting, but I hadn’t quite experienced the boring moments of a job. I found myself twiddling my thumbs a lot this past week at the refuge, but all it taught me was to be more independent and to do the best with what you have.

I love walking to work when it isn’t rainy. I get excited about every little thing I see. A couple of dragonflies fly out of a tree and I get very excited, especially when they flap their wings together and make a buzzing sound. I saw a butterfly today and squealed. Just taking it all in, all the insects and animals, all the green, all the water, soaking it in. I can’t imagine working somewhere like Yellowstone, I know I would be distracted by so much all the time. I guess, what I am trying to say for the end of this post is that despite frustrations at work and experiencing something that may not be quite what I expected, I appreciate so much of it.

The last week of May, I had a really long, tough day at work on Tuesday. I set up the gift shop for the refuge, or at least started to. It was hard work, moving stuff around, dusting off supplies that was unordered and had been sitting in a pile for over a year. It was satisfying work though, and I did get through it. I finished the gift shop with one of the other interns helping me out. When I was finished, I felt so satisfied with my hard work. It felt good to see the product of it and I was pretty proud. I posted some pictures of it on my facebook for any of you who are friends with me on there and want to see it.

Wednesday and Thursday I helped out at another refuge called Agassiz which I think I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts. I helped out with 1st graders and kindergarteners. It was less enjoyable, probably mostly because I had really bad allergies, but I also think I do better with slightly older kids. I like snarky kids. I know that sounds ridiculous, but when kids get to the age where they can tease, joke, and convey sarcasm; I am better able to interact with them. 1st graders and kindergarteners are adorable and energetic and a lot of fun, but they are not quite at that point where they get the sarcasm and jokes. I do like that even if you have only just met a kindergartner; there is always one of them who holds your hand. I had one of the girls do that, despite the fact that I am technically a total stranger and throughout the day at least a couple more of the boy kindergartners took turns holding my hand. I did get to see some awesome animal signs though. Animal signs usually consist of tracks and scat (poop), but also includes animal homes, bark stripped off of a tree, food, etc. We got to see moose and wolf tracks, which by the way, moose tracks are HUGE! That was exciting to see, especially in comparison to the deer tracks next to it. Now I just got to see a moose before I return to Arizona. We also got to see wolf and moose scat. The wolf scat, of course, is cool because it has lots of fur in it from it eating furry animals.

 

There has been a lot of irony going on at the refuge. My birthday was last Thursday and the other interns at the bunkhouse surprised me with an ironic cake. It was ironic because it was bright pink (not even at the top of my list of colors) and it was cake, which I am not a fan of. It was a fun surprise and I ate some of the ironic cake and actually enjoyed it, probably because it was made with such care. Another ironic thing is my job versus the other interns’ jobs. While everyone here so far has a related major to the field we are working in, their actual career focus is very different. The invasive species intern thinks she wants to be a teacher and the refuge operations intern wants to work in the city with sustainability, neither wanting to work directly with wildlife. The irony is, they get to be outside all the time, doing surveys and spraying plants, etc. I spend most of my time inside doing office work/ cleaning and yet I am the one who wants to work in the field with wildlife.  Sometimes I feel as though I made the wrong choice in my internship, but then again, I am still learning a lot about real world experience and I know I will be less shocked now when I graduate and get a full time job. I also really enjoy working with kids, so in the end, it is not a total loss, just a lot of irony. One of the things I enjoy most in this world is reaching out to people and connecting them to nature and wildlife so it is still a good deal.

I made a mistake this week with an animal, nothing too big or dangerous, just a foolish move and some would say that is debatable. I was driving around on the golf cart and saw so many cool things: turtles, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, even a chunk of an eaten animal, most likely by a bear. I was driving down one path and went over what I thought was a frog. I made sure to not go over it with my wheel, I was going too fast to be able to stop completely, but I didn’t run over it. I put the cart in brake and got out to go check out the frog and pick it up off the path. It turned out to be a baby chipmunk and not a frog at all. Its eyes were closed and it was just lying in the middle of the path without any movement. I touched it gently and it seemed like it could have been alive. My first, motherly, nurturing instinct was to pick it up and I did. I assumed the poor thing had been left by its mother. I cradled it in my hand and called one of the Refuge staff members for advice. They told me that I am supposed to just leave it to whatever fate and touching it was a bad move. They did allow me to put it in the grass off the side of the road. I placed the tiny chipmunk down gently and left it hesitantly. I got teased for picking it up and caring about it so much. At first I felt really bad about it and I do still understand that sometimes you really just need to let nature go on, but I ended up feeling less bad about my actions. I have always told myself that even if I am not a genius in chemistry and science, I at least, have the passion for conservation and wildlife. Similarly, I told myself this time, that maybe I do not have a scientific brain and I struggle with allowing some things to happen, but I think my sensitivity and compassion for wildlife will set me a part. I want to work in conservation and isn’t conservation all about caring a great deal about specific animals and saving them from a horrible fate? I may not be a good fit for a refuge, but I know my talents and skills can be used to help the world in some way.

I am sorry this post is so scattered, but it was written over the length of about three weeks. I wanted to write about one more thing before I end this post. I have had to do a lot of “dirty” jobs, well, maybe not even dirty, but a lot of manual labor, taking out trash, moving furniture, etc. I end up a bit frustrated at the end of most of those jobs because I rarely get help from anyone while doing it and let’s just say I am not very strong, I am a tiny strawberry blonde girl and my muscles only go so far even though I have certainly pushed them to new limits while here. Yesterday another girl intern and I had to do the recycling, seems simple enough, right? Well, it was a lot harder then what we thought because we had to move like 6 months worth of recycling into one pickup truck. Some other things were frustrating about the job, but I prefer not to mention it on here. I am so grateful I get to do all these jobs despite how frustrated I get because it helps me see what it is like to have to do those types of jobs and to have no help, maybe be very unappreciated. Now, I can be so thankful towards those who do those jobs and I will never think twice about helping someone with a job like that. Next garbage man I see, I am saying thank you to!