After gritting my teeth and plowing through my final year of graduate school, I’m back in the saddle.
A saddle is a notch between two peaks on the same mountain (duh); it’s a good place to find old growth forest because the steep slopes all around make it difficult to access. Saddles are exciting spots for me because 1. I just stopped on one peak, admired the view, and now I am about to enjoy YET ANOTHER PEAK (omg) and 2. with the majesty of an old forest, they are often beautiful in their own right. Last year, I wandered through the saddle of Maine’s Black Mountain – a striking cathedral of tall, thin red spruce flanking the brook that led to Wizard Pond. This year, Borestone Mountain. More on that in the next post.
What did you think I meant by “back in the saddle”? Perhaps that I turned back to my career as a freelance illustrator? Yes, I’m doing that, too, and with new skills on the table. For the past year, I’ve been working with the Maine Natural Areas Program to pilot the Natural Heritage Hikes Project: written descriptions of the ecology surrounding 15 of Maine’s most popular hiking trails to be made public on www.mainetrailfinder.com. In addition to packing my brain full of plant names, the project spurred a keen interest in natural history interpretation (basically, making science interesting to non-scientists) and led to an extensive literature review on the subject. To my delight, Maine Natural Areas has hired me as a contractor this summer to add ten more trails to the project. Today, I add interpretive design to my skill set, along with illustration and graphic design.
So, here I am, back in the saddle of my career. Thank you to all my clients, and to everyone who made the first peak, before graduate school, educational and wonderful. Headed for the second summit, equipped with an MS and written scientific interpretation experience, I have a feeling that this peak will be even more glorious than the first.