Tag Archive: sticks


Well, in the beginning, we really had no idea what we were doing. At least not as it related to surveying. We understood the basic principle but hadn’t really done it right in the field. John wanted to survey a particular stream that he had worked on for another project. Can’t say the name here so we will call it Moon Bay.

John was in a very good mood (at least for now). We parked, and proceeded to the stream to find a reach to survey that represented the “natural” system. Funny thing about Florida, there probably aren’t any truly natural systems left. It’s actually a sad thing. You go miles into the wilderness and voila’ there’s a balloon on a nylon ribbon – deflated and sad-looking – ruining the wildness – making fun of it.

Pristine Creek - by Allison Levine

Anyway, John found what he wanted and we began moving up and down the system flagging each place for survey. John has a back issue sometimes. We were ducking under a lot of trees that had fallen over the stream in the last big round of hurricanes in 2004. He began to lose his sense of humor – this same sense of humor which has us in stitches most of the time.

We finished flagging the reach and went to get the survey equipment. Kristen and I had practiced and thought we pretty much knew what to do. We set up our temporary benchmarks (we are not surveyors so it’s all temporary). We began to shoot the stream survey. John continued to lose his sense of humor. It was hot, uncomfortably messy, vine ridden and lots of ducking and climbing. I remember Kristen and I thought how awful this site was. There was so much to go through, vines, palmettos, and underbrush. This was hell!

Somewhere near the end of the reach, John checked the survey data. There was a problem. A serious problem. At some point someone had made a mistake and now the whole thing was useless basically. John was not happy. I was not happy. Kristen was not happy. This meant that, at some point, we would have to come back. The very thought of fighting this mess of vegetation was too much to bear.

It made me wonder if i could really do this. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I would never want to come and do this with just Kristen and me. This place was too wild. There were too many dangers. I wouldn’t be able to see her at some points in the survey. Would we ever get this right? It was all too much to even think about. We were mortified.

I would and will never forget this day. I was sweaty and scratched to heck. I was upset and doubted myself. I felt like I had let the team down in some way by feeling this way too. I felt that I had wasted a chance to make an impression on John and Kristen too. How could this had gone so wrong? Now, it had to be done all over again. The fear, the stress, the pain, the risk of busting the survey again…..it just seemed impossible to bear.

It was going to be hard to make myself do this again. This was horrid. I hated the way I felt – DEFEATED.

Well, it wouldn’t be a day in the field without mud. Yeah! Mud comes into our lives and really never leaves. Somehow, it gets into all the cracks and crevices, seeps into socks and pockets, and probably gets places we don’t really want to talk about here but we will! So here are some handy-dandy tips for what to do if you find yourself about to enter, covered with, or full of MUD!!

  1. There are different grades of mud. Muddy water is NOT mud – mud sticks to you, clings to everything and usually smells terrible. Anything else is NOT mud but a rather poor substitute.
  2. When you are going to be in mud that is crotch deep, make sure you have on tight underwear. The very thought of mud going into THOSE places is disgusting…..!
  3. Mud may be good for your skin IF IT COMES FROM THE DEAD SEA – not if it comes from hog infested Florida swamps or chemical infected dirty urban water.
  4. You don’t want to know what’s in that mud! Trust me….don’t even think about it.
  5. White stuff that looks like mud is not mud – it’s worse – it’s bullshit. It won’t come out of anything and will ruin your perfectly good snake boots that you learned to buy in a previous lesson – stay away if you can. Like us, if you can’t stay away, rinse your boots well. If, like us, you don’t rinse your boots well and the zippers don’t work – SHUT UP – you could have rinsed your boots!

    Muddingtons!!

  6. Not sure how deep that mud/bog is? THAT’S WHY THEY CALL THEM STICKS – DUH!! If you haven’t learned that by now – you obviously skipped previous lessons to read this crap!
  7. If your yard stick goes in and does not hit bottom, consider where the bottom is….!!!
  8. If you happen to think of wearing booted waders in deep, sticky mud – THINK AGAIN!! You will hate yourself when it’s all over! Trust me on this one. You will never get where you need to go without crawling on top of that friggin mud in those hot waders!!
  9. Mud can be sneaky. You may have on seven layers of protection from mud – when you take off those new socks – they will be black with mud! If you were smart – you would have listened to Chapter 1 – socks can be worn for days or even weeks – then tossed. MUD is why!
  10. You are thinking, “Jacque, what if I fall down in the mud and can’t get up?” Too f-ing bad – you need to turn over once you stop laughing at yourself and crawl until you can get up!

I hope these little tips have been helpful. I have a lot of experience in and around mud. If you get stuck (no pun intended) and need advice – feel free to comment….!

That’s why they call them sticks – duh! You stick them places….well, that’s what I say to remind me not to repeat some errors of days long gone. When we first began going out into the wilderness, we were carefree. Some of us (whose name will remain secret) put our hands into holes, reached into the mud, sat down anywhere, grabbed tree limbs, and generally ruled the land! Life was good.

Snake On Tree

Stick you hand here....NO!

I grew up near the woods. We camped and hiked. We spent some time on rivers and oceans, boats and in tents. I had a pretty good life in creeks and woods. I know some things that keep you from losing a finger. It doesn’t hurt that I am the eldest of three girls. Of all the dads in all the lands, my dad needed sons. He fished, cursed, smoked and drank and was a fun-loving guy who peed outside and spits.

He was also a painter, musician, singer and lover of all things science and anything that lived. He taught me how to fish before I learned to ride a bike. He taught me how to fight and how to stand up for myself. He also taught me the names of trees and flowers. He taught me how to solve problems and fix things. He taught me about magnets, atoms, and pyramid power….most importantly in this case – he taught me about snakes.

My dad showed me all kinds of snakes. I got sent to the principal’s office in kindergarten for taking a ring-necked snake to school in a baby food jar. So, it only stands to reason that dad also taught about how to avoid them, where they hide, how they behave, what ones were nasty little poison bearers.

Imagine my surprise when waltzing through the woods with someone who puts their hands everywhere!!! She reached into places I might not even put a good stick! I was shocked. This had to stop. I took it upon myself to find a tool….it just so happened that the office had a couple of cases of yard sticks. They had been purchased as marketing items long ago and were never used….they were slightly inaccurate. We began using them in the field to poke places.

This began the era of the field sticks. The era that would define us, cost us many arguments, make us tape their handles and mourn their losses….this is their story really.

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