Tag Archive: streams


Itchy and Scratchy

That’s right, I’m itchy….and scratchy. No, silly, not the cartoon characters from The Simpsons….SERIOUSLY! I have discovered what happens when you wear far too many layers in the hot Florida sun.

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Prickly heat – heat rash – or whatever you wanna call it! I was trying to be smarter than the average nerd working out in the Florida sun (104 degrees). I wore layers so that I could shed them as I needed. Only problem, you know me, I got caught up in my work and forgot to shed layers.

So, instead, I have this amazingly sexy rash ALL OVER! I hate to admit it – but now is the perfect time – I was wrong! Yep, make your calendars folks and watch the icebergs grow – cause Hell just froze over. I was totally wrong to even think for one moment that I was going to remember my clothes.

“Why, Jacque? Why would you forget something so important to most gals?” Well, I am definitely NOT most gals. SO, while I was busy looking at my survey gear and constructing a designed creek plan, I just wandered around in way too many clothes.

So, lesson for the day, wear the minimum and bring the maximum. Pack it and keep it handy. Remember, weather changes all over the world at any time! Even MyRadar can be wrong….so make sure you have what you need to stay cool, warm, dry, bug free, sun free, and safe! If you aren’t sure, pack more! If you don’t need it, so be it – but if you don too much or pack too little, you might get caught in a storm, or you just might get heat rash!

For those who are unfamiliar, heat rash is simply sweat trapped under your skin. Sounds harmless…

Image result for heat rash

Now, someone give me some tips for how to treat it!! PLEASE…

 

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Forget Black

The cracks, even the cracks of her feet were black with earth.

Her hair matted with black and hanging limp and wildly at her ears.

Her hands were stained black and there were small scars where the work showed through.

And just when it seemed she couldn’t get any blacker,

her heart stood still with the black mud.

Her eyes shed black tears that smudged her filthy cheeks.

Her mouth oozed.

She had stayed too long in the dark wet. She was one of them.

Yet there she crouched. Sobbing and shaken.

Her precious work torn asunder by those who spoke sharp words of machines.

All she knew lay raped and stranded in the bright sun.

It would be theirs tomorrow. Neat and shiny.

It would be organized and proper and clean.

It was always so sad to see them like this. Naked and lost.

No words would come to stay them from her treasure.

She would silently suffer.

It might kill her….

Yes, she would die if not for the others. They always come.

They take back their own into the dank woods.

Who knows what horrors lie there.

God it must be dreary and strange.

Oh, look, it must be time to go. The sun is sinking.

 

 

Brrrrring on the New Year

Happy New Year 2016 Images | New Year 2016 Quotes

That’s right, bring on the new year. I have just about had it with the last one. In fact, if this one isn’t better, I am quitting years.

The problem with last year is tenfold…didn’t go outdoors enough, didn’t camp enough, didn’t surf enough, didn’t tromp enough, didn’t climb enough trees, didn’t fish enough…..so….plan is to change that.

“But Jacque, last year wasn’t all bad!” Duh…of course it wasn’t. I have an amazing family, great kids, a job I love, and the world is my oyster. Problem  was that I forgot that the world was my oyster…and let it be my crab trap.Image result for funny oyster

So, if, like me, you let 2015 make you it’s bitch, here’s some ideas for how we are gonna show 2016 who wears the pants in this year…

  • Write a bunch of adventures on paper, fold and put in jar, take turns picking one out – and YOU HAVE TO DO IT
  • Pick up a copy of One Tank Trips
  • Get a map of your area that includes parks and such – make it a challenge to cross them all off with a visit
  • Let the family vote on a new activity to learn together
  • Call me to book a fun Guided Tromp in the woods or kayak trip
  • Go camping – or glamping if you don’t like tents
  • Try to go to different beaches or forests or both and collect a souvenir from each spot and make a brag shelf

Whatever you do – DO IT! And…

DO IT OUTSIDE! And…DO IT NOW! And…DO IT TOGETHER. 

There’s no time like the present…and no excuses!

Kick 2016’s ass!

 

 

peace river

Peace River overbank

I’m sitting here on my couch because my softball game got POURED OUT for the 4th freaking week in a row. Our Suwannee River work got cancelled because the river is too high. Alafia River State Park isn’t renting out canoes because the overbank flows are unsafe (though a friend of mine went anyways and almost tipped his kayak and lost his quite expensive camera in the process). It’s normal to get afternoon thunderstorms in Florida during the summer, but this is too much!

A few months ago, Jacque and I were driving home from assessing some swamps in Arcadia and she said something to the extent of “those thistles look funny, it’s going to be a REALLY wet summer.” I know this girl has intuition, but really? Can you really tell it’s going to be a wet summer because some spiky plants look funny?! So I made a mental note, half hoping there would be a drought so I could make fun of her. She even put her predictions in writing (https://chicks-with-ticks.com/2013/06/05/something-in-the-air/) so I would have proof if she denied saying it!

marsh

Wet marsh

Well, turns out Jacque should have placed a bet – because she would have hit the jackpot! We have just been pummeled with rain. Overall, the Florida peninsula receives about 40 to 50 inches of rain a year, with most of it occurring during the “wet season” (June – October). Living in Florida is more like living in the Tropics than it is like living in the rest of the U.S. where there are four distinct seasons. Here we really just have two distinct seasons: a wet and a dry (November – May). During the dry season, many of our small streams go completely dry (we call these intermittent or ephemeral systems). Only our larger creeks and rivers are wet all year long. Yup, this is one of the many nerdy things we have been studying over the years.

sat-FL

Florida peninsula, just waiting to be pummeled

horse creek

Horse Creek overbank

Florida is just the perfect storm for storms, if you will -– the excessively hot summer temperatures heat up our large expanses of water, causing water to evaporate and form large clouds that then drop rain all over the state as the winds from the Gulf and the Atlantic blow the storms across the state. And obviously Florida is just hanging out in the middle of those two water bodies, just waiting there in the wide open to get hit by a hurricane. Oh joy! So overflowing rivers and creeks are a very natural occurrence in Florida, and Florida streams are often overbank for a good chunk of the year. These flood events help “shape” the river and its floodplain and help cycle nutrients (food). Throughout Florida’s history, many streams and wetlands have been ditched to get water off a property. This takes away an important ecological component, one that Jacque and I are often working to restore. So maybe all this rain isn’t so bad and I should just hush. And pat Jacque on the back for being right. Again. Dangit!

Plunder Branch near Hwy62

Getting wet is fun!

Have a great weekend everyone! Even if it means getting a little wet 🙂

It was storming this morning….

 Today, that’s right, today, I woke to a Florida summer thunderstorm rolling around in my head – and outside my window. Normally, this is the part where I turn over and go back to sleep. Part of the benefits of being an on-call employee and working partially for yourself is the freedom to say, “Oh, it’s raining. I wouldn’t want to get wet so I shall go back to sleep.”

Today I did the opposite. I jumped forth quickly, donned my usual khaki (and unsexy look as Allen so pleasantly calls it) and squished out the door. I was headed to one of my favorite creeks.

No, it’s not a crystal clear pristine natural stream. It’s a created stream. I have been working in this stream for over 5 years now. I have seen it as a small shy controlled thing. I have helped it grow into a wild, sinuous, sandy bed thing that is home to many amazing creatures.

But this is not about the stream….not directly. It’s about how the love of what we do is a natural thing. It’s how I worked with a construction crew today. Most of the crew doesn’t speak good English. It didn’t stop the natural and easy communication once we began to work in the stream.

We were making improvements to some areas that have gone a little too wild. As I began working – I explained with gestures what I was trying to create. The crew nodded. One man – young man – in particular, smiled hugely. He began grabbing materials from the forest and putting the right where I would….and looked at me for approval. I laughed and nodded. He GOT IT!!!

I then asked if he spoke English. “Yes,” he replied. I quickly took the opportunity to share some science behind what we were doing and how it was a natural gift – to be able to see what the stream needed. I had taken a seat on a big log in the middle of the stream – soaking, muddy, and thrilled. He told me that he could see that I loved this place. He said he could see the love of this stream when I worked. He asked if I made it.

I told him that we were all making it. That is was like raising a child. You make it – you teach it – you train it – you keep checking on it – you feel sad when something goes wrong – you feel happy when it goes right. I told him that streams were a lot like naughy children and if left alone too long without supervision – they go wild and do naughty things. That’s why we were there. To supervise and retrain it to behave. To make it act like a beautiful stream and not like a wild ugly thing that man made.

He was amazed. He and I were both quiet for a long time. We were looking at the stream. We were seeing it with the same eyes. I said to him that I could see that he loved this place. I said I could see that he, too, now loved this stream. I told him that what he felt was special. The way he looked at the stream and how it behaved was special. 

As we finished working, the stream was looking much more like a beautiful stream and less like a wild toddler. It will take a while, but it will remember its lessons and behave for a while longer. It will grow. It will change. I will go back and supervise. I might retrain it someday again.

What I sincerely hope is that the young man also goes back to see how his love and vision created something beautiful.

springToday I had the pleasure of presenting our stream classification study to a wonderful group of people – the Master Gardeners of Sarasota County, Florida. It turns out there are Master Gardeners all throughout Florida. The program is run through the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). Its mission is to train a core of volunteers to assist the county extension agent in delivering information to residents on how to design, plant, and care for their plants and landscapes in a Florida-Friendly way. Please visit their website to find out more about this AWESOME program:
http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/mastergardener/about/index.shtml

jac+kristen+logoI’m hoping I was able to inspire some Master Gardeners to get outdoors and enjoy our state’s amazing resources. Maybe they’ll even become Chicks with Ticks (since many of them were women)! The Gardeners definitely inspired me to turn my black thumb green, and even gave me a couple free plant clippings (I’ll let you know how that goes). Thank you so much to Bob at Sarasota County’s IFAS extension office for inviting our team to speak. Always a pleasure talking about what we do and love because…
In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum

What’s that gator doing in that tiny stream!?

That’s right! We have written about bombing ranges before. I know, I know, everyone has heard the one about how I drove across a 6 foot bomb and never knew it until after a flood….but you can imagine how Josh and I felt when….

So, Josh and I needed to visit our Avon Park Bombing Range sites. This is fun! We got our radio with some critical information – they were detonating unexploded ordnance (like the ones we have driven over and found all over) on one of the tracts we needed to get to. CRAP!! They let us on anyway as we would call on and off and only be a short while.

We exited said tract and got stuck in the middle of two sites by other military activities on our other site of interest. So, knowing us as well as you might by now – you know what we did next! We took the buckets and nets and went into the ditches to catch fish to identify!! NERDS….I heard you scream!

So – then we watched as two of the detonations went off without much ado and proceeded to our second site. You can well imagine the looks on our faces when detonation number three went off……KABOOM – shaking the very ground!! I am standing there with my mouth hanging open.

So we were working with that feeling you get when you escape just in time or just miss a bad situation. The feeling that something horrible COULD have happened. What if one of those were the pieces we have found? We will never know.

As if that’s not enough – we are working in a tiny clear creek that is less than 2 feet wide and 6 inches deep. It’s so cute. There is a little pool just upstream of our gage. I told Josh that it was a great place to catch cool fish while I downloaded the logger.

Josh headed through the palmettos 12 feet away to the waterfall pool……how lovely! He came crashing through the palmettos with a strange look on his face….I said – “What did you catch?” thinking it must be something really amazing. He hollers out….big gator!!

He said there was a huge gator hiding in the pool less that 12 feet away. I went up to look and CRAP!! An 8 1/2 foot alligator was snuggled up in that tiny pool! Josh had noticed it when he dipped his net in to see what fish were in there…..imagine how surprised he was when he realized it was an alligator tail.

I took photos and we both gathered our nerves and finished. We left property feeling like we needed to increase our life insurance! We also felt pretty lucky to be able to see such amazing things while working. Needless to say, we will never look at that creek the same.

Yes we follow safety protocols, yes we have JSAs, yes we do a site inspection – but where we work – you can’t see everything! If you could – it would be boring!! We haven’t had a

This is in the palmettos near the gator hole!

lost time incident and we are happy and healthy. We do, however, occasionally have near misses!

Go Anywhere!

As adventurous gals, we like to go to new and exciting places. Sometimes, it’s a lake right behind the office, and others, it’s a remote stream after a miles long hike. What we really like to do is encourage others to take time to go outdoors and see something or experience something that gives you that sense of adventure.

Sometimes, it’s just a walk in a local preserve or park. Some of us are trapped in a concrete jungle and a plastic cube and that’s about as adventurous as it gets. Others of us will take it to the limits and climb rocky peaks or dive the deepest rifts. The important thing is, get out there and see what we see.

The wild isn’t all filled with danger and mystery. There’s a beauty in nature that we can’t fake, print, pixellate or 3-D. The only way to know what tar flower smells like when it’s sticky and blooming is to see it and smell it in the air.

So, as Spring is springing – let’s remember to get out the and GO ANYWHERE!

Then, tell us about your adventures…the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Wild Women

Co-Creator Jacqueline Levine expressing her excitement as Chicks go live

Raging River

Raging River.

With spring fast approaching, I thought to let you all re-absorb this one!

Just when you think you have everything under control, something goes terribly awry! At least it seems that way when you have the kind of field day we had day before yesterday. We were set to perform three macroinvertebrate samplings in an unknown small system and it sounded like the perfect day for us bug nerds! NOT!!!

It looks like a nice place. I won’t go into the details about what the little stream looks like for fear of breaching the wonderful relationship we have with our client….suffice it to say that…it isn’t pristine. We discussed ahead of time the fact that we would probably find icky bugs too….it is in a transitional state of development. Our job is to come in, evaluate in great detail the state of the system, make recommendations, oversee enhancement, monitor recovery, and later – enjoy that fact that we helped make it better.

We don’t expect drinkable water, park-like conditions, or fluffy conditions. We expect a certain amount of ickiness! We began our collection. Once I began fishing around,WITH MY BARE HANDS. So, without further adieu….

This Photo is for Shock Value Only

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU SEE LEECHES

  1. Make squealy noises – doesn’t affect the leeches behavior but it certainly gets out some of the squigglies!
  2. Perform a mental check on tucked in-ness…did you tuck in pant legs, shirt, etc…?
  3. Revisit why you do this for a living.
  4. Pretend that you will know when a leech latches onto you  and starts sucking your blood (which will not happen – they first spit out an anesthesia so you will not know until TOO LATE)
  5. Pretend that it won’t happen to you….ha ha ha ha ha….ha ha ha
  6. Immediately think of all the horror movies you have seen about leeches!
  7. Notice how small and hard to see they really are! Have you just never noticed them before?
  8. Make squealy noises again – hey man – they are creepy.
  9. Remember that you wore short socks and short boots…..ha ha ha – you should have seen the look on Jessica’s face!!! PRICELESS
  10. Make sure you do a thorough leech check….those suckers (ha ha) can be so small!

    Lurking Leeches

Finally, remember to check twice,  also, check this out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leech for really gross and entertaining information about leeches. Like – they have two suckers, some won’t feed on blood, if taken off incorrectly, they can vomit their grossness into your bloodstream…and more fun facts!

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