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Wild Davis 2020: Evening at the Campus BOG

Spring Quarter is almost over and last week, the Wild Davis students completed their last of their observations, this one to be done in the evening.

It’s still hot when I get to the BOG around 6 pm, so I choose a spot at a shady picnic table to take my notes. I startle both a bunny and a squirrel, possibly the same squirrel that was so bothered by my presence at the morning observation 🙂

The first thing I notice is that the wildflowers are nearly all finished blooming and beginning to set fruit. I pick a fruit off of a lupine and split it open in my hand. Lupines are members of the legume family (which includes peas and soybeans), all of whose fruits form a pod that splits open along two edges. The small orchard along the north eastern lobe is also setting fruit, as are the elegant clarkia that were blooming when I was last here.

The south eastern lobe that was full of flowers on my afternoon observation has been cleared, and I notice what looks like the beginning of clearing of the lupine field in the north eastern lobe. This answers my question about whether or not the BOG crew are still working on the site even with the lockdown, but it raises another question. I had assumed the annual flowers reseeded themselves, which is difficult to do if the fruiting plants are cleared out. Now I wonder if the eastern lobes are seeded every year.

The few flowers still in bloom have attracted some pollinators, though on the whole there is not a lot of insect life in the BOG this evening. Similarly, I only hear a couple of birds, including the goldfinches I have seen on my previous observations, though they keep the trees and out of my sight.

More noteworthy this evening than on my other observations is the human presence. Throughout the entire observation, I am distracted by the low hum of the air conditioning unit in the Mann Lab just south of the BOG. It runs continuously the entire 45 minutes and makes me wonder if all the campus buildings are being maintained at their normal temperatures. Seems like a waste of money and energy for empty buildings, though most of the buildings are probably not truly empty. My building for instance still has a skeleton crew of office staff to take deliveries, and researchers with living organisms still have to come in to keep them alive. Additionally, we are moving into Phase 2 soon, when some of the restrictions on people and activities in the labs will be relaxed.

I also see a number of groups of people walking and biking around campus; more people than I have seen here on my previous observations. They appear to be family groups for the most part, and we all easily keep our distance as they mostly pass by the BOG without coming into the center where the picnic benches are.

This quarter, I haven’t found these observations as relaxing as I normally do. Generally, I enjoy the quiet solitude and the chance to slow down and just look and listen for a while. This quarter, though, I have too much solitude and I am so much more scatterbrained that focusing just on looking and listening has been hard. I look forward to being around people again, whenever the uncertain future ever allows that. In the meantime, I’ll at least get to read this week what my students found on their observations.


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