21 April 2008

OK folks, friends, family…its been a long time since I’ve been at this – the internet updates – but as far as work is concerned I have been up to some pretty cool stuff still. The question is where to start?
I’ve had some pretty ridiculous adventures over the past year and a bit – 8 months in one of the wildest regions of South America, a summer botanizing with the Bedouins of the Sinai peninsula, and finally landing a “real job” with the National Tropical Botanical Garden here on Kaua‘i – a gig that’s focused on Hawai‘i but has already taken me to other islands at the farthest end of the Pacific.
I’ve got some good stories piling up and my writing needs to catch up to them. But rather than try to capture all of these in a single, convoluted update, I’m gonna try them one at a time. I’m reclaiming this site (not visited since some 2005 adventures in India) not only to share my current adventures, but also to relate flashbacks of journeys that I’ve failed to share already.

And now for coming attractions off the beaten path – Adventures past and those to come:

Guyanese wilderness...



Sacred landscapes of the Sinai Desert...

Remote Pacific Islands...


Encounters with dangerous creatures....

and Hawai‘i of course...





























Now for the update:
For those of you from whom I’ve been completely out of the loop, I’ve been at the Garden for over 6 months already. My official job title is Assistant Field Botanist. But if they gave me business cards I’d use the title, Fruit Mercenary. Got your imagination churning? This is how it works – my position at the moment is funded entirely by contracts the Garden acquires to do habitat restoration projects. The money comes in by charging the contracts for native Hawaiian plants grown in our greenhouse that are planted out. My job as fruit mercenary is to head up into the mountain, the last stronghold of Hawai‘i’s native forests, and acquire seed and cuttings of Hawaiian plants to keep the greenhouse stocked.
It sounds more like business than biology, but all these projects are an earnest effort at conservation here in Hawai‘i. Most of what we use in restoration are common species but we also regularly work with some of the most endangered plants in the world. Too many of these plants have less than 50 individuals left in the wild – this close to the brink, an entire species could literally be lost to a single storm, a single landslide, a single hungry goat. From this perspective, some of the seed we bring in are truly invaluable.
So that’s my “real job” – a salary with full benefits to explore the woods all day and pick fruit. I work most days with another field botanist, Natalia, and as long as we’re bringing in seed we can pretty much choose when and where to go. So for about 3-4 days a week this is my office…






3 comments:

christopher cummings said...

nice land rover! good to see you're alive

Anonymous said...

I've heard about an office with a view, but talk about a view as an office! Nice one Clayton.
DC

Anonymous said...

I'm sure thats not the only "seeds" you are bringing in...

Now that you are posted-up at paradise island, I think it's time the fam comes to visit!

Z