I always feel so conflicted at the end of a field season. I have grown so accustomed to life here in Kangerlussuaq that the thought of living without my tent, our trusty Toyota Hilux, or the amazing views of the Greenland Ice Sheet seems foreign. But at the same time, the thought of heading back to Hanover, where fresh food, friends, and summer are waiting is really quite exciting.
The last two days in Greenland are always full of small yet necessary tasks. Take down the tent. Clean out the truck. Fuel the truck. Pack science equipment. Return all keys. Return the satellite phone. And the list goes on. Generally I try to complete these annoying errands as quickly as possible so I can check them off the list. But the one small task that made me pause was packing all the soil samples I’ve collected over past six weeks. Each small plastic bag of soil brought back the memory of working in the field that day, at that particular site. Will I return to that site again? Or is this soil all I have to remember that spot?
While some of my thoughts were this nostalgic, I also started thinking ahead. What will these samples tell me? What story about biological soil crust will I learn after analyzing these hundreds of bags of soil? And this is what got me excited about heading home. The end of the field season is only the beginning: I have data to enter, soil and rock samples to analyze, and so much new information to process.
So as much as I will miss the frequent animal sightings, the breathtaking views, and the camaraderie of the field, I have things to look forward to. But the data will have to wait until I unpack, eat fresh food, and adjust to New England summer. I’m ready!