February 18, 2019
Lost at the Oregon coast
It has been just about a month since I have done any collecting. I have most of the seed that was in the drying room cleaned now so the attached list will be more accurate than it has been in some time. Since a few of you have recently been placing orders for seed I have in storage this is a heads up I will be gone and unable to send out any seed from Thursday, February 28th until probably sometime around March 8th.
We will be moving my 93 year old mother-in-law's belongings to her new residence near Flip's two sisters in southern California and then checking in on Flip's brother in Pacific Grove who is fighting cancer. On my last trip south I noticed there was a maturing crop of Juniperus californica (California juniper). I will probably collect a good amount of that seed on this trip (or another trip towards the end of the month to do some hiking in the desert mountains). Let me know if you want juniper seed or anything else on the list.
My story this time is about recently getting lost in very thick brush over at the Oregon coast. A little over a month ago I tried to get to a spot that looked like it might be a good collecting spot for Iris douglasiana (Douglas iris). I bushwhacked for 8 hours or so before getting out to Flip at 11:15 pm with the aid of a Sheriff deputy and Search and Rescue volunteer. It was a brutal and traumatic experience. I wrote a long and detailed account of the ordeal. (If you want to read the whole story click blog on the heading bar above this post. Then click on Siren/Brush pdf in the lower right corner of the photo. A Google Maps view of the site where I was lost is at the top of this entry.
In the long version of the story, Logan, the Search and Rescue guy, says to me as we are walking back to the car, "You know it would be easier just ordering seeds in the mail." I told him, "I'm one of those who collect the native seed people order." I'm probably not the first seed collector with a lost in the woods story and getting lost is not the only hazard we encounter.
I have mentioned bee and wasp stings in earlier emails. Thankfully so far I have never reacted to poison oak because I am often in it. I have weird little growths on one knuckle and one knee from my body reacting to thorns I was unable to remove that were embedded years ago going through roses and blackberries. I also have tick heads dissolving in my body. I have learned from miserable suffering to always carry mosquito repellent in my backpack.
Another time I wrote of getting a flat tire 9 miles up a remote gravel mountain road and finding my spare was also flat. I remember a story I heard visiting with Melvin Dybvig when I bought my seed cleaner in the fall of 2006. Mel told me he had just heard from a collector in Idaho. The guy had been shot in the leg while he was eating his lunch at the base of a big tree. A hunter had mistaken him for a deer.
Some years ago a fellow collector wrote to me about harvesting in the full sun in eastern Washington on a very warm day with Rich Haard from Fourth Corner Nurseries. Rich ended up with heat stroke. He recovered okay but it took awhile. I have also written about harvesting in the bitter cold and the pouring rain. Sometimes the forecast changes on us. Occasionally the window to get the seed and a span of inclement weather days overlap. Such is the life of a collector. We learn to carry extra water, rain gear and layers of clothing.
I just got my tax paper work turned in last week. In each of the last two years I have driven over 20,000 miles getting to and from collecting spots. Thankfully I haven't had a car accident story. I'm sure other collectors do and it may be I will have one someday as well. I do my best to stay alert and aware of traffic and obstacles in the road but in new areas my eyes are also always on the lookout along the sides of the road for plants or sites that might have seed to collect.
We collectors enjoy what we do. We are glad we make it possible for folks like you to order native seed in the mail. Sometimes the prices are higher than we would want them to be if we were the ones buying the seed. There are reasons we charge what we do. Just as there are reasons you charge what you do for the plants you sell or for the work you do.
If you don't have the time to read the long version of the bushwhacking story maybe you do have time to work on your JNS order for later this year. It isn't too early for that. It will no doubt be busy later.
Take care and take your compass with you,