A little rest for the wicked


I’m spending this week out in Washington state, taking a break from the lab to visit my dad and his family over the 4th. It’s always rejuvenating to get out and breathe some fresh air—I spend so much time thinking about the environment and earth processes, but I too rarely make the time to put on some sturdy shoes and interact with the outdoors face-to-face.

For most of my life I’ve loved spending time outside, walking along Lake Michigan or learning the bird calls in my neighborhood. But having a new perspective from earth and environmental science has, if anything, increased my wonder for the world around me. Staying on Puget Sound, I can hunt for sea stars in the tide pools and wonder which of their neighbors compete with them for dinner.

For me, one of the greatest rewards of studying earth science has been how it’s enriched my life even outside of the lab. What I’ve learned has given me the chance to take in a scene of natural beauty and realize that the picture is so much more than what I can see in a human moment. It took billions of years of astronomical, geological, chemical, and evolutionary changes to form a shoreline where I’ll spend an afternoon. It’s hard to even wrap my mind around!

This week I plan to soak up as much of the outdoors as I can, and then it’s back to the lab. But the week is allowing me to reconnect with one of the fundamental reasons I love the work I do—all the time I am thinking and learning about the processes that make up our beautiful miraculously habitable planet.