Although a stack of exams awaits, field work begins this afternoon. The prolonged early warmth of spring 2012 has moved up our field work schedule by at least 3 weeks. And you cannot just decide to wait until later. In this sense field work domineers your life; your needs and wants are subordinated to those of your research organism. The prairie lousewort is one of the 1st plants up on the prairie, seen here emerging after a burn, next to a partially melted marker, inflorescence already formed and ready to go. Fortunately some young backs have decided to get involved in our research, and their assistance will be most welcome. When studying rain forest trees, one of my student field assistants was afraid of heights and would not climb a ladder. With prairie field work operating down at ground level one of the students is a pole vaulter! As usual our first act is to find all of our research plots, and although marked by a permanent metal tag and corner spikes, and although mapped, it's amazing how tough it is to find some of them even after a vegetation clearing burn. In full vegetation finding the plots is next to impossible. Every now and then something pulls a tag out making things really difficult. However, only one plot has been totally lost, misplaced if you will, since 2006, and fortunately it was a second control so we can operate without it. In particular my collaborator has lost many pens and several pairs of sunglasses, and some of them do get found. Last year this was quite an experience because several large Nerodia (water snakes) were emerging from dens and sunning themselves, and giving my snake nervous colleague quite a bad startle. This will not be brought up, as bad field episodes are best forgotten.