Well, it's been a late spring, and our field work has finally begun. This sort of sounds silly, but the first job is to actually find our study plots. Yes, they are marked, and yes, we've been using these plots, a long-term study, since 2006, but the markers must be able to survive prairie burnings, so they are metal and not too big. Our numbered tags got well scorched, dirty, and buried in ash, again. At times you can be standing just inches from a tag and not be able to see it. So, the prairie was burned last week, and today we started looking for them. Burned prairies are dirty, dusty places, but already the green shoots are appearing through the black ash. It's fun to see what else lurked on the prairie that ends up being exposed after a burn. Hmm, we found the charred "bones" of a meter stick, and the two brass ends were still exactly 1 meter apart. Hate to think how many of these high tech instruments we've damaged over the years. The partially melted remains of a fairly nice compass was found still in the middle of one study plot. A couple of small snakes that did not slither fast enough were roasted, so were the eggs of a ground-nesting bird, a big one, goose or duck? Quite a few bones here and there, nice and brightly white. Fortunately a couple of students lent us their young eyes, and we set a new record in finding all the plots. Wow! What a huge help! It's a good start to the season, but man, TPP was just about black from the elbows to hands, and from the knees down.