As an optional part of one of our biogeochemical oceanography labs, Dr. Jacob Beam, Taylor Kruger, and I went to collect some mud. As a person who has never really experienced mud flats, I was not prepared for what I was about to do. We did not pick the best weather to go gallivanting in the mud, so I was wearing my nearly floor-length winter coat (despite my origins in Buffalo, New York, I get cold) to protect me from the sleet, wind, and bitter cold. Once we got to the mud flat, I borrowed thigh-high rubber and canvas boots from Jake, flipped my coat inside itself to shorten it, and felt ready to go. As we were walking to the mud, Jake warned us that the mud might feel like it was sucking our feet down into itself. I proceeded with caution, but confidence, and tactfully maneuvered along the mud flat, helping retrieve mud for our lab.
Ok, so I fell. Twice. But I am still a scientist, I swear!
The first fall was very contained. I fell right on my knees within one minute of walking on the mudflap. What can I say, the mud really liked to suck my boots down into its murky depths. Laughing about my new muddy state, I slowly made my way off of my knees back onto my feet. I trekked behind Taylor and Jake as he hauled mud into a 5 gallon bucket with his shovel. As we were out on the mud, we heard a distant farm that seemed oddly similar to that of “old McDonald.” There were sheep baaing, cows mooing, and even a farmer singing to himself. It was lovely background music for our little excavation, and my hilarious wipeouts.
As Jake shoveled mud into the bucket, he tried to remove any large animals he saw. He showed us several species of worms that live in the coastal sediment, some of which were poisonous. One especially large worm caught my attention. Jake told us that this worm, like many, regrow their own bodies from anus to brain. I found this a really bizarre and backwards way to regenerate oneself, but I guess I’m just not as advanced as some worms.
My second, and far more embarrassing fall came as I tried to move my feet to leave. I had sunk into the mud pretty severely, and I could not get myself out of my stance in any dignified manner. I ended up trying to yank my feet out of the mud, and failed horribly. As I yanked, I fell straight to the ground, butt first. My pants, jacket, and boots were covered with mud the whole ride home. Jake, in an effort to make me feel better, told me I was an excellent source of entertainment, and I’d have to agree. The entire ride back to Bigelow, I sat on my jacket in an effort to keep Jake’s car clean. When I returned to the dorms, I recounted my expedition to my roommate, who found me nearly as entertaining as Jake did.