There’s something quite melancholy about going back through all the little paper packets of voucher specimens, remembering who and where you were when you collected them, and thinking about the time that has passed and the changes it has brought with it.
It’s also a kind of magic, a real physical link to a time and place in your past, even more tangible than a photograph.
Sometimes, however, there are places that you don’t remember at all.
We collected a Frullania at Coles Creek, on the Natchez Trail, Mississippi, in March 2005. I remember the road trip we must have been on, Spring Break from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale where I was postdoccing, through Missouri via Memphis into Mississippi, then Louisiana with a stop in New Orleans, Mobile Alabama, across the Florida panhandle to Panama City (FL, not PA) and back. We were looking for a plant called Sphaerosporoceros, which hadn’t been collected in a long time, and was needed for DNA sequencing for a hornwort phylogeny. We did find the hornwort, although I didn’t keep any of that collection. All I remember of Mississippi, however, was a car that rear-ended us at a stop as were were passing through Jackson – virtually no damage to my much-loved and well-travelled Toyota Camry, and none to us, either.
I don’t recall Cole Creek at all, and the only evidence that we ever even got out of the car there is this tiny scrap of plant in a paper envelope.