This summer has been a series of postcard-worthy days strung together on an old-fashioned wheel of film. Imagine a flickering and gritty combination of scenes flashing before your eyes: the Tetons at sunset, Zach and I cutting over Ora Bridge on our bikes, dark rock cast up against a bluebird sky on a mountainside, a rainbow trout quietly slipping back into the water on a dusky fishing expedition, transfixed people in Chacos, trucker hats and thrift store finds mesmerized by Brazilian indie music wafting through the air at Music on Main in Victor, and the hooves of a bull desperately straining against the man on its back kicking up plumes of dust in front of a crowd of farm kids under the stadium lights. Sit back and take it all in. Feel all of the senses: the sweet and refreshing pine wind in your face, the rewarding burn in your calves as you tread onward and upward, smell the combination of dirt, hay, and determination at the rodeo, taste the Tofu Pad Thai drizzled with Sriracha and lime from the Teton Thai food vendor, and hear quiet disturbance of fish rising. Then press rewind. That’s what I wish I could do right about now. Press rewind and live it all over again.
As I sit here in the lab writing these words I feel a sense of disbelief creeping over me. This is my last blog post for the summer, this week is my last week of work, and this morning was my last 9 am staff meeting. This morning I did my last parcel check, but instead of driving the route I’ve come to know so well, Kam, another intern, was driving and I was teaching her the names and turns, and giving away all my secret markers for not getting lost in the endless, rolling farmland. It feels like just yesterday that Bryce Contor showed me that very route before handing me the keys to it for the summer just like that.
The more I think about it though the more I realize that this isn’t the end; and the start of the summer wasn’t a beginning either. I’ve come to realize that this summer is just the middle. This whole experience started last December when I started to email with Rob about working here this summer. It started when I defended and then submitted my senior thesis proposal detailing the need for a prioritization system for water conservation and the Water Marketing Program. It started when I found out I received the Johnson Opportunity Grant from the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity to fund my work this summer. It started when the Henry’s Fork Foundation offered me housing and additional funding which tipped the scales to make this summer actually affordable. It started when I decided to take a risk and go after something I really wanted to do even if it meant taking a non-traditional path. That’s a whole lot of different starts and while contemplating them I came to the conclusion that there can be a multitude of endings too. This week is the end of my time is Ashton. This post is the end of my intern blog posts. This Friday will be the end of my weekdays spent in the Campus Center. This Thursday will be the last Music on Main I go to and tomorrow will be the last day that all six of the interns will work together in the intern office before we all go our separate ways. But, like I said this isn’t really the end of my work with the Henry’s Fork Foundation. It’s the end of a lot of different things but it’s not The End. The End will begin to roll around like an unstoppable freight train next April when I defend my thesis. But really, The End will bowl into the station in May when I submit my thesis for documentation to the University Archives.
So, while I’m sad that the curtains are closing on the highlight reel that has been my summer, I know it’s not the end of my work here. When I drive East out of Ashton at 5 pm on Friday I’ll still be able to talk with Rob about statistics and Bryce about Parcels. If I need to check on something that pertains to water quality, I can still email Melissa and of course I won’t forget to shoot her an email for her birthday in December. Even though after I leave on Friday Tim won’t be able to say, “This is our new Intern Office and this is Liz, one our interns for the summer. You know, before, in our old office, interns didn’t have a space to work and they used to sit everywhere…” on his daily tours of the new Community Campus, I’ll still be working with everyone here from my dorm room desk in Virginia just as hard as I do when I’m sitting at my rock covered desk in the Intern Office.
As far as I’m concerned this has been a pretty great middle portion of my work with the Henry’s Fork Foundation. I feel incredibly grateful to have been able to experience the things that I have and I feel extremely lucky to have been able to learn from my incredible coworkers to the extent that I have. Now that this chapter is coming to a close, I’m starting to get excited for the Grand Finale in May and all the work I have left to do!