Category Archives: by Cari

Got Milk Tea? Musings on a Master’s Thesis

By Cari Leland

I wish I could calculate the total amount of English Breakfast tea I consumed over the past year. While working on my thesis, tea drinking was an integral part of the process. There is something about that piping hot beverage that inspires thought, creativity, focus, and hard work. Mongolians might also agree that there is great value in tea. In fact, teatime could almost be considered part of their cultural heritage. No meal is complete without a steamy cup of milk tea – a drink that is not only nutritious, but also a symbol of the warm hospitality that is prevalent in Mongolian culture.

Honestly, I was not much of a tea drinker prior to my summer of fieldwork in Mongolia. I remember one day of fieldwork when Dr. Baatarbileg Nachin, Byamba, Bayra, and I were on the hunt for old trees. Baatar drove us to a ger owned by some folks that he knew well. The hope was that they could show us the way to good sampling sites. The family greeted us with much warmth, as they kindly offered us yogurt biscuits and milk tea. I sat inside the ger –  young children were playing outside, the livestock were grazing happily in the sun, and a partially-logged forest was viewable in the distance. While sipping milk tea in their home, it became abundantly clear why my thesis research could be important.

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“It’s like…so continental”

By Tom Saladyga & Cari Leland

Fieldwork continues in the forests north and northeast of UB…

Evidence of livestock is usually present at each site, but this time we were not phazed whilst cattle grazed.

A fire in early summer 2009 scorched a wide swath of forest north of UB.

Coring Larch in the aforementioned burned swath.

Winter camp near one of our sites in the Khentii Mountains.

Day and nighttime temperatures during this week’s fieldwork were strikingly different than last week.  Extreme daytime heat (95F) gave way to cooler nighttime temperatures (40F) this week spurring Cari to comment so incitefully on the continentality of Mongolia.  Indeed.

Baby cookies!

By Tom Saladyga & Cari Leland

We arrived in Ulaanbaatar Saturday, June 19 to a seasonably warm evening.  Before departing for the field on June 22, Cari physically struggled to keep Tom from spending research funds at the new Louis Vuitton boutique just off Sukhbaatar Square.  So, naturally we were both relieved to finally get to work in the forests surrounding UB.

Sukhbaatar Square, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

This insect infested stand of Siberian Larch is located 25km east of UB. There was limited evidence of fire, but we were able to collect quality samples for age structure analysis.

This middle aged, healthy, and relatively undisturbed stand of Siberian Larch is located about 100km east of UB. Wildflowers and Cuckoo birds dazzled our senses. Most importantly fire scar samples yielded up to 7 scars per sample.

We also sampled two sites north of UB where valleys are filled with summer homes surrounded by forests. These mixed Siberian Larch/Scots Pine forests are slightly disturbed with fires in the recent past.

We will be continuing our field work northeast of UB in the coming weeks while consuming as many Mongolian cookies (aka baby cookies) as humanly possible.