Today is our first day on board the expedition ship, and we are making our way through the ice of Frobisher Bay. Aside from wistfully gazing at the shore through binoculars, the botanical opportunities are limited for the moment to the microscopes and the little library I smuggled on board, despite the weight considerations we were all encouraged to observe when packing our gear. Now the gear has been uncrated, and our shipboard lab is installed and open for business.
Microscopes are essential for studying small organisms (and small features on larger ones) allowing us to see astounding patterns and beautiful details of which we would otherwise be completely oblivious. I use them to see the shapes of the leaves of mosses, and my colleagues use them to measure the hairs on the stems of grasses. Either way, they help us to see and know more than we could with our human eyes. The new world they open up seems to be winning some fans among the students as well, which I love to see and to hear! The sound people make when they see something through the microscope for the first time is incredibly rewarding.
When our vessel starts to rock a bit, we all realize that microscopy on the high seas might be best in the calmest weather.