The morning sky is still pitch black when the alarm goes off. I wake up in a hotel room on a grey busy rainy road in a post-industrial town in southern Luxembourg. Hitting the snooze button is not an option; daylight is scarce in late November and we should really reach the forest at dawn. There is still time for a sad corona-proof breakfast though, that is to be consumed in the hotel room. Crackers, instant coffee, jam, all individually packed in plastic of course. What is good for hygiene is not necessarily good for the environment.
Before sunrise, my colleague and I get to the site of our next marteloscope. The morning fog reduces the visibility to almost nothing, but luckily our memory manages to lead us back to the place we had visited with the local forester a month earlier. Despite the dense undergrowth we had managed to survey the perimeter of the square one-hectare stand in October, but not without cutting much of the regeneration along the borders that were obstructing the view and the functioning of our measurement equipment. A tedious effort, but one less task this week. Last time the foliage was still too dense to measure heights or spot tree microhabitats. Now that most of the leaves have fallen, we can continue the inventory. Yesterday we were still in the far north of this little country, to finish precisely those tasks for the previous site. Now we are ready to wrap up the inventory of the final marteloscope in Luxembourg.