I tend to think of myself as a basically competent person; July 12, 2017 marks the day that I'm forced to admit error. It is the day that I first confronted stratigraphic mapping in the field.
"Do you see that blue layer over there?" asked one of the geologists, gesturing towards a literal mountain of brown rocks. Everyone around me nodded while the part of my mind that earned the philosophy Ph.D. reassured me, "Don't worry, the ancient Greeks didn't have a concept of 'blue,' either."
So here's what I've learned: "blue" is a term that denotes both genuinely blue things and some shades of a color that I previously only labeled with the word "rock." (I suddenly remember that in third grade I chose gray as the color of my bedroom carpet because it was "rock-colored.") This is an important lesson given that successful mapping of stratigraphic layers requires an ability to distinguish a variety of rock shades visible only to the eyes of geologists.
I'm hoping that the arrow of causation goes this way:
become earth scientist -> see all the colors of the rocks
Rather than this way:
see all the colors of the rocks -> become earth scientist
This has at least provided decent enough distraction from the fact that I literally cannot turn around in this locality (Logan Butte) without stepping on new fossils, but I also can't collect any of those fossils until we get the go-ahead to do so. I might not yet have a search image of the geological color palette, but at least I can now distinguish fossils from vaguely fossil-shaped rocks.