This blog article is a contribution to the PAGES Early-Career Network (ECN). No pollen at the study site - a nightmare for a palynologist! However, if you look closely enough, you might find a way around this problem. Abraham Nqabutho Dabengwa shares how he, like a phoenix, rose from the ashes of a stalling PhD with the help of charcoal. Read about how Abraham overcame the difficulties in his research, regained his confidence, and how charcoal can help us study past grazing behavior.