Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Road to El Open House

            And so ends what could possibly be the crew’s last full day of digging. With preparations for Open House well underway – what with Media Day tomorrow and the setup we’ll be doing on Friday – it’s possible that we may not fit in as much pure excavation as we’d like. Add that to the dismal weather we’ve got looming on the horizon (if it even hits us; what’s up with this Michigan weather anyway?) and our chances of pushing our units to 65 or even 70 centimeters below datum dwindle.
Tabitha doing an incredible job removing a jaw bone. 
            But that’s okay, because we have enjoyed our time in Fort St. Joseph while it lasted. And even though we’ve only had about a week and a half to excavate what past field schools have had three or four weeks to do, no one is falling behind. The shallowest unit is at least 50 cm deep – and the girls digging there could hide in it, if they wanted to! We’ve been pushing the envelope since day one, proving that each and every team we’ve got is made of powerhouses ready to get down and reveal the history hidden beneath the ground. Though we may not have the time to fully complete our excavations, each and every one of us is yearning to take out just one more trowel full of dirt, because that may be what it takes to find a Jesuit finger ring or a complete trigger guard or even another feature.
            Today my unit became the first feature of the season – feature 23, in fact, a huge ash deposit in the east side of our unit, almost taking up an entire meter of space. Though it was only about four centimeters deep, it raised a lot of questions: where did this come from? Why is it here? Is this from a chimney, or a hearth, or perhaps something else? Hopefully future field schools will be able to find the answer if we can’t. This year we did dig up old units to get a bigger picture of where two civilian houses were located. Maybe one summer years from now, some new baby-faced undergrad will dig up our little unit and find a chimney or even a foundation wall to the house. Who knows! The possibilities are endless.
Joe being Joe.
            And though we hid sniffles of despair as the conclusion of our field season races toward us, we did end the day on a positive note. Down in South Bend, Indiana, in a really cool and fun museum, the Center for History, we heard a lecture from Joseph Gagné about the militia in New France. Before the presentation began, we took twenty minutes or so to explore the museum, taking in all of the interesting exhibits they had on display. One of my personal favorites was a painting of a woman sitting in front of her vanity. At first the scene seems tranquil, quiet, and at peace; until you step back and see that her profile and gilded mirror together give the image of a brilliant white skull against a black backdrop. There were tons of other interesting things to see, such as old advertisements and outdated exercise machines. And to top it off, we learned of the militia and military policy in New France with a fluent French speaker and an extremely comfortable auditorium. A combination of soda and cookies provided by the museum helped ease us into our after-lecture glow as we enjoyed the warm stone of the pavement outside. It was a great end to a good, not-too-hot day.
            We can only hope that tomorrow will be just as nice and let us get our hands dirty a few more times before we all have to go home. 

-A. Lent

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