Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Our first weekend in Niles

        Hi everyone! My name is Joey Lemelin and I am a student archaeologist participating in this season’s excavations at Fort St. Joseph! In my opinion, the weekends at the Fort Saint Joseph field school are much slower and quieter then the rest of the week, well this past weekend was anyways. On Friday night, most of the students and staff returned to Kalamazoo and only a small number of us were left behind in Niles to hold down the fort. That is not to say that the weekends are just made up of those of us who can’t leave sitting around and twiddling our thumbs for two and a half days. Instead, we chose to explore the city of Niles and do important behind the scenes work at the fort site.
After a very rain-filled day, we finished our lab work around three on Friday. At which point, most of the students loaded into vans until only Hannon, Mallory, and I remained at the stables that we call our home during this field season. After shopping for this weekend’s food, we settled into a night of relaxation and rest. This was a much-needed break after an exhausting three days in the field clearing away brush and vegetation to cut paths through the dense forest. After a few rounds of ping pong, a wonderful dinner, and a finished book, I made my way to bed and the others wouldn’t stay up for much longer.
The following morning I rose long before anyone else and decided to go for an early morning run through the beautiful surrounding countryside. That is, of course, until I found that I seriously underestimated the distance of my proposed run and made my way back to the stables. Once back to the stables though, to my misfortune, I found that the door had locked behind me. A quick phone call or an unwelcome alarm to Mallory soon fixed that thankfully and I went on with my day as usual.
Later that day after we were all showered and prepared, we made our way to the Niles library in order to type and print our weekly journal and reflection. Upon arrival to the library however, we found that on this day at least, it was not the quiet sanctuary of study we imagined. Saturday happened to be the day of the annual Niles nerd-fest, a small ComiCon of sorts complete with cosplay, movie viewings, and even fencing in the atrium.  However interesting this may have been, it was not exactly conducive to writing the papers that Hannon and I needed. Nevertheless, after patience and perseverance, we both finished writing great journal entries and then made our way back to the stables.
Jack enjoying some relaxing time in the grass while we
worked on clearing and dewatering the field.
Soon after we returned, a new furry friend greeted us! Gary, one of the project’s staff members, had brought his dog Jack back to Niles with him! That evening we all drove to downtown Niles and ate a fine dinner of pizza in the riverside park as kids ran around in the nearby play structure, boaters went down the Saint Joseph River, and Jack went for a little swim. Upon finishing our dinner, we made our way to one of the local ice cream shops and all enjoyed a frozen treat.
Yours Truly as I worked to help clear
and dewater the floodplain.
On Sunday morning Hannon, Gary, and I woke early and prepared to head to the site of the fort. That was the day that we installed the great pumps to assist in “dewatering” the site. This process makes our excavations on the floodplain possible because if we did not dewater the area, the encountering of the water table would halt our excavations. After breakfast at a local diner accompanied by two local gentlemen named Lynn and Neil, we worked to first clear paths through the mud and reeds until we were ready to install the pumps. Lynn had brought a scythe with him to help clear the reeds, which for those of you who might not know, is the large tool generally associated with being carried by the Grim Reaper. Gary took a quick liking to this new instrument and got slightly overzealous with reed clearing.  After everything was installed it was nearly four so we had a late lunch and spent the rest of the evening preparing for the second week. I went to bed that night filled with excitement for the week to come.

2 comments:

WLemelin said...

Sounds like you guys never stopped working! I'm glad your enjoying what you love! Keep it up!

Samuel said...

There's jacky boy! Taking a break as usual.