Saturday, June 19, 2010

To begin with

Camp Jefferson is in session. Heather got the last things out of the glassed-in porch (hereafter The Mess Hall) and vacuumed it on Sunday morning. It stopped raining finally Saturday evening so Doug was able to cut the grass; he finished the showers about 4:25 in the afternoon, while people were pitching their tents. I was still stressing out so I made food. But everyone (there are 14 tents and a VW MicroBus and a camper) has been really really nice and terribly responsible about not wearing their digging boots in the house.

The cats are not in favor. Even this weekend, with the body count down to single digit, they won't come out on the porch and be cooed at. Only the very patient are vouchsafed a vision, or I should say a tactile: Kaitlyn from a couple of years ago got to rub Willow's ears for a long time.

The first week of field school they found almost nothing, but their morale is still good and apparently they are good at the shovel test-pits. Next week we will be going to a state forest where George believes there is good reason to hope they will actually find something.

The pronouns are confused because I am not sure who They are and who We are: several SCRAP people have been digging at the site in Keene, which is a contract operation. I did some STP's there in April and helped find the kind of flakes that define Paleo sites in New Hampshire. Then the Phase Three began and we had four units (open square meters connected to other open square meters). I dug there for four weeks and at various times worried that my arms would fall off. Sometimes just from the elbows down, sometimes not. My frozen shoulder became all better but has gone a bit backward, but I am able to do my own pony tail again.

The excavation at the site to be known (to generations of Paleo wonks to come) as Tenant Swamp. I found a few tools, but none of tasty scrapers nearly everyone else did (whine, whine). Although I did find possibly the first biface on the site. It was made out of the worst grade of rhyolite we'd ever seen. But there were pretty things around, almost all of them scrapers rather than points.

The soil was so thin that the trees had trouble holding on in a stiff wind, so some of them were canted backward or forward. See the link at 'I love this place.')As they grew after these events, they corrected their slant, producing some lovely curves (sometimes more than one in a given tree).

There were also four or five baby woodchucks, BrownCreepers and Red-Breasted Nuthatches feeding their young, a bunch of other birds mostly in the aural background except for a White-Crowned Sparrow with attitude, open white pine forest, relatively few bugs,easy-sifting dry sandy soil, and generally really friendly decent construction guys. It was an idyllic location, not harmed by some unusually cool weather.

I love this place
. Soon it will be part of a new middle school. We felt better that it was not to be a Wal-Mart. They say they are not going to affect the swamp itself (right, because playing fields are so environmentally neutral). We doubt that we got all the individual hotspots (which may possibly mark the places where people were tenting (or whatever kind of small shelters they used); four meter-hotspots on an eight-meter grid, what do you think the odds of hitting them are? I know this is a very decent habitat. We found some evidence of drinking in the '80's but nothing to indicate anyone lived here any other time. I imagine there are ghosts of illicit beers and lost virginities here, and it would have been a fine place for either. The soil is very thin and the tall trees have amusing bends in their trunks from different episodes of nearly being toppled by wind and then pulling themselves more strongly into the soil, like people trying to walk and balance things on their heads.

I wish I were religious enough to think that loving and trying to see and appreciate a place makes any cosmic difference after it's gone. The huge tree I worked under most of the time was about 75 years old (I counted the rings, but there was too much sap on the outer couple inches to see clearly). If the site is a twelve-meter strip, that tree was 3/4 of a centimeter. How long will the school last? (Here's a link to make you smack your forehead, not exactly an answer, though.)It seems harder to see a place built on and blotted out that has been left alone for so very long. The woodchucks are on the swamp-facing slope, so they have an excellent chance of getting away and starting decent woodchuck lives*; they are about half-size, now.

* I know, ravaging your vegetable garden and eating your petunias for fun.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

Keep the woodchucks. But I"ll take aural background.