wednesday: digging and walking

Wednesday went well, despite the heat.  I spent the whole day, morning and afternoon, working in a single unit (Unit 3, Hummingbird) which I had to mostly to myself (because there’s only enough space below the wall for one person to excavate). Previously, I’d been moving back and forth a lot–focusing on survey and surface collection with Sev and Paco for the first few days, and then switching back and forth between different parts of different units, or screening buckets (sifting excavated dirt), taking photographs, etc.   It felt really good to spend a whole day working away at a single patch of dirt, peeling the centimeters away with my trowel.  I think I’m starting to get a feel for the tool and the movement, learning how to work the trowel edge against the surfaces, how to peel back the layers.  The sense of achievement that comes with acquiring a new skill is more than enough to offset the soreness in my right hand tonight.  It was incredibly satisfying, at the day’s end, to look at the unit and see where the bottom had been at 7 am, versus where it was at 4 pm, and realize a day’s work lay in the difference.  I have an odd, possessive sense of attachment to Hummingbird now, and I hope I’ll get to work on it more tomorrow.

I finished Level 1 and started Level 2, chasing Earth Mother/Unit 2, which is chasing Heart Fire/Unit 1.  I got down within a hands’ breath of Unit 2’s current level, but that’s only because I’m digging less than half the area they are, and because aside from a few rocks, there’s not much in the unit that requires recording, level-taking, sketching, and so on.  I  did fill out the Level One report and map for the unit, which was a bit nervewracking (I’m always worried about fucking up the paperwork, given my inexperience) but also interesting–now I have a better sense of what the maps are for, and how they’re structured.   Sadly, the white plaster Kaet painstakingly excavated along the wall in Hummingbird doesn’t seem to continue below the bottom of Level One (or even all along the side).   In Level Two, I hit the collapsed-roof layer material  of building material, pulling out lots of rotten wood, tar paper, plastic, and a few nails.  Not many other artifacts: a pin, an orange bead, some intriguing iridescent bits of what might be shell–abalone?–the usual bits of textile fuzz, and my first bullet casing.  My favorite, though, was a chunk of cut glass or crystal that looks like it might have come from a decanter or perfume bottle: something carefully crafted and beautifully shaped, heavy and shining in my hand after I brushed off the dust.

In the evening, I went for a long wander with my camera, first out to the ridge above other side of the Hondo and then down to where Arroyo Hondo meets the Rio Grande Gorge.  The light here, between around six and seven-thirty in the evening, is astonishing, and despite my growing hunger and thirst it was hard to make myself turn back and walk back up to New Buffalo for dinner.   On top of a day’s work, the walk left my legs weak as jelly–but my mind’s eye is too full to feel that exhaustion, so here I am, the last one up awake, writing and sifting through folders of image files, instead of buckets of dirt.

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2 thoughts on “wednesday: digging and walking

  1. Love your photographs. You have real talent. If archaeology doesn’t work out you could go into the visual arts.

  2. This is a superb shot…

    Re: “In Level Two, I hit the collapsed-roof layer material of building material, pulling out lots of rotten wood, tar paper, plastic, and a few nails. Not many other artifacts: a pin, an orange bead, some intriguing iridescent bits of what might be shell–abalone?–the usual bits of textile fuzz, and my first bullet casing. My favorite, though, was a chunk of cut glass or crystal that looks like it might have come from a decanter or perfume bottle: something carefully crafted and beautifully shaped, heavy and shining in my hand after I brushed off the dust.”

    In its evocation of the detritus of a civilization, I was somehow reminded of Bolano… beautifully vivid.

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