Goodbye Buffalo

Dear TEAM:

I’m now it the Albuquerque airport after a plesant ride on the shuttle here- the driver, John, was pretty cool, espousing his views on living in Taos and the rest of the world the whole way. He also took us on a senic by-pass of Espanola through the cute little town of Santa Cruz, so that was nice. It turns out my flight was delayed until 2pm, so I have some time to relax and there is free wi-fi here! Awesome. I’m glad I took the 8:30 shuttle here because I was able to have a relaxing last morning at the Buffalo, and on my run down Tune Drive to Mamby hot springs on the East Rim I saw a perfect vertical rainbow straight south of me, right next to Tres Orejas. There were lots of low dark grey clouds to the south this morning, so it must have been raining down there. I like to see the rainbow was a good luck/good bye present from NM. I will miss this place a lot, but I hope to be back soon ( and I know I will: the fact that three people tried to sell me land while I was out in the field this summer suggests to me that I’m meant to be here).

Anyway, I’m also sad to have to say goodbye to such a wonderful crew of people with whom I’ve been living with for the past 40 days, I’m sure a better field crew could not have been drawn together, and I’m excited to hear what you all discover later this month! I will  be avidly following this blog so keep it updated. And we should all get together (more than once even!) in NYC this coming school year to share ideas and good times.

And a special shout out to Galen: I’m so sorry I didn’t see you this morning! Girl, you are awesome and inspiring, I could not have survived my little rail road grade hiking adventure without you. I expect some garden reports and photos-post them during your afternoon breaks please.

Finally, if S-core (whom I think Sev was with this morning) remembers to remind Sev to get me a giant yucca seed pod, send it to me at 1198 Rossiter Lane, Radnor, PA, 19087 (or send me other things, any postcard that is sent to me will go in my postcard collection which gets hung on the wall where ever I’m living). My brother will love you forever and he’s super excited at the prospect of adding the seeds to his desert botany collection of plants under the grow lamps at my parent’s house in PA. And I will pay back the postage for sure.

lots of love, Hannah

Recipes from dinner tonight

(all this is vegan, and the measurements are intuitive: cook with a conscious and with creativity)

Sweet potato and chickpea chili

sweet potatoes pealed and chopped into bite sized pieces

several cans of chickpeas

bell peppers chopped into bite sized pieces

onions chopped

garlic chopped

salt

curry powder

vegan bouillon cubes

red pepper powder

cinnamon

cumin powder

pepper

turmeric

olive oil

parsley flakes or fresh chopped

extra water

stir fry the onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, and red peppers in olive oil. then add the chick peas and other spices, and the extra water, put on a lid and simmer until the sweet potatoes can be pierced by a fork.

Poor man’s hummus (if you can’t afford the Tahini, but if you can afford it add the tahini because it’s delicious)

canned or soaked chickpeas

olive oil

garlic (powdered or fresh)

cilantro chopped

salt

pepper

cayenne pepper

Cholula hot sauce or siracha rooster sauce

cinnamon

lemon or lime juice

hot salsa

place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. add liquids as needed.

Flat bread

flour (any type, whole wheat, white, corn etc)

salt

water

dash olive or canola oil

several spoonfuls sourdough starter (optional since this bread can be unleavened)

need ingredients together until they are of a workable consistency, let dough rest for 20 minutes or more, then break into balls that fit into your palm. Let rest again for at least 10 minutes. If the dough is sticky, dust your hands and the dough and surfaces with extra flour. Flatten the balls into the desired thickness and shape of the breads, then heat up a cast iron skillet, and place the breads into the dry pan, flipping as each side browns. Cool on a cooling rack to prevent sweating.


Barefooted and drunken hippies

This morning I excavated more on the Northern most end of the trash pit with Dianne and Farah. We found a lot of stuff, and were so focused on digging that we didn’t notice how many artifacts had been exhumed until we had to carry them back to the buffalo in three trips! They filled up one real trash can here, and then there was even more. Hopefully they don’t get mistaken for real trash now that they’re in a trash can…well, they are real trash I guess, real hippie/historical trash. That is one aspect of digging the trash pit that is so interesting to me. I think a lot of non-archaeologists, and even archaeologists too, would look at this unit in the trash pit and question the importance of such a dig. However, I’ve been learning the importance of this over the past few days, and even enjoying digging up 50 year old trash. I think partially these artifacts are important oral history prompts for people who lived through this time period, but they are also a record of unspoken happenings from the ’60s. For one thing, we’ve been finding a lot of brand name and packaged products, even though the stated goal of the New Buffalo hippies was to live off the land and in harmony with nature. secondly we have found a large concentration of interesting objects such as shoes and socks. Shoes can tell you much about their owners: the approximate age and size of the person, their occupatino and its hazards, their status etc etc. And these shoes are from a recent enough time period that we are able to know something about the types of footwear and what they connotate about the wearers. But the larger mystery is why so many shoes? In my estimatin shoes and socks have been the highest reccurance of artifact in the trash dump. But why? Were the hippies trying to live up to their “back to the land” goals by ditching their shoes and socks and running around barefoot? These are just a few of the thoughts that I keep having while excavating it the dump. Personally I found a small white leather shoe, probalby for a young girl, with the single strap in the Mary Jane style, and this shoe had a silver chain stuffed into it. That was pretty exciting for me.

At any rate after digging this morning I worked on my own project while Annie and Dianne cleaned artifacts. One of the artifacts was a Walter’s Bock Beer can, which Dianne had me look up online to see if it was still being made. It seems that this wonderful lable with the white goat on it is no longer manufactured, but has a large fan following online. The first hit was some Flickr photos of Bock beer cans, and then there was this website:

http://beercanencyclopedia.home.comcast.net/~beercanencyclopedia/states/colorado.html

pretty interesting. Manufactured in Colorado I guess.

Maybe Kaet can make a beer can typology, since beer cans are the one artifact that has turned up in more quantities than shoes. Beer and shoes. I also see that people are selling empty Bock beer cans online for 4$. Maybe we have a collectable!

Apocalyptic winds

Yesterday was a strange day for weather! I was up by 5:30 am, at which time the sun was shining out in perfect rays from behind the Sangre de Christo mountains, but by the time I got back at 6:30 a huge cloud bank had rolled in. Today I went back to the pit house excavation after spending 2 days working on my own project and one day helping Albert at Turley’s Mill. It was nice to get back to work on the pit house and see all the changes that have taken place there in the 2 days I missed! When we started yesterday morning there was 4 units, and we started in on units 5 and 6 together in one large 4 by 2 meter unit. We knew we were going to work only a half day, so we dug extra hard. I spent the whole day sifting and carrying buckets to and from the screens, but I actually find that this makes me less sore than excavating because it’s more natural for my body to stand up than be crouched in strange positions. We found lots of nails and tacks in 5 and 6, also a lot of soft brown-green paper that maybe was used in the growing of plants? Some more silver jewelry pieces and tools plays into the story we heard that some of the commune residents were making their silver jewelry in the pit house. For me the most exciting things I found were a piece of bark with blue pigment on it, indicating that the bark was still on the vegas when people were living there, which suggests that the construction of the house was a quick and dirty job (as does the location on silty volcanic ash and the lack of a good floor), and a very small piece of square paper with a red “7” printed on it.

The morning was a beautiful time to work because of the cloudy weather and mild temperatures. The only bad part was when Sev dug into the red ant nest in unit 6 and everyone was getting bit! But now hopefully the ants are gone since we dug them out and carried the dirt away. by 12:30 pm the wind began picking up and never stopped. The gusts were huge. After excavating I  went and helped Andrew and Mason, two of the gardeners here at New Buffalo, to weed the garden. They have this special hoe that makes it so easy to weed! And on top of that the gardening is so much less stressful than screening dirt. I could stop every now and then to look over at the mountains, with the large thunder clouds and rain curtains moving over them, and the mottled sunlight slanting through the clouds. The wind gusts just kept getting stronger so Andrew decided to postpone transplanting the squash from the greenhouse until the evening.

Then Sev took our field crew to see the earth ships, which was pretty neat to see. These are houses bulit of recycled tires, aluminum cans, and rammed earth, among other recycled mateirals. They are totlaly off the grid without plumming or electric, and are able to harness solar power and collect rain water. The houses are beautiful, with strange architecutre that makes it look as if they really are spaceships that have landed on the rolling high altitude sage brush flats, with three peaks to the West and the Sangre de Christos on the East side. Due to the wind dust was everywhere, obscuring the usually expansive views, and making it look even more like we were on some other harshly beautiful planet. Another interesting thing about the earthships is that they are partially burried into the ground for temperature control, which makes them seem to dissapear into the sage flats. I think this architectural aspect of them is very fitting since they try to leave little impact on the environment, and so they don’t even obscure the views really. Visiting the earthships in times like these, with the oil spill still weeping into the Gulf and countless other acts of violence on our already ravaged planet is very troubling for me, making me really want to do something about the heavy environmental degradation wrought by humans today. However, it also reminds me that the modern world is what it is, and is not all bad at all, in lots of ways our lifestyle is much more aware of the environment than the lifestyle 200 years ago. If we can all do our own little part to lighten up our misuse of the earth that will be good.

On the way back from the earthships we stopped at the Gorge Bridge, which I had been to several times before, but I think some of the other new field crew members had not yet seen. What a day to walk across it! The whole structure was undulating in the gusts of wind, and it was so strong you could just lean into it and the wind would bouy you up! I got some good photos of that. As we walked across I looked over at the car wreck that is still visible from one of the many suiciide attempts at the bridge. It is at moments like this that I think we can access some of the terror and beauty of death, since we look into the void and a fear of salvation hits us. We instinctually know to not jump or fall, but the Gorge is so painfully beautiful, and terrible, all at the same time. Then I would watch the little birds far below, darting up, down, and accross the void, even in the high winds. How amazing and luck birds are that they can fly. So much of terrestrial movement seems to be bounded by paths and roads, constricted by the practicalities of geography. Flight however seems truley free, for birds at least. For most people even their flight is highly regulated by the power of government as planes have so many restrictions and flight paths that are like invisible roads in the sky. It seems that movement for us is now never free, even if our perception of “hitting the road” makes us feel independant and free of a sedentary “home” place. The bridge crosses the gorge at a narrow place, with shear cliff walls going down hundreds of feet into the Rio Grande far below, looking like a shining ribbon winding through the deeply carved landscape. The wonders of modern technology are what has made this crossing place possible, as even 100 years ago people would have chosen a wide part in the canyon walls to cross this natural boundary. The trail I have been working on for the past 2 days down in the Orilla Verde Recreation area is just such an example of an old, natural crossing place, as the gorge gets very wide at this point, with many sub-rims that lead down in natural ramps and terraces, making foot and horse travel over the area relatively safe.

As the sun set on the Taos Valley the winds began to calm, and I helped Andrew and Michelle (another NB gardener) to transplant the squash seedlings into the garden. I learned several new things: to make the plants have a better chance of surviving the transplant they should be planted into standing water. So we dug out the holes and before placing the root balls into their new homes we filled each whole with water. Mason planted the corn, which eventually will have squash and beans planted with it for a three sisters section of the garden. Andrew was picking out the really bright yellow corn kernels because they were a recessive strain of the plant, and he wants to save the seeds so they need to be pure. I thought the corn planting was fitting given that tomorrow would be the corn dance at the Pueblo.

Finally we all went to the hot springs after dark. How neat to sit in the springs and look up at the deep night sky! I was also struck by the sounds there at night: crickets singing overtop of the gurgling and rushing of the Rio Grande. We stayed in the springs for a long time even thought they were luck warm at best. We kept rotating positions counter clock wise since there were cold patches every where. I also think that the springs had those small guppy-like fishes that I saw at the Jemez falls hot springs last year, because you could feel something fish like brushing up on you occasionally. Finished the day off with a great music jam in the Buffalo room, and my first time using the real shower since I got to NB, and that was not even worth it because the hot water heater had run out and it was probably just as cold as the river. Oh well. At least I have not really been wasting water on showers, and instead have been washing in the Hondo or the Grande every day, which feels great and gives me more time to appreciate the wondrous landscape in which I’m privileged enough to get to live in for a short month.

NM day 5 report: Lots of reading, and chickens!

Chickens and black tea are a good start to my day I have decided. Today I felt like I got a lot of things finished, and it started with a short run very early (5am) and then feeding the chickens with Kaet (at 6am). By 7:30ish we were out at the pit house, and I was digging again in the Northeast corner of Unit 1. Today we realized that the Eastern edge of unit one to the north of the wood stove is bordered by adobe melt wall, and the soil here is hard packed and red in color. So I worked to excavate around the adobe slump in order to reveal the contour of the wall. I found lots of nails all in one layer of soil that was capping the adobe melt area, and that was neat, some of them I excavated so that they remain poking out of the wall. We use two types of trowels: one is diamond shaped, kind of like a pie cutter that you use in the kitchen. The other trowel is rectangular. Both are very flat. You use the diamond shaped one to excavate normally and the rectangular one to edge the unit and make the walls and floor totally level. We also used a plump bob to make sure the walls were straight. Besides the wood stove feature in the Southeast corner of unit 1, there is a strange light blue-green plastic funnel in the Southwest corner, which Diane and I worked together to uncover more of. I also found another piece of the “love sherd” which was cool since i found the first piece during the initial ground survey. The last really interesting thing I found was a turquoise lump of pigment, about the size of a fingernail, so not very big, but vibrant in color. Paco found some scraps of newspaper which was really neat. So the excavation went very well.

We only did a half day, and ended at 1pm to go and do our own projects. I took lunch break to run to the waterfall about 1 mile down the road and wash all the dirt and dust off of me. The soil in the pit house gets super dusty when the sun dries it out, so it gets all over our bodies while we’re screening. The waterfall was great, although not as cold as I had remembered, and it’s not flowing very strongly. Hopefully it picks up again because I really want to visit it a few times. It’s in a beautiful little rock hollow on the South side of the canyon overlooking Arroyo Hondo.

After my “shower” in the waterfall things really started heating up. Most of the dig crew sat in the Buffalo room and read materials for our personal projects. I made a lot of headway in Corky’s binder, reading the whole section on the Middle Road to Picuris, and also some of the Western offshoots of this trail which cross the Rio Grande around Pilar and the Junction Bridge. I have decided that I want to focus on the Pilar area because this is one of the major routes that was used to access the fertile Taos Valley (“the bread basket of Northern New Mexico” according to Corky), and I have found that there are multiple modes of transportation over the landscape in this area. There is the abandoned Chili rail road, the modern car route 68, the foot and horse paths from Picuris to the west, and some old Spanish horse and light wagon routes, one of which is rumored to be the northern extension of the Camino Real coming up from Sante Fe to Taos. There is also the Houses of the Holy Petroglyph site, which Sev surveyed with the crew two summers ago, and this is a well documented spiritual site for the Pueblo people which is approached by various footpaths. All these traces on the landscape will give me lots to look at, and enable me to compare each one easily since they are all close together geographically, and Sev has lots of survey data on the Pilar area from the Gorge project work over the past few years. This way my project can be under the umbrella of the larger Gorge Project, and I will be able to cover more information since the area is already known and surveyed to some extent.

Last night our dig crew (Sev, Kaet, Elizabeth, Dianne, Paco, Mixchel and I) went out to eat at Pizza Out Back, a very quintessential Taos pizza joint. Very tasty as well. After returning to the Buffalo, Kaet gave me another binder of information about the Camino Real, and this volume looks very interesting for me because the author also illustrated his piece in the margins of each page. I have lots of great information now, so today I need to spend some time really getting through it. I wish I could read faster, but in this instance I want to really be able to take in what I’m reading and think about it in detail, so I’ll take my time.

Today I was up, went running pretty far down the East rim of the Gorge, then made sour dough bread, breadsticks, and banana pancakes. I hope it all works out. I enjoy experimenting with my cooking but I’m always afraid it won’t work out. Now I need to get into the reading, and later I want to go sketch some things here at the buffalo, including the chickens. In the afternoon the Hippie-Indian baseball game is on, I forget where we have to go to see this festival-sporting event, but it sounds interesting and a number of the dig crew is going to see it so I might join this expedition. Finally Lisa Law, the famous photographer who helped produce “Flashing on the ’60s” and took many of the early photos of the Buffalo is visiting tonight, so everyone is making a feast in preparation for this visit. Rick Klein, the original owner of the Buffalo will also be there along with other original New Buffalo people.

Ideas and a report of Day 4 in NM

Now that I have collected so many options for my project I need to find an overall research question to focus my ideas. There are so many traces of movement across this landscape that I am overwhelmed at the moment, and need to find a way to narrow down the ideas. I know that I want to keep the study of different types of movement over the landscape (foot, horse, wagon, train, car etc) as part of the project, so now I need to find a way to be able to talk about all these things, but also have a research focus. I want to talk about the importance of looking at modes of travel over the landscape in the formation of culture, and culture’s impact on the landscape. This is a reciprocal relationship between culture and nature, each influencing the other. So now that I know what I am interested in (the relationship between nature and culture and how travel over the landscape bears out this relationship in archaeological traces) I just need to figure out how to pick the concrete research areas I will go observe in the field. I need to think really hard tonight so that I can have it figured out by tomorrow.

Today I mostly helped work on Kaet’s pit house excavation at the buffalo. Digging in the pit house in the morning was really nice because the side I was working on was totally in shadow and cool, cold even. We started in on the grid, scraping away bit by bit with trowels, and then sweeping the dirt into dust bins and screening the dirt. I was working in Unit 1 (nicknamed Heartfire), the units are 2 meters by 2 meters. I was finding a lot of tar paper/melted rubber material, perhaps part of the roofing Kaet says. On the other side of unit 1 Diane was working on excavating the wood stove, which looks really cool and has a rusted out chimney that has filled with dirt now. Midday I decided I needed to start looking through Corky’s huge binder, and really narrowing down what I’m going to focus on. By next week I want to know what I’m doing each day so that I can go into the field and find my own field data to work from. I know I will be able to do this, but right now I’m worried about how to do this, and it’s making me nervous.

Today I saw that the waterfall is running again! I’m very excited to swim in it soon. I ran into the gorge this morning, and in the evening we all went down to the John Dunn bridge to swim. It felt really good to wash off but cold. We had dinner outside under the trees to the West of the Buffalo building, and watching the sun set over the gorge was amazing. We were visited by the neighbor’s dog Verde, I think she figured out that we eat dinner outside each evening and she comes by to stare at us with sad eyes asking for food (but never gets any). Tomorrow I’m going to go out early in the morning (6 am) to take care of the chickens with Kaet, so I’d better go to bed soon.

Finally, I’ve been thinking a lot about the hot air balloons in the gorge every morning, and their unique way of moving through the gorge. They leave no traces however, so I can’t really use them in my archaeology project. Even though, when I mentioned my thought to Sev he started thinking about the car crashes around the gorge under the Gorge Bridge, most of them suicides (or attempted ones). He wants to survey the cars, which would be very interesting and also uncanny, to write about the bridge and how this form of technology allows all types of new movement, including the suicides. This interests me because most of the forms of movement I’m finding are motivated by a need to survive or improve human life, but in this case movement is used to destroy life. This could be an interesting thread to follow: comparing movement motivated by a wish to sustain life, and movement motivated to end life. I think movement motivated by a wish to CHANGE life could be the more important thought because this is what I personally think is most prevalent, both historically and currently. Everyone is moving about in order to change their life for what they think is better, whether they are seeking something at the end of their journey or they are interested in the journey itself.