Today was our first day of digging and our first full day in the field! And I am exhausted! After breakfast, we carried a bunch of equipment with us down to the site. I never knew that eight or so empty buckets could be so heavy! Both of my forearms were cramping badly by the time we reached the site (probably more from awkward positioning than weight, really).
First, we took pictures of the whole blocked housepit, and then we chose units to start in and photographed those. We placed nails in the middle of each unit to divide them into 50×50 cm quadrants. Then we finally started digging! The top layer (or stratum) of soil is called the humic layer and consists of mostly organic materials: pine needles, leaves, dark brown dirt, and roots… a lot of roots! Stratum II, a.k.a. podzol, is light grey and sandy and made of decomposed organic matter. In the first few levels which we were digging today, you either dig 5 cm down in the humic layer or until you uncover podzol. I hit podzol in about half of my first quadrant, but the second quadrant was a different story. I got really excited because I thought I had hit podzol right below the surface pine needle covering, meaning that I wouldn’t have to dig much more for that level, but I eventually discovered that it was actually mostly humic with some podzol mixed in by disturbance. I never reached real podzol in that quadrant and had to dig it all to 5 cm which took up the rest of the day. The only artifacts found in Housepit 7 today were flagging tape and a nail from previous excavation. Good news, though: I wore pants today and did not get bit by any more ants (though I did receive two new mosquito bites).
I was on dinner duty tonight which I actually quite enjoyed. It was good to be back in the kitchen with a knife in hand! We made amazing apple-cheddar paninis but failed at soup-making because 8 dashes of cayenne pepper does not equal 2 teaspoons. Our creamy pepper soup was really spicy!
I found out yesterday that Emily, my site T.A., knows of Culver! Wow! #2 of Hamilton student recognition!
P.S. Ms. Koehn, I have to admit that screening is my least favorite part so far, but I’ve been promised it gets better once we hit Stratum III.
P.P.S. (from End-of-Field-School Mariah) It was true. Once we got to Stratum III and started finding artifacts, screening became so much better and more exciting! I even told Nathan that I want to sort through the heavy fractions from one or two of Rachel’s particularly artifact-heavy screenings!
Well the infamous Northwest weather has finally hit. This morning was very chilly when we woke up, but I still dressed with the expectation that it would warm up like every previous day: work pants, a tank top, and a fleece sweater. It did warm up a little by lunch time so that I was no longer cold, but about 1:30 p.m., the first downpour hit. The trees help to lighten the rain, but the wind makes some of the trees groan perilously. Unfortunately, I was just beginning to draw a plan view (map of the surface of a level), and the rain quickly soaked it to the point of uselessness. I had to re-measure the three or so roots I had already drawn in after the rain stopped.
My unit continues to be a conundrum. I finished Level 1, excavating the NW and SW quadrants today. I finally hit some podzol in the SW quadrant, and I found a plumb bob from previous work at the site. Starting on Level 2, I am finding pieces of podzol and Stratum III mixed in with and on top of humic matter. We have yet to figure out why – perhaps back-fill from previous work or a fallen tree uprooting the soil.
Our weekend has officially begun. Most of the students went in to Slocan to buy beer for the night. I am sitting at the cabin table in a long-sleeve shirt and heavy sweatshirt, and I still feel cold and damp. I hope my sleeping bag will be nice and warm tonight, even though it got a little wet from the rain (I left half of one of my rain fly vestibules open… oops!).